Covering 800 miles across five counties, the Cotswolds is the biggest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales. But other than admiring the countryside, what else is there to do on a weekend away in the Cotswolds? Here are five ways to see it.
1. A historical weekend in Gloucester
The Gloucester docks were once the deepest and widest docks in the world, but fell into disrepair until their renovation in the 1980s. Now the area is a thriving shopping centre, complete with designer outlets and places to dine dockside. Pop into the National Waterways Museum where you can browse archives and clamber aboard historic boats.
Once you’ve finished exploring the docks, stray into the heart of the city where you’ll find many more historical sites: the house Beatrix Potter chose for the setting of The Tailor of Gloucester, the coronation site of Henry III, Gloucester Cathedral, and the Roman ruins in the Eastgate’s underground Chamber.
2. A cultural weekend in Cheltenham
With a smorgasbord of events, from literature and music festivals to regular horse racing taking place throughout the year, it’s unsurprising that Cheltenham is the Cotswolds’ cultural centre.
While exploring the town, you can take in the regal Georgian architecture and explore the local museums, including the house where the composer Gustav Holst was born, and The Wilson, named after Antarctic explorer Edward Wilson.
In the evening, why not see a show at one of Cheltenham’s many venues? The Everyman Theatre has a whole host of performances to keep you entertained, from sparkling musicals to bellyaching comedy.
3. A playful weekend on the water
Ideal for a family break or a romantic weekend away, the beautiful old mill buildings in Bourton-on-the-Water make a perfect base for exploring the Cotswolds.
Whether you’re travelling with children or just a big kid at heart, explore the more playful attractions of the pretty village. One of the highlights of Bourton-on-the-Water is the Model Village, a miniature replica of Bourton-on-the-Water. Feel like a giant as you tower over the houses and shallow waterways punctuated by narrow stone bridges, or be dwarfed by the manicured hedges on a visit to the Dragonfly Maze as you search for the hidden treasure.
At the Cotswold Motoring Museum, marvel at the collection of toys and cars from your childhood and beyond, from well-loved penny tin toys to 1950s Jaguars. Boundless members save 10% on entrance fees here.
4. A stately weekend in the north Cotswolds
Begin your weekend with a stay at the 19th century manor of Dumbleton Hall, where you can spend time exploring the sprawling gardens and private lake. In the evening, take a trip to Evesham’s Regal Cinema where you can enjoy a candlelit meal followed by a film.
If you have a spare afternoon and favourable weather, head over to Cotswolds Riding and hack through the picturesque village of Stanstead. They have horses to suit every experience level. Or if you’d prefer something a little less active, travel to Winchcombe where you will find the impressive Sudeley Castle, the burial place of Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s wives.
5. A sporty escape in Cirencester
Sports may not be the first thing you associate with this market town, but with the UK’s oldest polo club and a wealth of countryside to take advantage of, Cirencester is the perfect place to get active outdoors.
If you’re looking for something a little less formal, then there are plenty of activities to keep you busy; hire a board and go stand up paddleboarding at Cotswold Country Park and Beach, play a round of golf at Cirencester Golf Club, or to really get your adrenaline pumping, take a leap of faith at Head 4 Heights Aerial Adventure Centre.