24 hours in Cirencester

From exploring its honey-hued streets and iconic Roman ruins to sampling the best local cuisine, SoGlos packs in ten of the best things to see and do when you've only got 24 hours to spend in the historic capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester.

By Jake Chown  |  Published
SoGlos rounds up the best things to see and do in Cirencester from morning to night — including the best places to stay, eat and see live entertainment.
In partnership with The Kings Head Hotel  |  kingshead-hotel.co.uk
The Kings Head Hotel

Winner of "Bespoke" Hotel of the Year, this spectacular 14th century former coaching inn in the heart of Cirencester is now a boutique hotel and spa, ideal for cosy Cotswold getaways, as well as being home to MBB Brasserie, Corn Hall Deli and Corn Hall Cellars.

Steeped in history and Cotswold charm, the picturesque town of Cirencester offers some of Gloucestershire's best food, culture and outdoor spaces — all within walking distance of its centre.

SoGlos handpicks ten of the best things to see and do in a day in the town, from places to stay and eat to sights to see, arts and entertainment.

Stay at The Kings Head Hotel

Wake up feeling refreshed and ready to explore Cirencester after a night of relaxation and luxury at The Kings Head Hotel. A 14th century former coaching inn, the hotel is a true Cotswold gem offering glamourous interiors, luxurious spa facilities and delicious food and beverages at its two restaurants — with its own deli and wine cellar selling the best Cotswold produce, too.

The hotel is a great choice for families with complementary stays for children offered all year round — with features like child-sized robes, kids' shampoo and breakfast included — along with a range of packages available to suit everyone.

For more information, visit kingshead-hotel.co.uk.

Catch up over coffee or breakfast

Start your day right with coffee or breakfast at one of Cirencester's bustling coffee shops, cafes and restaurants.

Enjoy a traditional or veggie full English at laid back eatery Igloo; tuck into sourdough, brunch bowls, butties and more at tearoom and kitchen, Jacks; or for great coffee and a hearty brunch like toasties made with Cotswold-baked bread, head to Lynwood & Co. in the town centre.

Explore the town's rich history

As the Romanesque capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester has some unmissable historic sites to explore, from highly significant Roman ruins to relics of the medieval, English Civil War and Victorian eras.

Built in the early 2nd century when Cirencester was a Roman city — Corinium — the grass-covered amphitheatre on the edge of town is one of the largest in Britain; with a fascinating insight into the town’s Roman, Bronze Age and medieval past to be discovered at the Corinium Museum in the town centre, offering plenty for families from activity trails to craft workshops, including Bronze Age pottery and mini Roman mosaic making.

Also the 12th century Church of St John the Baptist — towering above the town as the largest parish church in Gloucestershire — is steeped in history, with its churchyard and surrounding streets carrying a healthy dose of Cotswold charm, too.

Get crafty at New Brewery Arts

Inside the remaining Victorian buildings of the old Cirencester Brewery is a treat for arts and crafts lovers of all ages, with exhibitions, a shop selling beautiful handmade creations, expert classes and more hosted by local charity, New Brewery Arts.

Visitors can pre-book onto classes for adults ranging from painting and printing to ceramics and embroidery, along with fun-filled workshops for under 18s like drawing and journaling, decorating tote bags and ceramics-based 'clay play'.

Guests can also simply turn up to enjoy free exhibitions of work from some of the UK’s leading makers, designers and artists; pop into its studios to meet with local craftspeople and buy from them directly; and browse its craft shop, selling a range of handmade treasures from across the UK. The site also has its own hostel and cafe, too.

Tuck into a Cotswold lunch

Having worked up an appetite seeing the sights, its just about time for lunch — and with an array of cafes and restaurants serving up something to suit every taste, visitors really are spoilt for choice. 

Sam and Jak's offers an up-market, 'simple but stylish' take on modern British food made with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients; go continental with pizza and pasta at popular independent Italian, Amore Mio; or for a lunch prepared with sustainability at its heart, Roots + Seeds in Cirencester Park offers mains, sandwiches and salads made with ingredients sourced from its very own kitchen garden, along with produce from local farmers and growers.

Go for a walk around the town's gorgeous green spaces

Walk off lunch with a stroll around the town's gorgeous green spaces. The private estate at Cirencester Park, within walking distance of the town centre, is an idyllic place to visit with children and dogs, with scenic walking trails around its Grade I listed open parkland, arboretum and woodlands and a play area, shops, cafe and brewery at The Old Kennels near the site's entrance.

The free-to-enter Abbey Grounds is even closer to the town centre, hidden behind the market place and St John's Church, offering peaceful walks, a lake, ruins of a Roman wall and a Norman archway that was part of the old abbey, along with an enclosed play area for the little ones, too.

Shop for local treasures at Cirencester's historic markets

Embrace Cirencester's proud history as a market town by shopping for all manner of goods at its bustling weekly markets. Its famous Charter Market, held on Mondays and Fridays, is one of the oldest in Britain  — with an early mention in the Doomsday Book of 1086  — and today sells things like plants, outdoor furniture, wicker baskets, local produce, household goods and more.

Countless markets and events are held throughout the year at the town's Market Place and nearby Corn Hall, including 'twilight' markets where visitors can enjoy live music, hot food and drinks while they shop.

Take in a show or enjoy the cabaret

Cirencester boasts one of the Cotswolds' best live entertainment venues in the award-winning Barn Theatre. The boutique theatre — named among the UK's best by The Times in 2024 — and production house brings some of the country's top professional theatre to the Cotswolds, with a broad and ambitious programme consisting of new work, family entertainment, musical theatre and reinterpretations of beloved classics.

Just next door is the luxury boutique hotel Ingleside House, which hosts its own cabaret music nights featuring some of the best acts on the UK circuit with tributes to pop royalty through the eras. Or if stand-up is more your thing, you might be able to catch Cirencester Comedy Club at The Kings Head Hotel's Vault Cellar, featuring some of the best UK comedy talent including acts that have appeared on TV's Live at the Apollo.

Head out for dinner at one of the town's top restaurants

Whether you're hungry before or after the evening's entertainment, there's a fantastic range of options to be found across town for dinner. MBB Brasserie at The Kings Head Hotel offers delicious and indulgent dishes inspired by and made with produce of the Cotswolds, such as venison burger; Merrifield duck breast; and pan-fried potato gnocchi. It also hosts weekly events, like curry night and date night featuring a luxurious sharing menu, for something a little different.

While Téatro, the bar and restaurant connected to Ingleside House, goes from chic dining to rustic with its dinner offering, with a summer a la carte menu featuring dishes like chalk stream trout, rump of lamb and king prawn linguine.

Enjoy the nightlife

Cirencester has some great spots for a few drinks when the evening comes, from down-to-earth Cotswold pubs to classy wine bars and places to really get the party started.

The Black Horse and The Bear Inn offer a traditional, British pub experience; Téatro is famous for its signature cocktails and sophisticated yet lively piano bar; and 17 Black wine bar and night club is open late — and even has its own karaoke room.

In partnership with The Kings Head Hotel  |  kingshead-hotel.co.uk

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