Explore Reading in two days

Reading has so much to offer history and culture lovers!

It might not be Oxford but Reading has plenty of choice; from Roman Silchester to Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin collection, a museum telling the story of two rivers to a museum of Zoology, a collection of Greek ceramics, a medical museum and Thames Valley Police Museum.

Combine your museum visits, a guided walk around town and take in the 800 years old, Abbey ruins and historic gardens. Include a theatre dining experience at nearby Sonning. Include a walk along the Thames Path and return by boat.

Make your next break an inspiring and educational experience…

Day 1 Discovering Reading’s Past

Coach drop-off point opposite the Museum on Valpy Street

PRP5890Reading Museum, based in the Victorian Town Hall right in the centre of town, is a good place to start for groups. Book a 20 minute introduction to the Museum and an insight into its fascinating collections, before heading off around the galleries. If there’s a special interest group, tours and talks can be tailored. You can also book a guide for the next stage, a walk around the Abbey Heritage Quarter including the Hospitium where medieval pilgrims stayed. The walk can end at the Riverside Museum at Blake's Lock, which tells the story of Reading's two rivers - the Kennet and the Thames - the Riverside Museum occupies two Listed former waterworks buildings, the Screen House and the Turbine House.

A couple of hours free time to explore the shops and have lunch. The Bel & The Dragon is next to the Riverside Museum, or a few minutes’ walk is The Oracle a riverside indoor shopping mall with 90 shops and riverside restaurants, cafés, bars and cinema.

MERL 8After lunch, walk to the Museum of English Rural Life (15 minutes) Explore nine galleries each with a different theme such as A Year on the Farm, Town and Country, and Forces for Change. There’s a bright and modern Welcome Space with refreshment area and thoughtfully stocked shop, as well as a beautiful, sheltered garden with picnic space, games, growing spaces and a Shepherds Hut. 

Specific visits can be organised to; The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, recognised as the fourth largest collection of Greek ceramics in Britain, The Cole Museum of Zoology where a complete tour of the diversity of the Animal Kingdom can be completed in less than one hour,  Medical Museum Royal Berkshire, Museum of Berkshire Aviation or Thames Valley Police Museum.

Head back to the hotel before an evening visit to the Mill at Sonning (3.6mls from Reading) where your theatre ticket includes a home-cooked two-course meal (unless otherwise stated). Enjoy drinks in the Waterwheel Bar.

Day 2 Make the most of the Thames

ThamesRiverCruisesToday enjoy a walk along the Thames Path National Trail, following the course of England’s greatest river to Shiplake crossing over the River Kennet as it enters the Thames. At Sonning you could walk through the churchyard to the Bull Inn for morning coffee before crossing over the river and continuing. Return to Reading on a Thames Rivercruise sightseeing boat trip and enjoy lunch/Afternoon Tea on board (Private bookings only).

Walks and Tours around Reading can be organised by:

Reading: Terry’s Reading Walkabouts 

Reading and Thames Valley: Tours2Order



Reading Museum

Discover Reading’s archaeology from Roman Silchester to Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin collection, and Reading Abbey, the famous Victorian copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, the natural history of Reading - and much more!

Open: All year Tue-Sat 10-4 | Groups: 10+

www.readingmuseum.org.uk | 0118 937 3400 | mail@readingmuseum.org.uk

Blagrave St, Reading RG1 1QH

Reading Abbey Heritage Quarter

Lying at the heart of Reading, the Quarter has witnessed almost 900 years of history. Stroll through the Quarter and the beautiful Forbury Gardens, discover historic churches and monuments, finishing in the spectacular Abbey Ruins, burial place of King Henry I.

Open: All year, dawn till dusk | Groups: 10+, Guided tours for up to 20

www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk | 0118 937 3400 | reading.abbeyquarter@reading.gov.uk

The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL)

England’s most extensive museum dedicated to farming, food, craft, rural life and countryside issues. The museum brings this extraordinary collection of objects, archives, photographs and books to life in nine new, innovative and intriguing galleries. Book a guide for a welcome and tour.

Open: Tue-Fri 9-5, Sat/Sun 10-5 | Groups: 10+, Max 50 Booking required.

www.merl.reading.ac.uk | 0118 378 8660 |merlevents@reading.ac.uk

6 Redlands Rd, Reading RG1 5EX

 The Mill at Sonning

Set majestically on the banks of the River Thames, it is the only dinner theatre in the UK. The intimate theatre seats 215 in the semi-round allowing the audience to feel involved in the performance. The elegant restaurant has views over the Thames. A spinning waterwheel features in the cosy bar. Every ticket at The Mill includes a home-cooked two-course meal.

www.millatsonning.com | Groups: Contact Box Office 0118 969 8000 | boxoffice@millatsonning.com

Sonning Eye, Reading RG4 6TY

Thames Path National Trail – Reading to Shiplake (7 miles)

Once Reading is left behind, you'll enjoy a landscape of gentle wooded hills, fine houses, the ever-widening River Thames and the lovely 18th century hump-backed bridge at Sonning. East of Reading the River Kennet enters the River Thames. From Sonning you cross to the north bank and the river becomes rural again, watch out for the boys from Shiplake College rowing along the Thames.


Thames Rivercruise

Scheduled public cruises, special trips and private charters (12-20) throughout the year from Reading to Goring and Henley. Choose from: Thames Explorer 80/45/30 Minute River Cruises, Sundowner Cruise, Lunch or Afternoon Tea, Cruise and private tour of Mapledurham Watermill (min 20).

Open: Mar-Nov Weekends, daily school holidays 11am-2pm | Groups: Private charters all year www.thamesrivercruise.co.uk | 0118 948 1088 | timd@thamesrivercruise.co.uk

Bridge Street, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire, RG4 8AHShopping,

Food & Drink

  • The Oracle - riverside indoor shopping mall: 90 shops, riverside restaurants, cafés, bars,cinema
  • Bel & The Dragon - a former biscuit factory on the waterfront of the K&A Canal
  • Sweeney Todd - Sweeney's speciality is freshly baked pies and restaurant can seat 100

Stay  A full list of accommodation is available here



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