Bucketlist Travels logo

Bucket list ideas:

21 Best things to see & do in The Cotswolds

  • The Cotswolds, United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe
  • Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)

The palace from above with a lake on the side

Bucket List Experience

Blenheim Palace

Birthplace of Winston Churchill, UNESCO World Heritage Site, 2,000 acres of Capability Brown-designed gardens, a gargantuan palace dating back to the early 18th-century – Blenheim is almost bewilderingly rich in heritage.

This Baroque beauty was built as a gift to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from Queen Anne and a grateful nation in thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. Passed on down through the generations, it’s now home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family.

The Palace holds spectacular collections of art, furniture and porcelain, housed in ornate, grand state rooms. Alongside, there’s a new, interactive exhibition dedicated to Winston Churchill – and you can also see the tiny room where he was born.

There are several themed tours on offer – of the Marlborough’s private apartments, of the ‘downstairs’ where the servants worked (ala Downtown Abbey), buggy tours of the formal gardens, and of the stables – offering a deeper insight into life here in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Adult price: £32

Good for age: 13+

  • Tetbury, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior of the front of the house covered in shrubbery

Bucket List Experience

Highgrove Gardens

It doesn’t get much more bucket list than strolling through the private gardens of an English king. Highgrove House is the private home of King Charles III, and every spring and summer, the gardens open to the public for guided tours.

Designed and developed over forty years, the organic gardens spread over six different areas, from a colour-filled arboretum – home to acers, magnolia and cherry trees – to the Victorian ‘stumpery’, where tree ferns rise up beside natural wood sculptures, and a wildflower meadow.

Tours are led by the King’s garden guides, who have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Highgrove and all its treasures.

Adult price: £29.50

Good for age: 18+

  • The Cotswolds, United Kingdom (UK)

If you’re looking to visit a classic, picture-perfect English village, there’s nowhere better than the Cotswolds. The lush hills are dotted with small towns and villages, famous for their immaculately-kept medieval high streets, lined with half-timbered houses and cottages built with traditional, honey-coloured Cotswold stone.

Many of the villages date back as far as the 12th century, when the region was famous throughout Europe for its wool and cotton production. The area flourished, and over the following centuries many merchants built elegant houses, some of which still exist today.

Many of the villages have small museums, but really the best way to enjoy them is to simply potter, dipping into historic pubs and chintzy tea-rooms along the way.

Good for age: 18+

  • Castle Combe, Wiltshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A row of quintessentially medieval houses with an old bridge in the foreground.

Bucket List Experience

Medieval village of Castle Combe

Ask an American to describe a traditional English village and they’d probably describe Castle Combe. Ridiculously pretty, this perfectly preserved slice of medieval life had a starring role in War Horse, and the cluster of stone cottages, edging a winding High Street, almost have the feel of a film set.

The Market Cross, at the village centre, dates back to the 14th century and the White Hart pub has been open for more than 500 years.

If you only visit one village in the Cotswolds – make it this one.

Good for age: 18+

  • United Kingdom (UK)

Small garden maze garden outside

Bucket List Experience

Cotswolds’ best gardens

The rolling hills and picturesque villages of the Cotswolds are dotted with historic manor houses, castles and estates – and these, in turn, come with some of the most glorious gardens in the country.

Landscapes designed by Capability Brown and William Kent sit alongside contemporary, recently-restored gardens; vast National Trust-owned estates roll out around small, privately-owned gardens that have been a lifetimes work. The affluence of the Cotswolds means that most of the gardens are pristinely kept, and most offer interesting guided tours explaining the garden’s history and current gardening techniques.

Some are dedicated to aesthetics, some to specific species, but there’s also a significant number advocating and showcasing leading thinking on home-grown produce.

Good for age: 18+

  • Tetbury, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

A curved, modern bridge over a lake with many trees in the background.

Bucket List Experience

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt was originally the private estate of Victorian entrepreneur Richard Holford, a passionate collector and plant hunter at a time when trees and shrubs from across the world were being introduced to Britain.

Today, his collection has grown into the National Arboretum, with 15,000 different species of trees fanning out from seventeen miles of paths, including the National collection of Acers, which flame raspberry, auburn and saffron in the autumn months.

The highlight is the 300m-long Treetop Walkway, which rises gently to a height of 13 metres, giving amazing views over the tree canopy. Younger kids will love the ‘play trail’ and there are several different walking route according to how much time you have to explore.

Adult price: £11

Good for age: 13+

  • The Cotswolds, United Kingdom (UK)

This relatively new trail, developed by local cyclists, follows the route of the Cotswolds Line railway – meaning you can cycle as far as you like, and then conveniently hop on the train back.

The route cobbles together quiet, back-country lanes with off-road stretches, taking you through 75 traffic-light, scenic miles of idyllic countryside, with stops in pretty Cotswold villages including Moreton-in-the-Marsh and Kingham.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: Up to 2 days

Rousham House & Gardens

  • Bicester, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior view of Rousham House, built in golden stone

Experience

Owned by the same family since 1635, Rousham is a gloriously untouched garden, free of commercialisation, still very much as originally designed by famous 18th-century gardener William Kent.

Adult price: £8

Min age 15

Good for age: 18+

Daylesford Organic

  • Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

Entrance to the Daylesford Organic food emporium. A bright, spacious interior with vegetables and plants stacked to be sold.

Experience

One of the most sustainable, organic farms in the UK, Daylesford has an award-winning farm shop, café, wellness spa and cookery school – the ultimate hub for foodies.

Good for age: 18+

Hidcote Manor Garden

  • Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

A beautiful garden overgrown with shrubs in front of Hidcote Manor House

Experience

This National Trust property is one of the best known and most influential Arts & Crafts gardens in Britain, with its linked ‘rooms’ of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous border.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 18+