Reading is a large town 37 miles west of London and is the county town of Berkshire. But what is there to do and see here? Below is our list of the best things to do in Reading!
- Reading Museum
- Forbury Gardens
- Hills Meadow
- Thames Lido
- View Island
- Basildon Park
- Caversham Court
- The Thames Path
The ancient Greek archaeological discoveries and the extensive collection of 20th-century British art, pottery and sculpture are well worth seeing – Jacob Epstein and Auguste Rodin are amongst those whose works are to be found here – but the undoubted highlight of this museum is its replica of the Bayeux Tapestry.
The museum is located in the Town Hall, a fine example of a neo-Gothic building.
These Victorian ornamental gardens provide an oasis of peace in the heart of the town. It’s a Green Heritage Site and once won the Best Regional Park in Britain in Bloom competition.
Highlights include the Verdun Oak, which is Reading’s principal memorial to the First World War, with the tree having been grown from a seed picked up on the battlefield of Verdun.
The park is also home to the Maiwand Lion statue, a number of fountains and a café.
There’s live music on the bandstand every weekend.
Forbury Gardens is adjacent to the remains of the 12th century Reading Abbey.
This is a pleasant green space close to the town centre, which includes a stream that joins the Thames. It has a BMX track and skateboarding ramp.
Every November, the meadow hosts the Winter Wonderland Christmas Market, which runs until early January. There’s an ice rink and Santa’s Grotto, alongside the bars and food and gift stalls.
A short walk from the city centre, you’ll find this Edwardian gem on the south bank of the river. It’s not just a place for outdoor swimming either. You can also marvel at the columns, tresses, bay windows and other stunning period architecture. You can book a massage session, or you can sample some fine Spanish and Mediterranean food at lido’s restaurant.
This island is located in the Thames, just to the north of the town’s railway station. It’s easy to combine a visit here with a trip to the nearby lido.
View Island provides great views down the river to the Caversham Lock weir. The open space created on the island is noted for its wooden sculptures. There’s also a hard-surfaced area for ball games.
A short drive or short walk along the Thames Path to the west of Reading brings you to the National Trust estate of Basildon Park. The 18th-century manor house was used as the Grantham family’s London residence in Downton Abbey (while Downton itself was Highclere House, around 20 miles from Reading).
At Basildon, you can see the fine collection of furniture and Old Masters paintings in the house, while the park and gardens are noted (at different times of the year) for bluebells, roses, buttercups and autumn colours.
On the north bank of the river in the suburb of Caversham, this place is famed for the exotic trees on display in its gardens, which include Atlas cedar, Bhutan pine, cedar of Lebanon, black mulberry and ancient yew.
Other highlights include the lavender bank and the terraces running down to the Thames.
Just to the south of the town, you can visit this English Heritage site, and there’s no charge for entry. The walls which encircled the original Roman settlement are intact to this day, and you can walk all the way around. The site also contains the remains of a Roman amphitheatre.
The Thames Path
Reading lies on the River Thames, England’s longest river. The Thames Path closely follows the river’s route on its 200-mile journey from the source in the Cotswold Hills to east London. You can easily pick up the Thames Path in the town and walk for as long as you like in either direction. For a lovely short walk, head east to the tea rooms in the picture-postcard village of Sonning.
Alternatively, you can explore the surrounding countryside by walking along the Kennet and Avon Canal. The canal’s western end is 87 miles to the west in Bristol, while its eastern terminus is where it joins the Thames in Reading.
This is perhaps the second largest music event in the UK, after Glastonbury. Every August Bank Holiday, 100,000 revellers descend on the Richfield Avenue site to enjoy some of the world’s biggest bands. Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Post Malone were the 2021 headliners.
There are many lovely places you can visit whilst you are visiting the city. But, you’ll need somewhere to stay so you can see them all… Browse all our range of accommodations in Reading!