Visiting Coventry – A City Guide
Coventry is a lively city in the English West Midlands. Once a booming medieval market town and a major hub of UK industry, it still bears traces of that history in its older architecture. The student population gives the place a trendy energy, while beloved local football and rugby teams create a citywide buzz on match days.
Coventry: city layout
Surrounded by the West Midlands Green Belt, Coventry can seem pleasantly isolated in the rolling English countryside, despite being only 20 miles from Birmingham – the UK’s second-biggest city.
The spires of Coventry Cathedral dominate the skyline, while restored Tudor houses on Spon Street give a sense of how the centre looked 500 years ago. Far Gosford Street, a medieval thoroughfare that survived the German air raids of World War II, is now home to the stylish modern marketplace of Fargo Village.
Bishop Street Basin marks the end of the Coventry Canal, where old warehouses are being renewed by waterside art and commerce. The edge of town gives way to greenery at Coombe Country Park.
Top attractions in Coventry
Centuries of craftsmanship, industry and war have given Coventry plenty of stories to tell. You’ll learn some of those at the rebuilt Cathedral, beside the remains of the original 14th-century church, bombed in the Coventry Blitz of 1940.
The city’s proud past as the centre of British car-making is fondly remembered at Coventry Transport Museum, where you can see hundreds of vintage vehicles.
To feel part of local life, join the cheering crowds to watch Coventry City Football Club, the beloved Sky Blues, play at Ricoh Arena. This is also the home ground of Wasps RFC, one of Britain’s top rugby teams.
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Hotels in Coventry
Coventry hotels range from business-friendly accommodations near major conference venues to leafy suburban retreats ideal for weekend breaks. With easy access to the M6 and M69 motorways, you’re never more than 20 minutes’ drive from Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre.
Hotels just off the M6, north of the city centre, are especially convenient for Cross Point Business Park and Coventry University Technology Park. Football fans and music lovers can easily find a comfortable room minutes from a big match or concert at Ricoh Arena.
Coventry South is a quiet place to stay, its pleasant, tree-lined streets within 15 minutes’ walk of the city’s busiest shops, pubs and restaurants. It makes a handy base for day trips, too, with the well-preserved fortress of Warwick Castle and William Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon less than half-an-hour away by car.
Eating Out in Coventry
Coventry’s dining scene is pretty cosmopolitan, ranging from popular, long-standing Indian and Caribbean restaurants to newer pan-Asian street-food joints. This is still the heart of England, though, where country pubs and city bistros make the most of traditional recipes using fresh farm produce from across the West Midlands and Warwickshire.
Redeveloped sections of the city centre, like the pedestrian zones along Broadgate and around Priory Place, are packed with attractive, mid-priced places to eat. You’ll find funkier coffee shops and street food stalls around the creative quarter at Fargo Village.
Locals like to stop at Belgrade Plaza for pizza and pasta before or after a show at the historic Belgrade Theatre. The upmarket suburb of Earlsdon is well worth a visit for its nicely designed bars and eateries, which attract a sophisticated crowd at the weekend. n nearby villages like Baginton, there are great old inns for carvery lunches and hearty roast dinners.
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Shopping in Coventry
Coventry has been a commercial hub of the region since the Middle Ages. These days, it has air-conditioned malls in the city centre and busy retail parks along the motorways. You’ll also find old-fashioned merchants and young, creative craftspeople selling their wares at independent stores and market stalls.
Familiar brand names and chain stores line High Street and Broadgate, with many more inside the city’s main indoor shopping centres – Cathedral Lanes, West Orchards and Lower Precinct. Some of the Tudor buildings on medieval Spon Street are still home to specialist jewellers and butchers, and a stroll along the old-world shopfronts makes for an atmospheric excursion away from the modern malls.
The regular tenants of Fargo Village range from artists and designers to booksellers and bespoke barbers. There’s also an on-site trading hall that hosts seasonal fairs and weekend flea markets. Coventry Market is open every day but Sunday, with stalls for foodstuffs, flowers and household essentials.
Top independent shops in Coventry
Culture & Nightlife in Coventry
For a relatively small city, Coventry has a lot to offer culture lovers. Its museums, theatres and galleries draw big crowds, and the art scene is constantly refreshed by local students and emerging talents. Old pubs and stylish bars keep drinks, music and conversation flowing after dark.
Many of the city’s cultural attractions are clustered near the centre, where you’ll find Coventry Transport Museum, the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery and Belgrade Theatre.
Just at the edge of town is Warwick Arts Centre, one of Britain’s biggest cultural venues, where you can see films, plays and exhibitions on the grounds of the University of Warwick.
Friendly locals flock to the busy pubs and clubs along Broadgate and around Coventry Cathedral, and to the city’s central beer gardens on warm summer evenings.
Sophisticated Earlsden has become a go-to neighbourhood for craft beers, fine wines and signature cocktails.
Offbeat museums in Coventry
Visiting Coventry with a Family
Coventry has plenty to engage sporty, arty and adventure-hungry children, from football matches and pop concerts at Ricoh Arena to historic castles and battlements. It’s also an ideal base for exploring the country parks and historic castles of the surrounding West Midlands and Warwickshire.
Kids who love cars, trains and planes are all well-catered for at Coventry Transport Museum, the Electric Railway Museum in neighboring Baginton and the nearby Midland Air Museum.
Also in Baginton is Lunt Roman Fort, an ancient stronghold with a busy programme of games and events. For more time-travelling fun, it’s only 20 minutes’ drive from Coventry to medieval-themed entertainments at Warwick Castle.
Coombe Country Park has 500 acres of green space and woodland to run around in, and craft studios to retreat to if the weather turns against you. Brandon Marsh Nature Centre makes for a grand family day out exploring the flora and fauna, with scheduled activities for children.
Family-friendly restaurants in Coventry