Honey-coloured stone cottages, gloriously vintage market towns, magnificent manor gardens and picture-perfect country houses – the Cotswolds is the quintessential English paradise for cosy cottages and rural villages. It’s no wonder the likes of William Morris, Hugh Grant and Princess Anne chose to call this area home. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Read on for the 10 best things to do in the Cotswolds.
10 best things to do in the Cotswolds
- The Cotswold Water Park
- Cotswold Falconry Centre
- Blenheim Palace
- Daylesford Cookery School
- Snowshill Manor
- Cotswolds Farm Park
- The Cotswold Way National Trail
- New Brewery Arts
- Sudeley Castle
Best for: Picture-perfect views.
Known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, this charming village straddles the River Windrush. Full of pretty chocolate box cottages and surrounded by rolling hills and charming riverside views, Bourton-on-the-water is one of the loveliest spots in the Cotswolds.
Stroll through the town, making sure to take plenty of pictures as you go. Once you’re done exploring, pop into Bakery on the Water for an indulgent cream tea, complete with freshly-baked scones.
2. The Cotswold Water Park
Best for: A fun day out in the great outdoors.
If it’s a sunny day, then make tracks for The Cotswold Water Park for a day of walking, picnics and maybe some watersports. This 40-mile area is home to more than 150 lakes and is jam-packed with fun activities for all the family to do. This is a great opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and reconnect with nature, as well as one another.
3. Cotswold Falconry Centre
Best for: Bird watchers and wildlife lovers.
Spend an exciting afternoon getting up close and personal with bald eagles, vultures, owls and many more birds of prey at the Cotswold Falconry Centre. Home to over 130 birds, here you can watch flying displays, explore the aviaries and maybe even learn to fly a bird of prey yourself – this one’s not for the fainthearted though.
4. Blenheim Palace
Best for: A little slice of local history.
Follow in Winston Churchill’s footsteps with a tour of the stately Blenheim Palace, where the Bulldog was born. The historic residence of the Churchill family, this grand country house is set next to the pretty market town of Woodstock.
Take a tour through the opulent rooms, learn more about Winston Churchill’s past in an exhibition dedicated to the Bulldog himself and, if the sun is shining, set off on a stroll through the vast and exquisitely-landscaped grounds.
5. Daylesford Cookery School
Best for: Budding chefs and passionate foodies.
Learn a bit more about the area’s fresh and seasonal produce with a course at Daylesford Cookery School. Set on the Daylesford organic farm in the heart of the countryside, this is a tranquil spot to learn a few new skills in.
Choose from an array of courses, such as Artisan Bread Making, The Vegan Kitchen and Sustainable Seafood, depending on your interests and dietary requirements. Whichever course you choose, you’ll walk away feeling inspired and ready to cook up an array of healthy and nutritious meals made using local Cotswolds produce.
6. Snowshill Manor
Best for: The incurably curious.
As well as being utterly charming, this 16th-century manor house is home to an intriguing assortment of oddities and artefacts, collected by the somewhat eccentric Charles Paget Wade.
From snuff boxes to porcupine fish and everything in between, you’ll find yourself marvelling at the sheer range of things Mr Wade managed to get his hands on. The three-story itself is also well worth a visit – built out of traditional Cotswold stone, it has just as much character as its former owner.
7. Cotswolds Farm Park
Best for: The animal obsessed.
Become a farmer for the day at the Cotswolds Farm Park. Home to a variety of rare breeds, including Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs and Highland Cattle, visitors to the park will be able to meet over 50 flocks and herds of farm animals.
Head to the Discovery Barn to catch a glimpse of eggs hatching in the incubators or else watch the daily bottle feeding of the baby animals. With plenty of play areas and walking trails around the site too, there’ll never be a dull moment at the Cotswolds Farm Park.
8. The Cotswold Way National Trail
Best for: Getting out and stretching your legs.
From a gentle stroll to a hard-core hike, the Cotswolds is a lovely place to explore on foot. The Cotswold Way National Trail is a gorgeous 102-mile long path from Chipping Campden all the way to the Roman town of Bath. Through historic sites – the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap for example – and quaint village after quaint village, it might just be the best way to soak up the entire Cotswold experience.
9. New Brewery Arts
Best for: The artsy types.
In Cirencester, Gloucestershire, lies an arts & crafts haven called the New Brewery Arts. The home of all things artsy in the Cotswolds, this hub of creativity has a gallery, artist studios, an in-house cafe and gift shop. What’s more, they run a wide range of workshops, courses and classes throughout the year, so you can let your creative side run wild. All artist exhibitions are free to visit and the cafe serves up a delicious array of food and drinks.
10. Sudeley Castle
Best for: Knights, princesses and history buffs.
One of the finest Tudor castles in England, Sudeley Castle was once home to Katherine Parr – the last of Henry VIII’s wives. Katherine actually died in the castle itself and her body is still buried in the grounds. The castle’s claim to fame doesn’t end here, either. Around 100 years later, King Charles I sought refuge at this historic spot during the Civil War. However, at the end of the Civil War, the property was left derelict for nearly 200 years.
Today, it has been restored to all its former glory and is a great spot to visit for the afternoon. Let your imagination run wild as you wander the atmospheric corridors, stately grounds and fascinating exhibitions. This is truly a gem of British history, nestled amidst the sweeping Cotswolds countryside.