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Things to do in Gloucestershire

From exciting visitor attractions, to free things to do in Gloucestershire, to things to do with the kids in Gloucestershire, there are endless possibilities in this amazing county. To the east, the Cotswolds are the very essence of England, with chocolate-box villages and rolling hills. To the west, the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean offer the promise of adventure. In Gloucestershire, you can meet birds of prey, follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter and walk among the treetops, you can canoe, climb and explore, and you can relax and enjoy nature. Here some ideas for things to do in Gloucestershire, when you stay at our Forest of Dean location.

Book your break in Gloucestershire

1. Go underground in search of history

Visit Clearwell Caves beneath the Forest of Dean, where 4,500 years of mining history is told in the deep caverns, caves and tunnels. Discover how the iron mines have shaped the culture and traditions of forest dwellers over the centuries. Open late March to early November and also during December, with a special Christmas theme.

2. Be enraptured by raptors

At the International Centre for Birds of Prey, meet and handle owls, hawks, falcons and red kites on a Raptor Experience. After the half day activity, spend the rest of the day exploring the 12 acres of enclosures, gardens, fields and woodlands. Open February to November.

3. Follow in Harry Potter's footsteps

The ancient cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral have featured in many of the Harry Potter films, lending their medieval charms to the magical atmosphere of the stories. There’s much more to the cathedral of course, and it’s worth a visit for many reasons, whether or not you are a fan of the young wizard.

4. Canoe on the River Wye

Probably the best river to canoe in the whole of the UK, the River Wye has white-water rapids, long lazy stretches and unspoilt country scenery. Stay at our Forest of Dean cabins and you can pre-book your canoe hire, including lessons if you need them.

5. Climb May Hill

If you’re looking for free things to do in Gloucestershire, a climb up May Hill is a great idea. It offers 360 degree views, taking in the Cotswold hills, the Forest of Dean, the River Severn and the Welsh border. Climb at dawn on 1 May and you’ll meet a band of merry Morris Dancers celebrating spring.

6. Explore England's prettiest villages

Spend a day winding your way through the honey-coloured villages of the Cotswolds, stopping to admire pretty, thatched cottages, take tea in cute little tearooms and drink in the sweeping views from the hilltops. The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which remains quintessentially English. Perfect for a romantic day out.

7. Lose yourself in an enchanted wood

Puzzlewood is one of Gloucestershire’s most popular attractions. This moss-covered ancient woodland is a great day out for families, with mazes, an outdoor playground and farm animals, as well as the woodland trails. Check their website for opening times as they vary throughout the year.

8. Get close to nature at WTT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Immerse yourself in the natural word, meeting wetland birds, amphibians and mammals, including Berwick swans and flamingos, newts and salamanders, and otters and harvest mice. An enthralling venue with an educational benefit and one of the best things to do in Gloucestershire with kids.

9. Learn more about what the Romans did for us

Cirencester was the second largest town under Roman Britain. At the Coronium Museum of Roman history, discover why this great town was so powerful, before exploring the delightful Cirencester Park, 3000 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland.

10. Walk among the treetops

Westonbirt Arboretum is home to 2,500 species of tree from all around the world. Enjoy romantic spring or autumn walks, make a family day of it and include the dog, or have fun with friends on the STIHL treetop walkway or at one of the live music events.

11. Go organic at Highgrove Gardens

Created by the Prince of Wales and nurtured over the last four decades, Highgrove Gardens is an oasis of natural harmony, reflecting the prince’s artistic flair and his passion for sustainability. And, of course, it would be rude not to pop into the shop before you leave. The gardens are open April to October.

12. Book a Gloucestershire adventure

Learn about the flora and fauna of the ancient Forest of Dean with your Forest Ranger as your guide. Set off on a Nocturnal Adventure, when you might spot wild boar, fallow deer and barn owls. Go paddle boarding or pony trekking, hire bikes and explore the woodland trails or tackle the Adventure Challenge.  All these Gloucestershire activities can be booked with us in advance when you stay at Forest of Dean.