Let us show you some of the most popular Cheltenham tourist attractions, historic buildings and beautiful parklands around town. From Montpellier to Pittville, you’ll get to know some of the Regency town’s history of riches and relaxation, and explore some of the iconic buildings that still play a vital role in both Cheltenham’s entertainment and cultural scenes.
Attractions in Cheltenham
Pittville Pump Rooms
St. John's Abbey
Cheltenham’s transformation into the marvelous Regency town we see today was triggered by the discovery of its mineral springs in 1716. In the following years, this corner of the Cotswolds rapidly grew into a luxurious spa resort for the affluent echelons of society. The buildings around Cheltenham reflect its rich heritage. To help show you around, here’s a handy tour of some of the town’s top attractions.
We’ll begin with the pick of the bunch; the 15th-century Sudeley Castle in the heart of the Cotswolds. It’s home to some of the best-loved formal gardens in the world, and the final resting place of Catherine Parr – the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. It’s packed full of history, which is fascinatingly brought to life throughout the castle’s exhibitions. It’s one of the best days out in the entire country, and top of our list of things to do in Cheltenham.
Making our way back towards Cheltenham Town Centre, just past Cheltenham Racecourse, you’ll find yourself at the next stop on our history tour, the Pittville Pump Room. It’s one of Cheltenham’s finest examples of Regency architecture, built around the town’s springs to regulate the flow of the mineral-rich waters, which people would travel from miles around to sample. In fitting with the wealth and pomp of its customers, the Pittville Pump Room is a spectacularly decadent building, replete with a ballroom, an upstairs billiard room and statues depicting Hygeia – the goddess of health, Asclepius – the god of medicine, and Hippocrates – ‘the father of medicine’.
Let’s continue our culture trip to the heart of the town centre, where you’ll find Cheltenham Minster. It’s the only medieval building still standing in the town today and has been in continuous use for over 800 years. It’s a chimera of different architectural styles, however, the Victorian stained-glass windows have widely been celebrated for their elaborate designs and intricacies. It’s a delightful piece of history right in the hustle and bustle of Cheltenham, and just a couple of minutes’ stroll away from our Cheltenham Town Centre hotel.
Moving on, Montpellier is the final district on our tour of Cheltenham’s historic buildings. On the Promenade, The Neptune Fountain is one of the town’s iconic monuments, and marks the beginning of this most affluent area of Cheltenham. With flowing water features and a magnificently sculpted statue of Neptune – the Roman God of the Sea – in a seahorse-drawn chariot made of shells, it’s quite the photo opportunity.
Just around the corner is our last stop, Cheltenham Town Hall. It’s one of the most distinctive buildings in the whole of Cheltenham. That’s why it has its own dedicated page. Take a look if you want to find out about its decadent history, as well as the festivals and events that take place in the town hall today.
The Neptune Fountain
Cheltenham Town Hall
Video guide to Cheltenham's historic buildings
Cheltenham is blessed with some beautiful green spaces that provide the perfect place for a picnic when the sun’s shining and the weather’s warm. Pittville Park leads right the way up to the Pittville Pump Room, and was designed specifically with spa customers in mind, demonstrated by its ornamental lake, elegant bridges and boating lake. Originally, it was bordered by iron fencing, and only local residents and members of the spa were allowed entry. Thankfully, Pittville Park is now entirely open to the public, so you can walk around the lakes, bask on the grass, and even pay a visit to the birds at the aviaries.
The Imperial Gardens are ideal if you’re looking for a park to relax in while you’re in town. You’ll find them behind Cheltenham Town Hall. Similarly to Pittville Park, the Imperial Gardens were exclusively designed for subscribers to Sherborne Spa, which was constructed in 1818. Nowadays, the spa is occupied by the Queens Hotel but the gardens are as resplendent as ever. Each year, 25,000 bedding plants are used to create incredible floral displays that are enjoyed by thousands of visitors and locals alike.
A hop, skip and a jump down the Promenade you’ll find the Montpellier Gardens. It’s arguably the most popular park in the city, thanks to the fact that it plays host to the vast majority of the festivals and events that contribute so much to Cheltenham’s culture. Surrounded by stunning Georgian townhouses, with luscious lawns and a resplendent bandstand in the centre, it’s a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the high street.