Short UK breaks: Top things to see in Stoke-on-Trent

Friday, 5 April 2024

Discover the industrial heritage and modern charm of the world’s capital city of ceramics. Feel inspired by traditional and contemporary art, browse independent shops and delve into Stoke-on-Trent’s local history.

Known as the ‘Potteries’, Stoke-on-Trent is famed for its ceramic-producing legacy – holding great pride for its history, culture and uniqueness. The city’s passion for art and craftsmanship remains at its core as it continues to honour its heritage while welcoming new artistic creations. When you’re not delving into the art and pottery scene, there are plenty of shops, top-quality eateries and fun activities for all ages in the city’s most-loved area, Hanley.

Across the five areas within Stoke, there are tranquil green spaces, fascinating museums and purpose-built visitor centres with everything you need in one stylish space. If you’ve got time, the neighbouring market town of Stafford is a short train ride away, which is filled with charming timber-framed buildings and has an industrial history of its own.

Book a direct train from London, Birmingham and Liverpool or find your nearest station for a trip to Stoke-on-Trent.

Before you head to this West Midlands’ gem, check out these top 10 things to do near Stoke-on-Trent and in the city centre.

Gladstone Pottery Museum

Stoke-on-Trent is synonymous with its unusual upside down cone-shaped chimneys of bottle ovens dotted around the city. These ovens were the cornerstone of the pottery industry in the 18th century. Smouldering coal heated clay creations into Gladstone’s elegant earthenware, porcelain and bone china.

Delve into the workings, innovation, and history of these fiery ovens through Gladstone Pottery Museum's interactive displays, workshops, and exhibits. Learn about the significance of the pottery industry for the city and unpick the production and craftsmanship involved.

Best for: Everything you need to know about the city’s pottery industry.

Distance from station: 2.6 miles

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Whether you’re a history geek, a creative soul or just curious about Stoke-on-Trent’s rich heritage and history, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery is a must-see. Take a journey through time in the local history galleries recreated domestic and working life rooms. Picture the brave warriors during the rise of the Merica kingdom as you look through the most extensive collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever to be discovered.

Compare the old and new in the fine art, ceramic and design collections. Get hands-on with the family-friendly nature-inspired games in the natural science gallery. When it’s time to chill out, head to the secret garden.

Best for: A free day out in Stoke-on-Trent filled with history, culture and art throughout history to the modern-day.

Distance from station: 1.2 miles

AirSpace Gallery

Behind the walls of Airspace Gallery's grand Victorian building are bold and innovative exhibitions celebrating contemporary visual art. Feel the emotion behind each brush stroke of the expressive masterpieces produced by local, budding artists and well-established, national creatives. Events and workshops are run throughout the year, so you can try your hand at a new craft or listen to a guest speaker.

Best for: Creative inspiration and activities.

Distance from station: 1.3 miles

Ford Green Hall

Have you ever been inside a perfectly preserved 400-year-old house? One of few remaining in the area, Ford Green Hall is like a living time capsule from the 17th century, surrounded by countryside and pristine gardens. This timber-framed farmhouse was home to dairy farmer Hugh Ford in its early years.

Across the two floors, you’ll find a grand main hall, a parlour, a kitchen, an exhibition room, living chambers and an education room. Oak beams stretch across the ceilings and walls and each space is decorated with intricate woodwork and period features. You can try the interactive workshops to learn traditional crafts and watch historical re-enactments during your visit.

Best for: Experiencing one of the more unusual things to do in Stoke-on-Trent for a truly memorable experience.

Distance from station: 3.8 miles – you could jump on the 9 Yellow bus from Hadfield Green.

World of Wedgewood

With its tranquil outdoor space with lakes and wildlife, hands-on creative experiences, cosy eateries and shopping opportunities, you could spend all day at World of Wedgewood . Embracing its pottery and porcelain legacy, family-friendly ceramic workshops plus tours of the Wedgewood factory are available to book.

Explore the woodland, lakes and canals of the Wedgewood Estate . Treat yourself to a three-tiered afternoon tea with traditional freshly baked scones, cakes and fancies at the Tea Room. Shop at artisan stores and retail outlets before grabbing a cocktail made with craft spirits at SIXTOWNS .

Best for: An activity day with relaxing outdoor spaces and dining options.

Distance from station: 4.4 miles – catch the 100 bus to Wedgwood Drive.

Churnet Valley Railway

Step into an Agatha Christie novel with a murder mystery onboard a classic steam train, tuck into a cream tea as you pass through the Staffordshire countryside or treat yourself to a three-course meal on wheels.

After closing its passenger services in the 1960s, Churnet Valley Railway reopened as a heritage railway in 1992 and now offers its visitors nostalgic-themed rides, onboard dining and family day trips. You’ll also have the chance to delve into the steam and diesel locomotives and how they were vital to the industrial revolution.

Best for: A unique journey through time.

Distance from station: 10.2 miles – it’s easiest to get to with a 25 minute taxi.

Steam Train Staffordshire | Derbyshire / Midlands - Churnet Valley Railway

The Trentham Estate

Lose yourself in the 725 acres of natural beauty of Trentham Estate . Stroll through the ancient woodlands along the wildlife walks and the Italian gardens. Browse the 80 timber lodges with quirky stores, big-name brands, an array of eateries and chilled-out cafes. Let your little one run wild in the adventure playground, navigate the maze and brave the barefoot walk.

Best for: A bit of everything with outdoor and indoor activities.

Distance from station: 3.6 miles – the 21 bus will take you directly there.

Oatcake Boat

Staffordshire’s floating bakery on the canals of Stoke-on-Trent cooks up authentic oatcakes, which were once the staple diet of pottery makers in the 18th century. In the winter months, these humble wheat-based treats were enjoyed straight from a hot bakestone with a slather of lard, fat or cheese. As the food industry took off in the 1960s, oatcakes were slowly forgotten.

Keeping the tradition alive, Oatcake Boat offers a hearty menu with a range of toppings on your oat cake. Choose from vegan or vegetarian options, melted cheese, crispy bacon, beans, tomatoes and sausage. The eatery moves around, but you can find its exact location on the Oatcake Boat social media pages .

Best for: A traditional lunch or snack.

Distance from station: Approximately 3.5 miles

Biddulph Grange Garden

Wander through the themed gardens of the historic Grade I-listed Biddulph Grange . These Victorian grounds designed by James Bateman will take you on a journey around the globe through floral displays, elegant statues, water features and exotic plants.

Follow the winding paths to China, the Egyptian pyramids, the Himalayan Glen and Italy. Admire Britain's oldest surviving golden larch, discover hidden stone Sphynx, walk beneath towering pines and stumble upon secret seating areas.

Best for: A quiet afternoon in nature surrounded by elegant floral displays.

Distance from station: 10.3 miles – catch the train to Congleton and the 94 bus to Baileys Bank.


After an impressive £200 million refurbishment, Smithfield has become a trendy, vibrant, sociable space oozing creativity and culture with a perfect blend of old and new. This city-centre space boasts eye-catching architecture and artistic installations while also offering outdoor dining and drinking options, entertainment and trendy shops.

Spend an afternoon browsing independent stores, discover the city’s best lunch spot at The Slamwhich Club, or you could even work remotely from the co-working spaces. Check out the regular pop-up events, like an open-air cinema and seasonal displays. Take your family to a theatre show, sip some Friday night cocktails and soak up the community feel in this mixed-use quarter.

Best for: Laid-back drinks, dining and shopping.

Distance from station: 1.2 miles

Get yourself a ticket to ride with Off Peak offers and Advance Tickets. Alternatively, you can purchase your ticket via the London Northwestern Railway app.