The Best Things to Do in Berkshire, England

Be immersed in nature and spectacular scenery on a stroll through Cookham
Be immersed in nature and spectacular scenery on a stroll through Cookham | © Dylan Garcia ARPS / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nicholas Grantham
16 November 2020

If you’re visiting Berkshire, you’re in for the quintessential English countryside experience. With open landscapes, historic castles and charming pubs, this county is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of nearby London. Here’s our guide to your next trip to the shire.

Thorpe Park

Amusement Park
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If you’re looking for a thrilling day out, Thorpe Park is a perfect choice. Frequently touted as the best theme park in the UK, it’s a sprawling mix of exciting rides, food and sometimes (often) terrifying experiences. It has several well-known rides, including Nemesis Inferno, Stealth and Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, so make sure you arrive early to avoid long queues and to go on everything at least once. If your party includes smaller children, the park has several attractions suitable for all ages. It also has many deals available on tickets throughout the year.


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Cementing itself in British history as the site of the signing of the Magna Carta, Runnymede is a beautiful example of Berkshire countryside. With a sense of freedom, its bright open spaces and historical legacy are a big draw to this charming park. Outside the picture-perfect vistas, you’ll also find many memorials, including a piece dedicated to JFK and one commemorating the commonwealth Air Force during World War II. Several art installations also dot the landscape, such as the 12 bronze chairs known as The Jurors, which are adorned with images and symbols representing the everyday struggle for freedom in our lives.

Windsor Castle

Archaeological site, Historical Landmark
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No list of the best things to do in Berkshire would be complete without mentioning a trip to the historic home of the British royal family. Although Buckingham Palace is their usual residence, Windsor Castle is where the Queen enjoys spending her weekends. Now the largest occupied castle in the world and with a history dating back to the 11th century, it makes for an excellent day out – it’s open to the public throughout the week.

Beale Wildlife Park

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Up the River Thames, Beale Wildlife Park is a nature lover’s dream, with beautiful botanical gardens and a wide variety of animal species, including a huge collection of rare and exotic birds. Opened in 1956, the park was private farmland before former owner Gilbert Beale gave it to the people. Now covering about 350 acres (142ha), the park is well worth a visit on your next trip to Berkshire.

The Living Rainforest

Natural Feature, Park, Zoo
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Founded and run by the Trust for Sustainable Living, the Living Rainforest allows you to experience the beautiful and diverse natural world found in tropical rainforests. In addition to the centre’s hundreds of species of flora and fauna, it also shows examples of how we can all live sustainably, with green building materials, sustainable construction techniques and renewable energy all being incorporated into its day-to-day operation.

Reading Abbey Ruins

Monastery, Ruins, Historical Landmark
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Founded by Henry I in 1121, the Reading Abbey is one of the area’s historic landmarks. It has a rich heritage, giving you a chance to see some of the city’s fascinating history up close. After closing in 2009 due to unsafe conditions, the ruins reopened in 2018, following a much-needed £3m restoration effort. Today, it’s now central to Reading’s Abbey Quarter, incorporating many sites such as the Forbury Gardens and nearby Reading Museum, which are both well worth a visit.

Looking for more places to stay in and around the Berkshire area? Book one of the best hotels dotted around London’s Heathrow airport and enjoy all the benefits of being close the Berkshires whilst still having a base near the capital city.

These recommendations were updated on November 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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