Reading is a historic university town in Berkshire, southeast England situated in the beautiful Thames Valley, not far from the city of London.
Located at the confluence of River Thames and Kennet, it is a bustling hive of activity filled with ancient buildings, diverse culture and a vibrant shopping scene.
During the 11th century, Reading Abbey was built by King Henry I as one of Britain’s most important religious centres and remains a significant landmark to this day.
The shopping district in Reading offers a wide variety of stores ranging from large chain stores to quaint independent shops selling unique products.
Furthermore, there are ample opportunities to explore some local culture by visiting one of the many museums including The Museum of English Rural Life, Forbury Gardens and Reading museum.
Overall, there’s lots to see and do in Reading, read on to find out some my favourites!
Things To Do In Reading
1. Basildon Park
Basildon Park is an elegant and historically significant country estate located between the villages of Upper Basildon and Lower Basildon.
It was built in the late eighteenth century for Sir Francis Sykes as a prime example of Palladian architecture, but never fully completed.
When discovered by Lord and Lady Iliffe in 1978, the property had been standing empty for some time, having passed through a succession of owners.
Thanks to their efforts, Basildon Park underwent incredible restoration work in the mid-twentieth century that returned the estate back to its former glory and enabled it to be opened up to the public.
The property is now Grade I listed due to its architectural and historical importance, and today it’s owned by the National Trust.
Set in 400 acres of park land, visitors can marvel at its beauty, from its grand façade overlooking landscaped lawns towards dense woodland beyond.
The interiors are filled with antiques, artwork and thoughtful curiosities collected over centuries; each room perfectly restored with true attention to detail.
On site there is also a tea room, shop and second-hand bookshop, visitor centre and children’s play area.
Address: Basildon Park, Reading RG8 9NR
2. Forbury Gardens
Forbury Gardens is a Grade II listed Victorian town garden situated between Reading town centre and the ruins of the 11th century Abbey.
The gardens are lined with historic walls, with beautifully crafted gateways leading visitors through into the grounds.
At the centre of the gardens lies the Maiwand Lion, a bronze sculpture made in 1880 that is testament to Reading’s military past, while also providing an impressive centrepiece for visitors to admire.
Furthermore, there is an ornate bandstand from which musical performances can be heard throughout the summer months and a water feature that adds an air of peace and calmness.
The gardens are also accessible by two winding footpaths that lead up to Forbury Hill, an area elevated 3 metres above its surroundings; making it perfect for picnics.
Address: Forbury Gardens, Reading RG1 3BB
3. Beale Wildlife Park
Beale Wildlife Park is an outdoor wildlife park near the River Thames, located between the villages of Pangbourne and Lower Basildon in Berkshire.
The park has over 160 species of birds and animals including Reindeer, Zebras, Alpacas, Meerkats, farm animals and birds spread across it’s large area.
A great place for kids, they can enjoy exciting activities such as an adventure playground, a zip wire, and rope play, to a paddling pool and a sandpit.
The idyllic atmosphere at Beale Park makes it a must-visit destination for families seeking relaxation or an outdoor adventure all year round.
Address: Beale Wildlife Park, Pangbourne, Reading RG8 9NW
4. Reading Museum
The Reading Museum is an incredible place and a must-visit for those who wish to discover more about the history and culture of Reading.
Situated in the heart of the town in Reading’s Victorian Town Hall, it documents the history and development of the area from its earliest beginnings to the present day.
The museum has several galleries dedicated to different aspects of Reading life, such as the Story of Reading Gallery, which is dedicated to illustrating how life in this vibrant town has been shaped over time.
The Silchester Gallery highlights archaeological finds from nearby Calleva Atrebatum and shows how these discoveries have helped to unlock some of the mysteries surrounding our past.
Meanwhile, The Bayeux Gallery houses an impressive replica of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, giving visitors a unique insight into ancient Norman life.
For lovers of food and industry, The Huntley & Palmers Gallery provides a fascinating glimpse into Reading’s biscuit-making heritage and explains why this industry continues to flourish today.
From learning about Reading’s rich heritage to admiring its art works and sculptures, there is something for everyone at Reading Museum!
Address: Reading Museum, Blagrave St, Reading RG1 1QH, UK
5. Caversham Court Gardens
Caversham Court is a beautiful public garden and former mansion house located on the north bank of the River Thames in Caversham, Reading.
The park lies within the St Peter’s conservation area and is listed as Grade II in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
It forms part of a series of riverside open spaces stretching along one or other side of the River Thames through Reading.
For more than 300 years Caversham Court has been integral to life in Reading; as an impressive stately home and now a tranquil public space where visitors can relax and enjoy its natural beauty.
The gardens are free to visit and open for visitors every day, there are also a café, information point and picnic area on site.
Address: Caversham Court Gardens, Church Rd, Reading RG4 7AD
6. Kennet & Avon Canal Walk
The Kennet & Avon Canal is an impressive 87-mile long waterway that winds its way through the picturesque Wiltshire and Cotswolds countryside.
The towpath starts near the Horseshoe Footbridge in Reading, which carries the path over the River Kennet.
Stretching from Reading all the way to Bath, it passes through idyllic villages such as Hungerford and Bradford on Avon, offering plenty of stop off points along its length, from a quaint country pub to riverside dining.
Today, the canal is a popular destination for leisure activities such as walking and cycling along its peaceful towpath, boating through its navigable waters, and enjoying stunning views of unspoilt nature.
It also acts as a hub for several national trails, with the beauty of this historic man-made waterway attracting visitors who come to marvel at its stunning views.
Address: Kennet & Avon Canal Walk, Reading
7. Reading Abbey Ruins
The Reading Abbey Ruins are an impressive sight located in the centre of the town.
Founded by Henry I in 1121, the Abbey was once one of Europe’s largest royal monasteries and a major centre of power in England.
The ruins still stand today as a reminder of the rich history and powerful influence that the Abbey held centuries ago.
The ruins are mostly composed of rubble cores from the walls of many major buildings, but some structures still remain intact, such as the chapter house.
This building is particularly noteworthy due to its triple entrance and three great windows looming above it.
It has remained largely unaltered since its creation so many years ago, despite being exposed to the elements over time.
Address: Reading Abbey Ruins, Abbot’s Walk, Reading RG1 3HW
8. The Museum of English Rural Life
The Museum of English Rural Life is a museum owned and managed by the University of Reading, that celebrates the country’s agricultural and rural history.
It contains an impressive collection of 25,000 objects which date back to 1750 up to the present day.
These objects provide insight into the lives and customs of those living in Britain’s countryside throughout the centuries; from agricultural tools used by farmers over a hundred years ago, to interactive displays exploring what life is like today.
In addition to its main collections, the MERL also houses a specialist library where visitors can study rare books and manuscripts related to farming and other rural subjects.
This interesting museum is free to visit, and also has a shop, café and garden.
Address: 6 Redlands Rd, Reading RG1 5EX
9. Wellington Country Park
Located in Riseley, near Reading, Wellington Country Park is a paradise for families with children.
Nestled in the beautiful countryside, this park is home to a variety of attractions and features, such as playing on a full size snakes and ladders, and an outdoor splash zone.
This site is about enjoying the great outdoors, the adventure playgrounds are full of activities such as a zip wire course, balancing beams, slides, swings and climbing frames.
There’s also an indoor play area for younger children and an Animal Farm so everyone can have a fun-filled day out.
For those looking for something more adventurous, there is also a miniature golf course and a miniature railway that can be explored.
With so much to do and see, this really is a great attraction for all the family and the perfect day trip from Reading.
Address: Wellington Country Park, Odiham Rd, Riseley, Reading RG7 1SP, UK
10. Museum of Berkshire Aviation
The Museum of Berkshire Aviation is a unique and fascinating collection of aircraft housed in Woodley, near Reading.
Located on the edge of the former Woodley Aerodrome, the museum showcases many exciting exhibits that were previously used by Phillips & Powis (later Miles Aircraft).
Visitors to the museum can expect to learn about various aircrafts such as Handley Page (Reading) Ltd and Fairey Aviation, as well as other rarer ones like the Miles Martinet – a World War II target tug.
Even more uniquely, visitors can also see the only Miles Student side-by-side jet trainer ever built, and a Fairey Jet Gyrodyne – an incredible hybrid of helicopter and autogyro.
Although the museum is relatively small they have managed to squeeze in a lot of things to look at and enjoy, great for aviation enthusiasts.
Address: Museum of Berkshire Aviation, Mohawk Way, Woodley, Reading RG5 4UE
Is Reading town centre walkable?
Reading has one of the most walkable town centres in the United Kingdom.
It’s home to a great selection of bars, pubs and places to eat, comedy clubs, shopping areas, family attractions, live music venues, theatres and museums.
Can you find a hotel easily for short breaks in Reading?
There is a great selection of hotel accommodation in Reading to suit all budgets, including Holiday Inn, Premier Inn, Travelodge, Novotel and many independent hotels, you’re sure to find the right place.
Does Reading have a sail club?
Reading sailing club is located adjacent to the river Thames in Sonning near Reading.
What is there to do for entertainment in Reading?
There is loads to do for entertainment in Reading including a great selection of pubs and restaurants, various family activities, adventure playgrounds, museums and it’s also easy to get to the city of London.