The Cotswolds

When one thinks of England, rolling hills, limestone buildings and peaceful countryside come to mind. The Cotswolds are a collection of towns and villages that embrace all of these English stereotypes. There are a variety of things to do in these charming villages, including visiting historic churches and quirky museums. Some of the most interesting villages in the Cotswolds for tourists include Burford, Bibury, Bourton on the Water and Stow on the World. Even the names of villages in the Cotswolds make you think of relaxing in the countryside!

Burford is commonly referred to as the southernmost gateway to the Cotswolds, and is known for its wildlife park and historic church.  The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is located close to the village and features a variety of animals from worldwide. The park is the largest privately owned zoo in the UK,  and when you visit, it is an amazing experience to immerse yourself in both the plant and animal wildlife that has made the park their home. Another interesting sight in Burford is St John the Baptist church. Located right beside the river, the church is quintessentially English,  and has a graveyard placed next door. It is very intriguing to walk through the church while absorbing its age and history, and afterwards to stroll through the graveyard, which has some interesting historic headstones.  Another activity in Burford is to just roam around, and visit the many bars, pubs and shops that are found throughout the town.. There are a variety of interesting shops on the main street, including an abundance of tea stores,  and taking a walk through the town can be a great way to find a souvenir or discover a new restaurant.

Bibury is yet another incredibly picturesque town in the Cotswolds, and considered by some to be one of the most beautiful villages in the world. When visiting make sure to stroll along the riverside, visit the local trout farm, and revel in the beauty of Arlington Row. Bibury sits beside the river Coln, and you can easily walk beside the river and enjoy the quiet beauty of the countryside. On your walk you may observe some wildlife such as swans, so make sure to bring your camera! Another activity frequented by visitors to Bibury is visiting the trout farm. On your excursion, you can catch your own trout to cook, learn about the rearing of trout, or eat freshly cooked fish in the cafe on site. Visiting the trout farm is a great way to spend a morning, finishing it off with a wonderful meal at the cafe. The main reason people visit Bibury however is neither the river walk or fish farm, but rather the stunning Arlington Row. The cottages were originally built for wool storage in the 12th century, but in the 17th century were converted to housing. Especially famous for being featured on the inside of UK passports, the cottage are well known throughout the world for their breathtaking beauty. After a visit to Arlington Row you will be tempted to pack your bags and move to the English countryside. Overall Bibury is a great option for a day trip to the Cotswolds.

Bourton-on-the-Water is another popular village to visit in the Cotswolds; activities in the town include visiting the Motoring Museum, going through the Dragonfly Maze and sampling brews at the Cotswolds Brewing Company. The Cotswold Motoring Museum is frequently praised for being intriguing, even if you aren’t very interested in cars. The museum has a great collection of automobiles from the 20th century, and will make many people feel a sense of nostalgia for times that are gone. If you don’t find cars very interesting, the museum also has a great collection of vintage toys. Another activity in Bourton-on-the-Water is the Dragonfly Maze. It is a traditional hedge maze, but with a twist. You are also given clues that will lead you to the golden dragonfly in the middle of the maze. The maze usually takes about 30 minutes to complete, and is a great family activity. Even if you are visiting as an adult, it’s fun to let your mind work in order to solve the puzzle. A third activity when visiting Bourton-on-the-Water is to take a brewery tour at the Cotswolds Brewing Company. With generous sample sizes, and an informative tour, this brewery is a fun excursion for any adult visitors to the Cotswolds. Bourton on the Water has many activities, and is a great place to both family and adult travellers to visit.

Stow-on-the-Wold is the quintessential Cotswolds town with its limestone buildings, beautiful gardens and stunning manor houses. The town was planned by the Normans to be a market town, and that aspect still survives today; the town has a huge market square. Must sees here include  St. Edward’s Church, the numerous bookshops, and the art galleries. Stow-on-the-Wold is a quirky town and therefore has many unique activities. St Edwards Church is a beautiful, unusual church, with interesting stained glass windows and one of the  back doors framed by two trees – don’t miss this sight as it feels like something out of a fairytale. Commonly used for weddings in the area, this church is ideal for a traveller looking to see a church that’s different from the thousands scattered throughout England. A second activity is visiting one of the many bookshops littering the town, two of the most famous being the Borzoi Bookshop and Jaffe and Neale Bookshop; Stow-on-the-Wold is a paradise for booklovers. The Borzoi is known for its amazing customer service, while Jaffe and Neale is known for its delicious food and comfy atmosphere. Art galleries are also a prominent sight in the town, with the most popular being the Peter Martin Gallery. Featuring a stunning display of monochrome photos, sometimes you can meet the photographer himself! Overall Stow-on-the-Wold is an awesome visit if you’re looking for something a little bit different in the Cotswolds.

Enjoy your trip to this breathtaking area filled with rolling hills, wildlife and English stereotypes. Don’t be surprised when the beauty of the area takes your breath away as the Cotswolds were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the British government. Safe travels, and enjoy your trip!

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