Covering no fewer than 5 English counties and 800 square miles, the Cotswolds is England’s largest ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.
Ask anyone to conjure up images of idyllic English countryside, and chances are they’re picturing the Cotswolds.
Its stunning scenery and sweeping vistas have been brought to life on canvas by artists such as Constable, Gainsborough and Turner, while it has also provided a backdrop for the fictional worlds of The Brontë Sisters and Jane Austen and even inspired the great poet, William Blake.
This unremittingly beautiful corner of Eng;and has plenty to offer – and here is our pick of the best things to do in the Cotswolds.
1. Spend the Day in Bath
The beautiful city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies to the south of the Cotswolds. It’s full of Georgian architectural masterpieces, many of which have been constructed with Bath’s distinctive golden-coloured stone. Don’t forget to see buildings such as the Circus, the Royal Crescent, and Pulteney Bridge.
Besides shopping, museums and walking tours, Bath is famous for its museums and history. Tour the Roman baths to journey back through time. Or, soak in the only naturally hot spa waters in the UK at Thermae Bath, which offers sweeping views of the city from above.
2. Visit Blenheim Palace
The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is a World Heritage Site that’s now home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and open for public tours.
The stunning Baroque exterior will take your breath away. And the landscaped, sculpture-filled gardens are just as impressive.
Blenheim Palace is a must-visit landmark in the Cotswolds due to its immense size and rare architectural style. Its history spans more than 300 years, so there’s plenty to discover within its grounds.
3. Explore Postcard-Perfect Villages
Because the use of Bath stone is so prevalent in the Cotswolds, many of the area’s villages are considered to be among the prettiest in England. Don’t miss the chance to visit some of the Cotswold’s famous ‘chocolate box villages,’ such as Blockley, Lower Slaughter (don’t let the name put you off) and Kingham, which was voted England’s Favourite Village in 2006.
4. Navigate the Nature Trails
So far, we’ve discussed the architectural marvels and urban gems of the Cotswold’s. But the area is full of natural beauty, too. The villages of the Cotswolds are surrounded by farmlands, forests and nature trails galore. You can follow over 100 miles of scenic strolls to enjoy unbeatable views of the British countryside.
The National Trail is the most famous walk in the Cotswolds, running all the way from Bath to Chipping Campden. Can’t muster up the energy to cover dozens of miles a day? You’ll find plenty of short circuits along the National Trail.
5. Take the Family to Birdland
You’ll find the family-friendly Birdland wildlife park in the quaint town of Bourton-on-the-Water. Birdland is a birdwatcher’s paradise, but with penguin shows and live feeding, it’s also the perfect place to take the kids. In addition to our flying cousins, you’ll find a wide array of amphibians and reptiles at Birdland.
Still not had your fill of wildlife? Head to Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, which is home to pandas, lemurs, camels, zebras, and the UK’s largest reptile collection.
Explore charming countryside villages, visit Blenheim Palace and the historic Roman baths, or enjoy a spot of traditional afternoon tea next to meandering rivers on one of our fantastic Cotswolds tours from London.