If you’re visiting the famed Cotswolds in England, be sure to include Cotswold’s capital, Cirencester, in your itinerary as well.
Cirencester is a lovely, ancient market town in the Cotswolds, in the county of east Gloucestershire. It traces its roots back to the Roman occupation and was called Corinium during those times. It’s the largest town in the Cotswolds and, just like the other towns in the area, is characterized by its traditional Cotswolds buildings, with a nice sprinkling of good-sized shopping stores in its town centre.
How to get there
Cirencester does not have a direct train link from London. To get to this town, you need to take a train from London’s Paddington station to Swindon, a large town in the county of Wiltshire, and then take a bus to Cirencester from Swindon’s bus station. The bus station is just a few minutes walk (around five minutes on a regular pace) from Swindon’s train station. Train ride to Swindon takes about an hour, while the bus trip to Cirencester lasts for more than 1 hour. Bus tickets cost £3.50 per person.
Things to see
Cirencester is small enough to be explored on foot. Most sights are located in the center of town, except for the Roman Amphitheater listed below. For this reason, it’s an easy and cosy place to get familiar with.
- Corinium Museum – Cirencester has a museum of its own called the Corinium Museum, which showcases collections from as early as the Neolithic period to the Victoria era. Roman mosaic carvings and other objects dating back from the 2nd to 4th century can also be found here.
- The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist – Don’t miss seeing this beautiful medieval church that dates back to the 12th century. It is famed for its merchants’ tombs, fan vaults, and perpendicular porch.
- The Roman Amphitheater – Also known as the Cirencester Amphitheater, this ancient site was said to be constructed in the early part of the second century. It has been declared an ancient monument. Since it is located in the outskirts of Cirencester, it requires a bit of a walk to see it.
Things to do
- Shop at the town hall market – The town hall market, located in the center of town, is open daily and displays different wares depending on the day of the week. Friday, for instance, is for antique goods. Some days are relegated to crafts, others are for apparel, and so on.
- Shop at the weekend market – The weekend market is a lively weekend event that’s located just in front of the church. Various lovely crafts and other products are displayed—a joy to spend the day in!
- Shopping center – Cirencester boasts of several shops, both branches of big chain stores and cute little boutiques. Some can be found on the high street (main street) and others are at quaint little backstreets that are fun to explore.
- Enjoy an afternoon tea or two – Take some time off to get a bite or two of sweet Cotswolds scones and finish off with a delightful afternoon tea.
Eating and Drinking
- For traditional English fares, try the The Talbot Inn, which serves a good selection of English roasts, steaks, pies, and many others. As it is also a pub, you can enjoy a beer or two at its charming bar.
- Piazza Fontana – We were craving for Italian on our last night in Cirencester and we found this little gem of an Italian restaurant in Castle Street. It’s entrance is hidden in what looks like an alleyway, but the place was packed. The food was good and the service friendly.
Where to stay
For our weeklong visit in Cirencester, we stayed at The Talbot Inn, a lovely little Cirencester hotel just off the town center. The rooms were clean and nicely decorated, the price was okay, and the hosts were very nice. For the full review of our stay, please read A Lovely Hotel in Cirencester in the Cotswolds.
What to buy
Cirencester is littered with cute little shops, including a gift shop just off the Corinium Museum, where you can grab books about the Cotswolds, potteries, weaved clothing and accessories made in the region, and other knick-knacks from the area. English products like teacups, tea tidies and such would make great mementos as well.
In closing, we hope you won’t miss Cirencester. It’s small enough to be lovely, peaceful and quiet, yet large enough to have the amenities you need.