Cotswolds Village

Things to do in the Cotswolds

Stretching from the edge of Bath and Bristol, past Gloucester, Cheltenham, and Wiltshire to Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds covers a vast area. Once you arrive in one of its quaint, cobbled towns it’s easy to see the attraction of the Cotswolds with its hallmark gentle green countryside, stately homes, thatched cottages and spectacular walks. Whatever interests you have and whatever you like to see and do, our top 10 things to do in the Cotswolds will inspire you. 

When you are ready to book your perfect place to stay, choose from our handpicked collection of luxury cottages in the Cotswolds.

Cream Tea with scones and a cup of tea

1. Afternoon tea in Oxfordshire

Although the Cotswolds spans across several counties of England, it’s perhaps most associated with Oxfordshire.

The Oxfordshire Cotswolds is home to many of the area’s most iconic villages, so stay here to explore peaceful and picturesque honey-coloured rows of cottages, walk beside idyllic riversides, hills and meadows, and shop for unique pieces in boutiques and independent stores.

Burford, Minster Lovell, Woodstock and Witney are some of the most famous spots, and great places to stop for a traditional afternoon tea, complete with sandwiches, scones and finely decorated teacups.

Row of houses in Stow-on-the-Wold Cotswolds

2. Explore Gloucestershire’s villages

To explore only Oxfordshire would not give you the complete Cotswolds picture, as Gloucestershire is another county that possesses some of the most quintessential Cotswold towns and villages.

Beautiful Bourton-on-the-Water is an excellent starting point. Described as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ it is pretty enough to have its own model replica village. Stow-on-the-Wold is another must-visit and as the highest Cotswold town, it means there are fantastic countryside views to be admired.

The Stables a converted stable barn in the Cotswolds

3. Take the Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way is not something you can conquer in one day. Classed as a National Trail within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it covers 102 miles, so choosing to walk a shorter section close to your cottage is the best way to explore on limited time. The vistas from the trail are simply breath-taking.

The route begins in Chipping Campden and stretches all the way to Bath, passing wildflower meadows, woodland, villages and towns, and plenty of historic houses and sites.

Sunrays shining over the city of Oxford

4. A day out in Oxford

A day trip to the city of Oxford, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is too close and tempting to pass up. Once you’ve walked your socks off in the countryside and wandered limestone villages, Oxford’s hustle and bustle provides a refreshing contrast.

Fairly compact, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ is the perfect spot for a little rooftop photography, while you can also visit the famous university, libraries and museums, or take a boat out onto the river to enjoy a slice of its exclusive, hallowed history.

Blenheim Palace

5. Stroll Blenheim Palace

One of the Cotswolds’ most famous sights, Blenheim Palace, is worthy of its royal title – despite being a country house.

Classed as a World Heritage Site, the palace’s 300 years of history means there is more than enough to do here to fill a full day out. Indoors you can explore art, artefacts and immersive exhibitions, while outside there are great gardens, a lake and plenty of picnic spots with superb scenery that demands corks to be popped and glasses to be clinked. If that wasn’t enough, there is also a butterfly house, a miniature train and a walled maze.

Chedworth Roman Villa

6. Roam the Chedworth Roman Villa

Do you love a Roman ruin when you see one? Gloucestershire’s Chedworth Roman Villa is a National Trust site located in a peaceful, green Costswold valley.

As well as the site itself, which you can explore using a map, there is also a museum, a shop and a cafe. Historical highlights include mosaics of mysterious gods, ancient toilets, baths and a range of other artefacts that will bring the past to life.

Gloucester Cathedral

7. Go Gothic at Gloucester Cathedral

Any visit to Gloucestershire wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Gloucester itself. Its most famous sight is the towering Gothic cathedral, which is grand in both design and stature at 225 ft high.

Free to visit, it’s not just a place for religious pilgrimage. It’s also featured in the Harry Potter films, so it will please those that love architecture, history and film alike. Paid tours of the cathedral’s cloisters, tomb, 15th-century tower and crypt are also available.

Row of terrace houses in Cheltenham

8. Cheltenham in a day

Another great Cotswolds day trip that’s a little different is Cheltenham – arguably the area’s true hub. The attractive spa town has plenty to see and do, including parks and gardens, a castle, art gallery, craft shops, a lido for swimming, and a lake for boating.

This Regency town is best explored by foot or by bike, before unwinding at one of the many al fresco dining spots or inside one of the many cosy pubs, premium cocktail bars and top-class restaurants.

View of the church in Chipping Campden

9. Cotswolds Farm Park

Close to Cheltenham is the Cotswolds Farm Park. Founded in the 1970s, it’s a family-run conservation space that protects rare breeds of animals.

The Animal Barn is where you’ll see any new additions – from piglets to foals and goat kids, while you may even be able to watch chicks hatch in the Discovery Barn. A trail will guide visitors around paddocks featuring rare breeds, farmland, flowers, a woodland conservation area and places to stop and refuel with coffee and snacks.

Row of houses along the stream at Castle Combe, Cotswolds

10. Try your hand at a new skill

The Cotswolds is well known for its arts and crafts scene. With many opportunities for ‘make your own’ activities and classes, why not indulge your creative side and make a reusable, long-lasting souvenir to take home with you?

There are a number of fantastic pottery and arts studios to choose from, with clay workshops and courses for all ages and abilities. If you really don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can always purchase a unique piece from one of the many specialist shops.

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