Surprisingly, there are a number of things to do in Gloucester. But Gloucester isn’t an obvious day trip destination for many, mostly because unless you’re a Potterhead or live in a neighbouring city you probably don’t even know it exists! Steeped in history, a literary affiliation with Beatrix Potter and a premiership rugby team – there are many reasons to visit Gloucester (here’s eight).
So if I’ve already succeeded in adding Gloucester to your UK day trip short list, here’s my guide for spending a day in the Cathedral City of the Cotswolds, and things to do in Gloucester.
How to get to Gloucester
Contrary to what you might be thinking, Gloucester is incredibly easy to get too. Nestled between Cheltenham and Bristol, Gloucester is easily accessible by train with the station within the centre itself. And Assuming you’re travelling on a Saturday, an off-peak day return costs less than £10 with The Trainline.
There is only one train station in the city, and with only two physical opposing platforms you’ll have to try really hard to get lost!
*Trains to Bristol usually depart from platform 1 (obviously check this before departing), accessible by walking on to platform 2 and walking down to the right.
Things to do in Gloucester
Of the many things to do in Gloucester we’ll start with a bit of thrift shopping. It’s a short and flat ten minute walk from the train station to Gloucester Cathedral. Upon exiting the station stick to the side of the road you’re on and turn right, passing with the Station Hotel and Bar on your right hand side. You’ll pass another large building – the Railway House. Keep walking until you reach the next pedestrian crossing, you’ll notice St Peter’s Church to your right – keep walking straight and eventually you’ll come to a second pedestrian crossing. It’s not a particularity pleasant walk, lots of grey and drab buildings but it’s worth it to reach our first stop.
You should be able to spot the red signed building that reads Vintage Flea Market – that’s your first stop.
We’re starting your visit at Gloucester’s largest flea market and up cycling centre. Three floors of Vintage Furniture, Jewellery, Vintage Tools, Vinyl Records, Garden items, Clothes, China and hand made Rustic Kitchens are awaiting your discovery.
Open 10am to 5pm, you’ll be passing by on your return to the train station if you feel like you need to come back for items you don’t want to carry.
Of all the things to do in Gloucester, the Cathedral is a must visit! So upon exiting Fab and Fated, turn right up Worcester Street until you reach the mini roundabout at the top. Turn right, you’ll pass Sainsbury’s on your right. Pass the Abbey on your right hand side (it’s a pub) and turn right on to St John’s Ln – it’s just after Cotters Bar and Shoes. Notice the little white arches on your right hand side, and walk through them – before the Osteopathic and Sports Injuries Clinic.
Follow the path to the right before turning left and you’ll exit towards the back of the Cathedral. Turn left to reach the entrance.
Besides ogling at the famed cloisters and beautiful architecture, there are a number of tours available for a full discovery of almost 1000 years of history. The most notable tours are a Guided Tour, a Tower Tour and the Crypt Tour. Ascending 269 steps, the Tower tour offers the best views in Gloucestershire offering forty miles across the glorious Gloucestershire countryside on a clear day.
You’ll need to check the calendar for tour times and dates, as these are volunteer led. But if you prefer to guide yourself around the cathedral, printed guides available from the Gift Shop for just £2.
Crypt tours are priced at £3, lasting around twenty minutes. Tower tours are £7 for an adult, for the duration of an hour.
Tickets can be purchased in the Gift Shop.
The House of the Tailor of Gloucester
One of the lesser known things to do in Gloucester is to learn of its inspiration behind Beatrix Potter’s literary works. So upon exiting the Cathedral, walk to the top left hand corner of the car park where you’ll find a small alley – College Court. It almost appears as if you’re walking between the houses but I assure you it is a lovely little walkway (and one of Gloucester’s most Instagrammable spots).
Immediately on your right is where you’ll find the House of the Tailor of Gloucester. This museum and shop is the the same building that inspired the very story and is used in the illustrations. It’s open to the public Monday to Saturday where you will be served by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers. (There words, not mine)
Take time to view the tailor’s kitchen and other displays featured in the story, and pop a coin in the Animated Mice Box at the back of the shop.
Admission is free, and the museum is open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, closed Sundays.
*Option take a tea break in Lily’s Tearoom (opposite)
Upon exiting College Court, you’ll come out on to Westgate Street – one of the four cross road that make up the City Centre and High Street. Here you’ll find the usual array of high street stores, but there’s a little hidden lunch gem that I need to tell you about. Turn right out on to Westgate for a couple of steps, and find the alley to the right of Black Letter Tattoo Studio. This is where you’ll find Peppers.
Hidden on a little alley, Peppers is an organic and natural cafe offering the perfect array of baguettes and sandwiches. Fillings range from Brie and Cranberry, Blue Stilton and Apple, Goats Cheese, Avocado and Walnut, Hot Bacon and Brie or even a bespoke combination (to name a few!). Seat yourself in The Courtyard on a nice day, or upstairs in the kitsch seating area with the featured artists wall for a really lovely little spot for lunch.
With your belly sufficiently full, and your taste buds tantalised it’s time for a spot of shopping.
Upon exiting Peppers, turn right and head to the end of Bull Lane – in the opposite direction of where you came in. (Turn around to look at the street art on the side of peppers) The road will brand off to the right behind a red bricked NCP car park, continue straight until your reach the end.
You are now on Longsmith Road, turn left to rejoin the high street and follow the road until the end. Take the pedestrian crossing and descend the stairs to enter into the harbour. Follow the harbour to the end, and continue walking straight (you’ll pass McColls on your right) and you’ll eventually come to Gloucester Quays and the Docks area.
Gloucester Docks and Quays
A spot of shopping should be top of the list of things to do in Gloucester, and this outlet has great named brands such as Cath Kidston, Cadbury, Nike and Lindt it’s worth at least a little browse. You can enter Gloucester Quays, walk around in a circle and come back roughly where you started. Having explored the Cathedral and the Docks, it’s time to return back toward the Train Station – but not before dining at Gloucester’s best restaurant! (IMO)
Visiting some local restaurants is always high on my list of things to do in Gloucester – especially when it’s a hidden gem. It’s a little walk back towards the train station, but you’ll be rewarded with the best of traditional Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine at Sebz. Read here why I think it’s the best restaurant in Gloucester.
Assuming you’ve completed the loop of Gloucester Quays and are now standing back at Ted Baker and All Saints. We’ll make our way back in the direction you came. Head towards the harbour area, keeping The High Constable (Wetherspoons) on your left.
This time when you enter the courtyard, walk straight between the harbour and the car park. Car park on your right, harbour on your left. This is another great Instagram location – especially if you can notice the spires of the Cathedral peeking through.
Walk to the end of the car park, passed the next building and you’ll notice some steps on your right hand side between two buildings. Walk up the steps. Cross the road at the crossing in the direction of the CD Holder looking sculpture. Follow the path back into town, Aroma Indian Restaurant should be on your right hand side. You’re now on Southgate Street , you’ll pass a number of shopping as you’re back within the City Centre, keep walking straight until you reach the cross roads.
Continue across to Northgate Street. Walk straight until you reach the mini roundabout with Wilkinson on your left. Continue straight, but on the left hand side there will be a restaurant called Sebz – next to the Cash Converters. I know it looks a little suspect but trust me on this one!
Staying the night?
If you’ve opted to stay for the night or you’re going hard then there’s really two choices here.
Catch a game at Gloucester Rugby, or catch a flick at Sherbourne cinema.
Gloucester Rugby is one of the top things to do in Gloucester for the electric atmosphere.
If its the former, you may need to have purchased tickets in advance depending on the game but often tickets can be purchased on the day. Price varies. To reach Kingsholm Stadium, exit right out of Sebz and turn right at the mini roundabout heading towards Fab and Fated.
At the end of the road, use the pedestrian crossing to reach the other side but continue straight down the road opposite – this is Worcester Street. If you haven’t already spotted the hoards of cherry and whites, continue straight and you cant miss the Kingsholm Stadium on your left.
To return to the train station after the game, follow the main road back the way you came. Turn left and follow the road all the way until you reach the train station on your left, directly after the Station Hotel and Bar.
This is one of my favourite things to do in Gloucester, as it’s not that well known even by those residing in the city. So if you fancy catching a box office flick, Gloucester’s vintage cinema is the perfect setting. Sherborne Cinema shows the latest films in a unique art-deco 137 year old cinema, which is fully equipped with up-to-date digital projection and Dolby surround sound.
With tickets at just £6 and refreshments from £1 for a hot drink in a mug your visit won’t break the bank. There is only a single screen so you’ll need to check the programme before your visit.
There are 141 seats, available to ourchase on arrival to the box office. The box office opens 30 minutes before the start of each show – cash only. Films start at 6.30pm or 8.30pm with no advertisements.
To reach Sherborne cinema, follow the directions above down Worcester Street but take the second right on to Sweetbriar Street – this is also directly opposite the Rugby Stadium. Keep following this road, passed the playing field as the road curves round to the right and then to the left – the road continues but becomes Union Street. Continue straight until you come to a dead end. Walk through the opening on your right hand side between the houses and you’ll come into a car park.
You’ll now be on Sherborne Street, when you read the road turn left and you’ll see Sherborne Cinema on the opposite side of the road.
To return to the train station, exit left out of the cinema and follow the road around to the left. Turn right at the T-junction and follow the road around to the left (Oxford Street) – you’ll pass the back entrance to Stagecoach on your left. Turn right at the main road (London Road) and follow it to the end. You’ll pass a petrol station on your right, and you’ll see St Peter’s Church on the corner to your right. Turn left and follow the road all the way until you reach the train station on your left, directly after the Station Hotel and Bar.
What are your favourite things to do in Gloucester? Let me know in the comments.