Situated in the southwest of England, the beauty of the Cotswolds has long been known and has helped to make the area one of the most desirable cycling holiday locations in the country. As the current economic crisis continues to erode the value of the pound abroad, more and more Brits are looking for great holiday alternatives at home. One of the main benefits of holidaying in the gorgeous Cotswolds is that the area is easily accessible without having to go through the trauma of international air travel.
Renowned for its lush, rolling hillsides, green meadows and small, relaxed villages, the area conjures up an image of a land where time stands still. This feature of the Cotswolds is indeed one of the main advantages of taking a break here as you immediately feel far removed from the worries of modern life. But for those that enjoy the conveniences of the city every once in a while, the Cotswolds also has something for you.
Why not visit the beautiful and historic city of Bath? Named for the therapeutic hot springs found there in the eighteenth century, the city is a great place to spend a weekend with everything from culture and history to shopping and restaurants. There has been a resurgence in the popularity of complementary therapies in recent years any many opportunities have arisen to sample the historic spa facilities. Bath and Cheltenham are particularly good places to explore the healing power of these springs and several modern hotels now offer fantastic spa packages. Whether you choose to focus your time in the urban or rural areas of the region, there really is something for everyone in the Cotswolds.
Things to do in the Cotswolds
If you are interested in getting away from it all and enjoying the great outdoors then the Cotswolds is the ideal choice for you. There are a number of rides catering to a wide range of abilities and encompassing a variety of scenery along the way. Many of the best routes are based around the villages and market towns of the region so pick up a leaflet in the hotels and tourist centres or check out our cycling route section.
If you are interested in the history of the region then a great idea is taking a walking tour of some of the towns and villages, either with a local guide or following a guidebook. Either of these options will allow you to look out for points of historical interest and really take the time to make a connection with the local area.
Undoubtedly one of the main attractions of the Cotswolds is the wealth of stunning gardens open to the public. From the large gardens of the country estates to the more intimate, rambling cottage gardens, there are so many delightful places to spend a leisurely morning. It is advisable to contact the National Trust for full details of all the gardens they operate near you. Two of the most well-known manor gardens in the area include Hidcote Manor Garden, near Chipping Campden and Snowshill Manor near Broadway.
Well worth a visit at any time of the year, Westonbirt Arboretum offers six-hundred-acres of trees interspersed with meandering pathways allowing you to stroll through this beautiful setting at your own pace. There are a number of events here throughout the year and this is a must see if you find yourself in the area in autumn when the leaves burst into a million different colours.
There are also a number of fantastic indoor activities so if the weather turns bad, don’t be put off visiting the Cotswolds. As well as the spas, there are also a fascinating range of cultural activities to explore. Fans of classical music might be interested in the birthplace of Gustav Holst, best known for his Planets Suite. Located in the town of Cheltenham, the Holst Birthplace Museum exhibits his piano as well as showcasing how the house looked in the composer’s day. Blenheim Palace in Woodstock is another not-to-be-missed family day out. Full of impressive paintings and tapestries and steeped in history, the palace and visitor centre is a fascinating way to spend a rainy day.
Cotswold Accommodation Options
Due to the Cotswolds reputation as a wonderful holiday spot a wide range of accommodation options have developed over the years so there should be something for budget. The many boutique hotels catering to the spa tourism industry offer an intimate stay in luxurious surroundings. Or for a more budget-friendly option, why not try one of the many independent Bed and Breakfasts available in almost every town and village. Many of these can even be booked in advance online.
For longer stays and for those travelling with children, a good option to consider is renting a self-catering cottage. There are plenty of these around, usually a little out of the main cities so a car would be useful. The benefit of this option is the flexibility, allowing you to prepare your own meals as and when it suits you.