There are numerous tourist activities in and around the Cotswolds and the list below is a small sample to give you a flavour for the wide range of attractions and activities that are available. Further information is available from Tourist Information centres, which are located in the following North Cotswold towns:
- Chipping Campden
- Chipping Norton
Historical buildings, stately homes and gardens
- Batsford Arboretum & Wild Garden, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AB (www.batsarb.co.uk): Set in 56 acres of natural beauty and once home to the famous Mitford family. Meandering paths wander through glades and alongside streams. A garden of peace and tranquillity for all seasons;
- Berkeley Castle, Berkeley GL13 9BQ (www.berkeley-castle.com): England’s oldest inhabited castle. Over 24 generations of Berkeleys have transformed a savage Norman fortress into a stately home full of treasures. Learn about murder, mystery and plotting, then enjoy the grounds, adjacent Butterfly Farm and church;
- Blenheim Palace, Woodstock OX20 1PX (www.blenheimpalace.com): A World Heritage site and the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is one of the finest private houses in England. It is surrounded by over 2,000 acres of spectacular Capability Brown parkland and award-winning formal gardens;
- Broadway Tower Country Park, Broadway WR12 7LB (www.broadwaytower.co.uk): A unique Capability Brown Folly Tower open to visitors wanting to experience great English heritage in an inspiring location. Displays, roof viewing platform, shop and Red Deer Park are a must for Cotswold visits. Broadway Tower is one of England’s outstanding viewpoints and offers unrivalled views over a 62 mile radius and as many as 16 counties;
- Broughton Castle, Banbury OX15 5EB (www.broughtoncastle.com): This historic 14th century moated castle, enlarged in the 16th century, has fine walled gardens with herbaceous borders, old roses and clipped box. Inside boasts splendid plaster ceilings, fireplaces and panelling. Described as "the most romantic house imaginable", Broughton Castle has won starring roles in many films, including The Madness of King George and Shakespeare in Love;
- Chastleton House, near Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0SU: A rare gem of a Jacobean country house, Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 by a prosperous wool merchant, as an impressive statement of wealth and power. Owned by the same increasingly impoverished family until 1991, the house remained essentially unchanged for nearly 400 years as the interiors and contents gradually succumbed to the ravages of time. With virtually no intrusion from the 21st century, this fascinating place exudes an informal and timeless atmosphere in a gloriously unspoilt setting.
- Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester GL1 2LX (www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk): A warm welcome awaits you at Gloucester Cathedral – one of the finest medieval buildings in the country. Here you will discover magnificent stained glass, royal tombs, fan-vaulted medieval cloisters and a rich musical heritage. Admission free but £5 donation requested;
- Hailes Abbey, near Winchcombe GL54 5PB (www.english-heritage.org.uk/hailes): Set in the beautiful western fringe of the Cotswolds surrounded by wooded pasture, the Abbey was one of the main centres of pilgrimage due to a phial said to contain the blood of Christ. The museum displays fine examples of sculpture and decorated tiles;
- Hidcote, Chipping Campden GL55 6LR (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote): Relax and unwind in one of the country's great gardens and experience for yourself the fulfilment of a quiet American's English fantasy. You'll never forget the exquisite garden rooms, each with its own unique character. Discover rare shrubs and trees, herbaceous borders and unusual plants from around the world. The garden changes in harmony with the seasons, from vibrant spring bulbs to autumn's spectacular Red Border. Nestled in the Cotswolds with sweeping views across the Vale of Evesham, a visit to Hidcote is inspirational at any time of year;
- Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick GL6 6TH (www.rococogarden.org.uk): The garden is situated in a hidden Cotswold valley. Its flamboyant design combines formality and informality and is a magical experience at any time of the year. Charming garden structures nestle next to informal plantings, herbaceous borders and a striking kitchen garden;
- Rodmarton Manor, Cirencester GL7 6PF (www.rodmarton-manor.co.uk): Attractive Arts and Crafts House with original hand made furniture, painted pottery, wall hangings. A large garden of outdoor rooms with many parts including topiary, herbaceous borders and plenty of places to sit;
- Snowshill Manor & Garden, Snowshill WR12 7JU (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/snowshillmanor): Explore the treasures collected by one man with an eye for the unusual. Be intrigued by the story of Charles Wade, be amazed by his huge and varied collection from around the world and relax in the peaceful hillside garden;
- Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe GL54 5JD (www.sudeleycastle.co.uk): Once the property of King Ethelred the Unready, later home of Queen Katherine Parr and garrison headquarters of Prince Rupert during the Civil War. Romantic ruins, award-winning gardens and one thousand years of fascinating history are among the many reasons to visit;
- Sulgrave Manor, near Banbury OX17 2SD (www.sulgravemanor.org.uk): The ancestral home of the Washingtons in Britain. A compact Manor House - a gentle stroll through three centuries of English history in the company of a friendly and informative guide. The largest UK collection of George Washington memorabilia, demonstrating the British contribution to the origins of the USA, with a separate exhibition on George's life and career in the US;
- Upton House & Gardens, Near Banbury OX15 6HT (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/uptonhouse): Presented in its 1930s heyday, this handsome country mansion contains world-class art collections. Delve into the story of a millionaire’s life, hear stories, play games, relax and read magazines or journals. Wander through the beautiful gardens, with sweeping lawns, terraced borders and a kitchen garden which supplies the restaurant;
- Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU (www.warwick-castle.com): Britain's greatest mediaeval experience. From a mediaeval household in the Kingmaker exhibition to a Victorian 'Royal Weekend Party'. Kingmaker feasts and Highwayman Suppers most Fridays and Saturdays;
- Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury GL8 8QS (www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt): Spectacular all year round, the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum contains one of Europe’s finest collections of trees and shrubs. 17 miles of paths to explore, it is a magical place to visit for the whole family. Famous for its beautiful displays of autumn colour, a popular place to visit in spring for the flowering rhododendrons and in the summer for the Festival of the Tree.
- Birdland – Park & Gardens, Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2BN (www.birdland.co.uk): A natural setting of woodland, river and gardens inhabited by over 500 birds; flamingos, pelicans, penguins and cranes in various water habitats. Over 50 aviaries of parrots, hornbills, toucans and many more. Discovery Zone (indoor education area) and Marshmouth Reserve (2.5 acre nature reserve). Take time to wander and relax in this tranquil environment. Plus Penguin Café, picnic areas, play area and gift shop. The only group of King Penguins in England;
- Cotswold Falconry Centre, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AB (www.cotswold-falconry.co.uk): Eagles, hawks, kites, owls, vultures and falcons are flown throughout the day giving you a chance to appreciate their speed, grace, agility and their close relationship with the falconer. You can enjoy these wonderful birds and think positively about their conservation;
- Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power GL54 5UG (www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk): As featured on BBC’s Countryfile, this is a rare farm treat for all the family, offering the chance to meet over 50 breeding flocks and herds of farm animals. Seasonal demonstrations, adventure playground, Touch Barn, Fun Barn, Maze Quest and Jumping Pillows. Gift shop and Cotswold Kitchen;
- Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Burford OX18 4JW (www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk): The Park is set in 160 acres of parkland and is an attraction for all members of the family. There are over 250 species of animals from Leaf-cutting ants to White rhinos; giraffes were a major addition in 2010. You can walk with lemurs in the Madagascar enclosure, ride on the train and be inspired by the beautiful landscaping and seasonal displays throughout the Park;
- Longleat Safari Park, Warminster BA12 7NW (www.longleat.co.uk): As featured on BBC’s Animal Park, Longleat is a “must do” for visitors of all ages! From Safari Park to Safari Boats, Hedge Maze to Adventure Castle and so much more.
- Corinium Museum, Cirencester GL7 2BX: Discover the ‘Treasures of the Cotswolds’ at the award-winning Corinium Museum. Trace the story of the Cotswolds from pre-history to the 19th century. See what life was like in Corinium, Roman Britain’s second largest town. Come face to face with Anglo-Saxons. Something for all the family. Also home to Cirencester Visitor Information Centre;
- Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection, Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2BY (www.cotswold-motor-museum.co.uk): Multi award-winning museum for all ages and ideal for families. Home to Brum – star of the children’s TV series. Classic cars. Quizzes, old fashioned toys and hands-on activities;
- Roman Baths, Bath BA1 1LZ (www.romanbaths.co.uk): Around Britain’s only hot springs, the Romans built the finest religious spa in Northern Europe. This great temple and bathing complex still flows with natural hot water and its extensive remains lie beneath the centre of Bath. Brand new displays, costumed characters and free audioguides in 8 languages.
- Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham GL50 4SH (www.cheltenham.co.uk): One of Europe’s top racecourses, hosting the three day Open Meeting and the four day Festival in March. The Centaur is the region’s largest facility for exhibitions, conferences and concerts;
- Clearwell Caves, near Coleford GL16 8JR (www.clearwellcaves.com): An incredible natural cave system tunnelled into by miners for more than 4,000 years in their search for iron ore and ochre pigments. Nine impressive caverns with mining equipment and displays throughout. ‘A great underground experience’ for all the family;
- Cotswold Water Park, South Cerney GL7 5TL (www.waterpark.org): Explore this watery landscape, with loads of lakes, offering watersports, fishing, birdwatching and much, much more. Call in to the Gateway Information Centre to discover where to go and what to do;
- Daylesford Organic Farm, near Kingham GL56 0YG (www.daylesfordorganic.com): The Harrods of farm shops! One of the most sustainable farms in the UK, located in 2,000 acres of beautiful countryside of the English Cotswolds, owned by Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford. Award-winning food in the farm shop and café and a host of things to see and do: farm tours and farm walks, cookery school and organic farm school, and relaxing treatments at the Hay Barn Spa;
- Gloucester Antiques Centre, Gloucester GL1 5SF (www.gacl.co.uk): Gloucester Antiques Centre is one of the largest and longest established antiques centres in the UK. Over 100 specialist antiques dealers offering the widest range of antiques and collectables in the West of England. Enjoy light lunches, homemade cakes and refreshments in the café;
- Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, Toddington GL54 5DT (www.gwsr.com): The ‘Friendly Line in the Cotswolds’ offers a scenic 20 mile round trip between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse, including the exciting Greet Tunnel, one of the longest on a preserved railway. Pop along and see the driver in his cab. Break your journey at picturesque Winchcombe station. Special events all year;
- Oxford: Renowned for its history and heritage, exquisite architecture and ancient University, Oxford sits in the heart of England, just outside the Cotswolds;
- The Model Village, Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2AF (www.theoldnewinn.co.uk/village.htm): A model of the actual village built of Cotswold stone to 1/9 scale in 1937. The River Windrush flows under Bourton’s famous bridges. The beeches, cherries and chestnuts are all in miniature. Music in the churches and of course, the model of the model;
- Stratford-upon-Avon: The birthplace of William Shakespeare and home to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Set in the beautiful rural Warwickshire countryside, on the banks of the river Avon, Stratford is one of the most important tourist destinations in the UK.
- Walking: Most people who visit the Cotswolds do some walking, even if it is just a stroll to the village pub! The area contains some of England’s most beautiful countryside and there are over 3,000 miles of public footpaths, to enable visitors to fully discover this rich landscape. Long distance trails in, or passing through, the Cotswolds include:
- The Cotswold Way;
- The Heart of England Way;
- The Oxfordshire Way;
- The Gloucestershire Way;
- The Wardens' Way and Windrush Way;
- The Macmillan Way;
- The Monarchs Way;
- The D'arcy Dalton Way;
- The Wysis Way.
Further information and maps can be obtained from the local tourist information centres.
- Cycling: The Cotswolds is criss-crossed with quiet country roads and lanes, as well as more challenging mountain biking terrain, making it perfect for all types of cycling. There are a number of places to hire bikes from, including:
- Hartwell’s Cycle Hire, Bourton-on-the-Water (www.hartwells.supanet.com);
- Golf: There are many golf clubs in and around the North Cotswolds, including:
- Naunton Downs Golf Club, Naunton (www.nauntondowns.co.uk);
- The Wychwood Golf Club, Lyneham (www.thewychwood.com);
- Broadway Golf Club, Broadway (www.broadwaygolfclub.co.uk);
- Chipping Norton Golf Club, Chipping Norton (www.chippingnortongolfclub.com);
- Burford Golf Club, Burford (www.burfordgolfclub.co.uk).
- Swimming: Public swimming pools are available at the following leisure centres:
- Cotswold Leisure – Bourton;
- Cotswold Leisure – Chipping Campden;
- Chipping Norton Leisure Centre;
- Shipston Leisure Centre (www.everyoneactive.com/Home/OurCentres/Shipston/tabid/630/Default.aspx).
- Horse riding: The Cotswolds has always been associated with horse riding and there are a number of equestrian centres, catering for all ages and levels of experience:
- Oaklands Stables, Upper Tysoe (www.oaklandsstables.co.uk) - a professional livery on 35 picturesque acres;
- Overdale Equestrian Centre, Nether Westcote (www.overdale-equestrian.co.uk);
- Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre, Bourton-on-the-Water (www.bourtonvaleequestrian.co.uk);
- Mill Farm Stables, Winchcombe (www.millfarmstables.co.uk);
- Hall Place Stables, Prestbury (www.passivehorsemanship.com) – specialising in the Western Riding style.
- Climbing: Wild Rock Climbing Centre (www.wildrockclimbing.co.uk).
- Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, Chipping Campden (www.cotswoldhouse.com): Set in a converted coach house in the gardens, the Cotswold House Spa features treatment rooms, a superb hydrotherapy pool and Turkish hammam room;
- Hay Barn Spa at Daylesford Organic, Daylesford (www.daylesfordorganic.com): A nourishing space for self-reflection, understanding and rejuvenation. Yoga, pilates and meditation classes, workshops hosted by visiting therapists, facials, massage treatments and consultations provide exceptional holistic care for the mind, body and spirit;
- Wyck Hill House Hotel & Spa, Stow-on-the-Wold (www.wyckhillhousehotel.co.uk): Six therapy rooms, including one dual room. There is also a 12-seater steam room and sauna and relaxation area;
- M Spa at Lapstone, Chipping Campden: Spoil yourself with the most progressive, comprehensive range of spa facial, bath and body experiences that deliver the most amazing results every time. Indulge in signature treatments to reconnect body, mind and soul, from head to toe and from outside in.