Take in the glorious scenery, picturesque villages and medieval market towns of the Cotswolds, a luscious expanse that’s the very definition of ‘the English countryside’.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Cotswolds is home to some of the country’s most awe-inspiring sights, including sweeping green hills and quintessentially English villages lined with gorgeous honey-coloured cottages like Bourton-on-the-Water. The Cotswolds is also home to the resplendent Regency town of Cheltenham Spa, famous for its annual programme of festivals, 18th century architecture, independent boutiques and bustling nightlife.
The great outdoors
With more than 5000 km of footpaths, the Cotswolds is an outdoor paradise, great for cycling, horse-riding and walking with many towns, including Winchcombe, holding walking festivals. Don’t let the lack of coastline put you off. Adventurous types can try their hand at various different water sports at the Cotswold Water Park’s 150 lakes, or relax on the country’s only inland beach.
World class gardens
Cotswolds gardens burst to life in early spring, with Colesbourne, Painswick and Batsford Arboretum famous for their incredible displays of snowdrops. There’s always something spectacular to see throughout the year – from blowsy spring blossom and bulbs, to exuberant English herbaceous borders and a blaze of autumn colour courtesy of the Cotswolds’ tree-lined fields.
A walk on the wild side
As a protected landscape the Cotswolds is full of unusual and often rare butterflies, insects and plants but it’s also home to much larger animals too. Stroll along the famous giraffe walkway at the wonderful Cotswold Wildlife Park; discover rare breed animals at the Cotswold Farm Park and catch up with every bird you can think of at the Cotswold Falconry Centre, Slimbridge Wetland Centre and the Birdland Park and Gardens.
History and heritage
Soak up centuries-old history at one of the Cotswolds many stately homes, castles or museums. Find out how the wool trade brought wealth to the area and why the Romans chose to base themselves in Cirencester. There’s no shortage of royal connections either – whether it’s the beautiful gardens at Prince Charles’s Cotswold home of Highgrove; Berkeley Castle where Edward II is rumoured to have been murdered or Sudeley Castle where Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, is buried.
Relax and revive
Escape to one of the area’s beautiful hotels, boutique bed and breakfasts or country pubs, and enjoy top quality local food and drink sourced from the surrounding countryside. Explore an abundance of quirky independent boutiques, galleries and antique shops, or head for the Regency town of Cheltenham Spa for designer labels and high street favourites. With beautiful spas to pamper yourself and a whole host of exciting events all year round, the only problem you’ll have is finding time to fit everything in.
How to get here
Cheltenham is 2hrs 15mins from London (car), 2hrs 16mins from London Paddington (direct train), 2hrs 30mins from London Victoria (coach) and 1hr 7mins from Bristol Airport (car).