29 THINGS TO DO IN THE COTSWOLDS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET
It’s the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales, and it’s steeped in history, tradition and culture. The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful destinations in Britain, famed for its amazing walks and picturesque towns and villages. If you’re looking to plan a trip of a lifetime, here are some of the activities that will make your vacation totally unforgettable. Including visits to traditional Cotswold villages, country houses, family fun, food and drink and visits to many attractions in the Cotswolds. For big celebrations and family getaways, romantic weekends or a way to impress your guests, here are 29 things to do in the Cotswolds that you will never ever forget.
1. WALK THE COTSWOLD WAY
The Cotswold Way is a famous route that will take you through some of the region’s most scenic spots, as well as famous ancient sites. Offering the walker over 100 miles of footpath starting from the source of the Thames. This is an iconic hiking route, one which will provide spectacular views across the seasons.
2. VISIT THE MODEL VILLAGE
One-ninth of the size of ‘real life’ village, Bourton-on-the-Water, the Model Village in the Cotswolds is an exquisite copy. Having been designed by the landlord of the Old New Inn, it took 5 years to build by local craftsmen and was then opened on the same day in 1937 as King George VI’s coronation.
Complete with a river, miniature bonsai trees that are kept pruned to scale along with greenhouses and garden furniture in the summer, this is a lovely place to visit and especially fun for small children who can relate to the size. There is a Miniature Landscape Exhibition which opened in 2014. There are 7 cottages which have been painstakingly made by miniature specialist John Constable from Somerset. Beautifully done using traditional materials, some with thatched roofs, using miniature stones, rafters and windows all crafted by Constable himself.
3. STAY OVERNIGHT IN A CASTLE
Enjoy a Cotswold vacation with LTR Castles and spend the night in one of our stunning featured properties. We list manors and mansions, stately homes and English castles, so you can plan an unforgettable party, event or occasion. One of our grandest manor houses is Cornwell Manor which sleeps up to 24 guests in 12 bedrooms, features an outdoor pool, sauna room, tennis courts, and a ballroom.
4. GO CHEESE TASTING
There are many places you can indulge your senses (and cheese addiction) in the Cotswolds. One of our favorite activities is to go cheese tasting at Daylesford Organic Farm or picking up award-winning fresh farm cheeses at The Cotswold Cheese Company. Some of the must-try regional cheese include Double Gloucester and Stinking Bishop.
5. WITNESS LAVENDER SEASON
There are few things that can compete with the sheer beauty of lavender in full bloom. Lavender season brings a beautiful fragrance to the air with fields of glorious purple hues, and the Cotswold Lavender Farm in Snowshill is one of the best places to see this. Witness picture-perfect vistas, enjoy lavender recipes in the tearoom and shop for handmade lavender botanicals.
6. SEE THE VIEWS AT CLEEVE HILL
If you’re looking for a romantic spot to share moments with a loved one or you’re looking for the perfect place to propose, you simply cannot miss the amazing walk up to the top of Cleeve Hill. This is a circular walk with a distance of 6 miles (although there is a shorter route of 4 miles) and is generally easy to moderate when it comes to terrain. Pack a picnic to devour at the top and stick around for the sunset if you have time. This will definitely be one of the most stunning routes you’ve ever walked.
7. VISIT THE COTSWOLD FALCONRY
The Cotswold Falconry Center at Batsford in Moreton in Marsh is an experience like no other. Spend an hour meeting and handling the amazing raptors, watch owls flying free in the evening, or take an introductory course and learn how to train different birds of prey. A truly fascinating place for animal lovers.
8. SPOT OTTERS AT COTSWOLD WATER PARK
Otters are decreasing in population and the species has long been under threat. Coupled with the fact that they are mostly nocturnal (or diurnal), an otter sighting is not a frequent occurrence. But at the Cotswold Water Park, the perfect environment has been created for these creatures and they can often be spotted splashing about in the water.
The network of lakes houses a number of otter families and this has become one of the best places to see them in action, particularly very early in the morning. Be sure to invest in some good binoculars as for kids, an experience like this is truly magical.
9. VISIT BATSFORD ARBORETUM IN AUTUMN
The Cotswolds is home to a number of arboretums and one of our favorites is Batsford Arboretum, a dog friendly, 56-acre space showcasing exotic trees and shrubs from around the world. Witness a total of 2,850 different specimens, all unique in their charm and ever-changing with the season.
We think the most romantic time of year to come here is autumn time. This is the season for unforgettable walks with mind-blowing colors. Just don’t forget to pack your camera so you can capture the moments.
10. DRINK AT ENGLAND’S OLDEST INN
The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold claims to be the oldest inn in Britain, dating back to the year 947 and famed for being quintessentially English in its structure and interior décor. Think old timber beams, stone walls, uneven door frames and rustic looking furniture. Everything about this Grade II listed pub is a celebration of history and tradition. You certainly won’t forget a dining experience here.
11. SEE ENGLAND’S “PRETTIEST HIGH STREET”
It’s hard to pick just one Cotswold village when it comes to chocolate box villages. The Cotswolds is home to so many, all with their own unique charm and preserved architecture. But Chipping Camden should definitely be on your bucket list because it has the reputation of having “the prettiest high street in England”.
This charming old wool town has so much to offer and taking a stroll through the town’s ancient center feels like traveling back in time. The old buildings are just beautiful to look at and there are many quaint shops and tearooms to choose from.
12. SIGN UP FOR DAYLESFORD COOKERY SCHOOL
Learn to cook in an idyllic setting in the Cotswolds. This beautiful region is famed for its passion for honest cookery and the use of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Sign up for the Cookery School and master the secrets of top chefs!
13. SPEND THE DAY IN BIBURY
Of the many pretty villages to explore, Bibury is a total must. It’s perhaps the most famous village in the region and is home to Arlington Row, a road lined with traditional weavers’ cottages built in 1380 and converted in the 17th Century for workers in cloth production. Also not to be missed here is the Jacobean manor Bibury Court, The Swan Hotel and Bar serving up tasty seasonal menus for every occasion, The Catherine Wheel Pub which is great for local flavors and regional ales, and Bibury Trout Farm where the whole family can enjoy fishing and picnics in the summer time.
14. EXPERIENCE THE FAMOUS PUDDING CLUB
The Pudding Club at Three Ways House started in 1985 and it’s still a popular event today. If you have a sweet tooth and want to help preserve the great British pudding, make sure you head over to this Chipping Campden pub on Friday night. You can enjoy classic desserts such as Syrup Sponge or Spotted Dick with custard, and there’s even a pudding themed room for overnight guests.
15. VISIT THE ROMAN BATHS
The Roman Baths in Bath is one of the most iconic historical attractions in South West England. The site is known for neoclassical, Roman and Victorian architecture and is a great place for the whole family to learn more about the country’s Roman past.
The city itself is also worth exploring and has some great places to shop, eat and drink. As well as a fantastic choice for restaurants and bars. Other unforgettable attractions include the Bath Abbey, the Jane Austen Center, and the Thermae Bath Spa.
16. PLAN A TRIP TO STONEHENGE
The Stonehenge site dates back 5,000 years when the first monument was erected, with the unique stone circle being built in the late Neolithic period (around 2500 BC). It is perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric site, and is truly remarkable. Ticket prices are just £16.50 for adults (or £14.90 for concessions and £9.90 for children), and it is open daily from 9.30am to 5pm, which means that in the winter months you could be lucky enough to witness the sunset!
17. WITNESS BLUEBELL BLANKETS AT FOXHOLES NATURE RESERVE
Foxholes Nature Reserve is one of the romantic walking spots in the UK, and is one of the best places in the Cotswolds to see blankets of bluebells. This tranquil woodland slopes down to the River Evenlod and is home to spectacular flora and fauna all year round, but for bluebell hues make sure you visit from mid-April to late May. Take the circular Wildlife Walk (1.75 miles) and you might be able to spot some badgers too.
18. DISCOVER THE BEST GASTROPUBS
The Cotswolds is a well-known destination for serious foodies. Pubs and restaurants in this area focus on delivering classic British cuisine through locally sourced ingredients and using regional flavors. Seasonal cooking is also something that is very common in this part of the country, which shows great respect to nature and the environment.
Some of the most famous gastropubs to book a table at are The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, The Wild Duck Inn at Cirencester, The Bell at Sapperton, The Potting Shed Pub in Malmesbury, and The Kings Head Inn at Chipping Norton.
19. SOAK IN THE SCENERY FROM BROADWAY TOWER
Looking for amazing views and a sight that you will remember forever? Whether you’re in the Cotswolds for your honeymoon or taking a vacation with the whole family, Broadway Tower is not to be missed. Not only can you find the perfect vantage point to propose or take photos, but this is also a wonderful place to walk, go deer spotting, or enjoy tea and cake in the Morris & Brown Café.
20. GO WALKING IN THE MALVERN HILLS
The Malverns is home to some of England’s finest countryside, and is family friendly as it is suitable for walkers of all ages and abilities. There are a number of different routes so you can enjoy a gentle stroll with the little ones or embark on an energetic hike to capture the most incredible views over Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
21. EAT AT A MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT
Book a table at a Michelin star restaurant in the Cotswolds to experience the best of the region’s gastronomy. Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham is the only two star establishment in the Cotswolds, and one star venues such as 5 North Street in Winchcombe, Lords of the Manor Restaurant in Upper Slaughter, The Butchers Arms in Eldersfield and The Wild Rabbit in Kingham are all worth a visit too.
22. HAVE A LUXURY SPA DAY
This glorious region is well known for its spa towns such as Bath, Cheltenham and Malvern. So if you’re looking for pampering and relaxation, this is the perfect English vacation destination for you. Some of the best spas and spa hotels include Barnsley House (Cirencester), Thermae Bath Spa (Bath), Ellenborough Park Hotel (Cheltenham), The Malvern Spa, and Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa (Chippenham).
23. TAKE AFTERNOON TEA IN HUFFKINS
For a quintessentially English tea taking experience, head to the iconic Huffkins. There are three Huffkins tearooms in the Cotswolds (Burford, Witney and Stratford-upon-Avon) so you can find a location close to you. They’ve been around since 1890 and their afternoon teas are fit for royalty.
24. MAKE YOUR OWN GIN AT BRENNEN & BROWN
For a once in a lifetime experience with your favorite tipple, visit Cotswolds distillery, Brennan & Brown in Cheltenham. They offer gin tastings and gin making in their lab. So you can enter the fascinating world of distilling your own bottle of delicious gin, using flavors inspired by the local area.
25. TOUR STRATFORD-UPON-AVON
Shakespeare fans will not want to miss the stunning town of Stratford-upon-Avon. You can visit the writer’s birthplace and childhood home and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (the former home of Shakespeare’s wife) as well as Hall’s Croft (the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter).
26. GET WILD AT WILDERNESS FESTIVAL
Wilderness won the UK Festival Award for Best New Festival in 2017, and was also nominated for UK Festival Award for Best Family Festival. Taking place in August, this summer event is ideal for music lovers. Boutique camping is available and there is entertainment for all ages, including a books tent, talks and debates, live podcasts, a theater, a wellbeing spa, classes and workshops, crafts and more.
27. EXPLORE THE ON FORM EXHIBITION
Every second year, at a lovely manor house near Burford, some of the World’s most important sculptors exhibit works at On Form, an exhibition that runs over a six week period. Asthall Manor occupies a medieval site but the manor dates from the 17th Century. Sculptures are cleverly arranged in the 6 acre garden and meadow to allow guests to wander round and discover a myriad of different works. There is a huge array of works and the garden has a lot of different ‘rooms’ in which to enjoy them.
The summer house has been temporarily occupied by a wonderful book shop and the pool itself has been cleverly converted into a garden pool with plants growing up the sides, allowing for swimming in a central channel. There is something very calming about the way the sculptures are laid out and there are smaller ponds, a tree house and gypsy caravan which all help showcase the works in a fun way. At the rear of the property is the excellent potting shed café, run by chef, Fiona Cullinane.
28. PICNIC AT COALEY PEAK
One of the most amazing spots for a picnic in the Cotswolds is Coaley Peak, a beautiful viewpoint near Stroud with vistas overlooking the Severn Valley. For a romantic walk with your loved one or an unforgettable outdoor experience with the whole family, this is the place to come. The picnic site is open from dawn to dusk and is free entry (with £2 parking).
29. TAKE PART IN CHEESE ROLLING
If you’re looking for an absolutely unforgettable experience in Gloucestershire, make sure you save the date in your diary for the annual cheese rolling event! The Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill attracts spectators from far and wide and is exactly as it sounds. A wheel of cheese is rolled down the hill and competitors will have to chase the cheese! It’s a strange tradition dating back many years and is a fun day out for the whole family.