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Things to do in Reading, Berkshire

Forbury Gardens Reading © Anna Grist
Forbury Gardens Reading © Anna Grist

Reading is the county town of Royal Berkshire, situated in beautiful countryside in the heart of the Thames Valley, with the Rivers Kennet and Thames running through the town.

Approximately half way between London and Oxford, Reading is a vibrant University town, with an interesting history and plenty of modern facilities.

Things to do in Reading

The Museum of Reading in the Town Hall, tells the story of life in Reading from Anglo Saxon times to the present day. The Museum also has a Victorian copy of the Bayeux Tapestry and a very attractive refurbished Victorian Art Gallery.

The Museum of English Rural Life houses a National collection, depicting farming crafts and the countryside way of life over the past 150 years.

Blake’s Lock Museum is a museum of industrial heritage, situated on the first lock of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The Orical is a major new shopping and leisure complex in the town centre. Reading is home to Heelas (John Lewis), one of the country's largest department stores, and most of the famous ‘High Street’ stores are to be found in Reading.

Reading offers outstanding leisure facilities, with swimming pools, golf courses, a variety of fitness centres, ice-skating and dry-slope skiing. It is home to cricket, football, hockey and rugby clubs.

Reading’s choice of places to eat ranges from popular fast food to restaurants offering international cuisine. The town also offers a large choice of pubs and clubs, some with live music, and a lively entertainment scene in theatres such as the Hexagon and the arts centres.

Whilst you're in Reading, you can try some of the fun activities in our Fun Things To Do in Reading for Adults and Fun Things To Do in Berkshire for Adults articles.

History of Reading

Henry I founded an Abbey here in 1121 for 100 monks, it was consecrated in 1164 by Thomas a Becket and became one of the important religious and political centres in England.

Visitors can see the Abbey ruins and inner Gatehouse, also Forbury Gardens where the monks used to walk.

Next to the Abbey ruins is Reading prison, whose famous inmate Oscar Wilde wrote his epic poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" during his internment here.

Of architectural interest are its ruined Abbey, three medieval Churches, Georgian buildings in London Street, a gothic Town Hall, splendid old coaching inns, new hi-tech offices and shopping centres.

Reading was known for its production of beer, from Simonds (now Courage's) brewery; biscuits, from Huntley & Palmers, and seeds from Suttons.

Sadly these industries have closed, or moved away leaving one brewery on the edge of town.

Reading is known today for hi-tech industry and financial services, which are based in and near the town, with employers such as Microsoft, Oracle, Prudential and Foster Wheeler.

Reading University is a leader in Cybernetics and food science. Over ten thousand students, including many international post-graduate students attend the University.

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Images of Reading

Abbey Ruins, Forbury Gardens Reading © Anna Grist
Abbey Ruins, Forbury Gardens Reading © Anna Grist
Thames from Kings Road Reading © Anna Grist
Thames from Kings Road Reading © Anna Grist


By Road

The M4 motorway linking London to Bristol, South Wales and the South West of England runs South of the Town. Further South, the M3 motorway provides a link to the South Coast. To the north, the M40 motorway gives access to Birmingham and the M1 and M6 routes. There is a regular coach service from the Railway Station to Heathrow Airport.

By Rail

There is an excellent rail service to London.

By Air

London Gatwick Airport - Direct Rail Service - Approximately hourly.
London Heathrow Airport - Direct Coach Service from the Railway Station - Approximately half-hourly.

Self Catering

more self catering near Reading...

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