things to do reading

Last Updated on: 8th July 2024, 09:06 am

If you’re planning a trip to Reading, UK, or just looking for something to do in the area, you’re in luck! There are plenty of things to do in Reading that cater to various interests. As someone who has explored this vibrant town extensively, I can assure you that there is never a dull moment in Reading. In this section, I will share with you the best things to do in Reading, UK.

Reading is a town located in Berkshire, England, known for its rich history, cultural offerings, and beautiful green spaces. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, art lover, or nature admirer, you’ll find plenty of activities and attractions to suit your interests. So, if you’re wondering what things to do in Reading, UK, keep reading!

Things to Do in Reading

1. Explore Historic Sites

If you’re a history enthusiast, Reading won’t disappoint you. The town is dotted with a number of historic sites in Reading that are worth visiting. One of the most prominent among them is the Reading Abbey, founded by King Henry I in 1121.

Explore Historic Sites

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As you take a stroll through the abbey’s ruins, you can’t help but marvel at the rich history it carries. The site was once one of the largest and wealthiest monasteries in England. It was famously home to King Henry I’s tomb and became a place of pilgrimage, with many medieval pilgrims visiting the site to seek blessings.

The abbey has witnessed several historical events, including the burial of Henry I’s only son in 1127 and King Richard I’s departure for the Third Crusade in 1190. Unfortunately, the site was damaged during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII’s reign in the 16th century and has since been a ruin. But it still retains its charm and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The History of Reading Abbey

Year Event
1121 King Henry I founds the Abbey
1189 King Richard I departs for the Third Crusade from the Abbey
1194 King Richard I’s heart is buried at the Abbey
1539 Abbey dissolved during the reign of King Henry VIII

“The ruins of Reading Abbey has an overwhelming aura of romanticism, not of the sanctuary but of the human spirit. Its history is much like a fairy tale, full of royal burials, medieval pilgrimages, and a host of characters.” – Michael Alexander, English poet and translator

Other historic sites in Reading include the nearby Medieval Church of St. Lawrence, the Blakes Lock Museum, and the Museum of English Rural Life, each with unique tales to tell about Reading’s past. If you’re visiting the area, a trip to these sites is a must to appreciate Reading’s rich history.

2. Visit Museums

When it comes to museums in Reading, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, one that stands out is the Reading Museum. This museum is a hub of information, showcasing the town’s rich history and the development of art throughout different ages.

The Reading Museum has several exhibits featuring local history, from the prehistoric times, right up to current times. This museum also has a fantastic selection of art, both contemporary and historic, with roots in the local community.

Reading Museum

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For those with an interest in archaeology, the museum has fascinating exhibits showcasing the findings of the local area. You will see everything from a Roman pavement and coins to artifacts from the Saxon era. This museum has an abundance of information that is perfect for people of all ages and interests.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Bayeux Gallery. This gallery offers visitors a chance to see the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry. This is an incredible masterpiece of embroidery, telling the story of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066. The tapestry is over 900 years old and is a unique piece of historic art. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to see it!

The Reading Museum: At a Glance

Exhibits Information
Local History From prehistoric times to current times
Art Exhibits Contemporary and historic pieces with local roots
Archaeology Exhibits Fascinating artifacts from the Roman and Saxon era
Bayeux Gallery Home of the 900-year-old Bayeux Tapestry

Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor to Reading, the Reading Museum is a must-visit attraction. With its informative exhibits and impressive collections, the museum offers insights into the city’s past and present. You will leave the museum with a newfound appreciation for Reading and its rich history.

3. Enjoy River Walks

If you’re looking for a refreshing way to spend your time in Reading, taking a stroll or cycling along the River Thames is an ideal activity. The city offers beautiful river walks in Reading that give you a glimpse of the stunning natural beauty of the area. One of the most popular routes is the Thames Path Reading, which stretches for 16 miles from the town of Pangbourne to the village of Sonning. Along the way, discover picturesque towns, ancient churches, and lush countryside.

River Thames

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For those who want to enjoy a leisurely walk, the Thames Path in Reading is perfect. You can take your time and relish the peaceful surroundings while exploring local attractions like the Reading Abbey ruins, Caversham Lock, and Mapledurham House. The Thames Path is also ideal for those who love cycling and want to explore the surrounding areas on two wheels.

Situated on the banks of the River Thames, Reading has been blessed with a unique location that provides stunning river walks to be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility of the river while taking in the beautiful views.

4. Discover Vibrant Markets

If you’re a fan of local markets, Reading has a bustling scene that won’t disappoint. The Reading Market, located in the heart of town, is a must-visit destination that offers fresh produce, clothing, crafts, and much more. It’s a hub of activity where you can immerse yourself in a lively atmosphere and support local businesses.

local markets

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“The Reading Market is one of my favourite spots in town. It’s always buzzing with energy and creativity, and you never know what you might discover there!”

– Sarah, Reading local

5. Explore Green Spaces

Looking for a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the city? Reading offers several well-maintained green spaces that are perfect for outdoor pursuits. My personal favorite is Forbury Gardens. The beautiful gardens are adorned with brightly colored flower beds and manicured lawns that are great for laying back and enjoying some sun. The historic abbey entrance provides a stunning backdrop for a picnic with friends or a peaceful afternoon with a book.

Forbury Gardens

Forbury Gardens

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Spread over four acres, the Forbury Gardens is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. The park features a Victorian bandstand, a fountain, and a sensory garden that are sure to delight all visitors. It is also a popular spot for yoga enthusiasts, who flock to the gardens for a sunrise or sunset yoga session.

Other Green Spaces in Reading

If you wish to explore more green areas, then take a stroll down the Thames Path. The promenade runs along the River Thames and offers stunning views of the river. Alternatively, head to Prospect Park, a spacious park with a large pond that is home to a variety of wildlife.

Whether you’re seeking some peace and tranquility or a beautiful space for outdoor activities, the green spaces in Reading are sure to delight.

6. Visit Art Galleries

As an art enthusiast, exploring the art galleries in Reading is a must-do activity. The town offers a varied arts scene catering to diverse tastes and interests. One of the most notable establishments is Jelly, a contemporary arts space showcasing the work of local artists.

If you’re looking for an immersive art experience, Jelly is the perfect destination. The gallery’s exhibitions highlight works that explore pressing social issues in innovative ways, enriching visitors with different perspectives.

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or just beginning to explore, Jelly’s thought-provoking exhibitions are guaranteed to captivate your senses. Take the time to appreciate and engage with the art, and immerse yourself in the city’s thriving arts scene.

Jelly Gallery Details

Name Location Contact Info
Jelly Broad St, Reading, RG1 2HG 0118 958 6997

7. Indulge in Dining Experiences

One of the delights of exploring a new place is experiencing its culinary scene. Dining in Reading is a treat, with its diverse range of restaurants, cafes and pubs to indulge in.

Dining in Reading

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British cuisine has a strong presence in Reading, with traditional pub meals and classic fish and chips being popular choices. For those seeking international flavors, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re a fan of Thai curries, Italian pasta or Indian spices, there are restaurants in Reading that cater to your taste buds.

If you’re in the mood for an upscale dining experience, Reading has plenty of fine-dining options to offer. Indulge in a multi-course meal accompanied by a glass of wine or champagne, a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion.

Whatever your culinary preference, there is no shortage of options when dining in Reading. From casual eats to high-end restaurants, the choice is yours.

Take a look at the table below for some of the top-rated restaurants in Reading:

Restaurant Name Cuisine Price Range
L’Ortolan French £68
London Street Brasserie British £49
Spice Oven Indian £20
Papa Gee Italian £12
Bluegrass BBQ American £20

With so many options, there’s something for every taste and budget in Reading’s dining scene.

8. Experience the Nightlife

As the sun sets, Reading comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. Whether you’re in the mood for a pint of ale in a traditional pub or some fancy cocktails in a stylish bar, Reading won’t disappoint. The town has a buzzing nightlife scene, with something for everyone.

If you’re looking for some good old-fashioned pub fun, head to the Hobgoblin, the Purple Turtle, or the Back of Beyond. These popular pubs offer great vibes, live music, and affordable drinks.

Experience the Nightlife

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If you prefer something more upscale, visit the Milk Bar or the House of Flavors. These chic cocktail bars serve creative, Instagram-worthy cocktails in a trendy setting.

For beer lovers, the Berkshire Brew Co is a must-visit. This microbrewery offers a range of craft beers, brewed fresh on site, paired with tasty nibbles.

If you’re feeling lucky, pay a visit to Grosvenor Casino. This glamorous casino boasts a range of games, from blackjack to poker, and a lively bar, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day.

Whatever your preference, Reading’s nightlife won’t disappoint. So grab your friends, put on your dancing shoes, and explore the town’s buzzing nightlife scene.

9. Attend Local Events

As a local to Reading, I always look forward to the exciting events and festivals throughout the year. With a diverse range of options, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a music lover, a foodie, or interested in cultural celebrations, the local events in Reading will not disappoint.

One of my favourite festivals is the Reading Festival, which takes place every August. This world-famous music festival attracts top acts from around the globe, alongside emerging talent. With a vibrant atmosphere and stunning setting, it’s a must-visit event for any music fan.

If you’re more interested in food, don’t miss the annual Reading Food Festival. This popular event showcases the best of local and international cuisine, with plenty of mouth-watering dishes to try. Plus, there are always entertaining culinary demonstrations and workshops to participate in.

For a taste of Reading’s cultural heritage, be sure to attend the Reading Water Fest. It’s a celebration of Reading’s long-standing relationship with the river, featuring live music, dance performances, and water-based activities. You can even take a boat trip along the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Festival Name Date
Reading Festival August
Reading Food Festival September
Reading Water Fest June

Note: Dates are subject to change, please check the official websites for up-to-date information.

Attending local events is a fantastic way to experience the vibrant community spirit of Reading. Be sure to check the local event calendar and plan your visit accordingly.

10. Explore Surrounding Areas

If you find yourself with some spare time during your visit to Reading, I highly recommend venturing out to explore the surrounding areas. Henley-on-Thames is a picturesque town just a short drive away, famous for its annual rowing regatta. Stroll along the riverbank or stop by one of the many independent shops and cafes.

Berkshire Downs

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For those seeking outdoor adventures, the Berkshire Downs offer stunning landscapes and a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the miles of walking trails or pack a picnic and enjoy a peaceful afternoon in nature.

Whether you choose to spend your day exploring historic sites, visiting museums, or taking a leisurely river walk in Reading, the surrounding areas have much to offer. Consider taking a day trip to one of these nearby towns or natural areas to experience even more of what this beautiful region has to offer.


Having explored the best things to do in Reading, UK, I can confidently say that this town offers a plethora of activities that cater to all interests. From exploring historic sites like the Reading Abbey to immersing oneself in the vibrant market scene, there is never a dull moment in Reading.

Visitors can also enjoy scenic river walks along the Thames Path and indulge in culinary delights in the town’s diverse restaurants. The nightlife scene is also worth checking out, with numerous bars and pubs to choose from.

For those looking to venture beyond Reading, the surrounding areas offer plenty of options for day trips, from the charming town of Henley-on-Thames to the stunning countryside of the Berkshire Downs.

Overall, whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or someone who enjoys exploring vibrant towns, Reading is a must-visit destination in the UK. So why not plan your trip today and discover all that this town has to offer?


What are some popular attractions to visit in Reading?

Explore Reading’s attractions like The Oracle and Forbury Gardens, or delve into history at Reading Abbey Ruins and MERL. For a scenic escape, visit Basildon Park or Pincents Hill, or venture to Silchester for Roman ruins.

Can you recommend any family-friendly activities in Reading?

Enjoy family fun at Beale Park and Thames Valley Adventure Playground, or explore history at Reading Museum. Venture outdoors to Dinton Pastures for nature adventures or Riverside Museum for industrial heritage insights in Reading.

Where can we find the best restaurants and cafes in Reading?

Indulge in modern British cuisine at London Street Brasserie or fine dining at Cerise Restaurant. For casual eats, try Bakery House’s Lebanese dishes or Picnic Foods’ sandwiches, or savor South Indian cuisine at Pappadam’s in Reading.

How can we get around town easily while visiting Reading?

Navigate Reading with ease using public transport like buses and trains, or opt for walking, cycling, taxis, and car hire for convenient travel around town and beyond.


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