Worcestershire is a real gem to visit – and it’s just an hour’s drive from Birmingham.
At its heart is the city of Worcester, which is flanked by the River Severn and sits in the shadow of the 12th-century Worcester Cathedral.
Steeped in history, Worcester was also the location of the final battle of the English Civil War – the Battle of Worcester – where Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army defeated King Charles I’s Cavaliers.
Other connections to Worcester and wider Worcestershire include that it’s the home of Royal Worcester Porcelain, composer Edward Elgar spent most of his life here, and of course its synonymous with the name of Lea & Perrins, makers of the traditional Worcestershire sauce.
Here are 16 of the many highlights you can take in on a visit to this interesting area – and most of them are FREE, or include FREE entry for children. In fact, you could quite easily spend days exploring this wonderful part of the world without spending a penny on entrance fees.
1. The Malvern Hills, Worcestershire
If you like nothing more than getting out in the Great Outdoors, then you can do a host of open-air activities in the beautiful Malverns, including a hike up to the top of the Beacon for a great panoramic reward.
There are a few walking routes to choose from here to help take in this vast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its ancient hills as well as cycling trails. You can find out more here.
2. Elgar’s legacy
Where: Various in Worcester, and wider Worcestershire
Cost: Free to follow the trails. Malvern Museum – Weekday prices are adult £2, child 50p, and on weekends, adults £1, children FREE.
As Sir Edward Elgar spent much of his life in Great Malvern you can retrace some of his famous footsteps and see some of the marks that his legacy left on the landscape and are still evident today.
Just of the sights connected to the composer include the Elgar Statue and Priory Gatehouse, which is now the Malvern Museum in Abbey Road, and you can even follow a suggested driving route around Elgar’s Worcestershire too or Elgar’s Trail on a bike or on foot.
In 2017 the city is celebrating the 160th anniversary of his birth.
As well as visiting the places where he lived, you can also take in the famous venues that he played.
3. Morgan Motor Factory
Where: Pickersleigh Road, Malvern Link, Worcestershire, WR14 2LL
Cost: Prices for guided factory tours are £20 for adults and £10 for children
For car enthusiasts, a tour of the Morgan Motor Factory is a must.
The company’s famous sports cars have been manufactured in Malvern for 100 years.
Visitors can enjoy a guided visit of the factory (weekdays on the reservation and there’s up to 10 hours on some days), visit the small on-site museum an even hire a Morgan sports car for the weekend.
4. River Severn by Boat
Where: The Boathouse Waterside, Upton upon Severn, Worcester WR8 0HG
Cost: Prices vary depending on type of cruises booked, but as an example the Upton Fish and Chip Cruises are priced at £16.50 per person.
As the River Severn runs through Worcestershire and flanks the historic city of Worcester, you can enjoy it on a heritage riverboat tour.
Severn Leisure Cruises is just one of the companies offering such trips and there’s a choice of public and private charter options. Cruises offered to include afternoon tea cruises, evening and Sunday lunch cruises, and even fish and chip cruises too.
5. National Trust’s Croome Court
Where: High Green, Worcester WR8 9DW
Cost: Prices vary depending on whether you want to visit the whole property or just the park. Prices are changing from January 1, 2019, and will be as follows: Adult £12, child £6.70, family £30, group adult £11, group child £5.50, children under five free.
Croome Court is described as one of the “grandest of English landscapes” and was, in fact, Capability Brown’s masterful first commission, which commands views over the glorious Malverns.
Now in the care of the National Trust, Croome Court was once home to the Earls of Coventry and there are four floors for visitors to explore. As the 6th Earl of Coventry was an 18th-century trendsetter, Croome follows his lead today by using artists and craftspeople in the house to tell the story of its eclectic past in inventive ways.
The site’s visitor center was also once a secret wartime airbase and the park is great to stroll around in fine weather.
6. Worcester Cathedral
Located on a bank overlooking the River Severn, the cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Worcester.
Its official name is The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester and was built between 1084 and 1504.
The cathedral is renowned for representing every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic and features a Norman crypt and unique chapter house, unusual Transitional Gothic bays, fine woodwork, and an “exquisite” central tower.
The cathedral’s west facade also famously appeared, with a portrait of Sir Edward Elgar, on the reverse of £20 notes issued by the Bank of England between 1999 and 2007.
It comes top of out 49 things to do in Worcester on TripAdvisor with a 4.5-star rating from reviewers.
7. Worcester Woods Country Park
Where: Worcester Countryside Centre, Wildwood Drive, Worcester, WR5 2LG
As well as a great, adventure play area for kids of all ages and beautiful woodland walks through two nature reserves, where you can also go bird spotting, this local authority country park also includes the Orchard Cafe where you can grab some refreshments and make use of the free wi-fi.
It also scores a high 4.5 rating from TripAdvisor reviewers.
8. Gheluvelt Park
This local authority memorial park, built in honor of those lost in the First World War, borders the River Severn and boasts footpaths through the park, a cafe, water play (splash pad), multi-age playground, ducks to feed, toilets, tennis, outdoor gym equipment and two, free-to-use table tennis tables.
It features a formal park, which is open from dawn until dusk, and an informal area known as the Riverside Conservation Park which is open 24 hours.
This well-maintained park is great for family picnics in good weather and well-behaved dogs are welcome all year round – but they must be kept on a lead in the formal park area.
You can park for free in Waterworks Road car park, and there’s both disabled and cycle parking at the Pump House Environment Centre.
Opening times for the splash pad area vary depending on the time of the year, see the guide below.
9. Tudor House Museum
This timber-beamed museum with leaded windows and decorated plaster ceilings is located on what is described as Worcester’s “most historic street”.
Inside you’ll discover rooms that are almost 500-years-old and displays focus on Tudor weaving and brewing which are the activities that once went on in the house.
In later years it was also used as a coffee shop for the poor, an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) office and a school clinic. As well as hands-on activities there is also a cafe on site.[
10. The Greyfriars House and Garden
This National Trust property was originally built in 1480 by a wealthy merchant. Over the years as well as being home to wealthy families it was owned by a baker and later became a mixture of homes, shops, and businesses producing goods including clothing, hats, bread, leather goods, umbrellas and china riveting.
It was rescued from demolition after the Second World War and has been cared for by the National Trust since 1966.
11. Museum of Royal Worcester
f you’re a fan of all things ceramic then this museum, which is close to Worcester Cathedral and the city center, will appeal as it was once home to the Royal Worcester factory.
Today it boasts the largest collection of Worcester porcelain in the world. More than 10,000 ceramic objects are housed in these old Victorian buildings with galleries that focus on different eras, including the Georgian, Victorian and 20th centuries. There’s also an audio tour.
12. The Commandery
If you’re intrigued by the part Worcester played in the English Civil War then the Commandery is the place to visit.
Described as “glorious”, this Grade I listed site dates back to the 12th century so it’s steeped in history and reveals more on this interesting chapter in the city’s heritage.
Using an audio guide you can find out about The Commandery’s 800-year history and follow six key periods as you walk through the buildings. Just one of many highlights is the Great Hall, which dates back to the 13th Century, as well as the painted chamber.
The building is most famous for being the Royalist Headquarters during the deciding battle of the English Civil War – the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
13. The Infirmary and George Medical Museum
Where: The Infirmary is located at City Campus Infirmary Walk, Castle Street, Worcester WR1 3AS’ and the George Marshall Medical Museum can be found at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Charles Hastings Way, Worcester, WR5 1DD.
Cost: Both FREE
If medical science or things of a sometimes macabre nature intrigue, then these museums will be right up your street.
Collections at these museums tell the story of the development of medicine and healthcare over the last few centuries, with a specific focus on Worcestershire and the West Midlands.
Housed in the University of Worcester’s City Campus, The Infirmary is one of England’s oldest infirmaries.
Its museum features an interactive exhibition exploring a host of stories including the founding of the British Medical Association.
The George Marshall Museum at Worcestershire Royal Hospital reveals 250 years of history, and its artifacts include a collection of death masks of hanged criminals if the macabre is more your thing.
14. Worcester Guildhall
Described as a “truly beautiful building”, that’s a “veritable feast for the eyes” the Guildhall dates back to 1721 and it’s brimming with history and character.
Once the seat of justice throughout the city and housed a prison, it has welcomed many high profile visitors over the years, including King George III in August 1788, and was twice visited by Queen Elizabeth II – in 2001 and 2012.
Highlights include the great hall with its vaulted ceiling, fascinating artifacts, superb ballroom, impressive gold decorated front gates as well as its lovely facade.
15. Kinver Edge and Rock Houses
This is a beautiful, peaceful spot that boasts the opportunity for great walks along the sandstone ridge with family, friends, and pets that reward you with panoramic vistas. It’s also a great location for outdoor picnics and you can explore the National Trust ’s Rock Houses here too.
As well as a kids trail thorough the forest there’s also an Iron Age hill fort to explore.
16. Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum
Housed in an elegant Victorian building in the city center, it features special exhibitions as well as regularly changing temporary exhibitions.
As well as dinosaur footprints, Worcestershire Sauce archive, a real Roman mosaic, and a Native American totem pole, and a recreated Victorian Chemist Shop you can also discover more about the story of the Worcestershire Regiment and the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry.