What To See and Do in Swindon, UK – the Biggest Town In Wiltshire

Jonah Andersson January 17, 2012
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Swindon may not be on the traditional tourist route round the UK, but if you making a trip to The South West UK (The Cotswolds, Bristol or Oxford) whilst on holiday in the UK, then it’s worth making a detour to spend a day or two in the nice Wiltshire town of Swindon.

Swindon is midway between Bristol and Reading on the M4 motorway, in the South West of the UK. London is 80 miles to the East (1 ½ hours by car, 1 hour by train). Swindon has a population of 155,000, and is home to the Oxford University Bodleian Library Book Storage Facility, which houses some of the millions of books that cannot be housed in the Oxford library, as space is limited. This facility, which cost £26 million, opened in October 2010 and has 153 miles of shelving. It is not, unfortunately, open to the general public.

Swindon has a rich history: there has been a settlement on the site of the town since Saxon times. It is referred in the Domesday Book as Suindune, believed to have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon words “swine” and “dun” meaning “Pig’s Hill”.

Swindon was a market town until the mid-19th Century, when the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel chose Swindon to be the location of the railway works for his Great Western Railway. The railway works brought thousands of people and jobs to the town, and led to its growth over the next 100 years or so. A great way to rediscover Swindon’s rich railway heritage is to visit the STEAM Railway museum, located on the site of the former works. In Winter, the museum is open 11am-4pm; in Summer, the opening hours are 10am-5pm. Adult tickets are £6.40, children aged 3-16 £4.25 each. It’s a great day out for all the family, with some great exhibits.

There is plenty of great shopping to do in Swindon – the town centre has all the main brands, whilst the Outlet Centre (located within the old railway works) provides the big discounts on many top names such as Nike, Superdry and John Lewis.

There is plenty of culture to be had in Swindon, with the Wyvern Theatre being host to many of the best comedians, bands and shows touring the UK.

Swindon is famous for its roundabouts, and has dozens in the town, varying in size and shape. The biggest by far is the “Magic roundabout”, located in the centre of town, next to the County Ground football stadium. The Magic roundabout has five mini-roundabouts located around a large central one. If you have hired a car and are driving in Swindon, beware! It can be tricky to get the hang of. The Swindon Magic is one of only two in the UK, the other being in Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire.

So you can see there is plenty for tourists to see and do in Swindon, so why not make the trip yourself?


“Steppes Travel are one of the leading luxury and tailor made holidays company in the UK. They regularly run trips to Africa, South America and Europe.”  .


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