Welcome to Gloucestershire, a county steeped in history and natural beauty. From picturesque towns to stunning countryside, there’s something for everyone in this hidden gem of England. Whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, we’ve got you covered with our list of the top must-visit places in Gloucestershire. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure as we take you on a journey through some of the most amazing destinations that this county has to offer!
12 Best Places to Visit in Gloucestershire
The Cotswolds is a must-visit tourist attraction for its picturesque villages, stunning countryside views, and historical landmarks. The region is located in the south of Gloucestershire, England and covers an area of approximately 800 square miles. There are over 90 towns and villages in the Cotswolds, each with its own unique character. Some of the most popular attractions include the Cotswold Wildlife Park, Bibury Trout Farm, and Cheltenham Racecourse.
2. Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral is a must-visit for anyone interested in medieval architecture or English history. The cathedral, located in the heart of Gloucester, is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in England. It’s a grandiose facade, and intricate interior carvings are sure to impress. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find beautiful stained glass windows and an impressive organ. Be sure to take a look at the tomb of King Edward II, who was buried here in 1327. Visitors can also climb to the Top of the bell tower for stunning views of Gloucester city centre.
3. Westonbirt Arboretum
If you’re a nature lover, Westonbirt Arboretum is definitely worth a visit. With over 15,000 trees and shrubs, it’s a great place for a peaceful walk or picnic.
The arboretum is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, badgers, owls, and woodpeckers. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a red kite!
4. Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury Abbey is an impressive example of medieval architecture, and it’s one of the largest parish churches in England. It’s also home to some beautiful stained glass windows. The Abbey was founded in the 7th century, and it’s been a place of worship ever since. In the 12th century, the Abbey was rebuilt in the Gothic style, and it’s this version that you can see today. The Abbey is well worth a visit, especially if you’re interested in English history or architecture.
5. Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle is one of the most historic and fascinating places to visit in Gloucestershire. The castle is over 900 years old, and it has a rich history that you can explore on a tour of the castle. You can also admire the beautiful gardens at Berkeley Castle.
6. The Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean is a large woodland area that’s perfect for hiking, cycling, or just enjoying the scenery. There are plenty of trails to explore, as well as quaint villages and historic sites. The forest is also home to a number of wildlife species, making it a great place for birdwatching or just admiring flora and fauna.
7. Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham Racecourse is one of the most prestigious horse racing venues in the United Kingdom. It is located in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and hosts several major horse racing events throughout the year. Some of the most notable races that take place at Cheltenham Racecourse include The Gold Cup, The Champion Hurdle, and The Queen Mother Champion Chase. If you’re a fan of horse racing, then you won’t want to miss a visit to Cheltenham Racecourse.
8. Sudeley Castle
Sudeley Castle is a historic castle located near the town of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, England. The castle has been the home of many notable figures throughout history and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. It is a great place to visit for both history and nature lovers.
9. Slimbridge Wetland Centre
The Slimbridge Wetland Centre is one of the best places to see wildlife and nature in Gloucestershire. It’s home to a variety of birds and other wildlife, and there are plenty of trails to explore. The Centre is a great place to learn about the local environment and its ecology. There are also many events and activities held at the Centre throughout the year, so there’s always something to see and do. Whether you’re a birdwatcher, nature lover, or just looking for a great day out, the Slimbridge Wetland Centre is definitely worth a visit.
10. Painswick Rococo Garden
The Painswick Rococo Garden is a hidden gem in the Gloucestershire countryside. This unique garden is a great place to explore for those who enjoy horticulture and landscaping. It’s home to a variety of unusual plants and has a distinct 18th-century style.
The garden was created by Anne Chamberlin, who was inspired by the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Chamberlin wanted to create a landscape that would be both beautiful and functional, and she succeeded. The garden features a series of terraces, each with its own unique planting scheme. There are also several ponds and water features, which add to the tranquil atmosphere of the garden.
Visitors can stroll through the gardens at their own pace or take part in one of the guided tours that are offered. The garden is open from April to October, and admission is free.
11. The Cotswold Water Park
The Cotswold Water Park is a large recreational area perfect for families or anyone looking for outdoor activities. With over 150 lakes, it offers plenty of opportunities for water-based activities such as swimming, sailing, canoeing and fishing. There is also a network of walking and cycling trails to explore, making it the perfect place to spend a day out in the great outdoors.
Cirencester is a charming market town located in the heart of the Cotswolds. The town is known as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’ and is home to a number of historical sites and cultural attractions. Cirencester is also a great place for shopping and dining, with a variety of shops and restaurants to choose from.
Best Places to Visit in South Gloucestershire
- The Severn Way – This long-distance walking trail follows the course of the River Severn as it winds through the county. Visitors can explore the beautiful countryside and spot a variety of wildlife along the way.
- Kingswood Heritage Museum – This museum offers a fascinating insight into the history of the local area, including the coal mining industry and the development of the local community.
- Yate Heritage Centre – Another museum that offers a glimpse into the history of South Gloucestershire, with exhibits on local industries, transport, and everyday life.
- Chipping Sodbury – This historic market town is full of charm, with its medieval streets and buildings. Visitors can explore the local shops, cafes, and restaurants and visit the town’s historic church and market hall.
- Oldbury Court Estate – This beautiful park offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, go for a picnic, or explore the woodland trails. There’s even a play area for children, making it a great destination for families.
Places to Visit in Gloucestershire with Dogs
- Hidcote Manor Garden – This National Trust property is a beautiful garden with a variety of plants and flowers. Dogs on leads are welcome to explore the gardens with their owners.
- Crickley Hill Country Park – This park offers stunning views over the surrounding countryside, as well as a network of walking trails for dogs and their owners to enjoy.
- The Malvern Hills – This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers stunning views and a variety of walking trails for you and your furry friend to enjoy. Dogs on leads are welcome on most of the trails.
- The Woodchester Mansion – This historic mansion is a fascinating example of Victorian architecture, and dogs on leads are welcome to explore the grounds with their owners. The mansion also has a dog-friendly cafe where you and your furry friend can enjoy a snack together.
Places to Go in Gloucestershire with Toddlers
- Prinknash Bird and Deer Park: This park has a collection of exotic birds and other animals, as well as a deer park that little ones can explore. There’s also a picnic area and a cafe on site.
- Puzzlewood: This magical forest is perfect for toddlers to explore, with its winding paths, hidden caves, and bridges. There’s also a playground and an indoor maze that little ones will love.
- Cattle Country Adventure Park: This park has a variety of activities for toddlers, including a petting zoo, a sandpit, and a splash pool. There’s also a mini golf course and a maze.
- The Miniature Village at Bourton-on-the-Water: This miniature village is a fun place for toddlers to explore, with tiny models of local buildings and landmarks. There’s also a model railway and a playground nearby.
- Go Ape Forest of Dean: This high ropes course is designed for children as young as 4 years old, with obstacles and zip lines that are suitable for little ones. There’s also a playground and a cafe on site.
In conclusion, Gloucestershire is a county that offers a delightful blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences. From the iconic Cotswolds villages with their charming architecture to the magnificent cathedrals like Gloucester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey, there is no shortage of architectural wonders to explore. Nature enthusiasts will be captivated by the enchanting Forest of Dean and the breathtaking landscapes at Westonbirt Arboretum. Cheltenham offers a mix of cultural festivals, shopping, and entertainment, while Slimbridge Wetland Centre provides a haven for birdwatchers. Finally, Berkeley Castle provides a glimpse into medieval history, adding another layer of fascination to the county. With so many diverse attractions, Gloucestershire promises a rewarding and memorable visit for all who venture there.
FAQs on places to visit in Gloucestershire
1. Which is nicer Cheltenham or Gloucester?
Both Cheltenham and Gloucester have their own unique charm and attractions. Cheltenham is known for its elegant Regency architecture, shopping, and cultural events like the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Gloucester has a rich history, with a stunning cathedral, historic docks, and a lively music scene. Ultimately, which is nicer will depend on personal preferences.
2. Is Gloucester a good day trip?
Yes, Gloucester is a great day trip destination with plenty to see and do. You can explore the city’s rich history and architecture by visiting the Gloucester Cathedral, the historic docks, and the Gloucester Waterways Museum. You can also enjoy shopping and dining in the city centre or take a walk in the nearby countryside.
3. Where can I take my kids in Gloucestershire?
Gloucestershire has many family-friendly attractions that kids will enjoy. Some of the best places to take kids in Gloucestershire include Cotswold Farm Park, Puzzlewood, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, All Things Wild Nature Centre, and Cattle Country Adventure Park. All of these attractions offer a range of activities and experiences that kids will love.
4. What is Gloucestershire famous for?
Gloucestershire is famous for its beautiful countryside, picturesque villages, and historic cities like Gloucester and Cheltenham. The county is also known for its production of cheese, with Double Gloucester and Single Gloucester being local specialities. Gloucestershire is home to several famous landmarks, such as the Cotswold Hills, the River Severn, and the Forest of Dean. It is also well-known for its horse racing and the Cheltenham Festival.