The Best Things to Do in Reading in 2024

Must-See Attractions in Reading in 2024

Reading Abbey Ruins and Gateway

These ruins date back to 1121 and give you a glimpse into Reading's rich history as a medieval monastery town. While wandering amongst the stone remains you can almost imagine monks going about their daily life centuries ago. The newly restored Abbey Gateway is especially impressive with its intricately carved archway. You can grab an audio guide to provide you with fascinating historical context.

Forbury Gardens

This beautiful green oasis in the heart of Reading is perfect for a stroll or picnic. Don't miss the ornamental gardens, lion sculptures, and ruins of the 18th-century Forbury Bastions. The gardens often host events like outdoor theatre productions and live music concerts in summer. It's also a lovely spot for a game of frisbee on the open lawns.

Reading Museum

This museum gives you great insight into Reading's past and rich heritage. It’s also the perfect place to visit with children as they have loads of arts and crafts activities for them to be engaged with. They're always doing creative events too based on different periods.

Basildon Park

You can find this stunning 18th-century Georgian mansion just outside of Reading in lush parklands. After touring the lavishly decorated interiors filled with antiques and artworks, you'll understand how the upper classes lived. You can then roam the gardens filled with roses and fountains. You might even recognise some of the rooms that were used as filming locations for Downton Abbey!

Thames River Cruises

Multiple companies offer sightseeing river tours with knowledgeable commentary about the sights along the banks. Or you can rent a rowboat, kayak or even a swan pedal boat for a self-guided water adventure at your own pace.

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Top Experiences in Reading in 2024

Reading Festival

This world-famous annual music festival brings the biggest names in rock, pop, indie and dance to Reading each August Bank Holiday weekend. Camp on-site with thousands of like-minded music fans, enjoy amazing live acts across multiple stages, and soak up the incredible festival atmosphere. It's one of the UK's biggest summer music events.

Henley Royal Regatta

A quintessentially English summer experience, this prestigious 5-day rowing regatta takes place in nearby Henley-on-Thames each July. Don your best summer attire and stylish hat to watch world-class rowers race along the Thames from the riverside enclosures and bleachers. Sip a glass of Pimms while cheering on the sleek crews.

Beale Park

A guaranteed fun family day out at this wildlife park and gardens just outside Reading. Get up close with capybaras, meerkats, otters and other animals at the petting areas and encounter shows. Then explore the acres of landscaped gardens, adventure playgrounds, and even a Cyber Terrain high-tech playground. There are also mini-train rides for kids.

Day float Reading

Rent a self-drive hot tub boat to putter along the River Thames for a uniquely relaxing experience! It's an utterly unique way to unwind and take in Reading's scenic riverside views while soaking in the warm waters of a wood-fired hot tub boat. The boats let you BYOB too.

Escape Rooms

Challenge your puzzle-solving skills by taking on one of Reading's immersive escape room adventures with friends or family. Popular choices include criminal mystery games where you have to crack codes to solve a case, and mind-bending sci-fi missions with fiendishly complex puzzles to escape from a spaceship. Highly engaging fun!

7 of the Best Free Things to Do in Reading

Thames Path Walk

Follow the scenic Thames Path National Trail as it winds along the river through Reading's urban landscape and into surrounding countryside and green spaces. It's a lovely flat route for a stroll or run, with chances to spot wildlife like herons, swans and rabbits along the way.

Board game cafe

Eclectic Games is a cafe that has over 2000 different games you can play in-house often for free or for a small £5 fee. From classic games like Scrabble and Monopoly to quirky new indie games, it's the perfect cosy rainy day activity. Grab a hot drink and a few friends for a fun night filled with board games!

MERL Museum

This free university museum near the Reading campus explores English rural life, agriculture and the countryside through its exhibits. See vintage farming tools and machinery alongside displays about traditional crafts like blacksmithing, thatching and woodworking. A quirky hidden gem.

Mapledurham Walking Trail

Take this gorgeous 3-mile circular walk looping through fields, shady woodland and the charming rural hamlet of Mapledurham just outside Reading. Stop at the community-run Mapledurham Watermill along the trail and watch its ancient wooden paddles turn.

Caversham Court Gardens

Once the lavish ornamental gardens created for wealthy and influential families, these lands along the Thames are now beautiful public parklands in Caversham. You can wander the grounds, ponds and wooded areas while looking for hidden grottos and sculptures.

Reading Climbing Centre

Get your adrenaline pumping with a free taster session scaling the colourful walls and challenging boulder problems of this huge indoor climbing centre before deciding if you want to pay for a full pass. Professional instructors provide tips for beginners.

Parks & Playgrounds

Reading has so many excellent free play areas like the huge Prospect Park with its skate park, narrow gauge railway and more, the open meadows of Christchurch Meadows for games, and Wellington Country Park to let the kids burn off energy on trails and play equipment.

Top Events in Reading in 2024

Reading Pride

Join the vibrant LGBTQ+ celebrations with a lively parade, drag performances, market stalls selling queer goods, and nighttime dance parties in the centre of Reading. It's a fun event for all ages promoting equality being held on the August 31st, 2024.

Reading Comedy Festival

This hilarious one-month-long festival held between October 3rd to September 4th this year brings top stand-up acts and comedy shows to venues across town. Catch rising stars alongside established comedic talent in an intimate club atmosphere. Many shows have cabaret and music elements too.

Reading Vegan Festival

Celebrate the plant-based lifestyle at this all-day bazaar featuring a tempting array of vegan food trucks, cruelty-free cosmetic and clothing stalls, cookery demos from chefs, and expert talks on veganism. A lively community event was held at Forbury Gardens on the 20th of April, 2024.

Craft Theory Festival

This quirky event champions the best local, national and international breweries. But there's also live music, performance art, workshops, and stalls by local makerspaces. A creative bazaar of alternative art held on the 28th and 29th of July, 2024.

Travelling Around Reading


Reading has excellent rail links putting it less than 30 minutes from London on the fast services, and less than an hour from Birmingham. It's also well-connected to other major cities across southern England, making it an ideal base for exploring.


An extensive local bus network covers Reading and the surrounding towns making it easy and affordable to get around without a car. Bonus - many of the urban routes are free within the town centre giving you easy hop-on/hop-off access.


Reading is considered one of the UK's most bike-friendly towns with over 300km of quality cycleways including lovely riverside paths free of cars. Grab an affordable cycle from the public bike share and get some exercise exploring at your own pace.


The compact town centre is very walkable, with pedestrianised areas letting you wander the shops and sights with ease. Or follow one of the designated walking trails to explore Reading's urban and rural corners on foot while taking in the highlights at a leisurely pace.

River Transportation

For a nostalgic transport option, hop aboard one of the heritage diesel buses or classic boats that operate leisure cruises along the Thames, taking a sightseeing tour from the water or road.


While Reading has excellent public transport links, driving gives you the flexibility to explore surrounding areas at your own pace. To avoid wasting time circling for parking or getting stung by pricey fees, consider booking a space using Stashbee. You can conveniently book affordable parking spaces from locals near your Reading destination in advance. Stashbee takes the hassle out of parking, so you can arrive stress-free and stay mobile while visiting top sights around town.



Parking Rules in the UK 2024

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Places to Stay

The Roseate

This luxury boutique hotel exudes character from its origins as a Victorian manor house, surrounded by lush landscaped gardens. Soak up the opulent decor and be pampered like royalty during your Reading stay, complete with an indulgent spa offering treatments.

Holiday Inn Reading

A reliable chain hotel option situated in peaceful rural surroundings yet just a 15-minute drive from downtown Reading. Well-appointed modern rooms and amenities make it ideal for both business travellers and families.

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Written 3rd Apr 2024