Population: 132,000

Eat at: Portivo Lounge (01452 300881)

Why? Combining comfy and cool, Portivo’s dishes include pulled brisket chilli, burgers, tapas and a range of vegetarian options.

Drink at: The New Inn (01452 522177)

Why? Grade I listed and set in a 15th-century building, it serves real ales and ciders, and runs Greys Coffee house next-door.

Stay at: The Lock Keepers (01452 332900)

Why? Standing on the site of an old lock-keeper’s cottage on the banks of the River Severn in Over, it’s environmentally friendly and has an award-winning restaurant attached.

Gloucester combines red-brick robustness with classic Cotswold beauty. It’s a city that grew up around its bustling inland port of warehouses. Its sometimes chequered history and fortunes were shaped by trade and manufacturing, and its citizens’ innovation. You’ll find civic structures of note here, including the magnificent Gloucester Shire Hall in Westgate Street and the Crown Court building (both designed by Greek revivalist architect Robert Smirke, who also designed the British Museum’s façade) and the new Gloucester transport hub, built on the site of the old market. The domestic architecture ranges from medieval and half-timbered houses to chic modern waterside apartments, more of which are being built along the canal as the city’s cachet is renewed once more. The Gloucester Quays shopping outlet centre alone attracts millions of visitors a year, many of whom engage with the wider city. From Roman origins beneath the High Street, the magnificent Norman cathedral and the waterside townscape, Gloucester’s rich past is evident city-wide.

Most noted for... Its quays and dockside waterways. Discover the full story on this subject at the National Waterways Museum, which is set in a former grain warehouse. Follow the history of the Gloucester & Sharpness canal with interactive displays. canalrivertrust.org.uk

While you’re here... Visit Gloucester cathedral – its fabulous fan-vaulted cloisters are breathtaking. With a history punctuated by William the Conqueror’s patronage, King Edward II’s burial and King Henry VIII’s first coronation, it has its own rags to riches story. gloucestercathedral.org.uk

But try not to... Whizz by Gloucester Services on the M5. Award-winning and feted, it has a kitchen, farmshop, deli, patisserie, butchery and fishmonger on site serving local and independent suppliers’ food. gloucesterservices.com

Who’s who: Poet and critic William Ernest Henley, said to have been the inspiration for Long John Silver, lived near the docks, while Jemmy Wood was the miser upon whom Charles Dickens based Ebenezer Scrooge. Actor and screenwriter Simon Pegg has connections here, and England rugby’s Mike Tindall, Jonny May, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees and Phil Vickery are among the famous Gloucester RFC players.

The Tailor of Gloucester

Beatrix Potter’s classic The Tailor of Gloucester was inspired by No 9, College Court. Bought by her publisher in 1978 and restored to include a museum and shop, it honours the story of industrious mice, Simpkin the cat, and a tailor whose tasks are mysteriously completed overnight. tailor-of-gloucester.org.uk