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The Best Day Trips Around the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is arguably one of the UK’s most picturesque places to visit, with its hills or ‘Wolds’ running through five scenic counties. The region is home stunning historic sites, natural landscapes, reserves and historical trails, which makes it the perfect place to enjoy memorable day trips out. Here we explore six of the best day trips around the Cotswolds for you to enjoy.

1. Gloucester, The Cathedral and Docks

Gloucester The Cathedral and Docks

Gloucester, the Cotswolds Cathedral City, has a history which spans over 2,000 years with its roots stretching back to Roman times and is home to England’s most inland port.

Steeped in almost 1,000 years of history, Gloucester Cathedral is the perfect place to begin a memorable day out in the Cotswolds. The Cathedral is open 365 days a year and offers a wealth of areas to explore, as well as guided tours, family activities and events taking place throughout the year.

Gloucester The Cathedral and Docks

There are various guided tours available, with a dedicated team of tour guides, who provide interesting insights into the Cathedral’s history. If you’re reasonably fit, you may wish to embark upon the Tower Tour, and climb the 269 steps to the top. Alternatively, you can explore the subterranean levels, where the earliest remains of the building are located.

One of the most interesting areas of the Cathedral includes the Medieval 15th Century Lady Chapel, a space for contemplation. Head up to the Whispering Gallery which provides some of the most spectacular views of the Cathedral, or observe Edwards II’s tomb, commissioned c. 1330s and one of only a few monarchy tombs to be located outside of London.

After your visit to Gloucester Cathedral, continue taking in the sites of this historic city. A ten-minute walk away are the historic Gloucester Docks, described by Charles Dickens as ‘extraordinary’ and granted Royal Port Status. The Gloucester Quays area has plenty to explore with a selection of bars and coffee shops if you’re in need of refreshment, to Designer Shopping Outlets and walkways along the docks. You can relax and take in the views on one of the 45-minute boat tours along the Docks from the Waterways Museum. Alternatively, take the classic Gloucester Brewery Tour around the brewery, where you will be guided through the process of creating award-winning beer along with the opportunity to taste its produce.

2. Winchcombe Village and Sudeley Castle

Winchcombe Village Sudeley Castle

The beautiful Anglo Saxon town of Winchcombe is located between Broadway and Cheltenham. The literal translation of Winchcombe means ‘valley with a bend’ and this curve can be seen along the town’s streets, which are full of charm and character.

Located just on the outskirts of Winchcombe you will find Sudeley Castle and gardens. A historic landmark that has been a part of England’s history for over 1,000 years.

The Castle is full of fascinating history. It provided a base for Richard III during the Wars of the Roses and fell victim to battle during the Civil war. A cannon ball hole can still be seen in the Octagon Tower. The last of King Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Parr lived and died at the Castle and it was frequented by four of England’s queens. Tickets to the castle allow you to explore a number of the family’s private rooms including the Sewing Room which offers one of the best views of the ruins. The Tudor Document Room contains Queen Katherine Parr’s hand-written books and love letter to Sir Thomas Seymour.

Winchcombe Village and Sudeley Castle

In addition to the Castle, the award-winning gardens are well worth a visit, showcasing an array of the best flowers and plants that each season has to offer. There are ten different gardens to enjoy walking around. Head to the Queen’s Garden to walk in the footsteps of previous Queens including Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth. Head to the Tudor Psychic Garden, home to plants used to create medicines and cures during the Tudor Period. Guided tours are available during the summer months.

After exploring Sudeley Castle enjoy a meal at one of Winchcombe’s pubs or restaurants. The Lion Inn Pub proves popular for delicious home-cooked food in beautiful surroundings. It serves classics and modern dishes, from pan fried hake to homemade beef burgers. For Michelin star fine dining, treat yourself to dinner at 5 North Street. The Head chef, Gus, was trained under Michel Roux Snr. The restaurant is rewarded with excellent reviews and celebrates Cotswolds finest ingredients.

3. Cheltenham’s Pittville Park and Montpellier District

Cheltenhams Pittville Park Montpellier District

Cheltenham is a tasteful Regency spa town designed as a health and holiday resort for wealthy visitors since 1717 upon the discovery of mineral springs there. This legacy can still be seen today with its range of high-end restaurants, accommodation and entertainment.

Begin your day out in Cheltenham with a walk around grade 2 listed Pittville Park. Pick up a coffee and enjoy a stroll around the park’s landscape. The east side of the park is overlooked by a large, elegant pump room and there’s a large children’s play area. Don’t forget to visit the aviaries where you can enjoy the popular birds and rabbits that inhabit there. The western side of the park includes a lower lake and areas of woodland. Fishing can also be enjoyed in the lake during the fishing season. Tennis courts and pitch and putt are also available at your leisure.

Cheltenhams Pittville Park and Montpellier District

After your park visit head over to the super stylish Montpellier District. Approximately a 15-minute walk from the park. Montpellier is one of the most attractive and fashionable areas of Cheltenham, with its continental feel. This area is where the first Cheltenham Spring was discovered in 1716.

You may well have worked up an appetite and Cheltenham has lots of places to choose from to enjoy a tasty lunch. The Montpellier Lodge, a renovated Groundsman’s Cottage, is located at the Montpellier Gardens and proves popular. They have a delicious Brunch and Lunch menu serving a range of homemade sandwiches and light lunches such as Wye Valley Smoked Salmon and Prawn Fish Cakes with watercress veloute or Eggs Benedict. You may not be able to resist the Chocolate Delice dessert!

After lunch, head down Montpellier Walk to enjoy some leisurely shopping at the boutique and specialist shops located there. Look out for the caryatids which separate each property. These are figures based on the classical models found on the Erechtheion in Athens. Upmarket shops and outlets can be found at the Courtyard Shopping Arcade for you to peruse.

After some retail therapy, you may be ready for a light refreshment. Enjoy a coffee at Montpellier Gardens, alternatively relax with a cocktail or refreshing glass of wine at one of the local wine bars.

4. Chipping Campden and Hidcote Manor

Chipping Campden Hidcote Manor

Chipping Campden is a beautiful market town located in the North of the Cotswolds. The high-street is lined with charming honey coloured limestone buildings built from the local quarried limestone. Enjoy moseying around the shops or take a visit to the market hall where you can pick up some local crafts, cakes or photography prints. Markets are held on the second Saturday of each month from March to November.

Throughout the summer months, Chipping Campden hosts many local events for visitors to enjoy; from the Chipping Campden Music Festival, to the Robert Dover’s Olympic Games to the Open Gardens weekend. For the latest information on events go to

Stop off for a light bite or lunch at one of the restaurants, tea houses or local pubs. The quintessentially English Badgers Tearoom serves a selection of home-baked cakes, pastries and freshly made food in a traditional tea-room setting. Alternatively, if you’re after a fine dining treat, The Chef’s Dozen offers a light lunch menu on Fridays and Saturdays serving the best in locally organic sourced produce.

Chipping Campden and Hidcote Manor

Whilst visiting Chipping Campden, you may wish to visit nearby Hidcote Manor and Arts and Crafts Garden located just an 11-minute drive away. The garden is maintained by The National Trust and was created by American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston. It gives the impression of intricate outdoor ‘rooms’ with a maze of narrow paved pathways leading to secret gardens with beautiful plants and flowers that change through the seasons. If you carry on into the ‘Wilderness’ there is a perfect area to sit down and enjoy a light refreshment or picnic.

5. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway runs a 25-mile round trip between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse and is a memorable day out for all the family. It is perfect for taking in the stunning scenery that the Cotswolds has to offer, including Stanway House, Hayles Abbey, Tewkesbury Abbey, the Vale of Evesham and the Malvern Hills. You will feel like you’re stepping back in time, hopping on-board the Steam Railway Train, greeted by friendly staff in old station master and guard uniforms.

The line was originally built between 1900-1906, to improve services from Birmingham to Bristol and the West Country and to carry fruit from the Cotswolds farming areas. After closure in 1960, the Steam Railway line was formed, with the aim of restoring the line. Since then the line has continued to undergo restoration. The extension to Cheltenham Racecourse was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 2003.

A full price ticket allows you the option to hop on and off stations located along the route (children 5 and under travel for free). At least one steam train and one 1960s diesel rail car runs each day allowing you to enjoy both types of train.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

Children will especially enjoy the special events which take place throughout the year, such as a ‘Day Out with Thomas,’ when the much-loved Thomas the Tank Engine pays a visit to the railway. A free quiz for children is available at the station booking office, to keep them entertained throughout the day. On certain dates it’s possible to explore the model railway at Winchcombe and the narrow gauge railway at Toddington. Check the Railway’s website for details of events.

There are lovely spots along the route where you can hop off the train. Enjoy a picnic at Toddington or Winchcombe. Alternatively, stop off at one one of the coffee shops to recharge. The Flag and Whistle located in the grounds at Toddington Station serves a range of homemade cakes and pastries, speciality teas, light lunches and hot and cold snacks. Finish off your day out at one of the gift shops at Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse where you can pick up some souvenirs to take home.

6. The Cotswold Wildlife Park

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Located between Oxford and Cheltenham, The Cotswold Wildlife park provides an entertaining day out for all ages. There’s plenty to see and do with animals and mammals of all shapes and sizes to see.

The park runs a number of regular activities. Penguin feeding takes place daily with keepers on hand to answer questions. There is a walk-through the Madagascar exhibit where you can learn more about the fascinating creatures that reside there. You’ll also be introduced to the park’s resident lemurs. As well as regular activities there are numerous events which take places throughout the summer months. Check out the Park’s website for the latest information. Events include Falconry Flying Displays, daily talks on Rhinos, Car Rallies and MG Cars in the Park.

The Cotswold Wildlife Park

For lunch, head to the Park’s Oak Tree Restaurant which serves a selection of lunch options, from salads and baked potatoes to heavier options. Children’s options are also available. Alternatively, you may wish to enjoy the outdoors with your own picnic. There are plenty of sheltered areas and lawn spaces to enjoy your lunch as you overlook the elephants, rhinos and giraffes.

If you’re taking children along, explore the Children’s petting farm. If you tire of walking, the Narrow-Gauge railway runs from April to October and transports you around the Park. Let the children burn off some steam before heading home, at the large Adventure Playground or Mini Manor.

Picture credit:

  • By Gordon Robertson – Sudeley Castle 5 (
  • By Julie anne Johnson – Gulls and bridge (
  • By Hugh Llewelyn – 4160 (
  • By Fiona Land – Red Panda (