Top 16 things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

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.

Where is Bourton on the Water?

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.

What is Bourton on the Water famous for?

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.

How to get to the village Bourton-on-the-Water?

Bourton-on-the-Water facts:

Population:3,300
District:Cotswold
County:Gloucestershire
Region:South East
Famous for:Bridges

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:

Best things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water Cotswolds

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.

What to see in Bourton on the Water village - The Bridges of Bourton
The Bridges of Bourton

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.

Best point of interest in Bourton on the Water - Bourton on the Water River Windrush
Bourton on the Water River Windrush

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.

What to see in Bourton on the Water, England - Cotswold Motoring Museum
Cotswold Motoring Museum

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.

Things to do with kids in Bourton on the Water - The Dragonfly Maze
The Dragonfly Maze

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.

What’s on in Bourton on the Water - The Mousetrap Inn
The Mousetrap Inn

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.

Where to visit in Bourton on the Water Cotswolds - St Lawrence's Church
St Lawrence’s Church

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.

What to do in Bourton on the Water in Cotswolds - Dial House Hotel
Dial House Hotel

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.

Bourton on the Water what to do - The Chip Shed
The Chip Shed

11. Kingsbridge

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.

Top Bourton on the Water attractions - Kingsbridge
Kingsbridge

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.

What to do in Bourton on the Water village - The Croft Restaurant
The Croft Restaurant

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.

Places to visit Bourton on the Water - Cotswold Antiques & Tea Room
Cotswold Antiques & Tea Room

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.

What to do in Bourton on the Water - The Old New Inn
The Old New Inn

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.

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.

Is Bourton-on-the-Water worth visiting?

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