The Cotswolds in Gloucestershire makes for a great vacation spot, and one anyone with a plan to roam the UK ought to keep in mind. Known for open country and charming villages, it’s a region full of beautiful options – but we’ve picked a few of our favourites to help narrow things down. Make your way to these four spots and you’ll have experienced much of the beauty and appeal of the Cotswolds in short time.
1. Chipping Campden
This little market town is home to many local manor houses. The whole area used to be quite wealthy until the wool industry crashed, and as a result you can now tour the historic homes of the wealthy businessmen that were. While you’re there, find St. James’ Church, a historic landmark with guided tours and classic Gothic architecture.
Take a brief rest in the middle of the day to refresh yourself and change into something a little finer. Then finish off the day with a look through the Court Barn Museum and tea at Bantam Tea Rooms on High Street. One perfect dress is all you need for the occasion, as you enjoy a bit of a local treat at the end of a day of exploration.
Known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” Bourton-on-the-Water gives you the chance to spend some time boating through canals. Watch out for low bridges, and relax as you tour the town and see the quaint traditional stone houses characteristic of the area.
Depending on how leisurely you want your trip to be, you can visit a couple more specific attractions in Bourton-on-the-Water before continuing on your way. The Cotswold Motoring Museum is filled with antique vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, and caravans. And Birdland houses innumerable species of birds (from parrots to penguins), as well as life-sized model dinosaurs. Either spot can make for a fun afternoon in town.
Known as a spa town right on the edge of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham can make for a lovely stop if you fancy mixing in a bit of luxury on your tour. You can find a nice restaurant to spend an evening at, and perhaps even luxuriate in one of the area spas if you’re so inclined.
If you’re looking for a more active experience, though, the Cheltenham Racecourse is an attraction that’s not to be missed. Best known for hosting the annual Cheltenham Festival (a four-day March racing event), it presents other races throughout the year. Particularly at a major course like this, British horse racing is quite the spectacle. People dress up to attend, wager on outcomes at the newest online bookmakers, and sip champagne overlooking the grounds. That’s not to say you have to bet or drink to enjoy the experience, but altogether it can be a very charming occasion.
This town is a perfect place to spend some more time outside, picnicking and such. Tributaries from the River Thames flow through the Cotswolds, and trout love it, making the area ideal for a bit of fishing. Indeed, the Bibury Trout Farm is one of the main attractions in the area, and will give you a chance at your own catch of the day. They’ll even rent you BBQ equipment if you want to cook your catch on site!
Beyond fishing, the main attraction in Bibury (aside from simple sightseeing) is perhaps Arlington Row, where 17th-century weaver cottages make for fascinating visits.
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