12 Top Attractions and Activities in Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water, often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, is brimming with an array of attractions that offer something for everyone.

From wildlife experiences at the Cotswold Falconry Centre to stepping back in time at historic sites like Chastleton House, there’s no shortage of things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water

For those of you planning a visit to this beautiful Cotswolds village, here are 12 essential things to do Bourton-on-the-Water.

1. Model Village

Step into a miniature world with the Model Village, located right in the heart of the beautiful village of Bourton-on-the-Water.

This charming attraction is a one-ninth scale replica of Bourton-on-the-Water as it was in the 1930s.

Created with an exquisite attention to detail, the Model Village replicates the gorgeous honey-coloured Cotswold limestone buildings, quaint streets, and beautifully manicured gardens that the area is famed for.

Marvel at the miniature River Windrush as it meanders through the heart of this pint-sized village, crossing delicate footbridges that mirror their real-world counterparts.

Visitors can wander around the tiny streets, peering into shop windows and discovering the delightful intricacies of village life recreated in this model form.

The parish church of St Lawrence, standing tall in the model village as it does in the real village, chimes every quarter of an hour, adding an extra layer of charm to the experience.

One of the most famous Bourton-on-the-Water attractions that’s an absolute must-visit.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Address – Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham, GL54 2AF

2. Birdland Park & Gardens

Second on our list of things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water is Birdland Park & Gardens.

Home to over 500 birds from around the globe, this attraction offers a delightful exploration of nature for families and bird enthusiasts alike.

The park features diverse habitats, from tropical houses brimming with exotic birds and the Penguin Shore, where you can watch the daily feeding of the park’s resident penguins, to the Flamingo Point and the parrot collection.

For those with a taste for the prehistoric, Birdland also hosts a Jurassic Journey, a trail where visitors can step back in time and encounter life-sized models of dinosaurs.

With interactive feeding displays, an indoor discovery zone, and a well-stocked cafe for a leisurely lunch, Birdland Park & Gardens offers a vibrant, educational day out in the heart of the beautiful Cotswolds.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10am- 4pm

Address – Rissington Rd, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham, GL54 2AY

3. The Cotswold Motoring Museum

The Cotswold Motoring Museum is a treasure trove for motor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Within the museum’s walls, you’ll find seven unique galleries, each dedicated to a different aspect or period of motoring history.

From early 20th-century vintage cars and eccentric classic caravans to post-war British motorbikes, the museum holds an impressive collection of over 40 vehicles.

A rare collection of enamel signs from the past, oil cans, and a range of automobile accessories offer insights into the bygone era of motoring.

The museum’s star attraction is Brum, the little supercar hero of the children’s TV series. Stationed at the museum when not filming, Brum is an exciting feature for young visitors.

Educational and engaging, the Cotswold Motoring Museum invites its guests to journey back in time.

Its nostalgic charm and rich history make it a must-visit for anyone looking for top Bourton-on-the-Water family activities.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Address – The Old Mill, Sherborne St, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham, GL54 2BY

4. The Dragonfly Maze

This traditional yew hedge maze offers a fun and engaging puzzle-solving challenge, perfect for families and those with a keen sense of adventure.

Unlike a traditional maze where the objective is to reach the centre, the Dragonfly Maze provides an intriguing twist.

The goal here is to solve 14 clues hidden along the winding paths, leading to the centre where you’ll discover the golden dragonfly.

Designed by maze and puzzle creator Randoll Coate, the Dragonfly Maze features over a mile of pathways interspersed with beautiful topiary and intriguing sculptures.

Each turn within the maze reveals something new, engaging the curiosity and problem-solving skills of visitors.

A charming amalgamation of a traditional English hedge maze, a quiz, and a treasure hunt, the Dragonfly Maze offers an engaging, brain-teasing outdoor experience for visitors of all ages in the heart of the beautiful Cotswolds.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10am -3:30pm

Address – Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham, GL54 2BN

5. Cotswold Farm Park

An oasis of rural charm set amidst the rolling Cotswold countryside, Cotswold Farm Park provides a unique, interactive agricultural experience for visitors of all ages.

Conceptualised by renowned farmer and TV personality Adam Henson, this pioneering farm is treasure trove of rare and interesting species.

These range from the endearing Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs to the rare Cotswold Sheep and regal Highland cattle.

As a guest, you’ll be offered an intimate glimpse into farm life through immersive activities such as feeding sessions and hands-on animal encounters.

Cotswold Farm Park also features a range of family-friendly attractions beyond its barn doors.

Embark on an insightful wildlife walk, delight in the thrilling tractor rides, or let the children loose on the exhilarating adventure playground.

For the hungry explorer, the park’s café serves a selection of delicious meals crafted from locally sourced ingredients, while the farm shop offers an array of quality local products and mementos.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 9:30am – 5pm

Address – Guiting Power, Cheltenham, GL54 5FL

6. The Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre

Situated in the peaceful surroundings of the Cotswold Hills near Bourton-on-the-Water, Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre is home to one of the most impressive collections of trees and shrubs in the UK.

Its 56 acres of landscaped parkland come alive with a riot of colours throughout the year, making every visit a unique experience.

From the blossom-laden spring to the fiery autumn hues, the arboretum’s spectacular colour displays are a sight to behold.

A plethora of ornamental and unusual trees, from towering redwoods to delicate acers, contribute to this visual symphony, creating a captivating atmosphere for leisurely strolls.

The arboretum is complemented by the Garden Centre, offering an extensive range of plants, garden essentials, gifts, and homeware.

It also features a café where visitors can savour local treats while soaking in the stunning views of the arboretum.

Opening Times – Monday to Saturday: 9:30 – 5pm, Sunday: 10 am to 5pm

Address – Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9AT

7. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Nestled in the enchanting Cotswold countryside, a short distance from Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens pairs captivating wildlife encounters with a magnificent garden environment.

Harbouring a diverse range of species, from reptiles to rhinos, the park delivers a wonderland for animal enthusiasts, integrating education with entertainment.

The animal exhibits are delicately woven into meticulously landscaped gardens. The visual feast of vibrant flower arrangements and sweeping lawns provide a perfect canvas for the unfolding animal adventure.

The park also hosts various engaging activities such as a petting farm for kids and a narrow-gauge railway ride, enhancing its appeal as a fun-filled family attraction.

By uniting the excitement of wildlife discovery with the tranquility of a garden walk, a trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens promises a memorable expedition into the richness and variety of the natural world.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10am – 4pm

Address – Bradwell Grove, Burford, OX18 4JP

8. Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Sudeley Castle & Gardens provides an intriguing window into England’s rich history and is one of the most important historical sites near Bourton-on-the-Water

Imbued with a legacy that spans more than a millennium, Sudeley Castle was formerly the abode of Queen Katherine Parr, the final spouse of King Henry VIII.

The castle today showcases a wide array of historical artefacts from the days of the Romans to the contemporary era, featuring regal portraiture, antique furnishings, and personal effects.

Set against this historic backdrop are the beautifully maintained gardens that span 15 acres, boasting a variety of plant species, beautiful water features, and striking landscapes.

The centrepiece is the Queen’s Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey, and Elizabeth I – once walked upon its original Tudor Parterre.

Visitors can also explore the castle’s medieval ruins, take a peaceful stroll in the secret garden, or enjoy a traditional English tea in the Castle Pantry.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10am to 4pm

Address – Winchcombe, Cheltenham, GL54 5JD

9. Greystones Farm Nature Reserve

Nestled in the serene landscapes of the Cotswolds, a short journey from Bourton-on-the-Water, Greystones Farm Nature Reserve stands as a haven for regional wildlife and a beacon of eco-friendly farming methods.

The reserve is known for its extraordinary range of plant and animal species and is home to Iron Age ramparts and a replica Iron Age roundhouse.

The recreated roundhouse vividly showcases this fascinating history as does the reserve’s Discovery Barn which displays local archaeological finds and allows visitors to don traditional Iron Age garb.

Within its natural boundaries lies the scheduled monument, Salmonsbury Camp – a major historic site considered to be an excellent example of an Iron Age fortified enclosure.

The farm’s visitor centre enlightens guests on this historical journey, shedding light on the transformation of local farming practices.

In addition to its natural wonders and historical context, Greystones Farm offers visitors a network of picturesque trails meandering through its green expanses and woodland areas, offering a serene immersion into the natural world.

Opening Times – May Vary

Address – Greystones Lane, Bourton-on-the-Water, GL54 2EN

10. Cotswold Falconry Centre

Located near Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswold Falconry Centre is an wonderful destination for bird and nature lovers alike.

It’s home to a wonderful array of bird species including falcons, eagles, hawks and owls.

Demonstrations are run each day that showcase these spectacular creatures in flight.

In addition to its captivating bird shows, the centre is deeply committed to conservation, actively participating in breeding programs for endangered species.

Visitors can learn about these efforts and the unique traits of different bird species during their visit.

Whether you’re an avid birder or a curious explorer, the Cotswold Falconry Centre offers an unforgettable experience of nature’s airborne predators.

Opening Times – Monday to Sunday: 10:30am to 3pm

Address – Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AT

11. Chastleton House

About 10 miles from Bourton-on-the-Water, Chastleton House is a striking Jacobean country house that provides a unique journey through time.

This preserved historical house, managed by the National Trust, offers a peek into four centuries of English history, untouched by modern alterations.

Each room in Chastleton House tells its own story, with original furniture, textiles, and personal belongings providing insight into the lives of its former residents.

The property is equally renowned for its impressive gardens, featuring a topiary garden, a dovecote, and a croquet lawn, which are maintained in a manner that reflects the house’s historic nature.

A visit to Chastleton House is akin to stepping back in time, making it an essential stop for those seeking to unravel the rich tapestry of England’s past.

Opening Times – Wednesday to Friday: 1am to 5pm (Closed Monday and Tuesday)

Address – Chastleton, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0SU

12. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

Situated a short drive from Bourton-on-the-Water, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is a heritage railway line that takes visitors on a ride through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK.

 The 14-mile line runs between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse, passing through charming villages, idyllic countryside, and offering stunning views of the Malvern Hills.

The train stations along the route, authentically restored to their former glory, add to the historic ambiance of the experience.

Special events, including themed days and dining experiences, are held throughout the year, enhancing the appeal of this captivating attraction.

For those keen on history, trains, or simply the charm of the Cotswolds, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway promises a memorable journey back in time.

Opening Times – 9:30am to 5pm (Closed Monday and Friday)

Address – Churchward House, Winchcombe, GL54 5LD

Learn more about popular things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water via its official visitor information website: https://www.bourtoninfo.com

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Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.