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River Thames in Reading

Discover Reading

Draw a straight line west from London on a map and you’ll soon reach Reading – the leafy Berkshire town that’s best-known for hosting the iconic Reading Festival every summer. With both the Thames and Kennet rivers running through it, this place has no shortage of waterside parks, walks and pubs, not to mention a restored Edwardian lido that’s a great shout for a spa day. The town is built around a ruined ancient abbey, so it ticks the box for history, too. Factor in a top university and the nightlife to match, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t take the bus to Reading sooner.

Reading: top 3 things to do

1. Take a dip at Thames Lido

Built as a ladies’ swimming pool in 1902, Thames Lido was derelict for years until it had some serious money spent on it and reopened in 2017. It’s been top of the list of things to do in Reading ever since and it’s no wonder. As well as the outdoor heated pool there’s a hot tub, massage rooms and a posh restaurant as well as a poolside bar serving tapas-style dishes. There are lots of packages to choose from if you fancy a spa day, or you can just book a two-hour swim.

2. Picnic in Forbury Gardens

Thanks to its location in the middle of the town centre and near the train station, Forbury Gardens is Reading’s unofficial meeting place – whether you’re bringing a picnic blanket to laze in the sunshine with mates or killing time with a coffee and a bit of people-watching. There are special events here throughout the year, too, including a winter light trail. And the landscaped grounds are looked over by the giant Maiwand Lion, a cast-iron war memorial that’s so big you can’t miss it.

3. Rock up at Reading Festival

Time your visit to Reading just right and you’ll be in town for Reading Festival, the main music event in this neck of the woods. This annual outdoor event is a biggie on the UK festival calendar, with an impressive line-up of rock, pop and indie A-listers performing to a packed crowd at Little John’s Farm on Richfield Avenue every August. Not in town for the main event? Not an issue. Reading lays on loads more festivals including Reading Pride in September to Reading Whiskey Affair in November.


Reading: getting around

Take the megabus to Reading and you can forget about parking worries – just hop off the coach and you’re good to go. The bus drops you off in a central spot at Station North Interchange, near Reading train station, so you can join the GWR or South Western Railway routes or hop on the Elizabeth Line.

If you’re sticking around in Reading, it’s a five-minute walk to Thames Lido and Forbury Gardens, and all the shops and restaurants are within a few minutes’ walk south. The town is well served by buses, and you can get a cheap Reading All-Bus ticket that allows travel on Reading Buses, Thames Travel, Arriva and Thames Valley buses. It covers the Greater Reading area too, if you fancy exploring further away.

Reading: best for nightlife

Reading has a bit of everything when it comes to nightlife, so your best bet is to start down by the Kennet riverside and work your way back towards Minster Street for the best pick of bars, clubs and restaurants. You’ll pass Buenasado Argentine Steakhouse on the way, which gets rave reviews for its rump. And it’d be rude not to end up at late-night party stop The Purple Turtle, which is a rite of passage for anyone partying in Reading.

There are also several top-rated escape rooms if you fancy something a bit different, including Escape Reading, which has themed rooms in two different places. The Hexagon is the place to catch music concerts, comedy shows and theatre performances – you can’t miss the big Brutalist building on Queen’s Walk, especially when it’s lit up at night. And if it’s a proper pint you’re after, it’s got to be The Nag’s Head on Russell Street. The line-up of craft beers at this CAMRA award-winning pub changes constantly, and there’s a lovely big beer garden out back.

Reading: best for shopping

The Oracle is the place to shop for high street brands in Reading. On the banks of the River Kennet, this waterside shopping centre has 80 shops including familiar brands like Next, House of Fraser, Zara and Apple. It’s also got loads of places to eat and drink including The Mojito Beach Bar, which pops up over summer, and a roller disco that runs through July.

Elsewhere in town, Broad Street and Friar Street are packed with more shops, and Harris Arcade is the hub of independent and specialist shops. Blue Collar Corner is a good bet when you need to re-fuel between bursts of retail therapy. This street food market also happens to have a huge beer garden –shopping is thirsty work, after all.


Reading for free – our top 3

1. Stroll a section of the Thames path

Fancy stretching your legs? Reading is the perfect place to pick up a section of the Thames Path National Trail, which runs all the way from London to the Cotswolds. Just head north of the train station and you’ll be on the banks of the Thames within minutes. It makes a nice change in pace from the busy town centre and there are plenty of picnic spots along the way.

2. See Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry at Reading Museum

Bit of a history buff? Reading Museum is home to Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry – a Victorian recreation of the 70-metre-long original. There’s a whole gallery dedicated to it as well as guided tours to talk you through its history every Saturday. Elsewhere in the museum you can learn about Reading’s biscuit history – biscuit brand Huntley & Palmers was born here – and there’s a decent art gallery, too.

3. Get a look at Reading Abbey ruins

If you’ve got an hour to spare in Reading, it’s worth getting a close-up look at the crumbling abbey ruins, which are open every day from dawn to dusk. The abbey was once one of Europe's biggest royal monasteries and what’s left of it is now the town’s historical heart. Plus, while you’re in the Abbey Quarter you may as well tick off the burial place of King Henry I and Jane Austen's schoolroom. Like a history lesson, but better.

Book your Reading coach tickets using the journey planner at the top of this page.


We serve Reading from a number of routes including: