Cirencester's Market Place
Cirencester's Market Place

48 hours in Cirencester - A short break to 'the Capital of the Cotswolds'

Cirencester Website | Published 24/11/2023, last updated 10/06/2024

cirencester short break things to do cotswolds

Cirencester is a charming market town in the heart of the Cotswolds, surrounded by stunning countryside. Cirencester, or 'Ciren' as it's referred to locally, ls known for its rich history and beautiful architecture, and is a great place to visit for a romantic break, short break with the family or long-weekend with friends. Here are some suggestions for things to do, see, eat, and stay during your visit:

The Corinium Museum in Cirencester
The Corinium Museum in Cirencester

Day 1 - Romans, exploring and shopping!

Cirencester is a town that exudes charm and history at every turn. As you wander through its streets, you'll find yourself transported back in time to the days of Roman rule, with remnants of ancient architecture seamlessly blending into the modern landscape. From the imposing amphitheatre to the fascinating Corinium Museum, there's no shortage of opportunities to delve into Cirencester's rich heritage and uncover its secrets.

But Cirencester isn't just a destination for history buffs - its bustling streets filled with quaint independent shops offer an enticing array of treasures waiting to be discovered. Whether you're seeking unique artisan crafts or delectable local produce, Cirencester is a haven for those with an appetite for exploring and shopping alike.

Romans in Cirencester

In Roman times Cirencester (or Corinium Dobunnorum as it was known then) was an extremely important settlement, second only to London, so it feels appropriate to start by exploring Cirencester's Roman history.

The Corinium Museum on Park Street is a treasure trove of history and houses a fascinating collection of Roman artifacts found in and around Cirencester.

Cirencester's Roman Amphitheatre is a short walk from the town centre, but we'll leave that until later as the wonderful Cirencester Park is just around the corner from the Corinium Museum so we'll head there first.

Explore Cirencester Park

Cirencester Park, the seat of the Bathurst family, consists of over 3,000 acres much of which is open to the public to explore using the many footpaths criss-crossing the estate. The Park is free to enter and open daily from 8.00am to 5.00pm and well behaved dogs are welcome on a lead.

Places to eat and drink in Cirencester

After all that walking you'll be ready for something to eat and drink so head back into Cirencester town for lunch at one of Cirencester's many cafes, pubs, and hotels including Sam and Jak, The Fleece and The Court Restaurant at the the Corinium Hotel.

Sam and Jak is owner-run restaurant, café and wine bar located on Cricklade Street, just off the Market Place serving a a simple but stylish menu that changes regularly, offering a delicious take on modern British food using seasonal ingredients and the finest local produce.

The Fleece is a grade II listed coaching inn overlooking the Market Place where food is served Monday to Sunday from 12pm to 9pm. Dogs are welcome in the bar area.

The Corinium Hotel is located in a quiet location in one of the most historical streets in Cirencester (Gloucester Street) only a 5 minute walk from Cirencester town centre. You may dine in the bar area, in The Court Restaurant, and in those warmer months in the lovely walled garden.

Shop 'til you drop

Now that you've refulled it's time to explore the array of independent shops and boutiques that Cirencester has to offer. The main shopping areas surround the Market Place, so it's all within easy walking distance. Be sure to seek out Black Jack Street, home to the likes of Keith's coffee shop, Knead, Jungle and a host of other boutiques and eateries.

For the arts and craft lovers, head over to New Brewery Arts, a converted brewery with craft shops and studios for local artists' works, plus adult & kids' workshops and a cafe.

More on shopping in Cirencester can be found in our Cirencester Shopping guide.

Places to stay in Cirencester

After all that shopping you'll be ready to head back to your accommodation. From charming B&Bs to town centre hotels there's sure to be something to suit your needs.

The Old Brewhouse on London Road is a family run bed and breakfast in a delightful 17th Century town house just a short walk from the town centre and Cotswold Hare on Victoria Road offers a warm welcome, relaxing atmosphere and comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation.

For those wanting to stay in a hotel, The Kings Head and The Fleece can be found in the Market Place, and The Corinium Hotel (which benefits from its own large private car park) can be found on Gloucester Street.

Day 2 - Picnics, paddleboarding and photographs

After a hearty breakfast, head back into Cirencester town centre to visit the Church of St John the Baptist, one of the largest parish churches in England.

Church of St John the Baptist

This stunning church dominates the Market Place and can be seen from miles around. It has been a place of Christian worship for well over a thousand years. Guided tours can be arranged, usually on Tuesdays or Thursdays, led by members of the church. Or you can explore the Church yourself with the help of written guides and booklets which are available from the book shop within the Church itself.

From time to time the Church tower is open to the public so you can climb to the top where you can, head for heights permitting, see stunning panoramic views over Cirencester and perhaps spot a shop you missed yesterday.

The Abbey Grounds

Behind the Church is the Abbey Grounds. Open to the public, the Park is extensive with a large lake, the remains of the Roman wall and an original Norman Gate House. The Abbey Grounds is the perfect place for a picnic and place to relax before you spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the area.

The Cotswold Water Park

Depending on the time of year you are visiting, the Cotswold Water Park, just a short drive from Cirencester is a a great place to visit if you are into paddleboarding, sailing, windsurfing, or you want to relax on the beach. Yes, you read that correctly, there's a man-made beach here in land-locked Gloucestershire!

There's also miles and miles of public footpaths to help you explore the wonderful Cotswold countryside.

Explore a country estate or Cotswold village

Alternatively, you may want to explore one of gardens, estates and manor houses dotted around the area. For instance, Cerney House and Gardens in North Cerney were are described by Country Living as "what most people aspire to in their gardens - and few achieve". It's open We open 7 days a week, 364 days a year.

Chedworth Roman Villa is close by if you want to continue exploring why the Romans settled in the area. It's looked after by The National Trust so make sure you bring your membership cards with you.

If you want to experience a quintessential Cotswold village there are lots of different villages to choose from. Head over to Bibury, a village called "the most beautiful village in England" by William Morris, the British textile designer, poet and artist which is just a few miles from Cirencester and is home to the much-photographed Arlington Row, beautiful Cotswold buildings and even a Trout Farm!

Time flies - And just like that, your short break to Cirencester is over

And before you know it, your time in Cirencester is coming to an end.

Cirencester is the perfect destination for a short break, offering a delightful combination of history, culture, and natural beauty. From exploring Roman ruins to strolling through picturesque parks, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy. The charming town centre boasts a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, ensuring that visitors will be well catered for during their stay. Whether you're seeking relaxation or adventure, Cirencester has something to offer every traveller.

So why wait? Start planning your trip today and discover the enchanting wonders of Cirencester for yourself!

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