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Known for its famous music festival and for being England's largest town, Reading makes for a lively place to spend a few days. Whether it’s festival season or not, there’s a real buzz around thanks to the student hangouts, cultural events and nightlife spots. And with the Thames and the River Kennet weaving their way through the landscape, you'll discover charming riverside pubs and green outskirts full of quintessential English countryside character.
You can expect to find a Reading hostel in the bustling centre, within walking distance of most of the main sights. Look out for accommodation housed in a charming historic building with period features. Hostels in Reading have private rooms with en-suite bathrooms and handy extras such as free Wi-Fi and free parking. You can find places with TVs in the rooms, tea and coffee-making facilities and a late-check out option – ideal if you've been out the night before.
From town to countryside, Reading has lots of areas to explore. The town centre is home to the main train station, the high street (Broad Street), nightclubs, a shopping centre and restaurants beside the river. As you head out to the southwest, you’ll come to the Reading University area, while to the north you’ll find the River Thames. The Thames Path continues west to the riverside area of Caversham, where Reading Festival is held and rowers take to the river, and eventually to the pretty village of Pangbourne.
There's plenty to do in the town centre. It’s packed with high-street shops, two shopping centres (the Oracle and the Broad Street Mall), a cinema and lots of international places to eat. Directly opposite the station is Friar Street, which is full of bars and nightclubs. Head to nearby Forbury Gardens and the 900-year-old Abbey Ruins, for a spot of history, or hop on your bike and follow the Thames Path into the countryside. You could also take a day trip to London, which is only 30 minutes away by train.
Flying into Gatwick or Heathrow? You can catch a train to Reading, which takes 1-2 hours. Reading station also has links to Oxford, Bristol and many other cities across the UK. It’s on the M4, a major motorway, so driving here is easy. When you arrive, there's a large network of buses that can take you all over town. For a scenic route, take a boat trip from Caversham for trips along the Thames.