Top 10 things to do in the Cotswolds

Days out, February Half Term

The Cotswolds is one of the UK's most sought-after holiday locations due to its picturesque landscapes, glorious rolling hills and idyllic villages. Marvel at this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in its picture-postcard rural setting - an unspoilt corner of England.

Not only does the Cotswolds have plenty to see, but it’s also brimming at the seams with things to do. Its family-based activities and days out give you fantastic things to keep you busy whilst seeing the famous English countryside. We've picked just some of our top things to do in the Cotswolds, from animal attractions to family activities and gorgeous places to visit including lakes, parks and historic buildings.

1. Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum

Just 3 miles from Tetbury, Westonbirt is a fantastic day out, whatever the season. There are so many things to see - enjoy over 15,000 rare and beautiful tree specimens in this setting of escapism or even venture through the grassland to have an adventure. Walk, cycle or take your dog to Westonbirt, there are 17 miles of way-marked trails to follow. The Treetop Walkway is a highlight which offers spectacular views across the arboretum landscape – visit in the autumn to see the leafy boughs transform from vivid greens to a blaze of reds, oranges and yellows. There’s plenty of seasonal activities and events throughout the year too such as the annual Enchanted Christmas event. It's a must-see for nature lovers and those who appreciate the great outdoors.

Opening times: Open from 9am-4pm every day except Christmas Day.

Prices: Vary by season. Adults: £7-£11, children (5-18 years) £3-£7.50, under 5’s free.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are welcome in two-thirds of the arboretum (Silk Wood).

Accessibility: Hard paths suitable for wheelchairs and buggies - trails off the path may not be suitable in wet conditions. Disabled toilets, shuttle bus and wheelchair/scooter hire available. Assistance dogs welcome.

Facilities: Toilets, baby changing area, playground, restaurant, cafe, shop and parking.

For the satnav: GL8 8QS

Stay nearby: Apt 2 The Old Coach Yard, sleeps 5

2. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Prepare for a unique and exciting experience at Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens, one of the biggest zoos and animal parks in the area. Mingle with Ruby and Ian, the park's famous rhinos, watch the penguin talk and feed, get up close and personal with the giraffes or view the oversized manes of the Asiatic lions. Meanwhile, in the tropical house, you can wander amongst free-roaming birds, bats, sloths and potoroos, and no visit is complete without petting the friendly pygmy goats in the children’s farmyard. With over 260 different animal species in over 120 acres, this family-friendly day out in the Cotswolds is perfect for the kids, and the big kid in you!

Opening times: April-October: 10am-6pm (last entry 4pm), November-March: 10am-5pm (last entry 3pm). 

Prices: Adults £16, over-65s £10.50, children £10.50, under 2’s free. Discounts available for online tickets.

Dog friendly?: Dogs welcome on a lead in certain outdoor areas, except those with free-roaming animals. 

Accessibility: Fully wheelchair accessible. Disabled toilets, wheelchair/scooter hire, discounted tickets. Assistance dogs welcome.

Facilities: Toilets, baby changing areas, play areas, picnic areas, restaurant, kiosks, gift shop and parking.

For the satnav: OX18 4JP

Stay nearby: Widford Mill Cottage, sleeps 6

3. Cotswold Falconry Centre

Cotswold Falconry Centre

Housing over 150 magnificent birds of prey, Cotswolds Falconry Centre demonstrate birds in flight in many specialist shows and events. Book a course, such as an Owl Evening or an Eagle Day, to experience these graceful creatures for yourself or explore the Owl Woods, where the birds can be seen in their natural habitat. A different and memorable activity in the Cotswolds, you can meet eagles, owls, hawks, falcons and vultures during your visit, and appreciate their speed, grace and agility during spectacular flight demonstrations.

Opening times: Open from 10.30am daily between 15th February to the 15th November.

Prices: Adults £12, concessions £10, children (4-15) £6, family tickets 30.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted at this attraction.

Accessibility: Almost entirely wheelchair accessible – there is just a steep slope at the entrance/exit but an alternative gate on flat ground can be opened on request. 

Facilities: Toilets, snacks and ice creams available, parking.

For the satnav: GL56 9AB

Stay nearby: Blockley Waterside, sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

4. Cotswold Motor Museum

Cotswold Motor Museum

Journey through the fascinating history of motoring in one of Britain’s prettiest villages, Bourton-on-the-Water. Home to the legendary Brum, the BBC TV's little superhero car, Cotswold Motoring Museum offers a tour around vintage car collections, motorcycles, and many other intriguing motoring assortments. A remarkable day out for the whole family, the entire history of 20th-century motoring is covered at this comprehensive museum in the Cotswolds, which regularly features special exhibitions. Be sure to stop by the gift shop which is packed with pocket-money treats and collectables before you leave.

Opening times: Open from 10am-6pm - last admission 5.30pm.

Prices: Adults £6.50, children (4-16) £4.60, under 4’s free, family tickets £20.30. Group tickets available.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are welcome at this attraction.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible. 

Facilities: Toilets, gift shop. Parking and refreshments available within walking distance throughout Bourton-on-the-Water.

For the satnav: GL54 2BY

Stay nearby: Vine Cottage - Bourton On The Water, sleeps 5 + 1 dog

5. Cotswold Farm Park

Cotswold Farm Park

Owned by one of the faces of BBC’s Countryfile, Adam Henson, Cotswold Farm Park brings farming to life, introducing youngsters to goats, pigs, sheep and many other animals, including a variety of rare breeds. Discover live lambing shows, milking demonstrations, and an adventure playground and pony rides, all deep within the heart of the Cotswolds, and learn about farming, past and present. This is one of the best days out in the Cotswolds for big kids and little kids alike, thanks to its array of cute and cuddly animals, hands-on demonstrations including bottle feeding and shearing, and fun activities.

Opening times: Open from February 8th-December 23rd, 10.30am-5pm.

Prices: Adults £15, children (age 4-15) £14.50, seniors £14, toddlers (age 2-3) £10, under 2’s free.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted at this attraction.

Accessibility: Indoor barns, visitor centre and cafe are wheelchair accessible. Those using manual wheelchairs may struggle in other areas of the park.

Facilities: Toilets, baby changing area, gift shop, cafe, restaurant, play area, parking.

For the satnav: GL54 5UG.

Stay nearby: L'abri, sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

6. Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

Just outside of the village of Broadway sits Broadway Tower, one of Britain’s most recognised landmarks. Displaying history from William Morris, exhibitions from the Cold War and an outstanding viewpoint over a woodland of red deer, this Capability Brown folly tower is one of the top things to see in the Cotswolds. After making the climb to the rooftop viewing platform, soak up the incredible vistas where up to 16 counties can be seen on a clear day, before relaxing in the café with a delicious lunch. There is also an atmospheric nuclear bunker on-site which can be explored on selected weekends seasonally, and is presented as it was during service when crewed by the Royal Observer Corps.

Opening times: Open from 10am-5pm.

Prices: Adults £6, children (6-16 years) £4, under 6’s free, family tickets £17.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are welcome on a lead – there is a circular walk and dog agility obstacles, plus there are some dog-friendly seating areas in the café.

Accessibility: There is no disabled access.

Facilities: Toilets, cafe, shop and parking.

For the satnav: WR12 7LB.

Stay nearby: The Bell Yard, sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

7. Dragonfly Maze

Dragonfly Maze

Can you make your way through the maze and solve the puzzles? The Dragonfly Maze does exactly what it says on the tin! Located in Bourton-on-the-Water, this yew hedge maze offers plenty of brainteasers to get those cogs working, in order to seek the hiding place of the mysterious Golden Dragonfly in the centre. A puzzle lover’s dream with a host of clues to solve, and one of the top family-friendly activities in the Cotswolds, the maze is certainly trickier than it looks! If you manage to find your way out, there is a great gift shop filled with traditional toys and puzzles to browse afterwards.

Opening times: Open from 10.30am-4.30pm.

Prices: Adults £3, children (4-12 years) £2.50, seniors £2.50, under 4’s free.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are welcome on a lead.

Accessibility: Please enquire.

Facilities: Amenities in surrounding Bourton-on-the-Water (parking, cafes etc). Toilets next door.

For the satnav: GL54 2EE.

Stay nearby: Pear Tree Cottage, sleeps 5 + 1 dog

8. Birdland Park and Gardens

Birdland Park and Gardens

For a fantastic day of family fun, visit one of the UK’s biggest bird gardens, discovering the natural 9-acre setting of rivers, water gardens and woodland. Birdland is inhabited by over 500 exotic and rare birds including pelicans, flamingos, penguins, parrots and owls. Come here for a relaxing and informative Cotswolds day out. At Penguin Shore you can meet the entertaining King Penguins and the comical Humboldt’s, kids can don their special dinosaur tracker kits and follow the incredible Jurassic Journey, and there are plenty of opportunities for making lots of new feathered friends with feeding displays, close encounter sessions and even the chance to become a keeper for the day. Also set in the heart of Bourton-on-the-Water, you can come and go as you wish to this fun-packed park throughout the day to enjoy the surrounding village.

Opening times: Easter-October: open from 10am-5pm, November-March: open from 10am-4pm.

Prices: Adults £10.95, seniors/students £9.95, children (3-15 years) £7.95, under 3’s free.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are welcome throughout the attraction on a lead.

Accessibility: Fully wheelchair accessible.

Facilities: Toilets, baby changing, play area, picnic areas, cafe and gift shop. Pay and display parking located nearby.

For the satnav: GL54 2BN.

Stay nearby: Windrush House, sleeps 5

9. Far Peak Climbing

Far Peak Climbing

Practice your upper body strength in this test of agility and stamina. Far Peak Climbing in Northleach offers indoor climbing facilities as well as outdoor archery, tree climbing and adventure courses. It's the perfect rainy-day activity in the Cotswolds and a great way for the kids to let off some steam. This beautiful site spans 25 acres and is also connected to some of the Cotswolds' finest walking trails. If you’ve got a head for heights, why not take on Gloucestershire’s largest artificial outdoor climbing tower at over a whopping 14 meters tall?

Opening times: Opening times vary daily - check website for full details. Open longer during the school holidays.

Prices: From: Adult day-pass £9.50, under 18s day-pass £6, concessions day-pass £7.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted at the attraction.

Facilities: Cafe, toilets and parking.

For the satnav: GL54 3AP.

Stay nearby: Exchange Cottage, sleeps 4 + 1 dog

10. Cotswold Water Park

Cotswold Water Park

Set within the beautiful rural countryside of Wiltshire and stretching over 150 lakes, the Cotswold Water Park is awash with photographic opportunities, as well as birdwatching, walking trails and plenty of water sports. Spanning over 40 miles, this popular attraction in the Cotswolds offers plenty to do for all ages! Among the activities available are walking, cycling, sailing and kayaking, while the area is also packed with stunning nature reserves where you can soak up the scenery. There’s even an inland beach if you fancy a day on the sand, with a separate paddling area just for dogs.

Opening times: Always open.

Prices: Free to enter, prices for activities vary.

Dog friendly?: Dogs are welcome at the attraction.

Accessibility: Varies throughout the park - see website for full details.

Facilities: Parking at various sites. Gateway Information Centre has a cafe, tourist information, toilets, a shop and parking.

For the satnav: GL7 5TL (visitor centre).

Stay nearby: Cooper's Lodge, sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Holidays in the Cotswolds

These are just a selection of some of the fantastic attractions on offer in the Cotswolds, ready to add to your Cotswolds holiday itinerary. Take a look at our holiday cottages in the Cotswolds to make the most of your getaway!

Cotswolds cottages

Posted by Hannah on 17th June 2018