Positioned at the gateway to England's glorious West Country, Gloucester is an historic cathedral city situated on the River Severn close to the border with Wales. Founded by the Romans in AD 97 as Glevum, the city is located approximately two hours west of London. Directly to the east of the city is the stunningly picturesque Cotswolds and to the west is the Forest of Dean.
Located approximately midway between Oxford to the east, Cardiff to the west, Bristol to the south and Birmingham to the north - each about 1 hour's travel away - it makes sense to consider Gloucester as a base to explore the region, and as a destination in its own right.
As well as the enviable location of the city there are plenty of attractions, restaurants and pubs in the city to keep a traveller occupied.
Gloucester is a city on the up and is due to host a number of games in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Recent developments have seen the city emerge as a key regional centre with a lifestyle and culture of its own. It is entirely possible to while away an entire afternoon and evening in one of the many coffee shops and pubs.
Reaching Gloucester is easy. If you are using the M5 you can exit at junction 11, 11a or 12. The A40 also passes through the city and is useful as a link to London and south Wales (avoiding the Severn Bridge). Those coming from London may also wish to use the M4, exiting at Junction 15 (Swindon) and following the A419 to the city. There are plenty of pay and display car parks. On road parking is also available quite close to the city centre, but be aware of local restrictions.
Gloucester benefits from a city centre railway station. It is possible to get direct trains to Gloucester from London Paddington, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham. Be aware that Cross Country trains may not stop at Gloucester and so you may need to change at Cheltenham. Trains between Gloucester and Cheltenham are frequent and take about 10 minutes. From the station it is a quick 5 minute walk into the city centre.
Gloucester Coach Station is also centrally located. Gloucester is a large hub and benefits from links to places across the UK. There are frequent services to London (Victoria Coach Station) with National Express or Megabus.
Gloucestershire Airport sits midway between Gloucester and Cheltenham. Services are limited but growing. Currently it is possible to fly to the city from Belfast, Isle of Man and Jersey. From the airport there are bus services into the city centre. A taxi will cost around £10 and is a good option for small groups.
Hire car (Avis and Europcar) is available at the airport.
For the adventurous you may find yourself arriving into the city by boat at the newly redeveloped Gloucester Quays. Again, a city centre location means you can arrive and get to where you need to be quickly. Canal boat hire is possible, and would certainly be a memorable way of arriving in Gloucester.
Sat on the eastern banks of the River Severn the city centres on the four easily navigable pedestrianised gate streets - Northgate, Southgate, Westgate and Eastgate:
Northgate Street - One of the principle shopping streets and a well-trodden route to Kingsholm Stadium, home of Gloucester RFC.
Southgate Street - The ever-developing and evolving Gloucester Quays are positioned a little beyond Southgate Street
Westgate Street - Home to a number of independent traders and the route to the jewel in Gloucester's crown, Gloucester Cathedral.
Eastgate Street - As well as shops, Eastgate Street has a number of late night bars and clubs.
You shouldn't have to use public transport within Gloucester because most places are easily reached on foot. Stagecoach provides the majority of bus services within Gloucester and their Stagecoach Gold service links the city with Cheltenham.
The city centre is mostly flat and, due to its compact nature, is easily navigated on foot.
There are several cycle routes around Gloucester and it is possible to have a fairly stress-free cycle ride around the city and its suburbs. There are also cycle routes to both Cheltenham and even to Bristol.
The best way to get to the countryside around Gloucester is by car.
Gloucester Cathedral -  Standing at almost 70 metres and dating from the 11th Century, Gloucester Cathedral has been a dominant feature of the city's skyline for generations. A magnificent building well worth a visit. Resting place of Edward II. Parts of Harry Potter and Dr. Who were filmed here.
Gloucester Quays -  Plush new shopping development centred around the historic docks. Many shops, restaurants and bars. In December 2013 a new 10 screen £60m Cineworld Cinema opened at the Quays. There is plenty for all ages to do at the Quays.
Gloucester Antiques Centre -  A maze of fascinating antiques over 3 floors, centrally located within the Quays development.
Gloucester Rugby -  A must for sports fans visiting the city is a trip to Kingsholm (sometimes referred to as Castle Grim) to watch the local rugby club. For the real matchday experience have a couple of pints on the Kingsholm Road before taking your position amongst the locals in The Shed.
Gloucester City Football Club -  Although currently playing their home games in Cheltenham a return to the city of Gloucester is on the cards. When they do, make sure you add it to your must do list.
Soldiers of Gloucestershire Military Museum -  This museum tells the story of two famous county regiments The Glorious Glosters and The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars.
Jet Age Museum -  - Located at the airport, this museum celebrates the county's importance in aviation history.
Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery -  Worth a visit for the Roman artefacts, Roman kitchen and medieval street.
Gloucester Folk Museum -  Situated in characterful buildings on Westgate Street the Gloucester Folk Museum is home to many exhibits including local crafts and a reconstructed Victorian classroom.
Gloucester Waterways Museum -  Explore the rich heritage of canals and rivers in this country. Investigate historic craft and explore Llanthony Yard.
Gloucester Brewery -  You should be able to find many of Gloucester Brewery's ales at a number of Gloucester pubs. Explore and take an excellent guided tour of where these are brewed within Gloucester Quays.
Beatrix Potter Museum and Shop -  Don't pass up the opportunity to visit the tailor's house from Beatrix Potter's 1903 story "The Tailor of Gloucester". Situated a stone's throw from Gloucester Cathedral down a narrow alleyway.
Summer Sound Music Festival -  A FREE annual music event in Gloucester Park every July. Check the website for 2014 details but previous headliners have been We Are Scientists and Kids In Glass Houses.
Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre -  Ski all year round on the outskirts of Gloucester with beautiful views across towards The Cotswolds and Cheltenhan. Learn to Ski or Snowboard or simply go tubing. The longest dry slope in England and Wales - complete with a great coffee shop to simply watch for the less energetic.
Severn Bore -  One of the great natural events in the UK. The Severn Bore is a large tidal surge moving upstream. The wave is often ridden by surfers and people in kayaks. Check the website for dates and times.
Gloucester Guildhall -  "The County's Liveliest Venue". Gloucester Guildhall is a thriving entertainments venue and events space situated in Gloucester City Centre. Check the listings for live music, comedy, theatre, films, exhibitions and talks.
Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust -  Situated approximately 30 minutes south of Gloucester, Slimbridge has 120 acres of reserve and is home to a large number of species. You will see ducks, swans, geese and flamingoes amongst others.
The Bird Park, Prinknash -  See reindeers, goats and a large bird collection at close quarters at this picturesque attraction.
Prinknash Abbey -  Splendid monastery situated along the A46 towards Stroud.
Cotswold Wildlife Park -  Situated along the A40 towards Oxford this zoo plays host to a wide number of animals including birds, reptlies, insects and mammals. Set in scenic grounds it is well worth a visit. The first thing you may hear from the car park is the mighty roar of the resident lions!
May Hill -  Visible for miles around, May Hill is worth an ascent. Undisturbed views in all directions from the top.
Royal Forest of Dean -  Situated to the west of Gloucester the Forest of Dean is best accessed by car. Once inside and parked up there are miles of glorious trails to explore in a peaceful and tranquil setting.
The Cotswolds -  Directly to the east of Gloucester you will find the rolling Cotswolds. Many walks, pretty villages and stunning views make this a must for any visitor to the region. Again, best accessed by car.
International Centre for Birds of Prey -  Aiming for the conservation of all birds of prey and their habitats, the centre is worth a visit and a great learning experience.
Shopping is easy in this compact centre, with four streets, named below, radiating from the focal point The Cross, with its adjacent church tower.
Gloucester has a variety of generic high-street chain stores, as well as more bespoke or individual retail locations. Eastgate Street is the primary shopping area, with most of the banks, the Kings Walk Shopping Arcade and the Eastgate Mall. The Eastgate Mall also has a small indoor market area towards the back, which sells various goods for considerably cheaper than the main stores.
Westgate Street is more 'bohemian' and has many sole traders and cafes. If you're looking for something a little more unique, the Westgate area is your best bet, especially in the small streets leading away to the Cathedral.
Northgate is the 'budget' end of town - if you're looking for groceries, then the Sainsbury's and Wilkinsons stores are good options.
On Fridays, Northgate Street and Southgate Street play host to the local farmers' market.
For those wishing to spend an hour or so with a quiet coffee and the paper may wish to check out the following options. As well as the usual array of Starbucks, Cafe Nero and Costa you should check out;
Caffe Corretto - Located within Gloucester Quays is the fantastic Caffee Corretto. Opened in 2010 by an Italian family from Naples this place brings the continental coffee scene to the streets of Gloucester.
Cafe Tucci - Next door to Caffe Corretto in the Quays is the slightly quieter Cafe Tucci. A warm atmosphere and home to lovely food and lovely coffee.
Hubble Bubble Coffee House - Situated on College Street. Excellent food, excellent coffee. Home made cakes baked in store!
Patisserie Valerie - Relax and recharge in the newly-opened Patisserie Valerie on Southgate Street. A fine selection of coffee and cake.
Gloucester is well provisioned with pubs and clubs. You will find bars for all tastes and will receive a warm welcome in all from the staff and locals alike.
Cafe Rene - Down an alley off Southgate Street. Next door to St. Mary Crypt Church, it is apparently haunted by monks who once had a monastery on the site. Complete with a Roman well in the bar this place is well worth a visit to take a break from shopping or spend an evening.
Baker Street - Located a little further down Southgate Street, a classic sports pub showing all the big games.
Robert Raikes - Opposite Cafe Rene you will find Robert Raikes. Situated in a recently refurbished Tudor building it has a great range of drinks and food.
Chambers - Overlooking King's Square, a popular sports pub serving good food.
The Station Hotel - Located next to Gloucester railway station, handy for killing time before a train. Rooms available.
Dr. Fosters - Situated within Gloucester Quays this pub has a cosy feel, with views across the water and canal boats.
Tank Gloucester - New Gloucester Brewery pub opening showcasing Gloucester Brewery's fine range of ales.
Portivo Lounge - Also located within Gloucester Quays this recently opened pub serves great food and drink. A warm atmosphere with an exceptional array of interesting pictures and artefacts on the walls.
The New Inn Hotel - This is a characterful pub dating from the 15th century. Entry is through a carriageway off Northgate Street and is a great example of a medieval courtyard inn.
The Northend Vaults - Located on Northgate Street and recently refurbished, a small and welcoming pub with a lovely range of food and drinks.
The Fountain Inn - A country pub in the heart of the city off Westgate Street. A must visit.
The Westgate - Also located down Westgate Street, The Westgate prides itself as being Gloucester's only LBGT bar. Nice range of drinks and a lovely food menu.
Wetherspoons - Gloucester has three Wetherspoons; The Regal overlooking King's Square, The Water Poet on Eastgate Street and the new The Lord Constable of England located at Gloucester Quays.
For a more conventional modern British night out, Lower Eastgate Street is home to the majority of the bars and clubs within the city. These vary in quality of both facilities and clientele - use your own discretion in deciding where you want to drink. The far end of Eastgate Street is home to the two biggest clubs in Gloucester - Liquid/Diva and The Registry. 'Liquid' is typically the most popular and can have long queues for entry, but it is also the largest club and has a range of special nights. The Registry offers free entry, and occasional live events. Other options include, The Regal and Butlers as bars with music and late-licenses.
This part of the city also plays host to a number of fast food establishments aimed at the late night crowd.
Ibis -  Located in Barnwood, handily positioned just off the number 10 bus route between Cheltenham and Gloucester.
Mercure Bowden Hall -  Situated in the pretty village of Upton St. Leonards, a good base for exploring the city and the surrounding area.
New County Hotel -  Located in the city centre on Southgate Street.
New Inn Hotel -  Beautifully restored courtyard hotel and pub with 33 rooms.
Travelodge -  New hotel handily positioned within the Quays development.
There are also Travelodges, Holiday Inns and Travel Inns around the suburbs. Many of the pubs offer B&B. There are a few campsites dotted around, and, in the countryside, there are many, many good hotels and pubs, some of which are luxury ones.