Located in the Cotswolds, Bourton on the Water is one of the most beautiful villages in England. A day out in Bourton-on-the-Water is a must!
If you are looking for the most beautiful village in England, then Bourton-on-the-Water commonly known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” should be very high on your list!
This idyllic village is one of the most popular destinations for a scenic drive from London. Bourton on the Water is located on the River Windrush and provides many attractions for tourists and locals alike.
Read on for our complete guide about top attractions in Bourton-on-the-Water – this village really is one of the most magical places in England!
Bourton-on-the-Water England has to be on your UK bucket list as this is one of the best villages in Cotswolds.
Where is Bourton on the Water?
You can find Bourton on the Water in the heart of the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It lies just off an old Roman road, the Fosse Way. Bourton-on-the-Water is roughly halfway between Cheltenham and Oxford. The village sits on the River Windrush. It’s nestled amongst the hills close to Bibury, Burford and Stow on the Wold.
Bourton on the Water is in one of the most beautiful areas in the country, with easy access to a number of other picturesque towns and villages.
What is Bourton on the Water famous for?
Many people refer to Bourton on the Water as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. The village runs a good distance along the River Windrush, and there are buildings on both sides. As a result, there are a great many bridges to cross, which is where the name came from.
Like Venice, Bourton on the Water is also a popular destination for tourists. The locals all agree that it is one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds. There are also many enjoyable trails that start and end in Bourton on the Water, making it popular among walkers.
How to get to the village?
Bourton on the Water is well connected by both roads and public transportation, so it’s easy to get to.
By car, you’ll find it just off the A429. The signage for the village centre and car parks are clear and easy to spot, so it’s no hassle to find a place to leave your car. If you are travelling in a motorhome, you are best off avoiding the village High Street as it’s a little tight in places for large vehicles. However, there are dedicated parking areas for large vehicles and coaches to the south of the town.
If you’re coming from London, the best option is to travel by train. The journey takes 1½ – 2 hours to either Kingham or Moreton in Marsh. From either place, it’s about a 15-minute bus/taxi ride into the village.
The postcode for Bourton-on-the-Water is GL54 2AF.
Where to stay in Bourton on the Water?
There are plenty of accommodation options in Bourton on the Water. Whether you are looking for a self-catered cottage, a grand hotel, or a quaint bed and breakfast, you’ll find something to suit. The village is popular enough with tourists that there a many places to stay.
You’ll be able to find whatever you need nestling amongst the historic buildings of the village. The size of the village is such that no matter where you choose to stay, you’ll be within easy reach of pubs, restaurants, shops and things to do.
Most popular places to stay in Bourton-on-the-Water:
- The Lansdowne Guest House
- Chester House Hotel
- Old Manse Hotel by Greene King Inns
- The Dial House
- The Mousetrap Inn
- The Lamb Inn
- The Old New Inn
The best time to visit Bourton-on-the-Water
Bourton-on-the-Water is a popular tourist destination in the Cotswolds, and the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences and what you want to do during your visit. Here are some things to consider when deciding on the best time to visit Bourton-on-the-Water:
- Weather: The summer months (June-August) are the warmest and driest time of year, making it the most popular time to visit. However, the shoulder seasons of spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) can also be pleasant with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.
- Crowds: Bourton-on-the-Water is a popular tourist destination, and during the peak season (June-August), the village can be quite crowded. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons or in the winter months (December-February).
- Events and festivals: Bourton-on-the-Water hosts a number of events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Bourton-on-the-Water Football in the River, the Bourton-on-the-Water Christmas Fayre, and the Bourton-on-the-Water Food Festival. If you’re interested in attending any of these events, be sure to check the dates and plan your visit accordingly.
- Scenery: Bourton-on-the-Water is surrounded by stunning countryside, and the scenery can be particularly beautiful in the spring when the flowers are in bloom, or in the autumn when the leaves change colors. Winter can also be a beautiful time to visit, especially if there is snow on the ground.
- Activities: Bourton-on-the-Water offers a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and fishing. The best time to visit for these activities depends on your personal preferences and the weather. For example, hiking and cycling are best enjoyed in the warmer months, while fishing is popular in the autumn and winter months.
Overall, the best time to visit Bourton-on-the-Water is during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn, when the weather is pleasant, the crowds are thinner, and the scenery is beautiful. However, if you’re looking for a warm and sunny holiday, the summer months are the most popular time to visit.
Things to see in Bourton on the Water:
1. The Bridges of Bourton
What to see in Bourton on the Water village? There are no fewer than seven bridges in the villages, as well as a ford. So crossing the river is easy, this is important as there are attractions on either side. Many of the bridges have interesting histories as well, which makes the bridges the number one attraction in Bourton.
To the west of the village is a bridge that was built in 1806 and widened in 1959. It stands on the Fosse Way, an old Roman Road, and has seen a lot in its time. But this is not even the oldest bridge in town. In the village centre, there is an old stone bridge, Mill Bridge. It was built in 1654 and was the first stone bridge in the village.
2. Bourton on the Water River Windrush
Best point of interest in Bourton on the Water? The River Windrush is one of many tributaries of the River Thames. It winds its way through some truly picturesque countryside on its way to London. The Anglo-Saxons named the river as early as 779. Its path has changed a bit since then. Not only due to natural changes, but millers diverted it to power several mills.
Where the river passes through Bourton on the Water, it is actually remarkably shallow. The average depth within the village is only 10 inches. However, it does vary a lot with the rainfall on the hills.
3. Cotswold Motoring Museum
What to see in Bourton on the Water, England? Cotswold Motoring Museum is a great place to go with the whole family. The museum has a lot more on show than just classic cars.
There are, of course, some amazing and fascinating cars in the collection, but you’ll also find caravans, motorcycles, enamel signs, and motoring curios. The museum is also home to Brum, a beloved children’s BBC character.
The museum is open seven days a week from 10 am – 6 pm, so planning a visit is easy.
4. The Dragonfly Maze
Things to do with kids in Bourton on the Water? The Dragonfly Maze is a challenging hedge maze designed in collaboration with Kit Williams. Kit is famous for creating the 1975 treasure hunt, Masquerade. So if you want a chance to challenge the wit of Kit Williams, this is a great opportunity.
The maze is a challenge in two parts. The first is simply to find your way through the maze of hedges which contain about a ½ mile of pathways to explore. The second part is finding all 14 clues hidden in the maze, which can help you crack the puzzle and find the golden dragonfly hiding at the centre.
5. The Mousetrap Inn
What’s on in Bourton on the Water? Just a short walk from the centre of the village, you’ll find The Mousetrap Inn. Sitting on the main street, it’s easy to find. The inn is a relaxed and welcoming place to get a bite to eat, relax with a drink or even stay for the night.
The inn is dog friendly, so you can bring the whole family to stay or to enjoy a good meal. Both the food and drinks menus change with the seasons, so you’re guaranteed to find something delicious and surprising.
Book a room at the Mousetrap Inn if you plan to stay a bit longer in the village.
6. Bakery on the Water
The Bakery on the Water is a family-run bakery in the heart of Bourton on the Water. It’s a small but perfectly formed bakery that uses traditional artisanal methods to create delightfully flavoured and textured treats.
Baking happens throughout the day. So not only does it always smell good inside, but you can often find a loaf fresh from the oven. The Bakery also has a small riverside garden and cafe where you can sit back and enjoy your decadent treat.
7. St Lawrence’s Church
Where to visit in Bourton on the Water Cotswolds? Like many churches in the Cotswolds, St Lawrence’s stands on an ancient site. A church has stood in the same location since 709AD. As an active church, though, the church has been lovingly cared for, and each generation that has used it has left a mark. As a result, it’s a lovely, welcoming place with little touches of history wherever you look.
A lovely feature of the church is the clock bells. They chime every quarter-hour and play a tune every three hours. But you don’t have to worry about being kept up all night as the bells stop at 9 pm.
8. The Lansdowne
The Lansdowne is a lovely bed and breakfast guest house just on the edge of the village. Its location means it’s a nice quiet, and romantic spot perfect for couples exploring the Cotswolds. It’s also an adult-only guest house, which for some, is a huge selling point.
The rooms all have ensuites, wifi, and parking is included. If you opt for a superior room, you’ll also have the luxury of a complimentary minibar and Nespresso machine in your room.
9. Dial House Hotel
What to do in Bourton on the Water in Cotswolds? The Dial House is a phenomenal building. It’s a classic Cotswold hotel and offers a warm and cosy welcome. It’s just a few steps off the high street, and you can feel the history as soon as you see the place.
Despite dating from 1698, the interior is modern and luxurious. Not only is the hotel in a great location, the rooms are pretty amazing as well. Even if you don’t stay the night, you should treat yourself to a delicious meal in the restaurant.
10. The Chip Shed – Bourton-on-the-Water
Bourton on the Water what to do? Fish and chips is a staple British food. A lot of visitors to the country don’t understand the appeal. This is usually because they get fish and chips in a pub. If you want to really understand the joy and delight of a good fish and chips, you need to go to a proper chippy.
The Chip Shed is just that. If you want some authentic British fish and chips, this is the place to try it. The Chip Shed is popular with visitors and locals and is great for picking up a takeaway to eat along the river.
Top Bourton on the Water attractions? If you’re looking for a classic British pub located on the riverside, Kingsbridge is the place to go. This is a great pub if you just want a drink and a meal with a view. The menu has all the pub classics, and they’re done well.
You get a good meal and won’t blow your budget. The pub also has a great range of cask ales to choose from. If you’re more of a gin drinker, you’ll also be spoilt for choice.
12. The Croft Restaurant
What to do in Bourton on the Water village? For those in search of a proper sit-down meal, the Croft Restaurant is a great option. It is located right next to the water, so it is easy to find. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The food is excellent and varied, so you’ll find burgers and noodles on the same menu. This makes it a great spot for families or anyone who isn’t sure what they’re in the mood for. The restaurant is open from 9 am – 9 pm.
13. Cotswold Antiques & Tea Room
Places to visit Bourton on the Water? If you have ever wanted to explore an Aladdin’s Cave, then this is the place to go. Not only is it two shops in one, Cotswold Antiques & Tea Room and The Looking Glass, but the two shops are overflowing with treasures. You can find collectables, antiques and retro memorabilia.
There is also an amazing selection of jewellery to peruse. Not only that, but the owners are full of knowledge and happy to help, so you’ll surely learn something while you’re exploring.
14. The Old New Inn
What to do in Bourton on the Water? The Old New Inn is not only the location of the Model Village; it is also a great place to stay. The inn was taken over by new owners in 2018. They breathed new life into the place and made the most of the potential of the building. The Inn is a bed and breakfast guest house.
So you can stay in one of the eight beautifully appointed rooms and enjoy a delicious freshly cooked breakfast in the morning before your trip to see the iconic Model Village.
15. Living Green
If you are interested in making your home or garden more sustainable, then Living Green is a perfect place to find some inspiration. The shop is filled with examples of ways to convert old buildings into modern energy-efficient homes.
The building includes cutaways to let you see the construction so you can learn how to make changes to your own home. There is also a lovely garden to explore where you can learn how you can make your own even more productive.
16. The Model Village
Model villages a something of a quaint British tradition. The one in Bourton on the Water lives up to the promise of joy that these model villages can evoke. In the centre of town, you can find a replica of the village.
It’s 1/9 the size of the actual village, and the details are astounding. It includes everything from the Old Water Mill (the Motor Museum) to the ford and the Old New Inn. The model has been in place since the Coronation Day of King George VI.
Bourton-on-the-Water tourist information
Bourton-on-the-Water is a charming village in the Cotswolds, and there are several attractions and things to do that make it a popular tourist destination. Here are some of the top tourist information and attractions in Bourton-on-the-Water:
- The Model Village: The Model Village is a 1/9th scale replica of the village, built in the 1930s. It’s a unique attraction that offers a fascinating insight into the history of the village.
- The Cotswold Motoring Museum: The Cotswold Motoring Museum is a vintage car and motorcycle museum, displaying the evolution of transport.
- Birdland Park and Gardens: Birdland Park and Gardens is a bird sanctuary where you can see a variety of exotic birds, including penguins, flamingos, and owls.
- The Dragonfly Maze: The Dragonfly Maze is a fun and unique maze designed to resemble a dragonfly.
- The River Windrush: The River Windrush flows through the village and is a prominent feature. You can take a stroll along the river or have a picnic by the water.
- The Bourton-on-the-Water Visitor Information Centre: The visitor center provides information on the village’s attractions, events, and accommodation options.
- Traditional pubs and tea rooms: Bourton-on-the-Water has several traditional pubs and tea rooms where you can enjoy a hearty meal and a cup of tea.
- Quaint shops and galleries: The village has several quaint shops and galleries, offering a range of unique products, souvenirs, and local crafts.
Overall, Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful village with a lot to offer visitors. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply enjoying the charm of the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a great destination to explore.
Bourton-on-the-Water has a range of restaurants, cafes, and pubs that offer a variety of dining options. Here are some of the popular restaurants in Bourton-on-the-Water:
- The Croft: This restaurant offers British cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, and it’s located in the heart of the village.
- The Rose Tree: The Rose Tree is a traditional pub that serves classic pub food, including fish and chips, burgers, and a selection of beers.
- The Village Restaurant: The Village Restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including Mediterranean, British, and Asian cuisine, with an emphasis on local produce.
- The Mousetrap Inn: The Mousetrap Inn is a traditional pub that serves British cuisine, with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.
- Bakery on the Water: This cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea, with a selection of pastries, cakes, and sandwiches, and is located next to the River Windrush.
- The Duke of Wellington: The Duke of Wellington is a traditional pub that offers a selection of British and international cuisine.
- The Old Manse Hotel: The Old Manse Hotel offers a variety of dishes using locally sourced ingredients, and is located in a charming 18th-century building.
These are just a few of the many restaurants and dining options available in Bourton-on-the-Water. Whether you’re looking for a traditional pub meal, fine dining, or a casual cafe, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes.
How do you spend a day in Bourton-on-the-Water?
Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful village located in the Cotswolds, England, known for its picturesque setting and charming architecture. If you’re planning to spend a day in Bourton-on-the-Water, here are some things you could do:
- Start your day with a walk: Take a stroll along the River Windrush and admire the beautiful stone bridges that cross it. The river is a prominent feature of the village, and you can spend some time feeding the ducks or simply taking in the serene atmosphere.
- Visit the Model Village: The Model Village is a 1/9th scale replica of Bourton-on-the-Water, built in the 1930s. It’s a fascinating sight to see and offers an excellent opportunity to learn about the village’s history.
- Explore the Cotswold Motoring Museum: The Cotswold Motoring Museum is a unique attraction that displays a collection of vintage cars and motorcycles. You can also learn about the evolution of transport and see some of the earliest examples of cars.
- Have lunch in a traditional pub: There are several traditional pubs in Bourton-on-the-Water where you can enjoy a hearty meal and a pint of ale. The Kingsbridge Inn and The Mousetrap Inn are popular options.
- Visit Birdland Park and Gardens: Birdland Park and Gardens is a bird sanctuary where you can see a variety of exotic birds, including penguins, flamingos, and owls. There are also several beautiful gardens to explore.
- Visit the Dragonfly Maze: The Dragonfly Maze is a unique maze that is designed to resemble a dragonfly. It’s a fun activity for both kids and adults.
- Enjoy some tea and cake: There are several cafes and tea rooms in Bourton-on-the-Water where you can enjoy a cup of tea and some cake. The Bakery on the Water is a popular option.
- Walk around the village: Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful village with several quaint shops and galleries. Take some time to explore the village and appreciate the beautiful architecture.
Overall, there are plenty of things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water, and you can easily spend a day exploring this charming village.
How long does it take to go around Bourton-on-the-Water Model village?
The Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village is a 1/9th scale replica of the village, and it can take around 30 minutes to an hour to go around the entire Model Village, depending on how much time you spend admiring the details and taking photos. The site is not very large, and you can easily cover the entire area on foot. However, if you are interested in learning about the history of the village, it may take longer as there are several information boards and displays that provide detailed information about the replica and the village. The Model Village also has a gift shop, which you may want to explore after your visit. Overall, it’s a charming and unique attraction that is definitely worth a visit if you are in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a stunning village in the Cotswolds region of England, known for its charming architecture and tranquil river. There are many interesting shops in the village, offering a variety of goods and souvenirs. Some of the popular shops in Bourton-on-the-Water include:
- The Cotswold Cheese Company – a specialist cheese shop offering a wide selection of British and European cheeses.
- The Model Village – a miniature village attraction with a gift shop selling souvenirs and memorabilia.
- The Cotswold Brewing Company – a microbrewery producing traditional English ales and ciders, with a shop offering tastings and tours.
- The Mouse House Cheese Company – a specialist cheese shop offering a range of local and international cheeses.
- The Birdland Park and Gardens gift shop – selling bird-related souvenirs and memorabilia.
- Bourton Model Railway Exhibition and Shop – a specialist model railway shop and exhibition.
- The Cotswold Shop – a gift shop selling local crafts, souvenirs and traditional food items.
- The Motor Museum gift shop – selling automobile-related souvenirs and memorabilia.
- The Tea Set – a tea room and gift shop offering a range of teas, coffees, cakes and souvenirs.
Free things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water
Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful and charming village in the Cotswolds, and there are many free things to do there. Here are some ideas:
- Walk along the River Windrush: The village is known for its beautiful river, which flows through the center of the village. You can take a leisurely walk along the river, enjoy the scenery, and take in the tranquility of the area.
- Visit the Model Village: The Model Village is a one-ninth scale replica of the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, complete with tiny houses, shops, and gardens. There is no admission fee, but donations are appreciated.
- Stroll through the village: Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful village, and you can spend hours wandering through the quaint streets and admiring the architecture.
- Visit the Old Mill Museum: The Old Mill Museum is a small museum that showcases the history of the village, including its industrial past. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
- Explore the countryside: Bourton-on-the-Water is located in the heart of the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are many walking trails and footpaths that you can explore, with stunning views of the countryside.
- Admire the bridges: The village is known for its beautiful bridges, including the famous arched bridges that span the River Windrush. You can admire them and take some lovely photos.
- Picnic in the park: There are several parks and green spaces in Bourton-on-the-Water, including Birdland Park and Gardens and the Victoria Street Park. You can bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine.
Here are some of the best walks in and around Bourton-on-the-Water:
- The Windrush Way: This is a 14-mile long-distance walking trail that runs from Bourton-on-the-Water to Winchcombe. The trail follows the River Windrush and passes through many charming Cotswold villages along the way.
- The Diamond Way: This is a circular walking trail that starts and ends in Bourton-on-the-Water, covering a distance of approximately 20 miles. The trail takes you through picturesque countryside, charming villages, and historic landmarks.
- The Cotswold Way: The Cotswold Way is a long-distance walking trail that runs for 102 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath. The Bourton-on-the-Water section of the trail is particularly scenic, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
- The Heart of England Way: This is a long-distance walking trail that runs for 100 miles from Milford Common in Worcestershire to Bourton-on-the-Water. The trail takes you through rolling countryside, historic landmarks, and charming villages.
- The Gloucestershire Way: The Gloucestershire Way is a long-distance walking trail that runs for 94 miles from Chepstow to Tewkesbury. The Bourton-on-the-Water section of the trail takes you through the stunning Cotswold countryside, passing through quaint villages and historic landmarks.
- The Warden’s Way: This is a circular walking trail that starts and ends in Bourton-on-the-Water, covering a distance of approximately 14 miles. The trail takes you through beautiful countryside, charming villages, and historic landmarks, offering stunning views along the way.
- The Monarch’s Way: The Monarch’s Way is a long-distance walking trail that follows the route taken by King Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The trail passes through Bourton-on-the-Water and offers a chance to explore the history of the area while enjoying the scenic countryside.
Places to visit near Bourton-on-the-Water:
- Stow-on-the-Wold: 4 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Burford: 10 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Broadway Tower: 11 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Bibury: 12 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Burford: 12 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Chipping Norton: 13 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Witney: 21 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Stratford-upon-Avon: 25 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Stroud: 26 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Faringdon: 28 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Wantage: 36 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Castle Combe: 39 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Bradford-on-Avon: 48 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Stonehenge: 62 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
- Cheddar Gorge: 79 miles away from Bourton-on-the-Water
Is Bourton-on-the-Water worth visiting?
Bourton on the Water is a beautiful village. It is well worth visiting in its own right. There are many quaint, one of a kind shops, places to eat and things to see. There are activities that interest the whole family with days out and local attractions within walking distance.
It is also an ideal location to use as a base for exploring the Cotswolds. It sits right at the heart of the area and has excellent transport links and many stunning walking trails to explore.
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