A mere 10 km away from Gloucester, Cheltenham (pop. 110,000) has been a spa town since 1716. The spring water is no longer consummed, but the town has retained its elegant Regency architecture. Conveniently located on the road from Bristol to Oxford, Cheltenham can be visited in a day trip from either city, or on the way from one to the another, perhaps combined with Gloucester.
Cheltenham may not have the grandeur of Bath, but it is a better place for shopping. The town is renowned for horse races, and also hosts numerous festivals, such as the Hunt Festival in March or the Music & Cricket Festival in July (see Cheltenham's Festivals).
The main attractions are the tree-lined Promenade, the Imperial Gardens, Montpellier Gardens, and the free Art Gallery & Museum. Cheltenham is the birthplace of composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934), whose house can be visited.
How to get there
Cheltenham is located at the Western edge of the Cotswolds on the A40 motorway from Oxford to Ross-on-Wye. The M5 (Plymouth-Birmingham) also passes nearby.
Trains run between Cheltenham and London (2h, £40.80 saver single), Gloucester (10min, £2.70), Worcester (30min, £5.40), Bristol (45min to 1h, £7.80) and Birmingham (45min, £11).
National Express has frequent coaches to London (2h50min, £15.50), and fewer ones to Bristol (1h15min, £6.10), Birmingham (1h20min, £8.40), Hereford (1h40min, £5.90) and Worcester (30min, £4.80).
Buses to Gloucester and Oxford are operated by Swanbrook.