A cathedral city in the heart of the Cotswolds, Gloucester has a fascinating history that lives on today. It’s a diverse and exciting city that dates back to the Roman era, providing over 2,000 years of culture and growth. As England’s most inland port, visitors can enjoy wandering among the historic docks. Gloucester is a city that has seen huge regeneration over the past few years, and it continues to flourish. With a passion for sport with its recently hosted Rugby World Cup and its home team, Gloucester Rugby, there’s so much to do in the city for everyone. Here are the best things to do in Gloucester.
Looking for somewhere to eat? Check out my guide to the best restaurants in Gloucester.
Visit Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral is one of the UK’s most celebrated cathedrals. By visiting, you’ll discover one of the most beautiful medieval buildings in the country. Did you know even royalty is buried here, as it’s the burial place of King Edward II? Exploring the cathedral is one of the best things to do in Gloucester as you’ll discover over a thousand years of history. Architecture buffs will love the incredible range of styles from Norman to the present day. Even now, you’ll find skilled craftsmen working their magic on the cathedral. Don’t miss the beautiful Cloisters, with their ornate detailing from floor to ceiling. The Great East Window is another spectacle, as well as the pretty College Green surrounding Gloucester Cathedral.
Enjoy a Day at Gloucester Quays
Located right along Gloucester’s historic docks, Gloucester Quays is the city’s vibrant leisure area. It’s complete with a shopping mall, a cinema, a museum, and various bars and restaurants. It’s therefore the perfect day out for the whole family, with something to do for all ages making it one of the best things to do in Gloucester. The shopping centre itself at Gloucester Quays is a designer outlet, meaning its packed with great brands from AllSaints to Hotel Chocolat. There’s no better place to shop than with the impressive historic docks in the background. In the 1800s, the docks were changed forever when the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal was introduced. It led to a rise in Victoria warehouses, which are now the home to chic bars and restaurants at Gloucester Quays.
Cheer on Gloucester Rugby
It wouldn’t be a trip to Gloucester without cheering on the cherry and whites at Kingsholm Stadium! Right near the city centre, you can watch the boys in action as they take on top fixtures within both the Aviva Premiership and the European Cup. It’s here, too, where some matches took place as part of 2015’s Rugby World Cup. Gloucester is a rugby city through and through, so watching a match is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Gloucester. Kingsholm itself has a hefty capacity of 16,000 supporters, although true fans love to watch from the iconic standing-only section known as the ‘Shed’. Grab a local cider and enjoy catching legendary players including ex-England star, Danny Cipriani.
Visit Beatrix Potter’s House of the Tailor of Gloucester
Gloucester’s home to a number of fictional children’s literary characters, not least Doctor Foster. The city is also home to the inspiration behind one of Beatrix Potter’s much loved characters, the Tailor of Gloucester. Located in College Court, one of the best things to do in Gloucester is visit the original house of Beatrix Potter’s Tailor of Gloucester. An adorable attraction, it’s the same building that features within the stories and is even included as part of the story’s illustrations. Highlights include seeing the tailor’s very own kitchen, as well as several other interesting displays. After you’ve explored the museum, there’s a charming shop that sells some adorable souvenirs. Don’t miss the Animated Mice Box!
Visit Blackfriars Priory
There aren’t many medieval priories in the world that are so intact and free to explore, which is what makes Blackfriars Priory so special. In fact, Blackfriars Priory is actually the most complete example of a medieval Dominican Priory in the UK. It features its very own medieval cloister which was completed back in the thirteenth century. Here, you can see the scriptorium where friars were trained back in the day. It’s also possible to visit the study booths where the monks once read in the oldest library in the country. Visiting Blackfriars Priory is certainly one of the best things to do in Gloucester, and you’ll see why the beautiful building is such a popular choice for weddings. Explore inside and in the summer, enjoy the stunning courtyard, which is the perfect spot for a drink in the sun.
Take a SimAir737 Flight Simulator at Staverton Airport
Always fancied learning to fly? At Gloucester’s Staverton Airport, you really can. One of the best things to do in Gloucester, the SimAir737 is a realistic Boeing 737 cockpit, and the most authentic flight simulator there is. Whether you fancy ‘flying’ to the Mediterranean or simply circling London, you’ll learn how to operate the many dials of the cockpit. You’ll also enjoy the incredible views from the 180 degree screens that make you feel you’re really there. It’s even possible to choose your conditions – perhaps you want rough weather, or even a crazy scenario like engine failure on your flight. Often used by real pilots for training, the instructors will take you through the SimAir737 and show you how to fly. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and there’s even a lounge for enjoying a drink afterwards.
Go skiing at Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre
Skiing in Gloucester? Yep, you read that right! Right on the outskirts of the city, you’ll find one of the best things to do in Gloucester. The Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre even boasts the longest slope in England and Wales. It’s the perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard, or simply to get in some practice before heading to the mountains. The star attraction is a 250m lubricated slope, as well as various other smaller slopes. Other facilities include four ski lifts, a Snowflex fun park, and a permanent AirBag for practising. There’s plenty of ski equipment up for hire, and you can book ski and snowboard lessons. Enjoy a drink or a meal afterwards at the onsite fully licensed bar while you relax.
Learn at the Museum of Gloucester
As a city so rich in history and culture, it’s always good to squeeze in some learning during a trip to Gloucester. The Museum of Gloucester runs visitors through the beginnings of the city as a Roman settlement. You can then explore Gloucester’s development through the Medieval period through various relics. The building itself boasts gorgeous Victorian architecture, and an array of fine portraits by iconic artists. Highlights include the interactive Roman kitchen, and a medieval street with original Roman wall. There’s also an incredible archaeology range, with Roman tombstones, as well as the world’s oldest backgammon set. You’ll discover fascinating artefacts throughout Gloucester Museum.
That’s my guide to the best things to do in Gloucester! Are there any other activities you’d add to the list?