Things to do in Reading

Culture and heritage

Reading has a fascinating and compelling story to share with visitors. At the centre of it are the stories surrounding Reading Abbey, built 900 years ago in 1121 as the burial site of King Henry I of England.

A heritage visit to Reading includes finding out more about the time spent by famous figures Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde in what is now known as Reading’s Abbey Quarter. Inside the Abbey you will discover the only full-scale replica of the Bayeux Tapestry.


Reading is home to excellent museums, The MERL - the Museum of English Rural Life, is the national museum dedicated to food, farming and countryside. The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology and the Cole Museum of Zoology (re-opening in a new home in 2021) are both on the University of Reading campus in Reading.

Reading is also the UK capital of Escape Rooms with indoor and outdoor games available across several venues.

Food and drink

From a tea barge on the Thames to high end dining at the Thames Lido, Reading has so much to offer. Explore the riverside outdoor dining by the River Kennet at the Oracle or Reading Room at the Roseate Hotel and don’t forget to check out the Street food markets.

Sports and outdoors

Reading sits on a majestic stretch of the River Thames. Thames River Cruise offer circular sightseeing tours and themed events aboard their range of craft. Water sports fans can hire kayaks and SUPs on the Thames at Wokingham Canoe Centre or the new Caversham Lakes open water swim centre. The restored Edwardian Ladies bathing pool, Thames Lido, offers spa treatments and swim and dine packages at this new glamorous riverside destination. Reading is also a great stopover for people on boating holidays on the Kennet and Avon Canal, which flows through the centre of the town.

Music and nightlife

With one of the largest and most diverse range of clubs and bars in the country all packed into a cosy town centre, Reading’s night life is truly something to dive into and experience. Reading has themed establishments like Walkabout with its Australian influenced décor, live sports and Aussie inspired drinks menu or Lola Lo's Pacific Island inspired bamboo shacks and island head statues serving as the perfect setting for their show stopping cocktails, champagnes and rums.


Reading is the premier shopping destination in the South East outside London with everything you could want all in one place; from quirky boutiques to high end jewellers, independent stores alongside major high street brands. With two big shopping centres – The Oracle and Broad Street Mall located in the town centre, everything is within a short walking distance.

Reading is a short-break destination along the Great West Way, the UK’s new tourist trail from London to Bristol. Just 22 minutes by train from London Paddington, Reading is one of the best-connected destinations in the UK.

Where do GWR trains to Reading arrive and depart?

GWR trains arrive and depart from Reading train station; just a short walk from the city’s main attractions.

Which train services run direct to Reading?

Direct trains from London Paddington, Oxford, Bristol and Swindon all run to Reading train station.

When is the best time to travel to Reading by train?

Off-peak train services offer quieter journeys both to and from Reading station.

By travelling at the weekend or outside of busy commuter times, you’ll be able to take advantage of cheaper rail fares too.

What are the facilities at Reading Station?

Reading train station has public Wi-Fi, multiple retail outlets and two waiting rooms.

Cheaper train tickets to Reading

Wherever you’re travelling from, you don’t need to break the bank when booking your Reading train tickets.
Consider these money saving options when you book and you’re bound to find a cheaper option.