Intermingling with locales such as Somerset, Cheltenham, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxfordshire, visiting The Cotswolds is a journey back in time.
The Cotswolds is right up your alley if you're interested in a getaway that offers leisure, education, sports, food, shopping, history, and unique fun. Stay in historic structures. See famous buildings—travel ancient pathways. Shop and eat to your heart's content. No matter your interests, the Cotswolds have something for everyone.
With its unique topography, the Cotswolds consists of pristine fossil-enriched limestone. A standard building material, it has been used since the Middle Ages. Today, many of these structures are still intact. Visiting them is as close to traveling back in time as possible, but with a contemporary twist. Discover old-world charm, but with modern conveniences and plenty of shopping.
Naunton, Stow-on-the-Wold, Broadway, Kingham, Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the-Water, and the twin villages called The Slaughters, are just a few of the many stops you can make. Comprising over 800 square miles, these enchanting tiny village landscapes seem to go on forever.
Covering over 100 miles, this hiking path is for those with a sense of adventure who also want to appreciate their surroundings at a slower pace fully. Yes, the trail is a tourist attraction, but spectators won't bog you down. Instead, it's an intimate encounter that allows you to inhale the untainted majesty of the Cotswolds in a deliberate, romantic, and almost surreal way.
If you're not into hiking, ride the rails instead. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is a magnificent activity whether you're traveling solo or have the family in tow. Currently operating heritage steam engines and vintage diesel units, the GWSR crosses the countryside in grand fashion. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery in comfort during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Travel the 28-mile round trip, or take part in one of the railroad's special catered events.
You don't want to miss Broadway Tower for an incredible vantage point. Its base is 1,024 feet above sea level, making this lookout structure the best place to see the Cotswolds' all-encompassing terrain. Measuring roughly 65 feet tall, this 18th-century design affords an ideal view of 16 English counties. It sits in the middle of the Broadway Tower Country Park, which spotlights historic exhibitions, a Cold War bunker, dining, and shopping.
Blenheim Palace is the scene of triumphant glory. The birthplace of Winston Churchill it's filled with seemingly endless rooms. A stately home and fortress, it also highlights exquisite landscapes. For an added adventure, explore the Marlborough Maze, a two-mile trek nestled between impeccable gardens.
This World Heritage Site was constructed in the 18th century and has stood the test of time. Its captivating romantic architecture has even been featured in the James Bond film Spectre. Though it's important to note that the Cotswolds has had numerous television shows and movies filmed throughout the area, including Braveheart and Downton Abbey.
Kelmscott Manor was the countryside retreat of William Morris. One of the preeminent fabricators and visionaries of the Arts and Crafts movement, his legacy lives on today in his historic designs. He attributed much of his inspiration to the estate due to its well-built, clean craftsmanship and unspoiled presence amid natural beauty. See what prompted his writings, designs, and conservation ideals by visiting the grounds. Shop, tour, take a walk through the gardens or attend one of Kelmscott's many educational events.
Famed composer Gustav Holtz was born in Cheltenham, which is the cultural epicenter of the Cotswolds. His birthplace is a museum displaying the piano he used to compose and original manuscripts. It's a music lover's dream.
Cheltenham also hosts a variety of musical events throughout the area. Folk and jazz are two prominent styles. Repertoires and concerts pop up wherever there's a place to play, including abbeys, cathedrals, the town hall, churches, and arenas.
The Cotswolds delivers in abundance if you're looking for fun that goes against the norm of conventional spectator sports. One of its most famous events is the Bourton Rovers Football Club matchup. Held when the Windrush River gets choppy, two teams of six play in the shallow water, receiving global coverage. The tradition is over 100 years old.
The Cotswold Olimpicks originated in the early 1600s. It's a festival filled with street vendors, music performances, and events. Tug o' war and shin-kicking are two of the Olimpicks' most-beloved sports, which are played in the iconic Dover's Hill arena.
Since its inception in 1949, the Badminton Horse Trials has been a prestigious show with worldwide recognition. First implemented by the 10th Duke of Beaufort, it's considered a top-of-the-line competition, often recognized as Great Britain's most distinguished and esteemed horse presentation. Dressage displays, jumping, and parades are a few events featured over the course of several days.
Held at the Cheltenham Racecourse, the Festival at Cheltenham is a legendary jumping event. Lasting four days, it highlights Grade 1 jump races, including the Gold Cup. It's a must-see for any equestrian fan, and the electric atmosphere is second to none.
No trip anywhere would be complete without trying the local fare. The Cotswolds offers an array of award-winning fine and casual dining options featuring the best of British cuisine. Whether you want a midday tea and scone or a Michelin-star experience, the Cotswolds provides. And as a bonus, many of these restaurants offer hotel stays, shops, and more.