Located in the county of Berkshire, only an hour’s drive away from the centre of London lies the charming town of Reading, situated on the river Thames. It’s actually pronounced ‘redding,’ and historians believe it was established some time in the 8th century. The name supposedly came from an Anglo Saxon tribe, meaning ‘the red one.’ Nowadays it has a sizable population of 350,000 and is confusingly classed as the largest town in the UK, without actually having city status.
You may also have heard about the legendary Reading music festival. Each August bank holiday more than 100,000 ravers and music lovers descend upon the city for 5 days of camping, dancing and extreme partying. All of the biggest pop acts play there, and it really has to be seen to be believed. If the weather holds out, you’ll be in for a great party, but you should also be ready for potential flooding, not to mention mud up to your knees! The festival has 18 stages, and is known for the participants’ anarchistic behaviour. Although the music and atmosphere are unforgettable, try to remember not to leave anything valuable in your tent as theft is rampant. The scene of destruction after the festival is truly cataclysmic with burning tents, seas of rubbish trampled into the mud, along with the millions of beer cans. You might wish to gaze on the sleep deprived gaunt looking hordes, in their 10s of thousands as they begin their slow migration home; truly devastated looking people trampling back to the temporary car park, bus or train stations. A sight to behold.
There are some notable people from Reading, including the legendary comedian Ricky Gervais, pop singer Will Young and the extremely controversial talk show host Jeremy Kyle. Ricky Gervais grew up in Whitley, which was once described as one of the most deprived housing estates in the UK.
These days Reading is on the up, and it’s a brilliant location for those who want to work in London, but desire living somewhere more peaceful. It’s only a 20 minute train ride away, and around 40,000 people commute back and forth every day.
The Thames river towpath has some delightful walks, and there’s even a nature reserve on Fobney Island. As well as the river, don’t forget to check out the Avon canal which links up with Bristol 87 miles to the west. There are several different canal boat tours on offer and kayak hire is also really popular. If you’re looking for a relaxing day out, spending time in these beautiful places could be your perfect option.
If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, then it would be a crime to miss the main filming location, Highclere Castle, which is an extremely attractive tourist spot. It was built in 1679, and was also used for the set of the ultra posh 1990s comedy drama Jeeves and Wooster!
If you have energy to burn off, there’s the amazing Parthian Climbing centre, the Newbury racecourse and much much more. In general, Reading has a great friendly atmosphere, a vibrant student nightlife and lots of cool bars.
We’ve found you all of the best free and paid parking options for Reading, including different areas of the town. Save yourself some money on parking, and read on for more interesting information about more cool places to check out as you stroll towards the centre.
Free Parking in Reading
Table of Contents
Free, unrestricted residential street parking
Have you thought about using free residential street parking options instead of paying for car parks? You might end up saving yourself a lot of money in the long run, as well as checking out some of the sights along your way to the centre. Everyone should stretch their legs after a long drive, and the following lists will give you some different options of great things to see as you head towards the centre of Reading.
You won’t be bending or breaking any rules by using the following parking spots as long as you park respectfully, and try not to annoy the neighbours with loud music or conversations late at night. It goes without saying that parking is at your own discretion, and if it doesn’t feel like a safe area you might want to consider another street, or pay for a secure car park. We update this site regularly, but please remember to check for street signs regarding any newly enforced parking restrictions. The following locations are measured by their distances from the central train station.
If you’ll be driving down from Oxford on the A4074, the following addresses are nice and close to the train station. You can take a beautiful detour along the river and pass by Caversham Weir, or choose from the many parks such as Christchurch Meadows, or King’s Meadows. If the weather’s good enough you might want to consider stopping off for a swim in the outdoor Thames Lido. There really are too many fun things to do in Reading!
● Heron Island RG4 8DQ – 0.8 miles
● Champion Road RG4 8EL – 0.9 miles
● Ardler Road RG4 5AE – 0.9 miles
● Piggott’s Road RG4 8EN – 0.9 miles
● Nelson Road RG4 5AT – 1.0 mile
● Star Road RG4 5BE – 1.1 miles
If you’re driving in from London along the M4, there are some good parking spots near the cemetery and the Royal Berkshire Hospital. If you fancy a bite to eat, or a quick half pint along the river Kennete, that would also make a lovely detour as you wander towards the centre. You can check out the boats along your way, and as you can see on the map there are endless tow paths to explore.
● Montague Street RG1 4JH – 0.8 miles
● Blenheim Road RG1 5NG – 1.1 miles
● Auckland Road RG6 1NY – 2.0 miles
● Trelleck Road RG1 6EN – 1.4 miles
Will you be driving up from the Basingstoke direction? If you need some quiet time before you head to the city there’s some free residential street parking near the Coley Water Meadows, which is an amazing nature reserve only a few miles to the south of the city centre. The Castle Tap’s a great dog friendly pub with a superb restaurant on route to the centre, with great reviews and super friendly staff. Why not meet the locals and get some advice about other great things to see in Reading?
● Holybrook Road RG1 6DG – 1.1 miles
● Shaw Road RG1 6JX – 1.2 miles
● Boston Avenue RG1 6JU – 1.1 miles
● Tintern Crescent RG1 6HB – 1.4 miles
● St. Saviours Road RG1 6ET – 1.4 miles
● Wensley Road RG1 6UZ – 1.4 miles
● Benson Close RG2 7JG – 2.1 miles
● Drake Way RG2 0GQ – 2.2 miles
Free after 8 pm/Overnight Parking
These addresses are great if you will be getting into Reading later than 8pm, but do remember to get out of there before 08:00, or you might get stung with a parking ticket.
● Fobney Street RG1 6BY – 0.5 miles
● Deansgate Road RG1 2RZ – 0.6 miles
● London St RG1 4PS – 0.4 miles
● South Street RG1 4QS – 0.6 miles
● Temple Place RG1 6QJ – 0.8 miles
● East Street RG1 4AW – 0.6 miles
Park and Ride Services
- Mereoak Park & Ride RG7 1JY – south of Reading
- Thames Valley Park & Ride RG6 1PT – east of Reading
Cheapest Paid Car Parks
If you’re not up for a walk, or you need to get straight to the centre of the town, you can simply use paid car parks. We’ve compiled a fully comprehensive list of all of the paid car parks in Reading for you.
● Meadway Precinct RG30 4AB – £1.00 for 2 hours
● Chester Street Car Park RG4 8JH – £1.20 for 2 hours
● Lytham Road (west) Pay and Display RG5 3DE – £1.20 for 2 hours
● Crockhamwell Road Car Park RG5 3JY – £1.20 for 2 hours
● Headley Road Pay and Display Car Park RG5 4JA – £1.20 for 2 hours
● Recreation Road Car Park RG30 4UD – £1.20 for 2 hours
● Dunstall Close Car Park RG31 5AY – £1.20 for 2 hours
● Battle Street Car Park RG1 7NU – £2.00 for 2 hours
● Cattle Market Car Park RG1 7HN – £2.10 for 2 hours
Free short-term parking (2h or less)/Customer only parking
As long as you don’t overstay your 2 hour time limit, there’s nothing illegal about using the following commercial parking options and you won’t incur any fines for doing so. These options could be great if you simply need to nip into town to pick someone up or buy something.
● Forbury Retail Park RG1 3JH
● Station Shopping Park RG1 8AL
● Iceland Supermarket Reading RG1 7QE
● Thameside Promenade Car Park RG1 8BD
● Tesco Extra RG1 8DF
● Kensington Road Car Park RG30 2EG
● Brunel Retail Park RG2 0HB
● Prospect Park Car Park RG30 2ND
● Reading Gate Retail Park RG2 0QG