Seventeen Things to do in the Cotswolds this Winter
The colder months are a beautiful time to visit the Cotswolds, known for its picturesque villages, rolling hills, and stunning countryside. The leaves on the trees turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking landscape, and then, if we’re lucky, we get to enjoy the look of snow-capped villages on our way to the cosy pubs, and festive markets in wintertime.
1. Broadway Tower
Broadway Tower is a folly perched on the highest point of the Cotswolds, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It is a popular tourist destination year-round, and winter is a particularly special time to visit.
On a clear winter day, the views from the tower’s top are breathtaking. The snow-capped hills and valleys stretch out in all directions, and the crisp air makes it easy to see for miles.
After a bracing walk up to the tower, visitors can warm up inside the Tower Museum, which tells the story of the tower’s history and the people who have lived and worked there over the centuries. There is also a cafe and gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and refreshments.
If the weather permits, visitors can also take a walk through the surrounding parkland. There are a number of different walking trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging. Be sure to dress warmly and bring sturdy footwear, as the ground can be slippery in the winter.
After a day of exploring, visitors can relax and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the two restaurants on-site. The Morris & Brown Cafe offers a variety of casual dining options, while the Tower Barn Espresso Bar offers a more upscale dining experience with stunning views of the countryside.
Winter is a wonderful time to visit Broadway Tower. With its stunning scenery, festive atmosphere, and cosy accommodations, it is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy a truly relaxing and memorable getaway.
Additional tips for visiting Broadway Tower in winter:
- Check the weather forecast before you go, and dress appropriately. The weather can be unpredictable in the Cotswolds, so it is best to be prepared for all types of weather conditions and it gets cold up there when the temperatures drop.
- Wear sturdy footwear, as the ground can be slippery in the winter.
- Be aware that the opening hours of the tower and cafe may change during the winter months. It is always best to check the website or call ahead before you visit.
2. Winter beauty at Batsford
Home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs, Batsford Arboretum is an intimate and romantic place to visit for couples and a super fun place to visit for families and larger groups. Beautiful all year round, of course, but in autumn and winter when the leaves are red, orange, and yellow, it really is something very special.
Renowned for its extensive collection of over 5,000 trees and shrubs, this enchanting haven offers a unique and captivating experience for visitors of all ages.
The arboretum’s extensive collection of over 5,000 trees and shrubs takes centre stage during autumn and winter, each adorned with its unique palette of colours. The towering oaks stand proudly, their leaves ablaze with shades of crimson and burgundy, while the delicate Japanese maples shimmer with hues of gold and amber. The air is infused with the earthy aroma of fallen leaves, creating an atmosphere of tranquillity and introspection.
As winter descends upon the landscape, Batsford Arboretum unveils a different kind of beauty, one that is both serene and captivating. If we’re lucky enough to get snow in the Cotswolds, the arboretum transforms into a winter wonderland, adorned with a dusting of pristine white snow. The bare branches of the trees, etched against the stark winter sky, create intricate patterns that resemble delicate lacework. The frozen ponds and streams reflect the soft glow of the winter sun, adding a touch of magic to the scene.
Visitors to Batsford Arboretum in winter will find a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the festive season. The muffled sounds of the outside world fade away as you immerse yourself in the serenity of nature’s winter wonderland.
Whether you seek the vibrant colours of autumn or the serene beauty of winter, Batsford Arboretum offers an unforgettable experience that will linger in your heart long after your visit. As you explore the arboretum’s enchanting grounds, you’ll be captivated by the ever-changing beauty of nature, finding solace and inspiration in its embrace.
3. Shop for Fabulous Antiques
There’s an antique shop in almost every little town and large village in the Cotswolds, so if you’re hunting for antiques, take your pick.
One of the best places to start your search for antiques in the Cotswolds is Tetbury, which is widely known as the “Antique Capital of the Cotswolds,” and is home to several high-end antique shops, as well as smaller, more independent shops.
Another good place to shop for antiques in the Cotswolds is the town of Stow-on-the-Wold. Stow-on-the-Wold is home to multiple antique shops and a weekly antique market.
And for the North of the Cotswolds, a real must-visit is Hudson’s Home & Antiques, packed full of antiques and home décor and with over 40 individual antique concessions, you will uncover hidden gems and one-of-a-kind pieces that will add a touch of character and charm to your home. In addition to antiques, Hudson’s also offers a delightful selection of contemporary gifts and home accessories, and a lovely café for a delicious lunch or slice of cake.
4. Time for a pint of Hooky
Have a pint of beer after taking a tour of the Hook Norton Brewery – over 150 years of brewing history. This family owned business still distributes beer to neighbouring pubs in the village by traditional horse-drawn carriage. Tours run Monday-Friday but reservations are highly recommended.
5. When in Rome
Do as the Romans do… Chedworth Roman Villa transport visitors back to one of the grandest Roman villas in Britain. Rediscovered over 150 yeas ago, this now museum holds rare artifacts and findings that will leave you in awe. From mosaic floors to bathhouse rooms, exploring the villa and its beautiful vista views will take you to a different era.
6. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a magnificent Baroque palace in the heart of the Cotswolds. Built as a gift to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, by Queen Anne in the early 18th century, the palace has since become home to a treasure trove of art, antiques, and history.
Open daily from 10am to 5pm, Blenheim Palace is a must-see for any visitor to the Cotswolds. Visitors can purchase tickets in advance or purchase an annual pass.
Once inside, visitors can explore the palace’s opulent State Rooms, adorned with stunning murals, tapestries, and furniture. They can also learn about the life of Sir Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim Palace, at the dedicated Churchill Exhibition.
In addition to the palace itself, Blenheim Palace also boasts 2,000 acres of parkland, gardens, and lakes. Visitors can take a walk through the picturesque Great Lake Gardens, explore the Queen Pool, or simply relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.
After a busy day of exploration, visitors can indulge in a delicious afternoon tea or lunch at The Orangery restaurant. The restaurant offers a variety of mouthwatering dishes, from seafood to cakes, all made with fresh, local produce.
Blenheim Palace at Christmas
Blenheim Palace is transformed during the Christmas season. The palace and grounds are illuminated with festive lights, and there is a wealth of family activities to enjoy, including the after-dark illuminated trail, the Christmas Market, and the Kingdom of the Snow Queen.
The Kingdom of the Snow Queen is a particularly popular attraction, featuring a frosty forest, hidden surprises, and a chance to meet the Snow Queen herself. Blenheim Palace at Christmas is a truly magical experience that will not be forgotten.
Blenheim Palace is a must-see destination for any visitor to the Cotswolds. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful grounds, Blenheim Palace has something to offer everyone.
7. See the Cotswolds from the air
A unique experience among the clouds in the sky, Cotswold Balloon Safaris take guests up in a hot air balloon and tours the below towns and villages of the Cotswolds, leaving guests awe-inspired.
8. Winter Chin Chin
Cotswolds Distillery: A Gin and Whisky Lover’s Paradise
The Cotswolds Distillery is a boutique distillery located in the heart of the Cotswolds, England. Founded in 2014 by New York native Dan, the distillery specializes in gin and whisky, using locally sourced ingredients and traditional distillation methods.
Visitors to the Cotswolds Distillery can embark on a Tour & Tasting experience, where they will learn about the distillery’s production methods and sample a wide range of spirits and tipples. Visitors can also enjoy a special lunch at the distillery for an extra fee.
For those who want to get even more hands-on, the distillery offers a variety of masterclasses, including gin blending, whisky blending, and cocktail making. Visitors can also purchase bottles of their favourite spirits and liqueurs from the on-site or online shop.
Still House Café
In addition to its tour and tasting experiences, the Cotswolds Distillery also features the Still House Café, which serves up delicious brunch, Italian flatbread sandwiches, toasties, salads, and sharer boards.
The Cotswolds Distillery is a must-visit destination for any gin and whisky lover. With its stunning location, informative tours, and delicious food, the distillery offers something for everyone.
9. Do Feed the Birds
From birdwatchers to families, there is plenty to discover all year round at the truly wonderful Slimbridge Wetland Centre just south of Gloucester in the Cotswolds. Enjoy amazing wildlife up-close and with experiences to suit all ages offering access to a huge variety of wildlife, it is no surprise this is a fantastic day out – in winter and any time of year.
Slimbridge Wetland Centre is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This award-winning conservation and education facility, established in 1946 by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
A Sanctuary for Wildlife
Slimbridge Wetland Centre is a sprawling expanse of wetlands, meadows, and lagoons, providing a vital habitat for a diverse array of wildlife. From graceful swans and majestic geese to elusive waders and vibrant kingfishers, the reserve is home to over 300 species of birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.
But Slimbridge’s allure extends beyond its avian inhabitants. The centre also provides a haven for a variety of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, including otters, water voles, and common lizards. Visitors can spot these creatures along the network of trails that wind through the reserve, offering a glimpse into the intricate web of life that thrives within this wetland haven.
10. Cool Old Stones
An ancient relic, The Rollright Stones consist of three major elements: The King’s Men stone circle, the Whispering Knights, and the King Stone. Take a step into the mystery and the wonder that is The Rollright Stones.
11. Teeny, Tiny Cotswolds
When visiting the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, go to The Model Village where you experience the whole village in just one ninth of its actual size. The Model Village is comprised of buildings, gardens, miniature trees, and even a smaller version of the River Windrush.
12. The Secret Garden
The award-winning Cowley Manor near Cheltenham is one of the most exciting hotels to visit in the Cotswolds any time of the year. The magnificent grounds house a beautiful secret garden, one where Lewis Carroll supposedly were inspired to write Alice in Wonderland, so, it’s one not to miss.
13. Choo Choo on the Santa Express
All aboard the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, a 25-mile roundtrip journey through the beautiful scenery of the Cotswolds.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is a heritage railway that runs through the heart of the Cotswolds. The GWSR hosts a special Santa Express event every year, where families can take a steam train ride to visit Santa Claus and his elves.
The Santa Express train departs from Cheltenham Racecourse Station and travels to the North Pole (or Winchcombe Station). On the train ride, children are entertained by singing penguins and other festive characters. Once they arrive at the North Pole, children can meet Santa Claus and receive a present.
In addition to meeting Santa, children can enjoy various other activities at the North Pole, such as face painting, balloon modelling, and crafts. There is also a cafe where families can purchase refreshments. The Santa Express is a popular event, so it is important to book tickets in advance. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone.
14. A Very Special Garden
Painswick Rococo Garden is a beautiful 18th-century garden in the heart of the Cotswolds, England. While the garden is stunning year-round, it takes on a special magic in winter. The delicate stonework and sculptures are transformed into a winter wonderland when the frost descends on the garden. The snow-capped trees and shrubs create a picturesque scene, and the low winter sun casts a golden glow over the garden.
One of the best things to do in winter in Painswick Rococo Garden is to walk through the Snowdrop Grove. This enchanting area of the garden is home to over five million snowdrops, which bloom in late January and early February. The snowdrops create a carpet of white that is truly breathtaking.
In addition to the snowdrops, there are several other winter-blooming plants to enjoy in the garden, such as hellebores, aconites, and winter iris. Visitors can also explore the garden’s hidden corners, such as the Grotto, the Shell House, and the Whispering Seat.
After exploring the garden, visitors can warm up with a cup of tea or coffee in the Garden Café. The café also offers a selection of light lunches and snacks.
15. A Cosy Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea in the Cotswolds is a truly special experience. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon in one of the region’s charming tearooms or beautiful hotels, sampling delicious finger sandwiches, scones, and cakes while sipping a refreshing cup of tea.
Afternoon tea is a great way to experience the Cotswolds’ relaxed and elegant lifestyle. It’s also a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family or simply enjoy a quiet afternoon on your own.
16. Motoring Fun in the Cotswolds
The Cotswold Motoring Museum is a must-visit destination for any car lover, not least in winter when the large museum offers cover from the elements outside.
Located in the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water, the museum gives visitors the chance to discover the motoring history of the 20th century, with everything from classic cars and caravans to motorbikes and motoring curiosities.
The museum houses a collection of over 100 vehicles, including some of the most iconic cars ever made, such as the Austin 7, the Morris Minor, and the Jaguar E-Type. Visitors can also see a variety of vintage motorbikes and caravans, as well as several unique and rare vehicles, such as the world’s smallest car and the only surviving example of the Reliant Rebel.
In addition to its vehicle collection, the Cotswold Motoring Museum also features interactive exhibits, such as a driving simulator and a virtual reality experience. Visitors can also learn about the history of motoring through the museum’s informative displays and educational programs.
The Cotswold Motoring Museum is the perfect way to spend a rainy day in Bourton-on-the-Water. With its fascinating collection of vehicles, interactive exhibits, and educational programs, the museum is sure to appeal to visitors of all ages.
17. A Foraging Adventure in the Cotswolds
The Cotswold Forager is a company that offers foraging experiences and workshops in the Cotswolds region of England. Founded by Rob Gould, a passionate forager with over 20 years of experience, The Cotswold Forager allows visitors to learn about the edible plants and fungi of the Cotswolds and to experience the joy of foraging for their food.
The Cotswold Forager offers a variety of foraging experiences, including guided walks, workshops, and private foraging sessions. Guided walks are a great way to learn about the Cotswolds’ different edible plants and fungi and see where they grow. Workshops allow participants to learn about the basics of foraging and to practice identifying and harvesting edible plants and fungi. Private foraging sessions are ideal for groups or individuals who want a more personalized experience.
In addition to its foraging experiences, The Cotswold Forager also offers various other services, such as wild food catering and foraging gift vouchers. Wild food catering is perfect for weddings, parties, and corporate gatherings. Foraging gift vouchers are a great way to give the gift of a unique and unforgettable experience to your friends and family.
The Cotswold Forager is a great way to learn about the natural world and experience the Cotswolds’ unique flavours. Whether you are a seasoned forager or a beginner, The Cotswold Forager has something to offer everyone.
And finally, a few more ideas for things to do during a visit to the Cotswolds in autumn and winter:
- Take a walk through the countryside. One of the best ways to enjoy the autumn foliage is to walk through the Cotswold countryside. There are many trails to choose from, from easy walks to more challenging hikes.
- Visit a picturesque village. The Cotswolds is home to many charming villages, which are even more beautiful in autumn. Some of the most popular villages to visit include Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Castle Combe.
- Explore a historic house or garden. The Cotswolds is home to many historic houses and gardens, many offering special autumn events and activities. Some popular houses and gardens to visit include Blenheim Palace, Highgrove House, and Hidcote Manor Gardens.
- Visit a local market. Many local markets are held throughout the Cotswolds in autumn, where you can buy fresh produce, local crafts, and other goods.
- Sample the local food and drink. The Cotswolds is known for its delicious food and drink. Be sure to sample some local produce, such as cider, cheese, and honey.
The Cotswolds is a truly magical place to visit in autumn. With its stunning scenery, charming villages, and abundance of activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Do also check out these Ten Picture-Perfect Villages in the Cotswolds.
A few extra tips for planning your trip to the Cotswolds in Autumn and Winter:
- Dress for the weather. The weather in the Cotswolds in autumn can be unpredictable, so it’s important to dress in layers. Be sure to bring a raincoat and an umbrella, just in case.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so it’s important that you bring comfortable shoes.
- Take your time and enjoy the scenery. There’s no need to rush when visiting the Cotswolds in autumn. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.