Spend An Adventure Discovering The Two Lives Of The Cotswolds

4 August 2021

We could swoon over how picturesque and sleepy the Cotswolds are all day.

Honey-coloured cottages lining the streets, bridges stretching over gently flowing rivers, green fields rolling away into the distance – it’s all very wholesome and idyllic.

But the Cotswolds encompasses more than its traditions.

Every street is quintessential Englishness at its finest, but down those same streets are things to do and places to see that are leaping into the modern age with a mighty spring in their step.

So here we’ve built a little guide for you, places to visit that we think will make your day in the Cotswolds a memorable one.

We couldn’t completely leave out its old charm, because really it’s quite wonderful, but we’ve also shone a light on places with their own unique personality.

The Cotswolds is a big old area, its hills span over five English counties. So as you can imagine, there are quite a few places to explore.

This itinerary mainly covers the towns of Woodstock and Chipping Norton in the east and Cheltenham in the west.

But we couldn’t help but stop off at a few other fabulous destinations along the way.

There’s only one thing left to say… Let the adventure begin!

What to get up to in Woodstock

Everything you hoped you’d find in the Cotswolds can be conveniently discovered in the town of Woodstock.

Rivers? Check. Bridges? Check. Country houses? One of the finest in the whole country, so check and then some.

The magnificent Blenheim Palace

What would happen if you took Buckingham Palace and placed it in one of the most serene landscapes you could find? The answer? Blenheim Palace.

The place is simply remarkable. The architectural work is stunning, huge pillars stretch from the ground to the rooftops and at every corner, you’ll find an elegant ornament proudly watching the world go by.

Spend the morning strolling at a leisurely pace around the palace and its surrounding grounds, discovering famous trees and the astonishing history that flows through every corridor.

We couldn’t think of many better ways to start your adventure in this beautiful part of the country.

Back to the past? Or how about something more modern?

Whether you carry on exploring the past or fancy something slightly more contemporary, the decision is up to you.

The Oxfordshire Museum and Dantzig Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery are both just a short walk from the palace and you can be discovering our ancient past or wandering around a boutique art gallery in no time

The cheery town of Chipping Norton

Around 20-minutes northwest of Woodstock lies Chipping Norton. Like Woodstock, you’ll find the quintessential architecture of the Cotswolds down every street.

Where fairytales come to life

But only focusing on the town's traditional beauty would be missing half its charm. If you’re headed to the area with the whole family, we think everyone will adore a visit to the Fairytale Farm.

Wander through Snow White’s Castle and Garden before making your way to Fairytale Street where you’re bound to meet some of your favourite magical characters.

End the day by meeting the animals from the tales you love (plus a few other special guests) like Mary’s Little Lambs and The Four Billy Goats Gruff.

Chipping Norton Theatre

If you’re looking to really get to know Chipping Norton, look no further than The Theatre Chipping Norton.

Head out from the theatre on the Chippy Rebels audio walking tour and discover the hidden stories and local history of the area.

Or grab some snacks and stay inside. Theatre performances aren’t the only thing they specialise in and you’ll also find live music and comedy acts, an arthouse cinema, and even a gallery.

Be wined and dined at Daylesford Farm 

You’ll have entered the grounds of Daylesford Farm way before you even realise it.

The fields that surround much of the area in Moreton-in-Marsh are where the magic of the farm really happens.

They grow all their own produce through organic and sustainable means, meaning everything you eat and the armload of products you inevitably leave with are all helping the planet, not harming it.

Become your own MasterChef champion

It’s a simple pleasure to be wined and dined, and you won’t find many better places to receive this than Daylesford Farm.

But if you’re looking to become your own creative phenom in the kitchen, how about getting involved in one of their cooking classes?

You could learn the ancient tradition of fermenting and preserving foods, how to make artisan breads or even the art of afternoon tea.

You’ll be leaving Daylesford Farm feeling like a MasterChef champion, and a delightedly full one at that.

Festival hopping in Cheltenham

What Cheltenham you discover all depends on when you arrive.

Festivals come and go month after month, the streets lined with literary figures and authors one moment, the sounds of trumpets and smooth jazz the next.

As ‘The Festival Town’ of the UK, you can expect all your regular favourite events.

We definitely recommend keeping an eye out for the Food and Drink, Music, and Literature Festivals – but you’ll also find slightly more quirky ones well worth a visit, like the Balloon Fiesta and the Science Festival too.

A year-round delight

The best way to experience a festival is to immerse yourself in one. A years’ worth of excitement and planning falls into just a few days and the energy this creates in the whole town is contagious.

But sometimes we understand you want consistency - well, that’s where The Coconut Tree comes in handy.

You get all the excitement of a festival no matter what time of year you step through the doors of this gorgeous restaurant on St Paul’s Road.

You’re treated like family from the moment you enter, staff always have a smile on their face and inevitably you’ll soon find yourself returning one.

Then when the cocktails come out and the Sri Lankan street food begins to fill the table, that smile just grows and grows the further the night goes on.

A backseat adventure

Your time in the Cotswolds is bound to be filled with excitement no matter how you spend it.

But if you’re looking for something more comprehensive, be sure to check out In Bath and Beyond and book yourself on one of their experiences.

You won’t have to do any of the planning and can simply stroll along as you're guided through the area, discovering all the beauty on offer.

Your return is never far away

At some point, your trip to the Cotswolds must come to an end.

But end isn’t the right word, not really.

Because after you’ve spent a day roaming down idyllic streets, or been caught up in all the excitement of a festival atmosphere – the call of the Cotswolds never fades away completely.

And we think, honestly, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The weekend is never far off, a holiday awaits on the horizon, and the Cotswolds will always be waiting for your return.

So it's goodbye... But just for now.