Things to do in Gloucester

Things to do in Gloucester

Nestled happily between the contrasting beauty of the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean, the cathedral city of Gloucester is perfectly placed for a day out or extended holiday.

With a proud history and some truly beautiful architecture, strolling around the streets of Gloucester is its own kind of attraction. But what about all of the other activities, sights and bucket list stops in Gloucester? Well, your holiday agenda won’t be a short one with enlightening museums, incredible landmarks and fantastic shopping spots… not to mention some of the most colourful streets in the UK.


Things to do in Gloucester

Whether you want an all-encompassing, action-packed tour or an amble around this historic city as you stumble across new and exciting hidden gems, this is our guide to the best attractions and things to do in Gloucester.


Gloucester Cathedral

Looking down the impressive hallway with brightly coloured stain glass windows

Historically famous for its impressive architecture, resting place of multiple royals, and recently as a setting for the Harry Potter films (it’s featured in the first, second and sixth films for those who want a Potterhead moment when visiting), Gloucester Cathedral is one of the UK’s most famous medieval buildings for good reason.

Walk the magnificent halls, climb the reaching tower and marvel at the intricately carved stonework before sitting down to a cream tea in The Monk’s Kitchen Café – talk about a coffee with a backdrop! Round your visit off with some interactive activities in the Tribune Gallery and on the Cathedral Green, which offers a variety of medieval games.

12 College Green, Gloucester GL1 2LX |


Gloucester Boat Hire

A motor boat heading off down the historic Gloucester quay at sunrise

Why spend your holiday on your feet when you can just as comfortably (if not more comfortably) sightsee from a self drive boat! Tour the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal with Gloucester Boat Hire to get a completely new perspective of these historic docklands.

Pass under working swing bridges or take the boats further down the canal to enjoy charming countryside scenes.

Don’t worry if you get peckish when travelling by boat as you can even book your very own Mediterranean-style picnic for the voyage.


The House of the Tailor of Gloucester

The quaint shop front of Beatrix Potter's The House of the Tailor of Gloucester

From Peter Rabbit to Squirrel Nutkin, Beatrix Potter created a magical world that saw animals go from the English countryside to residing eternally in our hearts. At this charming shop and museum in Gloucester, you can release your inner child in the very building where she created one of her most beloved characters, The Tailor of Gloucester.

Browse the range of oh-so-tempting souvenirs and quiz the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers that help keep this much-loved building open to the public 365 days a year.

9 College Ct, Gloucester GL1 2NJ |


Barn Owl Centre

A barn owl flying through the English countryside

From animals on a page to right in front of your eyes, the Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester is on a mission to protect barn owls and their natural habitats. Where do you come in? By visiting the centre, you not only get to marvel at these wise and beautiful birds, but your admission charge also helps to support the centre and the wonderful work they do.

And if you want to get more hands-on, you can book yourself an experience, which allows you to either spend a day flying these majestic creatures or photographing them in natural environments. Either way, you’re in for a hoot!

Netheridge Farm, Netheridge Close, Hempsted, Gloucester GL2 5LE |


National Waterways Museum

The historic buildings down at Gloucester Quay, including the red bricked National Waterways Museum

If you’re looking for a place to soak up the history of Gloucester, then head to their ancient docks where you can stroll alongside beautiful Victorian architecture before heading into the National Waterways Museum to continue your journey into the history books.

Step back in time and learn all about how the canals and rivers of Gloucester have been used over the years. Then hop aboard the historic boats or cast your eyes over the gallery filled with snapshots of Gloucester’s rich waterside heritage.

Llanthony Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester GL1 2EH |


Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum

The historic red brick exterior of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum in Gloucester

Another museum adding history to the already famous docks is the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, which pays homage to the countless soldiers who have served their country.

Step into the shoes of a soldier as you try on a uniform and look into a First World War trench, discover just how heavy a Rifleman’s rucksack was, and travel from 1694 right through to modern day conflicts with an ever-changing plethora of displays and exhibits.

It might be one of the more eye-opening experiences on our list, but discovering the stories of these soldiers is a privilege that welcomes everyone.

Custom House the Docks, 31 Commercial Rd, The Docks, Gloucester GL1 2HE |


Gloucester Quays

People shopping along Gloucester Quays

Ready to shop till you drop into a comfy café chair? Gloucester Quays have a massive range of retailers including designer brands and everything you could possibly need (or want) from clothing to homeware. Over 50 shops have come together to create a shopaholic’s paradise where you can fill the cupboards with your favourite wares from Le Creuset, before picking up a bag from Radley London to remind you of your visit to Gloucester.

After hitting the shops, you can collapse, bags in hand, at one of the many restaurants in Gloucester Quays, from the Parisian Côte Brasserie or the char-grilled Coal Grill and Bar.

St Ann Way, Gloucester GL1 5SH |


Eating out

A selection of food and wine at Miller & Carter

Let’s be honest, we all consider eating out as a ‘thing to do’, right? And it’s possibly one of the best things to do in Gloucester given its incredible variety of top-notch restaurants, bars and cafes. For a meal that practically takes you on holiday, head to Greek on the Docks for a jaw-dropping menu that really transports you to the Aegean with carpaccio, moussakas and much, MUCH more. 

In the mood for something a little more classic? Miller and Carter are award-winning experts on steak, so whether you like it rare or well done, if anyone’s going to serve you the perfect steak, it’s these guys. 

Or, if you’re looking for food that pleases your inner child, then a visit to Spago with their enviable array of freshly made crepes is a mouthwatering must. Savoury or sweet, every taste is welcome here!


Things to do near Gloucester

With simply stunning surrounding scenery, you don’t have to go far to enjoy everything this captivating area has to offer. Whether you want a bit of wild or a bit of 18th century beauty, here are some things you won’t want to miss.


Forest of Dean

Looking over the tops of the trees at the Forest of Dean

Go from the built-up beauty of Gloucester to the majesty of the great outdoors with a trip to the Forest of Dean. There are lots of hearty walks for those who are looking for a chance to dust off the old walking boots, or you can embark on a gentle stroll around a nature reserve while keeping an eye out for the local wildlife.

Ready for something a little more adrenaline-pumping? Hit the water with some watersports or take to the air with gorge scrambling. Once you’ve finished testing your mettle, you can settle down to a relaxing wine tasting session where you can get back to the things that really matter on holiday: a large selection of wines and good company.

If you want to continue your newfound chilled buzz, why not try out one of the forest’s more unique wellbeing activities… forest bathing, anyone?


Painswick Rococo Garden

Looking over a pond and up the path in Rococo Garden

Harking back to the flamboyant frivolity of the 18th century, the Rococo Gardens are on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to a tour of the outdoors. Perfectly curated garden displays alongside quirky structures create an almost otherworldly destination.

Made famous in the early 1700s after a fashionable art movement, this historic garden gives us a glimpse of a time when joie de vivre was all the rage – a sentiment we can really get behind!

Travel back in time as you stroll through the hidden valley, test your sense of direction in the unusual maze, or simply marvel at the variety of sights and scenes available to you throughout this walk through time and nature.

If you want to continue your tour of the gardens of Gloucestershire, then a trip to Dyrham Park and Gardens should be next on your list with their ancient deer park providing the perfect place for some deer spotting.

Gloucester Rd, Painswick, Stroud GL6 6TH |


Are you ready to embark on your memorable holiday to Gloucester? Explore our welcoming luxury retreats in Gloucestershire here.

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