The Cotswolds is a hidden gem in England. We share the best things to do in the Cotswolds UK, so you can plan the perfect trip.
Spread over an area of nearly 800 square miles, the Cotswolds, or rolling hills as the ‘wolds’ are referred to, is said to be the most fascinating part of the United Kingdom. So let us dive into our guide on things to do in the Cotswolds.
Why the Cotswolds?
It is estimated that this area, some 90 miles southwest of London, alone attracts millions of visitors from all over the world annually, who conger to this extra special piece of paradise to experience the unsurpassed natural splendor that spans the five English counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
Cotswolds is especially known for its numerous historical spots and miles of scenic walking routes, each having an identity of its own and set amidst some of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes to be found anywhere else on the planet. To describe in detail the things to do will be futile as the list is endless. Still, we have chosen a select few of the most sought-after attractions that you must come and see for yourself, so as to know why we keep raving on and on about this magical place.
When to visit the Cotswolds
Cotswolds have their own appeal, no matter what the season. While winter is relatively free of crowds and has bargain offers, the spring season has its own charm. The long summer days make for spectacular light settings and peak crowds, while Autumn ushers in a period of peaceful atmosphere and vibrant colors, though the view will be slightly less picturesque due to the brown color of the fields.
Best things to do in Cotswolds, UK
This ancient but exquisite 17th-century market town is located on the northern boundary of the Cotswold escarpment. Chipping Campden, apart from being home to the lovely wool church, is also the gateway to the popular Cotswold Way walk. Other attractions here are the Court Barn Museum, which enjoys a dramatic location in a 400-year-old farm building. Four miles away lies Hidcote Manor, showcasing one of the most creative gardens of the 20th century.
Explore the charming villages
Begin your Cotswolds trip to the county of Gloucestershire in order to experience what quintessential English village life is all about. Burford is just the traditional place to start your exploration, with shops and inviting pubs lined up on either side of the hilly streets. Head next to the picturesque Bourton-on-the-water, with its many waterways and bridges, reminding the visitor of Venice. Continue up to the villages of Lower and Upper Slaughter and get immersed in their natural beauty, rather than getting taken back by their weird names.
The magnificent interiors, sprawling gardens, and vast grounds should be reason enough to entice you to visit this beautiful palace. Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, happens to be one of the finest and best maintained stately homes in Britain. The palace is a blend of traditional Baroque architecture, all due to the hard work of Capability Brown. This World Heritage Site makes for an excellent day out on a nice sunny morning.
Cotswold Way Trail
If ever there was a heavenly place on earth to explore on foot, then it has to be the one and only Cotswold Way. Just imagine, over 100 miles of surreal walking environment, through pretty villages, winding rivers, valleys, and past many a historical site, with choices of gentle strolls or steep hikes, the Cotswold Way walk can be attained by all levels of hikers, including those on wheelchair.
There are as many as fourteen different circular trails, combined with endless miles of bridleways and footpaths in this paradise for walkers, also classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The walk is accessible around the year and can be done throughout the length from Chipping Campden to Bath or vice versa, or in segments as per convenience. Mickledore Walking Holidays offers a guided tour for this route, among others.
The stunning Georgian architecture and a world-famous race course are reasons enough to spend at least one day in the attractive city of Cheltenham. This place apart from being the cultural hub of Cotswolds, also enjoys a rich cafe culture, with the Brewery Quarter occupying center stage. Easily accessible by road and rail from London, Cheltenham can be made into an excellent base to experience other areas of Cotswolds as well.
Discover Harry Potter
The quaint little well-preserved village of Lacock is steeped in the traditional Cotswolds manner. This place is a doyen of many a filmmaker and happens to be the scene of the hugely popular Harry Potter series. Films like Lacock Abbey and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are some of the well-known titles which were shot here.
For a change, try taking a walk on the wild side by interacting with giraffes, lemurs and white rhinos at the exclusive Gothic Manor House Lawns. The sight of the animals in this unique habitat against a backdrop of stunning gardens has to be seen to be believed. The 120 acres of the reserve hold an astonishing 260 different species of animals, which hold a special attraction for children because of the child-friendly infrastructure on offer. Don’t forget to carry your binoculars.
Lygon Arms Spa
This hidden pleasure destination lies nestled in the Cotswold countryside far away from the rigours of everyday life. Situated on High Street, Worcestershire, this relaxing venue is just ideal for those looking for a variety of relaxing activities. The environs of the three-acre private garden, which houses the spa, lures guests with some of the most invigorating therapies on offer to add to the Cotswold experience.
The Cotswolds kingdom, vast as it may seem, offers the visitor an in-depth look at the way of life of another era. The area is characterized by the gentle display of the blend of contemporary life and present-day charm, by way of festivals, vibrant as ever, and museums which are awe-inspiring in their own right. Simply enjoy the affluence of the carefully conserved place as the locals do, totally unfazed by the celebrity culture.
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