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Home | Guidebooks | Bourton-on-the-Water

A visitor’s guide to Bourton-on-the-Water

About Bourton-on-the-Water

Picture-perfect in every way, Bourton-on-the-Water is the absolute epitome of the Cotswolds. The gentle waters of the River Windrush wind gracefully through the village, criss-crossed by five, low stone bridges and flanked by pretty Cotswold stone buildings. During the spring, the riverbanks are lined with blossom-filled trees. In summer, a football game dating back to medieval times takes place in the shallow waters, and then during December, a beautifully lit Christmas Tree takes centre stage in the river.

Often regarded as the little Venice of the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a delightful place to explore, particularly on a summer evening when most of the visitors have left. Quaint tearooms, cosy cafés and quirky gift shops fill the honey-hued old buildings and lie hidden along tiny lanes.

Alongside the natural beauty and charm of Bourton-on-the-Water, it also boasts plentiful attractions for all ages including the Birdland Park and Gardens, Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum, and the timeless appeal of the model village, which includes a model village within a model village.

  1. Model Village
  2. Birdland Park and Gardens
  3. Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum
  4. Dragonfly Maze
  5. Cotswold Brewing Company
  6. Greystones Farm
  7. Bourton-on-the-Water to Lower Slaughter Walk
  1. Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum
  2. Cotswold Brewing Company
  3. Cotswold Pottery
  4. Cotswold Clubhouse
  5. Cotswold Antiques and Tea Room

Bourton Artisans
Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton Artisans is an artist-led gift shop and gallery showcasing and selling a variety of locally created arts and crafts. This is a great place to pick up unique pieces of artwork including pottery, glass, paintings, jewellery, and textiles.

Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum
Bourton-on-the-Water

Take a nostalgic journey back in time with a visit to the Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection. With over 40 cars, vintage caravans, classic motorcycles on display, as well as motoring paraphernalia from a bygone era and a fabulous toy collection, this is a fun day out for petrol heads of all ages.

Cotswold Pottery
Bourton-on-the-Water

Home and studio of local potters John and Jude Jelfs, everything found in the showroom is handmade in their studio. Pieces include teapots and jugs, mugs, bowls, pots, and vases. John specialises in wheel-thrown items, using glazes he makes from locally sourced ingredients whilst Jude’s works are hand formed.

Fosse Gallery for Contemporary British Art
8-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Founded in 1980, the Fosse Gallery regularly showcases some of the most contemporary British art and is often referred to as one of the most import art galleries in the UK. The owner is well-known throughout the art world for her keen eye and commitment to her artists.

The Old Mill Lower Slaughter
4-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

There has been a mill on this site in Lower Slaughter since 1086 and it re-opened its doors to the public in 1995. This delightful little museum will walk you through the history of breadmaking as well as the internal workings of a mill. Afterwards, browse the gift and craft shop, which is filled with an eclectic mix of items. Sample the handmade organic ice cream or enjoy a cream tea on the riverside terrace. 

Fosse Gallery, Bolthole Retreats

Broadway Arts Festival
June

The Broadway Arts Festival is a biennial event that celebrates the unique, artistic heritage of the village, forged by the famous colony of American writers and artists who found inspiration here during the late 19th century. Encompassing different locations throughout the village you’ll find workshops, outdoor theatre, exhibitions, talks, live music, and garden tours.

Cornbury Music Festival
July

This most English of music festivals is charming, fun, and a honeypot of good music, good food and entertainment. This is where the Cotswold elite, rockers, urbanites, farmers, and country loving folk all share an open-air party in the most beautiful of settings.

Football in the River
August

How or why this tradition started is not entirely clear but one hundred years later it’s still going strong. Two teams take the usually calm waters of the River Windrush which runs through the heart of the village for a unique game of footie. The water varies between ankle and knee deep, great fun for spectators to watch but be prepared to get wet!

Moreton-in-Marsh Show
September

Enjoy Cotswold life at its best with a fun-filled day out for the whole family at the Moreton Show. The showground is packed with things to see, do, and buy with everything from wellington boots to combine harvesters! See livestock displays and show jumping along with ‘best in’ flower, vegetable, and flower displays.

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
8-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Set high in the Cotswolds, overlooking the Windrush Valley, this is a fabulous day out for the whole family and much loved by locals and visitors alike. See rare breeds, spot new arrivals in the animal barn, follow the wildlife trails and spend time in the glorious countryside.

Birdland Park & Gardens
Bourton-on-the-Water

This is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Here you’ll find a delightful setting inhabited by over 500 birds including flamingos, pelicans, penguins and even the elusive cassowary. The aviaries, which total more than 50, house parrots, falcons, ibis, whilst the Parliament of Owls, the newest attraction in the park, provides a home for 8 different species of owl.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
22-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and diverse gardens, the park has more than 260 different species of animals, many of which are endangered in the wild, and it sits in 160 acres of landscape parklands and gardens. Daily activities include penguin feeding and the Madagascar walk through.

Crocodiles of the World
17-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Dedicated to the conservation of these much-maligned creatures, you’ll be able to see 17 of the 24 species currently found in the world including fresh and saltwater crocodiles, caiman, and alligators. For those who want to get even closer there are wild keeper experiences for children and grownups alike.

Dragonfly Maze
Bourton-on-the-Water

Inspired by author and artist Kit Williams, the dragonfly maze is a traditional yew hedge maze with half a mile of pathways to explore. Around the maze are 14 clues. Find the clues, crack the rebus puzzle, and locate the golden dragonfly hidden in the centre.

Model Village
Bourton-on-the-Water

Opened in 1937 on the coronation day of King George VI, the model village is a grade II listed 1/9th scale replica of Bourton-on-the-Water. This faithful recreation is created from Cotswold stone and even includes a model of the model village, a flowing river and both churches. It’s a delightful place to visit, even if you do end up feeling like Gulliver in a lilliputian land!

Alexiou’s
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner

This family-run Mediterranean restaurant and bar offers a little taste of Greece and Cyprus in the heart of the Cotswolds. With a menu of classic Greek dishes this brother and sister team have created the ambiance of a traditional taverna in a super-stylish and elegant setting.

Atrium at Lords of the Manor
4-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner

For a special occasion or celebration, the Atrium at the Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter is an exceptional fine dining restaurant. The tasting menu is a fusion of classic French and Cotswold influences, and with just 14 covers this is an intimate and romantic experience.

Bourtanical
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, lunch

Bourtanical is an insta-worthy restaurant that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and afternoon tea. Booking is recommended, particularly for their bottomless brunch.

Dial House Restaurant
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner

Dating back to the 1600s, you can expect character and charm in abundance at the Dial House. It sits just off the high street and offers an interesting tapas-style menu of small and larger plates that are perfect for sharing.  

Duke of Wellington
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

This dog-friendly pub offers relaxed, informal dining in a friendly atmosphere. The menu is comprised of pub classics and a traditional carvery on a Sunday. Outdoor dining is possible when the English weather allows!

L’Antara Italian Kitchen
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner

L’Antara offers an extensive menu of authentic Italian dishes including a large choice of pizzas with seasonal specials available throughout the year. The service is warm and friendly, and booking is strongly recommended.  

Mousetrap Inn
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

This free house inn offers a well-stocked bar with a great range of local ales, which is changed regularly, and they have been included in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for the last nine years. They also offer locally made spirits including their own Mousetrap Gin. Fresh, local ingredients make up the interesting menu which changes with the seasons. Booking is not essential but is highly recommended.  

Prince of India
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner, takeaway

This well-established Indian restaurant based in Stow-on-the-Wold, offers a wide choice of Indian favourites, and is available to dine in or as a takeaway. Bookings can be made online. Delivery is available within a 4 mile radius of Stow.

Rose Tree
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Overlooking the river Windrush, the Rose Tree is a popular spot in Bourton-on-the-Water and booking is highly recommended. The restaurant is housed within a beautiful Grade II listed building and has an outdoor dining area overlooking the river. The menu uses local, seasonal produce, and there is a weekly special board featured too.

Smiths
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

If you are serious about your burgers, then Smiths is the place to go. This independently family run bar and restaurant specialises in hand pressed patties and offers a varied and unique menu with a range of signature cocktails.  

The Den
Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: coffee, cake, baguettes

This small but perfectly formed café offers locally baked cakes, baguettes, fresh coffee, and hot chocolates and includes a strong vegan, gluten free and vegetarian menu.

The Hive
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, lunch

The Hive is a popular breakfast / brunch place with a menu of local produce and freshly baked pastries. The eatery is also licensed if you fancy a Bloody Mary to add a little spice to your brunch, or just want to relax with a glass of wine over lunch.

The Kings Arms
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner

Displaying all the character and atmosphere you would expect from a Cotswold country pub, the Kings Arms offers a classic pub menu for lunch, afternoon tea and hearty evening meals. During the cooler months the fires are lit, and the ambiance is warm and cosy.

The Old Bakery Tearoom
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: lunch, afternoon tea

This lovely tearoom has been in the same capable hands since 2005 and offers a warm and unhurried welcome. Enjoy homemade, freshly prepared meals including salads, jacket potatoes and quiches, as well as snacks and cakes and their excellent afternoon cream tea. 

The Old Butchers
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner

Housed in an old butcher’s shop, this popular family-run restaurant offers a menu that is designed to ensure minimal wastage through their nose-to-tail ethos. Whilst its name might indicate a very meat focused menu, they feature an abundance of seafood too.

The Old Stocks Inn
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: dinner, Sunday lunch

The restaurant at the 17th century Old Stocks Inn serves up seasonal British dishes using the best local suppliers and the menu changes regularly depending on what’s in season. Enjoy dining outside on the terrace or head to the cocktail lounge where you can sip on a creative confection whilst watching the world go by.

The Porch House
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

If walls could talk the Porch House would have plenty to say as there has been an inn on this site since 947. The menu changes regularly and features local, seasonal produce. The restaurant is full of character with exposed beams, stone walls and a huge fireplace. Alternatively, soak up the sunshine in the courtyard garden.

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
8-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Set high in the Cotswolds, overlooking the Windrush Valley, this is a fabulous day out for the whole family and much loved by locals and visitors alike. See rare breeds, spot new arrivals in the animal barn, follow the wildlife trails and spend time in the glorious countryside.

Birdland Park & Gardens
Bourton-on-the-Water

This is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Here you’ll find a delightful setting inhabited by over 500 birds including flamingos, pelicans, penguins and even the elusive cassowary. The aviaries, which total more than 50, house parrots, falcons, ibis, whilst the Parliament of Owls, the newest attraction in the park, provides a home for eight different species of owl.

Dragonfly Maze
Bourton-on-the-Water

Inspired by author and artist Kit Williams, the dragonfly maze is a traditional yew hedge maze with half a mile of pathways to explore. Around the maze are 14 clues. Find the clues, crack the rebus puzzle, and locate the golden dragonfly hidden in the centre.

Greystones Farm Nature Reserve
Bourton-on-the-Water

Greystones Farm is home to ancient meadows filled with a diversity of wildflowers, insects, butterflies, birds, and mammals. The two rivers which flow through the reserve are also a haven for wildlife and give habitat to the endangered water vole, and now has the largest population in the Cotswolds. Follow the walking trails to uncover the wildlife, archaeology, and wonderful scenery.

Stow-on-the-Wold
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Stow-on-the-Wold is filled with history and charm. The old town buildings now house independent shops and antique emporiums. There are superb places to dine, ancient coaching inns including The Porch House reputed to be the oldest pub in England, an Iron Age Fort, and a door at St Edward’s Church that is straight from the pages of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Bourton Artisans
Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton Artisans is an artist-led gift shop and gallery showcasing and selling a variety of locally created arts and crafts. This is a great place to pick up unique pieces of artwork including pottery, glass, paintings, jewellery, and textiles.

Cotswold Pottery
Bourton-on-the-Water

Home and studio of local potters John and Jude Jelfs, everything found in the showroom is handmade in their studio. Pieces include teapots and jugs, mugs, bowls, pots, and vases. John specialises in wheel-thrown items, using glazes he makes from locally sourced ingredients, whilst Jude’s works are hand formed.

Cutter Brooks
7-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

This fabulous shop is owned by Amanda Brooks, author of Farm from Home, Always Pack a Party Dress, and I Love Your Style. Along with clothing and accessories, scent, stationery, vintage items and antiques, you’ll also find beautiful homewares and textiles.

Daylesford Organic Farm
14-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

This beautiful organic farm in the Cotswolds is where the Daylesford empire started. Alongside the highly regarded farm shop featuring seasonal fruit and vegetables, a butchery and fresh fish counter, artisan bread and award-winning cheese, you’ll also find home and garden treasures to buy as well as a café, restaurant, and bar.

Arlington Row Cottages
22-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Set in Bibury, famously described by William Morris as the ‘most beautiful village in England’, Arlington Row is one of the most iconic sites in the Cotswolds. Stroll through this delightful Cotswold village and take a step back in time. 

Broadway Tower Country Park
23-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

This iconic landmark can be spotted from miles around. It’s the highest point in the Cotswolds. On a clear day you can see as far as Wales and the views are truly spectacular. E-bikes are available for hire or simply take your time exploring the 50-acre estate including a resident herd of red deer. 

Chedworth Roman Villa
19-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Cradled in a beautiful, quintessentially English valley are the remnants of what was once one of the grandest Roman villas in Great Britain. Through a series of spectacular mosaics, take a stroll through Britain’s Roman past. The tranquil setting and abundant wildlife make for a lovely day out.

Lodge Park & Sherborne Park Estate
11-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Spend time in a peaceful Cotswold estate filled with wildlife including fallow and roe deer, badgers, and foxes. This is also the home of England’s last surviving 17th century grandstand along with 18th century water meadows.

St Edward’s Church
8-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

This medieval church was built between the 11th and 15th centuries. It’s an interesting church however, it has become known for its north porch door. Flanked by ancient yew trees the door looks as though it has stepped from the pages of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Stow-on-the-Wold

Bourton-in-the-Water lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers some wonderful walks – from gentle strolls around the village, to circular walks around the nearby Slaughters. Bourton-on-the-Water is also on the Windrush Way which links to the Cotswold Way in Winchcombe, and the Wardens Way.

For more information about walking and cycling, take a look at our Walking and Cycling Guides online. 

Bamford Wellness Spa
15-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

The ultra-luxurious but perhaps lesser-known elegant Bamford Wellness Spa is the holistic wellness arm to the Daylesford group which offers a nourishing space of self-reflection, understanding and rejuvenation. In addition to treatments and consultations, there is a programme of yoga, Pilates, meditation classes and workshops hosted by visiting experts.

Barnsley House Spa
21-minute drive from Bourton-on the-Water

Barnsley House Spa is a blissful sanctuary tucked away in a picture-perfect Cotswold village amidst beautiful secret gardens. Designed to offer the ultimate in relaxation with a range of treatments, steam room, hydrotherapy pool and spa garden terrace, you may find you never want to leave.

Wyck Hill House
8-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Enjoy a little pampering at the Wyck Hill House Spa, which sits in 50 glorious acres. Alongside a range of treatments and therapies there is a sauna and steam room, and spa day packages are available.

Beautylicious

Birdland Park & Gardens
Bourton-on-the-Water

This is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Here you’ll find a delightful setting inhabited by over 500 birds including flamingos, pelicans, penguins and even the elusive cassowary. The aviaries, which total more than 50, house parrots, falcons, ibis, whilst the Parliament of Owls, the newest attraction in the park, provides a home for eight different species of owl.

Bourton House Garden
18-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

This magical garden is relatively small but perfectly formed, covering three beautiful acres. Bourton House Garden has been a labour of love since 1983 when the then owners of Bourton House set about transforming a neglected wilderness into the stunning garden you see today. Over the years the garden has evolved, and visitors can now enjoy rare, unusual, and exotic plants, inspired planting and vivid combinations of texture and colour.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
22-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and diverse gardens, the park is home to more than 260 different species of animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. It now sits in 160 acres of landscape parklands and gardens. Daily activities include penguin feeding and the Madagascar walk through.

Lodge Park & Sherborne Park Estate
11-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

Spend time in a peaceful Cotswold estate filled with wildlife including fallow and roe deer, badgers, and foxes. This is also the home of England’s last surviving 17th century grandstand along with 18th century water meadows.

Wychwood Wild Garden
20-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water

This beautiful and tranquil private garden covers 12.5 acres of avenues, woodland and ponds, and is a haven for wildlife. One hundred lime trees, some more than 250 years old, stand sentry along the Lime Avenue as you enter. Elsewhere canals tumble over waterfalls before flowing onwards into the Evenlode.

Cotswold Wildlife Park, Bolthole Retreats

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