15 Things to Do in the Cotswolds (+ Hotels & Transport)

row of stone houses with climbing plants in Cotswold village, gloucestershire, england.

Get ready to explore some of the most magical villages in England! The Cotswolds region is packed with incredible attractions and romantic novel-like places, and I’m here to tell you all about it!

Prepare a cup of tea, and let’s discover together the best things to do in the Cotswolds! I’ve searched the web for hours and came up with an incredible list of attractions, great hotels, Cotswolds tours, how to get around the region, plus lots of fun tips and tricks!

As one of the most picturesque regions in England, the Cotswolds towns get a lot of visitors! That’s why I recommend booking your tickets, hotels, and tours in advance, as most likely the prices will increase as well!

I’m sure everyone is eager to start!

So let’s have some fun!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Don’t worry if you can’t make it through the whole post, just have a look below, and you’ll find the main things to book in advance:

And here are the best hotels: The George Inn (luxury), New Inn at Coln (mid-range), St. Michaels Bistro (budget)

Since the Cotswolds encompasses a whole region of small towns, here’s a map to see where each attraction is located.

1. Explore Bibury village & the Trout Farm

A row of stone cottages in the cotswolds.

If you’re on a quest to find the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, then a stop in Bibury is mandatory!

This Gloucestershire town looks like it was taken out of a fantasy book! Its lush gardens and historic houses are so beautiful you’ll never want to leave!

Apparently, even the artist William Morris said that this lovely place is one of England’s most incredible towns!

You can spend a few hours exploring the tiny streets and walking on the banks of River Coln! But if you’re looking for something a bit more specific, then definitely stop to see the famous Arlington Row, a row of gorgeous cottages located behind a meadow that look so idyllic!

After you stop there for a pic, you can head to the Bibury Trout Farm, which is Britain’s oldest trout farm! Here you can spend a day with the whole family, fishing, cooking, and eating your prey!

Of course, if you’re not a fan of fishing, you can still visit Bibury Trout Farm and play golf, eat at their restaurant, and explore the farm!

2. Go antique shopping in Cirencester

A group of people walking down the street in front of a store.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say no to a good antique treasure hunt when traveling! If you prefer this type of retail therapy to modern shopping malls, then definitely head to Cirencester when exploring the Cotswolds!

Known as a market town, this incredible place is filled with antique shops like the Cirencester Antiques Centre, which is one of the permanent stores.

But you’ll find even more hidden gems at Corn Hall on Fridays when they hold the usual antique markets! 

After you’ve had your fair share of shopping, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the town, checking out the High Street, and definitely enjoying an afternoon tea at one of the tearooms!

3. Admire the flowers at Abbey Manor House

If you’re a lover of history, old houses, and gorgeous gardens, then you need to make a stop in Malmesbury at the Abbey Manor House.

The main house dates back to the 1500s, but there are records tracing the site’s existence back to the 11th century!

You could spend hours exploring the walking paths in the garden and the entire property grounds! If you wish to spend your night here, then check out the Old Bell Hotel, which is set right near the Abbey and Manor House and is, apparently, Britain’s oldest hotel!

NOTE: Abbey Manor House is currently closed for renovations, so make sure you double-check the official website to see if it’s open during your visit.

Anyways, the beautiful village of Malmesbury dates back to the Iron Age, so just exploring it will be such a thrill!

4. Grab a pint in Britain’s oldest pub

A stone building with a blue umbrella parked outside.

You’ve probably heard of a lot of places that claim to be “Britain’s oldest pub,” and I’m sure there are many that date back to hundreds of years ago, but apparently, The Porch House in Stow-On-The-Wold is the real deal as some of its parts date back to the 900s!

You can even spend the night in this historic gem if you want, enjoy dinner and drinks by the roaring fires, and wake up the next morning to a glorious English breakfast, the Cotswolds style!

Although much of the Porch House country pub has been renovated, it still kept its old charm!

The Stow-On-The-Wold town has such a rich history! Its large Market Square is known as the main place where the wool trade would happen! Lots of sheep were sold there, too!

While you’re in town, make sure you shop for some antiques, and don’t be surprised if you run across some one-of-a-kind pieces!

5. Spend a day in nature at the Westonbirt Arboretum

If you love spending time in nature, admiring beautiful trees, and just relaxing, then you need to check out this attraction near Tetbury!

The Westonbirt Arboretum is a place where you can get lost on winding pathways and end up spending hours exploring!

Set a few minutes away from King Charles’ Highgrove Estate, the Arboretum has around 18,000 trees and shrubs, and it has 2 sections called The Old Arboretum and Silk Wood, each with different vibes!

The Old Arboretum has a very unique design and a couple of exotic trees, while the Silk Wood is mostly made of traditional woodland!

Both look incredible, and both offers are great for wildlife spotting, so keep your senses alert and eyes open, and maybe you’ll see a wild rabbit!

PRICE: from US$12 to 16 (depending on the season)

6. Check out William Morris’s countryside retreat

A large stone house with a green lawn and trees.

There are a bunch of pretty villages in the Cotswolds, and Kelmscott is definitely sitting somewhere at the top of the list!

Here, the famous artist and poet William Morris found his corner of heaven on Earth in the beautiful Kelmscott Manor!

Morris loved this place as it not only served as a safe haven but also as a major inspiration source!

Boasting the most incredible gardens, barns, and a meadow, Kelmscott Manor is the kind of attraction you want to explore at a slower pace! The house is just as breathtaking, and you’ll easily notice the artist’s touch once inside!

Once you’ve toured the whole property, stop at their tea room for a cup and a scone!

PRICE: US$19 per person

7. Join fellow tourists on the Cotswold Way

A path leading up to a hill with a view of a city.

Walking the Cotswold Way is probably one of the most popular things to do in the Cotswolds!

This national trail runs all the way from Chipping Campden to Bath! The walk is around 100 miles (160 km) long and is pretty accessible for people at any level.

Of course, you don’t have to walk the whole trail (as it takes around 7 to 10 days) to see lots of cute towns, rolling hills, or beautiful meadows. Most tourists pick a section and do that or more if they’ve got the time.

There are multiple sections, like the path from Chipping Campden to Broadway, then the route from Birdlip to Painswick, and many others. You can find all the information you need about the trail on this website, where they include lots of information that’ll help you enjoy your journey on the Cotswold Way!

8. Feel like a medieval knight at Warwick Castle

A man is rowing down a river with a castle in the background.

Looking for a place to spend a wonderful day with your family or friends? Then you’ll definitely love Warwick Castle!

This not-so-hidden gem set on the banks of River Avon in Warwick was first built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, and it has now become one of the best attractions in the Cotswolds!

Here you won’t only see some really old chambers or objects, but you’ll get a first-row seat at medieval interactive shows and archery, and you can even spend the night here in the Knight Village!

Yes, your kids will love Warwick Castle, so I suggest securing your tickets in advance!

PRICE: from US$30 per person

9. See Kingham’s unique stone cottages

cottages with lots of greenery in front of it

You’d think Kingham is just yet another picturesque town (which it surely is), but this one is pretty special as it’s adorned with some of the most beautiful stone cottages!

Proclaimed England’s favorite town a while ago, Kingham is a great place to spend a tranquil and slow day in the Cotswolds!

While here, you can have a picnic in the little green areas, shop for some souvenirs, and stop at the Wild Rabbit, a gorgeous restaurant and hotel that is beautifully decorated and where you can indulge in some yummy dishes before you hit the road!

10. Stroll around Sudeley Castle

A garden with roses and a castle in the background.

One thing we can know for sure about the Cotswolds is that this region is absolutely drenched in history!

Ancient castles, hundreds-of-years-old cottages, you name it, you’ll find it all here! And I hope you didn’t think Warwick Castle was the only one around! Here comes Sudeley Castle, which is just as incredible!

Once the home of important sovereigns like Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Charles I, this gorgeous piece of architecture is now open to all of us to see and explore!

Its grounds are extensive, there are around 10 gardens on the property beautifully embellished with roses, medicinal herbs, and many other plants!

Inside Sudeley Castle, you can explore its amazing rooms and see some exhibitions!

PRICE: US$23 per person

11. See cute birds at Cotswold Falconry

A hawk perched on a person's hand.

Any bird fans in this crowd? If so, you definitely want to check out this section because it’s all about the fun Cotswold Falconry!

With lots of different species of vultures, owls, falcons, eagles, hawks, and many others, this place is unmissable during your Cotswolds holiday!

While here, you’ll get to watch the birds in their natural habitat and learn all about their habits from the super-informed staff!

For those of you who want to get a closer look, there are some activities that you can sign up for, the Owl Experience or Flying Start, where you’ll get to stand super close to these birds and admire their beauty (plus you’ll get some really cool pics)! You can learn more about each experience on their website.

PRICE: US$16 per person

12. Visit Blenheim Palace & its park and gardens

A large mansion with a fountain in front of it.

Here’s another grand attraction in the Cotswolds that you can’t miss out on!

Widely known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is one of those places you can’t get tired of!

Located in Woodstock, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers visitors a peek inside the life of dukes and duchesses!

Inside, you can explore the many, many rooms (there are around 300), see some of the exhibitions, get souvenirs from the gift shop and definitely see if you recognize some of the places inside and around Blenheim Palace from famous movies!

Yep, you heard that right! Lots of incredible movies were filmed here, including Harry Potter, James Bond, Transformers and Mission Impossible!

PRICE: US$45 per person

13. Take the kids to Cotswold Water Park

You’ll definitely hit the jackpot if you’re planning a family trip to the Cotswolds because this place offers unlimited fun in a gorgeous natural environment!

The Cotswold Water Park is home to over 150 lakes, most of which are protected, and you can admire them from afar, but a fair bunch offers plenty of water sports like paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, and many others.

You’ll also find some activities on land, like golfing, archery, and horse riding! Even just exploring the grounds is pretty incredible, as you can see so much wildlife! Birds, deer, you name it, but you’ll definitely spot some while you’re here!

Visitors can also spend the night here as there are a few hotels, camping and glamping sites, and restaurants! If you’re interested in staying, check out our post on the most luxurious hotels in the Cotswolds. I am sure you’ll love more than one!

There’s so much to do here, so definitely plan your days considering all the other things to do in the Cotswolds!

14. Step in Harry Potter’s footsteps at Gloucester Cathedral

A large cathedral in the middle of a grassy field.

Want to walk on the corridors that Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione explored all those years ago?

Then you’ll definitely want to stop by Gloucester Cathedral! It’ll be easy to recognize which parts of the Cathedral they filmed as the architecture is so outstanding! Most of the scenes were from the movies Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secretsand The Half-Blood Prince!

It already sounds super exciting!

While here, consider that this is a place of worship with such a rich history! Lots of events, such as the crowning of Henry IiI and the burial of Edward II, took place on these grounds.

Other than that, you can sit and admire its intricate Gothic designs and beauty!

PRICE: no fixed price, but donations are appreciated

15. See cute animals at Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

A rhino grazing in a field of red flowers.

Want to spend a whole day surrounded by lions, zebras, giraffes, and camels?

Then head to this fun wildlife park that’s located in Bradwell Grove! This is a great place for families, animal lovers, and anyone who wants to spend some time in nature while making some new non-human friends!

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens has many species, including the largest snake species in the world – the Green Anaconda! They also offer lots of fun activities, talks, and many other things!

PRICE: US$22 per person

Practical information about the Cotswolds

Now that we’ve seen all these cool things to do in the Cotswolds, I feel like we’re ready to dive into the logistics! From where to stay and how to arrive in the Cotswolds region and get around it, I’ve compiled all that in the smaller section below so that I can help you plan the most incredible holiday!

So let’s have a look!

Where to stay in the Cotswolds

Here are some of the best hotels in the Cotswolds, which I made sure to order by price so you can easily find your favorite. I’ve included 3 main ones here, but if you’re looking for more options, check out our post with the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds!

collage of 3 images with: a bedroom, restaurant and hotel's building covered with plants
  • Luxury: The George Inn – live your English countryside dream in this cute inn set in Barford Saint Michael that has beautifully decorated rooms with garden views, an outdoor terrace, and an outdoor dining area where you can enjoy your free breakfast!
  • Mid-Range: New Inn at Coln – relax in the elegant rooms that have ancient oak beams, of this inn in Coln St. Aldwyns, after a day of exploring the rolling hills and attractions in the Cotswolds! The accommodation comes with a restaurant and a bar.
  • Budget: St. Michaels Bistro – located in a historic building in Painswick, this hotel offers individually designed rooms that have different themes, a restaurant, and some spa facilities like massages!

How to get to the Cotswolds

A yellow and black train on a platform.

It definitely depends on where you’re coming from! I’ve included the main options below, and most likely, you’ll need to use public transport to reach any town as there is no airport in the area:

  • By plane – the closest airport to the Cotswolds is Bristol (around 1h or more by car), but it only has national and European flights than Birmingham, and some of the London Airports like Heathrow have served international flights.
  • By train – no matter which airport you use, you’ll definitely need to catch a train or several to reach the towns. You can go over to Trainline and search for tickets.
  • By bus – if you’re coming from a big city like London, you’ll probably find some routes that take you to one of the cities in the Cotswolds, head to the National Express website and search there.
  • By car – probably the easiest way to reach the Cotswolds is to rent a car! If you’re used to driving on the other side of the road, you should be all good!
  • By tour – there are lots of tours from big cities that take you to the Cotswolds region for the day! I found this great tour from London that will take you around the region.

How to get around the Cotswolds

A red car driving down a river in cotswolds.

I guess we’ve already established that there are so many incredible things to do in the Cotswolds, and most will require the use of some sort of public transportation, car or bike, to get there.

So if you’re thinking about how to do that, then definitely check out this next section, where I’ll talk all about it!

Here are the main ways you can get around the Cotswolds:

  • By bus – different bus companies run services in the area, so I recommend planning in advance which one you’ll need to use to go to certain spots. Head to the website of the following companies: Stagecoach, NN Creswell, Coachstyle, Pulhams, Faresaver, Villager, First Bus.
  • By train – this one is probably one of the fastest options but only available in some of the towns like Banbury, Bath, Cam and Dursley, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stroud, Charlbury, Kingham, and Oxford. Go on Trainline and get your tickets from there.
  • By car – definitely, the easiest way to get around the Cotswolds. If you don’t mind driving on the other side of the road, definitely rent a car so you can explore even the most remote sites.
  • By bike – if you love a bit of adventure, then rent a bike (you’ll find rental services in most towns) and use it to get around the region! You can even join a bike tour if you’d love to be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide.
🤩 Best attraction:Sudeley Castle
🚲 Top tour:Bike tour of the Cotswolds
🏨 Best hotel:The George Inn
🌞 When to visit:early summer

FAQs about things to do in the Cotswolds

A flock of sheep in front of a church.

🌳 What is the most picturesque place in Cotswold?

Some of the most picturesque places in the Cotswold are Castle Combe, Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the-water near River Windrush, Chipping Norton, Cleeve Hill & Common Walk, and Copse Hill Road in Cheltenham called the most romantic street in Britain).

🤩 How can I spend a day in the Cotswolds?

Explore towns like Bibury, Cirencester, or Cheltenham, where you’ll find antique stores, designer boutiques, and big shopping centers, visit attractions like Blenheim Palace and end with a drink at one of the country pubs or at Mickleton Pudding Club.

📅 How many days are required for Cotswolds?

I would recommend spending between 3 to 5 days in the Cotswolds! That way you can explore most of the towns and enjoy plenty of outdoor activities.

🔝 Is it worth visiting the Cotswolds?

Yes! 100 times, yes! This region is an absolute gem, filled with incredible attractions, breathtaking landscapes, and beautiful parkland, so definitely go there if you’ve got the chance!

Conclusion

Cotswold village at sunset.

Ugh, who’s already fallen madly in love with all these areas of outstanding natural beauty?

You’re so lucky to be heading there, and I do hope that this post with the best things to do in the Cotswolds helped you plan your trip! Make sure you don’t skip the second part of the post, as you’ll find so many useful tips!

As always, I recommend booking anything from tours to hotels in advance! This is one of the most popular locations for country retreats in the UK, and it gets many visitors all year round!

Alright, everyone! Enjoy your holiday in these chocolate box villages, and don’t forget that I’m always around to answer questions! All you gotta do is drop me a comment below!

Safe travels,

Victoria


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view over Sudeley Castle with a garden with lots of flowers in the foreground

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