Things to do in Cheltenham
There are so many things to do in Cheltenham, you're going to love your visit to this spa town. While mainly known for the Cheltenham festivals and the famed racecourse, there's plenty more to do in this town including biking, walking, shopping and eating great food. Cheltenham is located in Gloucestershire in England, and it's also the perfect getaway to the Cotswolds.
Cheltenham is a special place as it's the most complete Regency town in the UK. You'll see well-preserved Georgian architecture, enjoy splendid street art and stylish shops dotted all around the town. Cheltenham feels airy and spacious, with leafy boulevards and stunning houses. A visit to Cheltenham is a must, and you won't be short on things to do.
Whether you visit on your own or with your family, there are many activities to add to the itinerary. We would like to thank Visit Cheltenham for hosting us and telling us some of the fun things to do in town.
Without further ado, here are the top attractions in Cheltenham you are going to love.
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Marvel at the Montpellier District
Visit the beautiful Montpellier in Cheltenham, a district developed in the 1830s now known for its restaurants and cafés as well as stylish shops.
Montpellier Spa was initiated by Henry Thompson after the discovery of spring waters on his own land. Have a look at the distinctive Rotunda created as a pump room in 1825. Opposite you'll see the Montpellier Gardens.
The most notable part are the Neoclassical, Greek inspired, caryatids supporting the shopfronts. These were created in 1940 and are part of the Montpellier Walk.
Book your Cheltenham Self-Guided Audio Tour.
Stroll in Pittville Park
The Pittville Park was opened in 1825, and it's the largest ornamental park in Cheltenham. Take your family and stroll around this magnificent grade II listed park under the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens.
Take the kids to the eastern side of the park, home to a children's play area and the aviaries to see birds and bunnies.
For a much longer walk, head to the western side of the park, with a more natural layout and a small woodland. You can fish in the lower lake during fishing season or for something sportier, head to the tennis courts or the golf courses.
Admire the Pittville Pump Room
Visit the Pittville Pump Room, a stunning building at the heart of Pittville Park which offers a diverse range of activities and events. It's one of Cheltenham's most popular wedding venues, and it also takes the centre stage in the annual Cheltenham Music Festival.
Learn about the history of the Pittville Pump Room with a walking trail created by the The Cheltenham Trust. This is a self guided audio tour that can accessed by QR code on the phones or tablets. You'll listen to characters from their era tell their stories and you'll get to learn through a visual tour, vignettes, and artefacts.
Don't forget to check the Pittville Pump Room website and time your arrival for an artisan market or a festival.
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Visit the Wilson Art Gallery and Museum
Visit the Wilson, an art gallery and museum that now houses an internationally significant museum collection of great quality and variety. If you're interested in the Cheltenham born Antarctic explorer Edward A. Wilson head to The Open Archive to learn more.
The Wilson first opened in 1898 when third Baron de Ferrieres, a former Mayor and MP for Cheltenham, gave 43 important paintings to the town. Make sure to check in advance what's happening at the Wilson and what are the latest events.
Please note, the Wilson Art Gallery isn’t due to reopen until the 23 July, having a major makeover.
Address: Clarence St, Cheltenham GL50 3JT
Walk down the Promenade and Long Gardens
Cheltenham's Promenade dates back to 1818 and it was once a marshy, boggy track near some of the mineral springs. Today it is one of the best preserved thoroughfares and according to a Google poll, the Promenade is one of the top five shopping streets in the country.
Walk down the Promenade, now a leafy avenue lined with well-known brands and independent boutiques. Don't miss the superb Long Gardens located in front of the Municipal Buildings. The gardens feature an ever-changing display of plants and flowers. Notice the stunning Neptune Fountain, modelled on the Trevi fountain in Rome.
Book your Cheltenham Self-Guided Audio Tour.
Have a picnic in the Imperial Gardens
If you love stunning floral display, you're going to want to see the Imperial gardens in Cheltenham. A popular spot for locals to picnic and soak up the sunshine, these formal gardens have 25,000 bedding plants.
Beyond the magnificent floral displays, enjoy a portion of friends and a pint of beer from the Garden Bar opened during the summer months.
Book your Cheltenham Self-Guided Audio Tour.
Attend festivals in Cheltenham
Cheltenham Spa is the city of festivals, and for a good reason. The town is famed for hosting many cultural festivals throughout the year.
Time your visit to participate in the Cheltenham jazz festival, the Cheltenham literature festival and the Cheltenham Science Festival. There's also the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Cheltenham Cricket Festival and the Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival, so you have plenty of activities to pick from year around.
Any Cheltenham festival you pick will be a lot of fun, with special events and activities throughout the day.
Rent an electric bike
Head to the Bicycle Hub located right next to the main train station and rent a bike for the day. They have many electric bikes to make it easier for you to explore Cheltenham.
The friendly locals at the Hub will ensure they have the right bike for your height and weight and show you hot to use an electric bike if you've never used one before. It's easier than you think and a lot of fun too. No more issues pedalling up those hills!
We recommend the Regency Cycle Trail that starts from the Bicycle Hub. This is a gentle six mile cycle trail which will take you along the Honeybourne Line, through Pittville Park, through the town centre.
Address: 278 Gloucester Road Cheltenham Railway Station, Platform 2, Cheltenham GL51 7AG
Book a show at the Everyman Theatre
Book a show at the Everyman Theatre and see a range of productions including ballet, opera, drama, dance, and events.
The Everyman theatre has been serving since 1891 and the main auditorium is considered an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Matcham. It's a Grade II building.
Make sure to check the events calendar, with almost daily productions on offer, including many West End favourites.
Don't fancy a show in the evening? Pop in for eating drinking or just relaxing at the Everyman Café Bar which is open 6 days a week.
Address: 7, 10 Regent St, Cheltenham GL50 1HQ
Buy amazing cheese at the Cheeseworks
Calling all cheese lovers, a visit to The Cheeseworks is a must. Enter the independent cheese monger on Regent Street and do a bit of cheese shopping.
The Cheeseworks is recognised as one of the finest British cheesemongers. They have over 100 different British and European cheeses. Purchase your favourites for yourself, or get a cheese hamper for a loved one. That's a great souvenir or gift for everyone, and you get to support a local business too.
Address: 5 Regent St, Cheltenham GL50 1HE
Shop for souvenirs
There are over 60 different independent shops in Cheltenham, making it the perfect place for finding souvenirs from your trip.
Find pre-loved designers handbags, luxury women swear or purchase a bottle of wine from the award-winning merchants at Tivoli Wines.
For something truly unique, head to The Wilson art gallery, which features designer and fun brands. Besides, every purchase supports the art gallery too.
For the cutest looking indie boutique, head to the Pink Vintage, which looks absolutely adorable.
More well known shops and brands are located at the Regent Arcade Shopping Centre.
See the Cheltenham town hall
Visit the superb Grade II listed Town Hall, an early 20th century assembly rooms in Cheltenham.
Located in the Cheltenham town centre, it's easy to spot, as it's near the Promenade and the Imperial Gardens. What makes the Cheltenham town hall special is that unlike most town halls, this is a public venue.
Address: Imperial Square, Cheltenham GL50 1QA
Attend horse racing at the Cheltenham racecourse
The Regency spa town is well-known thanks to the racecourse which takes place at Prestbury Park.
Its most prestigious meeting is the Cheltenham Festival, held in March, which features several Grade I races including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and the Stayers' Hurdle.
Take a day trip to Gloucester
Less than 30 minutes drive away is the city of Gloucester, chock-full of things to do and experience. Walk around the centre and shop for souvenirs at the Antique Centre.
Visit the superb 11th century cathedral featured in Harry Potter films. Take a walk by the historic Victorian docks and make sure to eat authentic Neapolitan pizza at Settebello.
Try your luck escaping from the Trapped Escape Rooms or take the whole family for a skiing session at the Gloucester ski and snowboard centre, open all year round.
Visit the stunning Sudeley Castle and Gardens
Sudeley Castle is a Grade I listed castle in the Cotswolds near the medieval market town of Winchcombe. The castle is well known for its 10 gardens covering 15 acres of land. The castle was built in 1443 replacing a 12th century fortified manor house.
Apart from visiting the castle and its stunning gardens, there are plenty of events and festivals to enjoy. Some of them will be included in the admission ticket.
Don't miss the St Mary's church, located near the castle, a restored church between 1855 and its rededication in 1863. It is the resting place of Queen Katherine Parr, the only English queen to be buried on private land.
Book a Private Cotswold Village Tour.
Wdejager, CC BY-SA 4.0
Enjoy fine dining at The Queens Hotel
Enjoy a refined dinner at Victoria's restaurant located in the Queens Hotel. Enjoy locally sourced produce which combine British and International flavours.
Have classic dishes or order delicious artisan cheeses which go with award-winning English wines. Book your table in advance and have your dinner either indoors or in the elegant summer gardens. Book your stay.
Have a spa break
Cheltenham is not called a spa town for no reason. There are many hotels which offer spa deals and packages in Cheltenham. Book a room in a hotel with spa onsite and make full use of the spa facilities. Most spa packages include dinner and breakfast included too.
Many spa packages are available at luxury accommodation providers. Book your spa stay at the Greenway Hotel & Spa is a 16th Century Elizabethan manor house at the foothills of the Cotswolds. Or try The Spa at Ellenborough Park which has incredible facilities including a spa jacuzzi pool, sauna, steam room and an outdoor heated pool which is open during daylight hours all year round.
Visit the Brewery Quarter
Shopping enthusiasts should visit the Brewery quarter, found at the end of the High Street. It's basically a complete hub for shopping, leisure attractions, restaurants, and bars.
The Brewery quarter was founded in 1760 and it was once upon a time known as the Gardener's Brewery. Brewing ceases in 1998 and became an entertainment venue since 2000. Grab the fam and go have some fun!
Where to stay in Cheltenham
The Queens Hotel in Cheltenham - For a luxury stay, you'll want to book a stay at The Queens Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel positioned right at the heart of the town. The hallways feature a wallpaper designed by A.W. Pugin and installed in 1838, the same as in the Houses of Parliament. Stay in the Imperial Suite to enjoy lots of space and lovely views over the Imperial Gardens.
Is Cheltenham worth visiting?
Yes, Cheltenham is definitely worth visiting. There's plenty of superb leafy avenues, superb gardens and Georgian houses waiting to be discovered. It's a fantastic town for shopping and leisure activities.
Is Cheltenham a posh town?
Cheltenham is a posh town with its large green spaces, spacious gardens and stunning Georgian houses. It's ideal for a luxury staycation and the perfect place to explore the indie boutiques, fancy restaurants and indulge in spa packages.
What is Cheltenham popular for?
Cheltenham is the most complete Regency town in the UK, and it's renowned for its racecourse. Many come to see horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup held every March.
Is Cheltenham UK a nice place to live?
In 2020, Cheltenham was voted the best place to live in the South West by Sunday Times. Cheltenham is a beautiful town with low crime rate and well performing schools. It hosts several annual festivals, and it features numerous green spaces and regency houses.
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