Fancy giving the driver a rest and enjoying a car-free break in the Cotswolds? Touring the picturesque Cotswold villages...
As far as choice goes, there are plenty of historical places to visit in the Cotswolds; experience the childhood home and birthplace of the UKs most famous prime minister, Winston Churchill and one that has more rooms than Buckingham Palace; journey back 2,000 years to see one of the most impressive collections of Roman artifacts in the UK.
We’ve created this list of our favourite historical places to visit in the Cotswolds for you to add to your Cotswold holiday itinerary.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
Located in the historically important village of Woodstock, the World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace is only 1 ½ hour drive from both London and Birmingham, and just a 30 minute bus ride from Oxford. Whilst a car park is available on site, a 30% discount is given when visitors present a valid bus or train ticket when purchasing ticket entry at the palace to encourage car-free day trips.
There’s absolutely stacks to see and do at ‘Britain’s greatest palace and luckily you’re not restricted to cramming it all in in one day. Upon purchase of a ticket, your pass is automatically turned into a FREE annual pass.
For a relaxed and easy accessible tour of the extensive gardens and grounds, why not join in the new two-seater, electric car Twizy tour. Also popular at Blenheim Palace is a butterfly house and miniature train ride.
To visit the palace, gardens and park, a family pass is £65.60 and a couple of concession tickets are £48.
Broadway Tower, Broadway
From the grand to the small, Broadway Tower is known as the highest little tower in the Cotswolds’. This historical attraction is high on our list of dog-friendly attractions in the Cotswolds due to its large estate. Whilst dogs are not permitted inside the 18th century folly, the surrounding estate provides ample walking and the famed architecture can be taken in from outside. The tower sits right next to the Cotswold Way and there are 50 acres of woodland and Parkland to explore too. It is important that visitors to Broadway Tower make sure dogs are kept on leads as a beautiful red deer herd occupies the estate. The delicacy of venison can be bought from the Broadway Tower café and shop, Morris & Brown, which also provides the ideal parking place for walking up to the Tower.
If you can get inside, we would highly recommend a Tower & Bunker ticket so you can experience what walkers miss. Yes, hidden 15ft below a field on the Broadway Estate is a Nuclear Bunker, filled with Cold War gadgetry.
Views from the tower roof platform, the second highest point in the Cotswolds, are what attracts many to Broadway Tower. Descending down three floors, the interesting stories from the Tower’s history unfold, including its use as a holiday retreat for members of the Arts and Crafts movement, including textile designer William Morris and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The tower also once housed the largest collection of book manuscripts in the UK.
“The most inconvenient and the most delightful place ever seen … how the clean aromatic wind blew the aches out of our tired bodies, and how good it all was” (William Morris).
The tall, thin castle is an eclectic mix of architecture including three turrets, three canted sides, balconies and gargoyles, and was the creation of two of the 18th century’s greatest designers, Capability Brown and James Wyatt. It is a must for your Cotswold holiday itinerary.
Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury
A former Benedict monastery, located in the heart of the Gloucestershire countryside, Tewkesbury Abbey is one of the largest parish churches in the UK and has a 900 year old history, filled with fascinating stories and tales.
Some visitors come to simply marvel at the impressive architecture where everything is on a grand scale, the tall stained glass windows and domed painted ceiling. Then there is the Tower – the largest of its kind in the world! There are 200 steps, but the views from the top are simply wonderful. The Abbey grounds are a peaceful place to be, look out for the beautiful large beech tree. The abbey is dog-friendly inside as well as out.
For those looking for a deeper experience, there’s peal ringing, a beautiful choir and regular services too.
A volunteer-run Touching Souls Tea Room sells wonderful home-made food and the Abbey gift shop is well stocked with local Cotswold produce that makes for great holiday souvenirs.
Also, look out for the monthly farmers’ market that is held close to the Abbey.
The Model Village, Bourton-on-the-Water
Kids can step back in time to the 1930s and walk like giants around the miniature village which has been granted special listed status for its role as a historical time capsule. The protected Model Village will stand for generations to come, preserving this historical view of the famous Cotswold village, along with the masterful model craftsmanship.
There are no trains, boats or planes but get close to the churches and hear a delightful chorus sound out. And in the summer months, inspect gardens to find hand-built greenhouses filled with miniature alpine plants. Rather than oversized plants that some other model villages use, this miniature Bourton-on-the-Water is home to hundreds of hand-clipped Bonsais and other Alpines to give an accurate representation of the famous Cotswold gardens. Look out for a model village within the Model Village, sat just behind the Old New Inn, just as in real life.
The Model Village is centrally located in Bourton-on-the-Water, and there are lots of other collections that children will love to visit when staying in the area. Birdland, also home to a Jurassic World of life-size dinosaur models, is home to a wide variety of exotic and local birdlife and has a model village of its own; Cotswold Motoring & Toy collection is a hands-on experience and the traditional Dragonfly hedge maze is good for if you have a pooch to entertain also.
Corinium Museum, Cirencester
Located in the centre of Cirencester, or Corinium Dobunnorum – the capital of the Cotswolds and of Roman Britain itself – the Corinium Museum is a vibrant museum that is a must on a visit to the Cotswolds.
The Corinium prides itself on being the best collection of Roman artifacts in Britain, and here you will find important treasures such as the largest concentration of Romano-British mosaics in the UK, outside of London.
The bright, modern and inviting galleries, of which there are several dedicated to Roman artifacts and an Anglo Saxon, Medieval, Prehistoric, Civil War gallery, are the welcome result of recent Heritage Lottery funding. For younger visitors, the hands-on Discover Room is superb, and the Roman story continues outside with small but inviting Roman Gardens. There’s dress-up, life-size models like a Roman cavalryman and low-level information boards.
A family ticket is £15 and this is a fully accessible attraction, it has baby changing and café.