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The 27 Best Things to Do in the Cotswolds

The 27 Best Things to Do in the Cotswolds Cover

If there’s one thing we love about staying in the Cotswolds, it’s the awe-inspiring views. Imagine waking up to rolling hills and lush green countryside, with nothing but fresh air and the sound of farm animals in a nearby field. Having the great outdoors right on the doorstep of your holiday home is what makes the Cotswolds the most incredible place for a UK break. And with endless nature trails and photogenic villages to explore, there’s always something to do. But the real beauty of visiting the Cotswolds? Is that you can do as much or as little as you like, and still have the most unforgettable holiday. Because the slower pace of life is the best thing for you here. With such a stunning natural backdrop, there’s really no need to rush. But if you’re looking for what to do in the area, here are some of the best ways to enjoy our amazing region...

1. Walk The Cotswold Way

Walking
This National Trail is a famous walk, offering over 100 miles of scenic strolls and panoramic views of the countryside. The route runs from Bath all the way to Chipping Campden, but there are also many shorter walks within the trail for those who don’t want to go the full stretch. Notable spots along the way include Cleeve Common, Winchcombe, Stanton and Snowshill.

2. See the Most Romantic Street in Britain

Lower Slaughter, another one of the Cotswolds’ popular chocolate box villages, is home to ‘the most romantic street in Britain’. Copse Hill Road runs adjacent to a pretty stream from the River Eye and is lined with lush green trees and beautiful stone cottages. The village is extremely charming and boasts honey coloured stone architecture throughout. Don’t miss The Old Mill to learn about the history of bread making, or the five acres of landscape at Manor Gardens.

3. Witness Lavender Season

lavender blossom
If you’re visiting from late April / early May to August, you will have the fantastic opportunity to witness our local lavenders in bloom – it’s such a pretty sight! Visit the Cotswold Lavender farm at Hill Barn Farm and spend the day exploring the fields, taking photos, and enjoying tea and cake in the Cotswold Lavender tearoom. Don’t forget to browse the gift shop for lavender scented gifts too.

4. Spend the Day in Blockley

If there’s one thing you have to do during your break in the Cotswolds, it’s to visit a chocolate box village. Pretty villages like Blockley are famed for their traditional cottages and beautiful limestone houses. There’s plenty to do here, including picnicking on the beautiful open village green.

5. Visit Warwick Castle

warwick castle
This medieval castle is located on the bend of the River Avon, in the town of Warwick. And it was first built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It’s an iconic landmark in the Cotswolds and it’s a fantastic place to take the kids, especially during half term time when the castle organises children’s programmes and interactive shows for the whole family.

6. Cleeve Hill & Common Walk
For the most incredible views, takes the 6.5 mile walk across the Cotswolds’ highest common – a romantic vantage point overlooking the Malverns. You can even see as far as Wales on a clear day! Rare plants and birds can also be spotted here and centuries of quarrying have made this area a place of interest for geologists.

7. Visit Kingham

Big Feastival Kingham
Dubbed ‘England’s favourite village’ a few years back, Kingham is another typical Cotswold village that you won’t want to miss. Like the other chocolate box villages and towns of the region, it’s adorned with stunning limestone cottages and open village greens that are ideal for picnics. If you’re here for August bank holiday, be sure to head to The Big Feastival, hosted by Jamie Oliver and Alex James every year. Or for great pub grub, we recommend filling your boots at The Wild Rabbit.

8. The Five Valleys Walk
This is a 20 mile circular walk takes you through the Chalford, Nailsworth, Ruscombe, Slad and Painswick valleys and their respective villages. Each September, local charity ‘Meningitis Now’ host a guided walk to raise money and it’s suitable for all ages. There’s even a nature trail for children and other fun entertainment to provide the perfect family day out.

9. Explore Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle
One of the most spectacular pieces of architecture in the region, Sudeley Castle is a historic gem and a wonderful day out for the family. With a history spanning over 1,000 years and with 10 magnificent gardens to explore, it’s one of the best attractions in the Cotswolds. The café is also the perfect spot for afternoon tea, with panoramic views from the outdoor terrace or garden room.

10. Day Out at Snowshill Manor
Explore this stunning Cotswold manor house and spend the day enjoying the beautiful garden or taking the 3 mile or ½ mile walk around the estate. Snowshill Manor itself is also packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade, so there’s plenty to see inside too. Both the manor house and the gardens are open daily to the public, and there’s also a reception, cafe and shop on site.

11. Ride the Gloucestershire Rail

Gloucestershire Rail
Take a ride on the heritage railway in Gloucestershire and complete the scenic roundtrip of over 26 miles. The route is the former Great Western Railway's main line from Birmingham to Cheltenham which used to run via Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets are reasonably priced and parking is free at the main stations.

12. Bibury Trout Farm
There are two reasons you need to head to Bibury for the day. Firstly, because many believe it to be the most beautiful place in England (including the poet William Morris). And secondly, for Britain’s oldest and most well-preserved trout farm. The Bibury Trout Farm gives you a chance to catch your own dinner, with BBQ facilities and a shop filled with wines and deli products so you can rustle up a feast. A wonderful treat for fish lovers!

13. Visit the Cotswold Falconry

Cotswold Falconry
For something completely different, we recommend the Cotswold Falconry for a fun day out. The Cotswold Falconry Centre is located on the same site as Batsford Arboretum and is open daily from 10:30am. Four different flying displays will be on at 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:00pm and 4:30pm, giving you a glimpse into the wonderful world of birds of prey. There are also special ‘Eagle Days’ and ‘Owl Evenings’ for those who wish to learn more about these amazing creatures.

14. Tour Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is a stunning World Heritage Site, home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Visit the park and gardens to take a stroll around the Great Lake, or head inside to discover the beautiful Baroque architecture within the UNESCO site. Also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace has a long and fascinating history.

15. Hunt for Antiques in Cirencester

antiques shop
Love to hunt for antiques? There are so many market towns in the Cotswold region with antiques and vintage shops, but one of our favourite places to go is Cirencester. Regular events take place in the Corn Hall, with antiques and collectables on sale every Friday. Permanent shops to visit include Cirencester Antiques Centre, Stokes William H Antiques, Hares Antiques, and Paul Reeves Furniture & Artefacts.

16. Go Shopping in Cheltenham
If you’re in need of some serious retail therapy, make a trip to Cheltenham. Hit The Promenade for designer boutiques, The Brewery for a mix of shopping and bars, The High Street for big shopping centres such as Regent Arcade and Beechwood Centre, or The Suffolks for independent shops and antiques. Also, don’t miss Bath Road where locals go to shop for organic and local produce.

17. Take the Kids to Birdland

birdland
For a fun day out with the little ones, head to Birdland in the beautiful town of Bourton-on-the-Water. This fantastic wildlife park and gardens is a superb place to go bird spotting and there’s even an area with penguins and daily penguin feeding. Other attractions at Birdland are The Jurassic Journey themed landscape, an Indoor Discovery Zone with reptiles and amphibians, a Desert House for birds that live in arid areas, a Hatchery for ducks, chickens and quails, and Marshmouth Nature Reserve with a 2.5 acre trail.

18. Watersports at Cotswold Water Park
The Cotswold Water Park is an area spanning 40 square miles, with more than 150 lakes. It’s a great place for birdwatching and wildlife spotting, there are some superb walking and cycling tracks, plus it’s the best place to go for watersports in the summer. Lake activities include boating, paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking, swimming, wakeboarding, water skiing and windsurfing.

19. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Cotswold Wildlife Park
From watching magnificent lions roam around to seeing rhinos graze on the lawn, Cotswold Wildlife Park is a magical experience. One that is fantastic for kids and adults alike. Animals not to be missed are the giraffes, camels, zebras, reindeer, wallabies, lemurs, plus the Red Panda and other primates. They also house the largest reptile collection in the UK, including one of the largest snake species, the Green Anaconda.

20. Day Out in Bath
For a day of shopping, sightseeing, museums and galleries, one of our favourite places to visit is the city of Bath. Located on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, this famous spa town is the only place in the UK where you can bathe in naturally hot spa water. Visit the original Roman Baths for a tour then spend a few hours winding down at Thermae Bath, where the rooftop pool gives you amazing views of city below.

21. Pudding Club in Mickleton

pudding
Said to be the inspiration behind J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘Weathertop’ in Lord of the Rings, this picturesque village is a must-visit for anyone who loves visiting quaint little villages steeped in history. Adorned with black and white thatched cottages, this is one of the most photogenic spots in the Cotswolds, and it’s also great for traditional pubs. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, head to Three Ways House, where locals and visitors can indulge in the ‘Pudding Club’ themed night.

22. The Gloucestershire Way
A 94 mile walk starting from Chepstow to Tewkesbury. The route will take you along the Welsh-English border, through the ancient Forest of Dean, and across the River Severn in Gloucester, over Crickley Hill to Salperton, and through Stow-on-the-Wold and Winchcombe.

23. Visit Britain’s Oldest Inn

Porch House
Enjoy a few pints at Britain’s oldest pub, The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold. Although there have been many inns claiming to be the oldest, The Porch House is said to have parts of its building dating as far back as 947! This Grade II-listed pub offers fantastic guestrooms for those who wish to stay the night, and the restaurant serves filling English classics such as Cotswold Lamb Rump.

24. Discover Tewkesbury Heritage Centre
Families love the Tewkesbury Heritage Centre because it’s a free attraction and is a great way of keeping kids occupied when you’re out and about. The centre has a number of kids events happening each month but you can also pop in just to have a look around. Permanent displays tell the fascinating history of Tewkesbury, and there are adult workshops too.

25. Cycle at Flyup 417 Bike Park

mountain biking
There are so many great places to cycle all over the Cotswolds, and with its flat landscape and small roads, it’s one of the safest places to explore on two wheels. But if you’re after a mountain bike adventure, make sure you visit Flyup 417 Bike Park for its thrilling downhill tracks and dirt jumps.

26. Hike the Leckhampton Loop
A moderate 4 ½ mile walk that takes you through the varied stretches of the Cotswold Way, visiting rich grassland and woodlands to Victorian quarries and Iron Age remains. A superb walk for anyone who wants a taste of the Cotswold landscape in half a day. A manageable route for all ages and abilities.

27. The Batsford Arboretum

Batsford Arboretum

The Batsford Arboretum in Moreton-in-Marsh boasts 56 acres of beautiful parkland and is home to some of the most incredible tree varieties in England. A former home to the famous Mitford family, the arboretum is a great place to see everything from wildflowers to Japanese ornamental cherries.

If this sounds like your perfect holiday, then get in touch today with the friendly team at Character Cottages and start planning your visit to the wonderful Cotswolds.

 

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