Last Updated on 9 January 2023
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Are you spending the weekend in Gloucester?
Because staycations are the in thing right now and the only real hassle-free way to travel, I recently went on a city break to Gloucester (this isn’t such a bad thing, because it’s got me and many others exploring our home countries). I would usually be gallivanting around on some of the best summer city breaks in Europe or ticking off my Southeast Asia bucket list right now, but instead decided to spend a grand total of 2 nights in Gloucester (and had an absolute ball). Before going, I researched the best things to do in Gloucester and having now road-tested these, I want to share them with you so you don’t miss out on any of the good bits!
Is Gloucester worth visiting?
Yes, Gloucester is definitely worth visiting and makes for the ideal UK city break. But if you were there for more than 2 nights I think you would probably run out of things to do in the city centre, unless you are into museums, want to literally shop until you drop, or intend to do various day trips out of Gloucester (this is just my opinion). I would definitely go back in the future for a couple of nights, because it makes for the ideal getaway.
What’s Gloucester famous for?
Gloucester is probably most famous for its historic docks and impressive cathedral. The city has also acted as the setting for one of Beatrix Potter’s well-loved stories, The Tailor Of Gloucester, which was inspired by a visit to the city. Gloucester is also located a stone’s throw from the Cotswolds, which is scattered with traditional English villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Castle Combe.
So what are the top things to do in Gloucester?
1. Explore Gloucester Docks
One of the top things to do in Gloucester and a necessary component of any visit to the city is to wander around the historic docks. Gloucester Docks is one of the UK’s most inland docks, and are home to 15 Victorian dock buildings, Mariner’s Chapel, a working dry dock where boat repairs are still made, tall ships, canal boats and the odd yacht or two.
They are lined with an abundance of sociable dockside cafes, restaurants and bars, making it one of the best places to wine and dine in the city. Whilst wandering around, let your imagination run wild back to a time long ago when the docks were bustling with cargo ships arriving to offload their goods.
2. Shop ’til you drop at Gloucester Quays
Located within Gloucester Docks is Gloucester Quays. Alongside the docks and the Cathedral, Gloucester Quays is probably one of the main reasons people pay a visit to the city. Dotted with cafes and restaurants, Gloucester Quays is a designer outlet shopping centre, where you will find a mix of high street and designer shops and might be able to snap up a bargain at up to 70% off of the retail price. Gloucester Quays is one of the best places to visit in Gloucester if you fancy a spot of retail therapy or need to do some Christmas shopping!
3. Wander around Gloucester Cathedral
Located smack bang in the middle of the city centre and one of the most notable things to see in Gloucester is Gloucester Cathedral. The resting place for some renowned humans such as Edward II and Robert of Normandy (the eldest son of William the Conqueror, who is buried somewhere beneath the building), Gloucester Cathedral was built mostly in the 13th and 14th centuries.
A place of worship for Christians for over 1,300 years, Gloucester Cathedral has also featured as a film set for various Harry Potter movies. To walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, you’ll need to visit the cloisters. At the time I visited, there was no entrance fee for visiting Gloucester Cathedral but a donation will always be greatly appreciated.
Tip: Gloucester Cathedral has a 225ft tall central tower, making it visible from across the city centre. So if you get lost in Gloucester (which you shouldn’t because the centre is fairly small and Gloucester’s attractions are clumped together), then just look for the tower to guide your way.
4. Visit the House of the Tailor of Gloucester
Set in a quaint alleyway a stone’s throw from Gloucester Cathedral, the House of the Tailor of Gloucester is a museum and shop dedicated to Beatrix Potter. The House of the Tailor of Gloucester is sketched in Potter’s book, The Tailor of Gloucester.
She took inspiration for this story when visiting a friend near to the city, and took a trip into the city to sketch buildings and visit 43 Westgate Street which was home to the Tailor of Gloucester her friend had told her about. A visit to the House of the Tailor of Gloucester is one of the best free things to do in Gloucester, but a donation or purchase of a souvenir will go a long way towards the upkeep of the exhibition.
5. Feast at Greek on the Docks
Located along the historic Gloucester Docks, Greek on the Docks is a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant which I would highly recommend you eat at during your trip to the city. With uninterrupted views of the old warehouses and docked boats, Greek on the Docks makes for a truly atmospheric place to dine. They serve the most scrumptious and fresh Souvlaki, and the portion sizes were generous too. I visited one lunchtime to sample their lunch menu, and because the prices were reduced during this time I got to have a three-course meal for an unbelievable price (check their website to see up to date deals and menus).
6. Do a day trip to Bourton-on-the-Water
One of the best things to do near Gloucester is to take a day trip to the Cotswolds. Running through 5 counties and covering an area of nearly 800 square miles, the Cotswolds is full of market towns, quaint villages, natural beauty and castles.
Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most famous villages in the Cotswolds, owed to its picture-postcard perfection and tranquil river that runs through the centre. There are lots of things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water itself, but during a day trip from Gloucester some of the must-dos are getting chips from The Chip Shed and sitting alongside the River Windrush, and visiting the Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum.
7. Get a drink at the Lord High Constable of England
For many of us Brits, Wetherspoons are a quintessential part of UK culture. They are a chain of pubs which serve affordable food and drinks, and can often be found in the most unique of buildings. The Lord High Constable of England is located within the historic docks. The middle section of the building was a Victorian saw mill, and the front and back sections were school rooms and offices. But what makes having a drink at the Lord High Constable of England one of the best things to do in Gloucester is the outdoor seating at the rear of the building, which offers views across the docks.
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