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Home | Guidebooks | Gloucester

A Visitor’s Guide to Gloucester…

Known as ‘The Cathedral City of the Cotswolds’, Gloucester began life as one of the chief settlements in Roman Britain. Following a rich and varied history which saw Gloucester captured by the Anglo-Saxons, William the Conqueror commission the Domesday Book, the Tudors and the Stuarts come and pass, and the rise of Gloucester as a busy Victorian industrial shipping city. Nowadays, it is best known for its stunning 11th-century Cathedral, beautifully developed dockland and as the home of Gloucester Rugby.

Gloucester city centre is divided by the main cross roads and four mains streets: Northgate, Southgate, Eastgate and Westgate. Here you’ll find all of the usual high street shops and commodities plus plenty more unusual establishments such as Gloucester Antique Centre and the Beatrix Potter inspired House of The Tailor of Gloucester Museum and Shop. If you’re looking for retail therapy, be sure not to miss the fantastic Gloucester Quays Outlet centre! Alternatively, if you’re intrigued about Gloucester’s colourful history, be sure to schedule in a visit to the National Waterways Museum inside one of the historic warehouses.

Gloucester attracts hordes of rugby fans year on year thanks to the fantastic Kingsholm Stadium which is also used a venue for many big musical acts. The stadium can hold between 12-16,000 people depending on the event and is just a short walk from the city centre. Gloucester is also an ideal base for Mountain Bikers thanks to the fantastic FlyUp 417 Bike Park, just a short drive from the centre – a great mountain bike park for all abilities!

While there’s plenty to do around the city, Gloucester is also a great base from which you can explore the wider Cotswolds. Cheltenham is just a 15-20 minute drive away while the northern Cotswold villages of Bourton-on-the-Water and Bibury are also extremely accessible.

There’s plenty on offer to entertain, educate and amusing in Gloucester and the surrounding area, including many great attractions to be enjoyed by all age groups!

Gloucester Quays Outlet Centre

Featuring 56 brands including Nike, Calvin Klein, All Saints, Levi’s, Ted Baker, L.K. Bennet, Adidas and Fatface, with discounts up to 70% – it’s a real treat for those who love a bargain! Step outside of the outlet and you’re met with the recently renovated Gloucester docks. The Victorian warehouses make a spectacular backdrop to the array of restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars and Cineworld cinema complex.

Gloucester Cathedral

Free Entry

Boasting stunning architecture and incredible stained-glass windows, Gloucester Cathedral is a must-see if you’re staying in the city. The 11th Century building is the burial site of King Edward II, and is home to many architectural and artistic wonders, including the fan-faulted medieval cloisters and Great East Window. There’s plenty to see and do at the Cathedral, with a gift shop, café and regular exhibitions. Those with a keen eye may even recognise the cloisters as the corridors of Hogwarts – parts of the Harry Potter films were shot inside the cathedral!

Gloucester Antique Centre

Spread over two floors, Gloucester Antique Centre is a Tardis-like building, brimming with vintage treasures and finds. Located on Westgate Street before the cathedral, inside you’ll find art, decorative items, stamps, toys, clocks, postcards and cigarette cards, coins, silver and glassware, jewellery, vinyl records, and much, much more!

Gloucester Waterways Museum and Boat Trips

A fantastic interactive museum located in one of the disused Victorian warehouses, the Gloucester Waterways museum explores the hidden world of England’s canals and rivers, using historic boats and archive films. From here, you can also climb aboard either King Arthur or Queen Boadicea II and enjoy a 45 minute boat trip along the River Severn or the Gloucester – Sharpness canal.

The Tailor of Gloucester Museum and Shop

Free entry

At Number 9, College Court, just outside of the beautiful cathedral, lies the building where Beatrix Potter set her story, The Tailor of Gloucester. In 1978, the building was purchased by Frederick Warne & Co ltd, the publishers behind Beatrix Potter. Since 2006, it has been open to the public as a small museum and gift shop run by volunteers. A truly enchanting experience that will capture the imaginations of all age groups.

Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre

A wonderful facility located just outside the city centre, the Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre is a great day out for all the family. The centre features a 255 metre main slope Freestyle Slope with Snowflex Fun Park, a 40 metre nursery slope, a dedicated tubing slope, button tow ski lifts, a Big Air Bag – for practising freestyle manoeuvres (on selected nights) and a fully licensed café/bar with food servery as well as a ski shop and hire centre.

Flyup 417 Bike Park

A haven for keen mountain bikers of all abilities, Flyup 417 Bike Park is a 100 acre bike park just outside of the city centre. Featuring downhill trails, an indoor pumptrack, a dirt jump barn and field, as well as the unique ‘uplift’ feature (drivers who take you and your bike back up to the top of the hill), it’s the perfect place to spend an action-packed day. If you can’t bring your own bike, bikes are available for hire. The 417 Bike Park is the biggest privately owned mountain bike facility in England offering a variety of riding disciplines within one venue.

Walking Tours of Gloucester

The Gloucester Civic Trust has a number of city walking tours that can be booked, lead by professional guides. Visit the website for further information on the tours available.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham racecourse, the jewel in Jump racing’s crown, plays host to the best jumping action in the world from 350 spectacular acres in the lee of the beautiful Cotswold hills. Whether you’re there on a crisp bright October day or a balmy evening in May, you’ll feel that unmistakable Cheltenham magic. The racing, the setting, the tradition and history,

the shared sense of enjoyment all combines to give everyone, from those sampling the finest hospitality to the racegoers on the course, an experience they’ll never forget.

Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Rated amongst the top attractions in the Cotswolds, the castle rooms and exhibits contain many fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day. The castle is surrounded by a breathtaking 1,200-acre estate and ten award-winning gardens. The centrepiece is the Queens Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – once walked upon the original Tudor Parterre.

The Pheasantry at Sudeley houses a collection of 16 rare and endangered species of birds from around the world as part of Sudeley’s programme of breeding and conservation.Rated amongst the top attractions in the Cotswolds, the castle rooms and exhibits contain many fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day. The castle is surrounded by a breathtaking 1,200-acre estate and ten award-winning gardens.

The Greenway Spa

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway for two or just some ‘me time’, head to The Greenway Spa for some preening, pampering, and polishing. The spa has a selection of treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room, samarium and alfresco hot tub – providing a little slice of quiescent heaven within the Cotswolds. After a hard day’s rejuvenation, enjoy a glass of fizz and a tasty supper at the Orchard Brassiere overlooking the spa gardens.

Alney Island Nature Reserve

Located just behind the quays, Alney Island is an 80 hectare site with paved flat footpaths, perfect for walking and cycling. The nature reserve is predominantly neutral wet grassland and flood meadows with broadleaf trees. The land is managed through hay cutting and grazing with rare breed cattle. Wildlife includes orchids, waterfowl, raptors, amphibians, wading birds and many species of insect including dragonflies and butterflies. Dogs are welcome on Alney Island.

Barnwood Arboretum & Park

A lovely park owned by Gloucester City Council, this arboretum is home to many mature trees and is grazed by Dexter cattle and sheep throughout various times of the year.

Painswick Rococo Garden

Painswick Rococo Garden is unique in that it is the only surviving garden of the rococo period which is open to the public.  The Garden is on the Historic England Register of Parks or Gardens of Special Historic Interest. This fabulously flamboyant garden is set down in the valley and open to the public, complete with a delicious café and gift shop.

Useful Links:

Cotswolds AONB

Waterside / Canal Walks

Gloucester boasts many beautiful waterside walks, with direct access to the canal towpaths. Click on the link or search the attached PDF for maps and further information:

Crickley Hill Country Park

Managed jointly by The National Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Crickley Hill is a beautiful part of the Cotswold escarpment that overlooks the Severn Vale. Filled with archaeological remains dating from the Neolithic period, Crickley Hill is a stunning destination for walking and exploring, boasting exquisite views.

Bike Ride: Gloucester to Winchcombe

A 28 mile bike ride from Gloucester to the Cotswolds village of Winchcombe, home to Sudeley Castle. Click the on the link or search the attached PDF for a map and further information:

Gloucester Rugby Club/ Kingsholm Stadium

Home of Premiership Club Club, Gloucester Rugby, Kingsholm Stadium is located just outside of the city centre, but still within walking distance. With a capacity between 12-16,115 depending on the event, Kingsholm is home to many events throughout the year, from Rugby World Cup matches to huge music concerts.

Gloucester Tall Ships Festival

An annual event for the whole family celebrating Gloucester’s shipping history. Includes live music, entertainment, food and stalls. Details vary year to year, so please check the website.

Cheltenham Festivals

(35-minute drive from Chipping Campden)

Cheltenham Festivals is a charity running outreach programmes throughout the year, culminating with the town’s internationally acclaimed Jazz (May), Science (June), Music (July), and Literature (October) Festivals over a total of 36 days. The four festivals feature nearly 1,000 events, with 25% of their programme free to enter. Bringing in world-famous acts, performers, experts and authors year on year, the town well and truly comes to life during the Festivals. Head to the website to see if your stay coincides with one of the above but, be warned, tickets can be snapped up months in advance for the most popular events.   

The Cotswold Clay Club and Shooting School

The Cotswold Clay Club and Shooting School is located in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold Countryside. It is open every day to everyone from novices, to experienced shots and also for shooting experiences.

Gloucester Golf Club

Open to members and visitors, Gloucester Golf Club is a stunning 18 hole, par 72, championship course that overlooks the beautiful countryside. With a fall from 600 to 200 feet, it offers one of the most interesting terrains in the region.  

Cotswold Cycling Club

More leisurely than competitive. Any age. Any ability. Any attire. Any bike! A cycling club with a bit of style.

The newly renovated Gloucester Quays offers a fantastic selection of chain eateries, from Bill’s Restaurant to Carluccio’s, Cote Brasserie and Wagamama – there are cuisines to suite all tastes!

If you’re looking for something a little different, read on to find out our top picks.

Bakeries & Snacks

Café on the Cut

A café with a difference! Located on a narrow boat, this unusual café offers you the chance to enjoy a coffee and a freshly prepared snack on Gloucester’s famous waterways in the heart of the quays!

On Toast

A boutique toastie shop on the side of the historic docks – delicious!

Lunch & Dinner

Dr Foster’s Liquor Co.

Serving high quality locally sourced food throughout the venue, Dr Foster’s main feature is the stunning views from the waterfront conservatory. Complete with comfortable sofas, quirky décor, and a waterfront dining area.

Greek on the Docks

A chic – modern Greek and Mediterranean Restaurant located in the heart of the quays, Greek on the Docks uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients and offers a fantastic selection of authentic dishes.

Grill Shed

A California meat-fest eatery in the heart of the docks, you won’t find another place like this Gloucester!

Portivo Lounge

Part of the hugely popular Lounge chain – Portivo is a great location for comfy, relaxed, fun dining!

The Ivy Montpellier Brasserie – Cheltenham

Just a short drive from Gloucester, the internationally renowned Ivy chain has a truly beautiful restaurant in the former Lloyds bank. Enjoy an exquisite meal in the high domed ceiling location – a real treat!

Takeaways & Late Dining

You will find all the nationally known fast food restaurants in Gloucester, as well as several independent takeaway restaurants. Deliveroo and Just Eat both work in Gloucester.  

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