The Top 10 Things to Do and See in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are full of beautiful villages, including Lower Slaughter, on the River Eye
The Cotswolds are full of beautiful villages, including Lower Slaughter, on the River Eye | © Stuart Black / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Colette Earley
21 August 2020

From breathtaking landscapes and historic monuments to beautiful walking routes and romantic, secluded spots, what’s not to love about the Cotswolds? Here we round up the top 10 must-dos for when you visit.

Cotswolds Wildlife Park

Park
Map View
© John Warburton-Lee Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Take a walk on the wild side at this family-friendly attraction that will make the perfect day out. Set in 160 acres (65ha) of parkland, the park is home to an abundance of different species, many of which are endangered. Take a peak at Asiatic lions, say hello to friendly giraffes and watch the penguins have their lunch – this is definitely one for the kids.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Sports Center
Map View
© Matt Perrin Sport / Alamy Stock Photo
Hundreds of thousands of racing fans come to Cheltenham every year, eager to live out the classic day at the races experience. The racing, the setting, the tradition, the history and the shared sense of enjoyment all combine to give everyone an incredible experience. With the stunning scenery, this is a Cotswolds attraction not to miss.

Berkeley Castle

Historical Landmark
Map View
© Laura Facchini / Alamy Stock Photo
A magnificent medieval castle steeped in history, this is a brilliant day out for families, couples and friends. Wander around the gardens and discover monuments dating back to the 12th century, while inside you can find treasures collected by the Berkeley family over decades. Marvel at the impressive decor that adorns the walls – this truly is a step back in time.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Botanical Garden
Map View
© James Osmond / Getty Images
If you’re visiting the Cotswolds, then it’s essential you take a stroll through this gorgeous arboretum. The landscape, filled with more than 600 acres (240ha) of trees from all over the globe, was laid out aesthetically rather than in any botanical order, making Westonbirt one of the most beautiful tree gardens in the world.

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Museum
Map View
© Paul Springett 02 / Alamy Stock Photo
Walk in the footsteps of one of the greatest writers of all time and explore the house where he was born and grew up. The house has been passed through the family over the years, and now is in the hands of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which has kept it true to its original form. From resident actors and exhibitions to workshops and readings, you’re guaranteed a day of entertainment and learning.

Snowshill Manor

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
© eddie linssen / Alamy Stock Photo
Snowshill Manor is a 16th-century country house containing thousands of objects from its previous owner, Charles Paget Wade, who gave the house to the National Trust in 1951. Expect to see everything from old bicycles, toys, instruments and even 26 suits of Japanese samurai armour.

The Slaughters

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Map View
©  David Warren / Alamy Stock Photo
The Slaughters – the two villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter – is a stunning, scenic walk. Don’t be put off by the unsettling name – it comes from the old English “slohtre”, which basically means “muddy place”. Far from their name, these villages are among the most picturesque you’ll come across. Expect to see old mills, country houses, historic brick work, pretty river routes and plenty of beautiful places to stay, like the Slaughters Manor House in Cheltenham.

The Model Village

Amusement Park
Map View
© Thornton Cohen / Alamy Stock Photo
The Model Village is a one-ninth scale replica of the heart of the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, containing all the buildings from the Old Water Mill down to the Old New Inn and ford, all built in Cotswold stone. Become a giant for the day and look down over miniature trees, flowers, shops and more. There’s even music that comes from the miniature church. A truly enchanting place to visit.
These recommendations were updated on August 21, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.