On the River Severn lies Gloucester, a British city full of heritage and history, as well as amazing attractions and beauty spots.

Dating back to the Roman era, it’s full of historical gems to be discovered – and with no shortage of festivals, cathedrals, museums and more, Gloucester should be one of your first picks when considering where to visit in the UK. (Related: Pubs In Gloucester That Locals Love!).

And if you’re looking for things to do in Gloucester then you’re in the right place as right here we’ve compiled some of the best, most fun, and budget friendly things to see and do in the city. Many of which are also free. Let’s get started!

family walking on path

50+ Things To Do In Gloucester: No More Boredom!

1. Gloucester’s Majestic Cathedral

Just from the outside, Gloucester Cathedral is architecturally stunning and its history spans over 1000 years.

But it gets even better on the inside with its intricate ceiling, gallery, gift shop, peaceful garden, and the Monk’s Kitchen which sells yummy treats for the whole family. And what’s more, some scenes of Harry Potter were even filmed here! Entry is free.

2. Get a Head Start with City Tours

Don’t know where to start? You can take a Civic Trust City Tour for just £6.00 for adults, £2.50 for secondary school children and £1.00 for primary school kids. Tours take place every day (apart from Sundays) from April to mid-October at 11.00 am. Get tickets from St Michael’s Tower.

There are also Roman Gloucester Walks and Tours available, Saxon Gloucester Tours, plus many other different types of tours.

3. Learn Gloucester’s Story

Learn about the city’s story at the Museum of Gloucester which exhibits archaeological artefacts from the Roman era, Dark Ages and Medieval period.

The building itself is also a historical artefact with its Victorian origins, and inside the museum, you will find various pieces of art. For younger family members there is no shortage of interactive exhibits and there is a café to keep you going.

General admission is free but certain exhibitions and events may cost money.

4. A Museum Dedicated to Beatrix Potter

The House of the Tailor of Gloucester is a charming and quaint museum and shop which exhibits the work and story of Beatrix Potter on the top floor.

The shop sells adorable items such as teaware, baby items, books, dinnerware, money boxes, soft toys and much, much more. It’s free to enter but consider buying from the store to support them.

5. National Waterways Museum

The National Waterways Museum takes you on a journey through 200 years of local waterways history inside a renovated Grade II listed building.

You can enjoy interactive exhibits as well as a café and a shop. Boat trips are also offered but they are sold separately, and in and around the docks you will find picnic benches and cafes.

Tickets start from £5.00 and last for 12 months.

6. Test Your Racing Skills

For more thrilling things to do in Gloucester, try go-karting at JDR Karting. Here you and your group can go-kart on a 300m long indoor circuit and reach speeds of 40mph! This is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Gloucester!

JDR Karting also offers laser tag and axe-throwing, as well as segways for the little ones.

Prices start from £18 for 15 minutes on the track. Laser tag starts from £7, and axe-throwing starts from £15. Segway sessions start from £10.

close up photo of elderly woman riding go kart

7. Test Your Ninja Skills

Inspired by the TV show Ninja Warrior, this Ninja Warrior UK Adventure site in Gloucester promises a fun day out while keeping you active. There are activities for all ages and the site even includes the Warped Wall. And for a refuel, you will find a café serving hot meals and snacks.

Bookings start from £13.00 and summer passes are available. Sessions tend to last 1 hour.

8. Escape Against the Clock

Gloucester is also home to numerous escape rooms, like Trapped Escape Rooms, which offers escape rooms based on the Japanese game Takagism.

Players need to work together and solve puzzles to escape before time runs out. Just watch out for certain rooms as they can be jumpy, so some kids might not enjoy it!

Prices start from £60 and change depending on the time or day. Remember the price is for a group of 2-6 people!

9. Experience Snow Sports

Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre is perfect for combining fitness and fun.

This site is made up of an outdoor artificial ski slope and the activities on offer range from tuition and recreational skiing to tubing on inflatables. Here you will also find golf, squash, tennis, a gym, wellness suites, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, and a pool.

Visit the website for specific pricing.

10. Go on a Shopping Spree

Shop at Gloucester Quays for up to 70% off outlet shopping. You can also browse luxury foods, takeaway foods, and restaurants, as well as go to the gym or cinema.

Events also take place throughout the year, from summer markets to meeting Father Christmas.

11. Meet Some Owls

The Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester is perfect for nature-loving families. Here you will find a conservation centre where you can experience flying owls and hawks. There is also a café.

It’s cheapest to spectate, with owl flying experiences starting from £10.00, but you can have owls and hawks land on your own arm too.

close up photo of an owl

12. Gloucester’s Gate Streets

Another great place to shop is around Gloucester’s various Gate Streets, which are full to the brim with independent stores.

Eastgate Street may be ancient, but it is still bustling with shoppers, as here you will find beauty, food, clothes, and tech stores.

13. Meet Some Llamas

In Newent is Biery Hill Llamas, which is home to 30 llamas, as well as dogs, pigs, chickens, and cows. Here you and your family can meet the animals and go llama-trekking in a beautiful 9 acres of woodland.

They also offer holiday cottages, and the woodland itself is great for birdwatching. For bookings, enquire here. This is easily one of the most fun things to do in Gloucester!

shallow focus photography of brown llama

14. Canal Cruises

The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal is truly impressive in its size and architecture. Take a tranquil walk along the canal, or you could stay on the SULA Lightship, a self-catering accommodation site which offers views of the docks.

Or if you’re just in Gloucester for a day out, take a Leisure Cruise on board the Queen Boadicea II and learn about the canal’s heritage.

For the cruise, children cost £4.25, and adults cost £6.00.

15. Try Paddleboarding

Experience the Gloucester Docks more uniquely with Discover Paddleboarding’s kayaking and paddleboarding sessions. You don’t need any prior experience, so why not try something new?

Prices start from £25 per session per person.

16. Hire a Boat

If you fancy exploring the docks more independently, Gloucester Boat Hire offers self-driving boats to hire that hold up to 8 people.

Off-peak is cheapest with prices starting from £70 for 2 hours.

17. Robinswood Hill Country Park

Robinswood Hill Country Park is ideal for an all-day hike with its stunning scenery and wildlife, including wildflowers in the spring. There are also ponds and orchards to explore. Close by are a café and picnic tables.

If you love nature, this will be one of the most things to do in Gloucester for you!

18. Barnwood Park and Arboretum

This nature reserve has consistently received Green Flag status for being one of the best green spaces nationally.

Here you can explore its various mature trees, grazing cattle, flower bed, wildlife pond, and wildflowers. Watch out for animals such as birds, butterflies, and moths. And why not follow the tree trail? It’s perfect for nature lovers and children.

19. Explore the Cotswolds

Arguably the most iconic countryside spot in the UK is partly hosted by Gloucester.

The Cotswolds are simply magnificent with its miles of land to explore, running through 5 counties. From its hills to its market towns, everything about this beating heart of the UK countryside is picturesque and stunning.

road landscape sky clouds

20. Explore the Markets

Gloucester Farmers Market takes place every Friday and has a range of local produce on offer.

From seasonal fruit and vegetables, meats, and tasty bakes, to Thai and Caribbean street food, you’ll want to keep coming back for more.

21. Hike Through the Forest of Dean

The Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley are the ultimate city escape with their woodland walks, cycling paths, castles, picnic sites, steam trains, activities such as archery and crafts, and the Clearwell Caves.

There is also Puzzlewood, a setting for shows like Merlin and Star Wars. At the Wye Valley, you will find pubs, canoes and kayaks for hire, boat tours, and plenty of history.

22. Knobbly Cob

Knobby Cob sandwich bar on Westgate Street sells mouth-watering deli sandwiches, baguettes, ciabattas, subs, jacket potatoes and salads.

There are also hot meals on offer like lasagne, pasta, roast turkey, and stuffing. Drinks, such as coffee and tea, are available too.

23. Farmhouse Deli Foods

Farmhouse Deli Foods sells fresh meat, sausages and bacon, pies, pastries, cheese, dairy, jams, chutneys, and sweet treats – like delicious Cotswold Fudge, flapjacks, and tiffins.

You can also grab special food bundles for your cooking needs. This store is on Northgate Street. You can visit their café on Southgate Street, in the shopping centre.

24. Hubble Bubble

At the heart of Gloucester is the Hubble Bubble Coffee House which sells delectable drinks and all-day food, like a full English breakfast for £8.95. Or you could have some American breakfast, with American-style pancakes costing £6.95.

25. Greek on the Docks

On the Gloucester Docks, you will find Greek…on the Docks! This restaurant sells authentic Greek and Mediterranean food and has a relaxing atmosphere.

You can sit outside while you eat and enjoy a view of the historic docks. With everything from Lavraki to Lamb Chops on the menu, you’ll find something to enjoy.

26. Orchard Street Market

At Orchard Square, the Orchard Street Market takes place on the first weekend of every month. As well as a diverse range of stalls, there is also live entertainment.

Whether it’s food, drink or crafts you’re looking for, it’ll almost certainly be here- and during the Christmas season, this market even turns festive!

27. Christmas Markets

For a market dedicated to Christmas, visit Llanthony Priory for the first weekend of December to experience the Llanthony Christmas Craft Fair. Here you will find woodwork, crafts, art, books, decorations, and treats.

28. Go Retro

At Kings Square, the Gloucester Goes Retro festival takes place for one day in the summer. This festival features live entertainment, vintage cars, and fashion. People tend to dress up vintage too – but you don’t have to! Visit the docks as well if you want to catch the vintage boats on display.

fashion sunglasses woman girl

29. Eastgate Shopping Centre

Shop at Eastgate Shopping Centre, where you’ll find the latest fashion, beauty trends, tech, food, drink and more. Events also take place throughout the year, especially in the summer.

30. Explore Museums Behind the Scenes

At the Museum of Gloucester, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour. Any history buffs travelling through the city won’t want to miss this chance at seeing Roman remains up close, or a sword that once belonged to King Richard III. These tours take place on Saturdays and cost £10 per person.

31. The Labyrinth

Back at Gloucester Cathedral, a fascinating tradition opens to the public every August.

The Labyrinth, which has been used for meditation and prayer for hundreds of years, can be visited for free without any bookings.

It’s perfect for quiet reflection and it’s encouraged you let go of any worries as you walk the path to the centre.

32. Family Fun Day

A family fun day takes place at the Stonehouse Court Hotel every summer, which involves BBQs, bouncy castles, and face painting.

The hotel itself has stunning grounds and architecture, and admission is free – just turn up.

33. Take the Family to Gloucester Park Fair

A lot closer to central Gloucester is the Gloucester Park Fair which lasts for one week during the summer. Activities include rides like carousels and waltzers, and there will be food stalls and, if you’re lucky, interesting visitors such as a T-Rex! Rides tend to cost around £1.

34. Tall Ships Festival

Taking place in May every two years is the Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure Festival which allows you to explore real ships and listen to stories from captains and crew.

Entertainment is available for all ages – such as battle re-enactments, stunt shows, and sand sculptors – so it’s great for families. You’ll find it at the canal.

35. A Festival for History Buffs

The Gloucester History Festival is a 2-week festival celebrating the city’s history. Activities include guided walks, workshops, exhibitions, talks, and much more to discover around the city.

Speakers can be listened to in the Blackfriars Priory. Book your attendance here.

36. Watch the City Go Alight

Stroll through Gloucester as a series of light installations appear throughout the city in the later part of the year. As the nights draw in, these lights are sure to put a smile on your face.

37. Beer and Cider Festival

The Gloucester CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival also takes place in the Blackfriars Priory annually, and here you can of course enjoy a wide range of beer and cider, as well as food and free entertainment.

people doing cheers inside building

38. Food and Drink Festival

More suitable for families is the Gloucester Quays Food and Drink Festival which showcases the food of celebrity chefs and features food and drink stalls to browse.

There is also live entertainment, and many stalls will be offering free food and drink samples for you to try.

39. Explore Gloucester Prison

This former prison is fascinating and fun to visit as it was in use since the Norman era. Many executions took place on the roof of the gatehouse; therefore, tours often involve gory details – so keep that in mind if you’re considering taking your family. There’s even mention of the paranormal in the 5:30 pm tours!

The site has free parking and tickets for tours cost £15 per person. Grab them here.

40. Blackfriars Priory

Blackfriars Priory is often host to Gloucester’s many events, but it deserves its own spot on this page as it is brimming with history, and it is described as one of Gloucester’s most iconic landmarks in the heart of the city.

The architecture is truly magnificent with its stonework, full glass walls and ancient ruins. Events and workshops also take place throughout the year.

Book a tour, which includes afternoon tea, for £35 for less than 10 people here.

41. Nature in Art

The Nature in Art Gallery and Museum captures the beauty of nature in its exhibitions of artwork made throughout history.

The location itself is also a natural masterpiece, with its lush green grounds and woodland location. Booking is not required – just turn up. A coffee shop is available here for refreshments, as well as a gift shop.

Adults cost £7.00 and under 8s are free. Concessions are £6.50 and discounts are available for large groups. For art lovers, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Gloucester!

42. Go Birdwatching

Highnam Woods is an RSPB site, which means it’s perfect for birdwatching. Watch out for elusive birds such as hawfinches or woodpeckers in the winter in these ancient woodlands.

Don’t miss plants too, with cuckoo flowers and bluebells growing in the spring. Other birds to spot include nightingales, song thrushes, spotted flycatchers and marsh tits. Visit the RSPB website for seasonal highlights.

woodpecker on a tree trunk

43. The Great Witcombe Roman Villa

Set in the beautiful countryside and with a backdrop of rolling hills is the remains of a Roman villa built around 250 AD.

It is said that these remnants include a bathhouse and a shrine. You will also see its mosaic pavements exhibited in a building nearby.

44. Greyfriars

Greyfriars is free to visit and steeped in history. This religious house was founded in 1231 by followers of St Francis of Assisi and has been renovated, changed, and damaged throughout history. Architecturally, it is truly grand – these remains are definitely worth a visit.

45. Folk of Gloucester

Discover local history at the Folk of Gloucester Museum.

Set in a Grade II listed Tudor building, this site exhibits 500 years of local life throughout its multiple floors – all the way up to the roof ceiling where you can admire Tudor craftsmanship. There is also a café here, as well as a garden area to enjoy.

46. Get to Know the Soldiers of Gloucester

The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum displays the history of Gloucestershire conflicts and how soldiers would live their day-to-day lives from the 17th century to the present.

Here you can try on army uniforms or look at a First World War replica of a trench. Learn about the Gloucestershire Regiment’s many honours or the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars’ methods of survival.

Even More Things To Do In Gloucester!

Visit St. Michael’s Tower which dates back to the 15th century. It’s usually open from April to September and there are a few exhibitions to take a look at inside the tower.

Explore the Jet Age Museum where you will find vintage planes and aviation artefacts, as well as guided tours of the cockpits of jet fighters plus an airliner. There is a café and shop here too.

Visit Prinknash Abbey, which is a Roman Catholic Benedictine home to a Monastic Community. You can walk around on designated footpaths, the Walled Garden, and you can visit the shop, café, and chapel.

Stretch your legs at Painswick Beacon which is a stunning place to hike. With its tree-covered hills and acres of fields, there’ll be plenty of nature to witness.

Alney Island Nature Reserve is a peaceful nature reserve perfect for walking and birdwatching. It features a sparkling river and lush greenery.

In Eastgate Shopping Centre there is an underground chamber which is host to Roman ruins, 13th-century ruins, and Tudor ruins. Tours take place also.