Also known as ‘old England,’ Berkshire is known for its dramatic landscapes, rich history and tradition as well as its dramatic landscapes and famous tourist attractions, from Windsor Castle to Ascot Racecourse.
Right in the heart of Berkshire is Hungerford, a pretty historic canalside market town famous for its antique shops, fairs and events and stunning natural beauty.
Whether you’re planning your first visit to Hungerford and are in need of some inspiration for things to do, or you just want to learn more about what makes this Berkshire town so special, we’ve got you covered.
From day trips to boat rides, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in Hungerford. Everything on this list is within an hour’s drive of the town.
1. Shop at Hungerford’s monthly food and artisan markets
For freshly baked homemade goodies and the chance to meet local producers and shop sustainably during your visit, head down to Hungerford’s popular outdoor monthly food and artisan market.
Visitors can peruse more than 20 stalls, all from local sellers. Whether you fancy some fresh bread, pies, cheese, cakes, honey or even eco-friendly soaps and handmade gifts, you’re in luck.
You’ll need to plan ahead if you fancy a trip to the markets, as the date changes each month. Find out more information here.
2. Stargaze at Combe Gibbet, Hungerford
Combe Gibbet is a 7.6-metre high replica of the gallows, so while history fans will be interested in visiting the structure, the main reason for visiting this area during the day is the stunning views and great walking opportunities.
But thanks to the low level of light pollution, this spot becomes the ideal stargazing destination by night. On a clear night, pack a picnic blanket and some snacks and enjoy a romantic evening under the stars or a fun night pointing constellations out to the kids.
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3. Visit Donnington Castle
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Hungerford, a trip to Donnington Castle, just nine miles out of the town centre, should definitely be on your agenda.
Located near the vibrant market town of Newbury, the striking twin-towered gatehouse of this 14th-century castle is steeped in history and is even thought to have once played host to both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
The large defences built to protect the castle during the English Civil War are still intact and surrounded by a large elevated grassy area offering magnificent views of the surroundings.
Donnington Castle is free to visit, with just a £2 parking charge for non-members, so grab your camera and a picnic and spend some time taking in this impressive structure.
4. Take a day trip to the Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre
If after visiting Donnington Castle you’re left wanting even more history, a day trip to the Roman walls and amphitheatre in Silchester might be just the ticket.
Abandoned in the 6th or 7th century, the old town of Calleva Atrebatum features some of England’s best-preserved Roman defences, and because it hasn’t ever been built on, the site gives visitors a real insight into what Roman civilisation really looked like.
To make your visit even more memorable, English Heritage and Adventure Out have teamed up to create escape room-style games that kids and adults alike can play in the grounds of Silchester Roman City Walls.
Escape room tickets cost £10 per child and £14.50 per adult, but it’s totally free to explore the Roman walls and amphitheatre remains, so whether your kids fancy trying their hand at being Roman gladiators or you just want to experience a slice of history, you can choose the day out that works for you.
5. Plan a day out in Windsor
A trip to Windsor is a must if you’re planning to stay in Hungerford for a long weekend.
Though this is the farthest afield of the options on this list, you can still get to the city by car within an hour, so we think it’s worth including.
There are so many things to do in Windsor that it’s hard to narrow it down but as the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, Windsor Castle is a must-see attraction. If you’re in need of some inspiration on how to fill your day out in Windsor, here are a few ideas:
- Watch the Changing of the Guards at Windsor Castle
- Take the famous Long Walk through Windsor Great Park
- Catch a show at the Theatre Royal Windsor
- Tour the Windsor & Eton Brewery
- Visit LEGOLAND’s Windsor resort
- Walk through the gardens of Royal retreat Frogmore House (from 2022)
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6. Enjoy a boat ride along the canal
What better way to make the most of your time in the canalside town of Hungerford than by taking in all the sights from a canal boat?
A trip on The Rose of Hungerford is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon, and is a must-do for anyone and everyone, whether travelling as a family, a couple or just solo.
Learn more about the town’s rich local history as you take a 90 or 150-minute journey along the Kennet and Avon Canal, all while enjoying a tipple (or two) from the licensed bar.
For an extra special visit, you can even arrange a fully catered private charter. Find out more here.
7. Go antique hunting
Finally, we couldn’t make a list of the best things to do in Hungerford without including what the town is most famous for: antiques.
Hungerford has been a landmark for antique shoppers and collectors for centuries, and retains its strong reputation today, boasting three antique centres, regular antique fairs as well as a number of specialist dealers and general antique shops.
Whether you’re looking for something specific like furniture, clocks, artwork or collectables or you just want something fun to do during your stay in Hungerford, antique shopping should be high on your list of priorities.
Usefully, the majority of the shops are located on Charnham Street and High Street. Which shops you visit will depend on your interests, but we particularly recommend Youll’s Antiques for 18th and 19th-century pieces and The Emporium for three floors full of antiques for every age, taste and budget.
We must also mention the award-winning Hungerford Antiques Arcade. With over 100 dealers under one roof, the centre has been used as a filming location for shows like BBC’s Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip and was even voted as the UK’s best antique centre by readers of The BBC Homes and Antiques magazine.