The Little Venice of the Cotswolds is a storybook village famous for its stone houses, riverside cafés, museums and welcoming pubs.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a pretty village of striking honey-colored stone architecture set within a glorious countryside. With a tranquil river, craft shops and waterfront cafés, it’s the epitome of a Cotswold village. Developed by the Saxons and once a Roman outpost, Bourton-on-the-Water became an important wool trading center during the Industrial Revolution.
The village straddles the River Windrush, a slowly rippling waterway crossed by several elegant footbridges. Admire the grand 15th- and 16th-century stone houses that frame the river and double as bakeries, banks, boutiques, restaurants and museums. Stroll along the water’s edge and relax beneath the shade of majestic trees while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Visit notable historical landmarks, including Victoria Hall from the late 19th century. St. Lawrence’s Church replaced a Norman structure and has a chancel built in 1328. Experience 350 years of ecclesiastical history at the Bourton-on-the-Water Baptist Church.
Be sure to explore the Model Village, a miniature replica of the village center made from locally sourced stone and real trees. See an impressive collection of over 40 working model trains at Bourton Model Railway Exhibition and Toy Shop. Admire the exhibits of vintage cars and antique toys at the Cotswold Motor Museum and Toy Collection.
See wildlife at Cotswold Birdland Park and Gardens, which houses about 500 exotic and rare birds in a natural woodland environment. Find the clues to solve a puzzle and reach the center of a hedge labyrinth at the Dragonfly Maze.
After a day of activities, enjoy the welcoming charm of 18th-century pubs such as the Mousetrap Inn and the Old New Inn. Take a guided tour of the Cotswold Brewing Company, located a short drive from the village center.
Bourton-on-the-Water is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of Cheltenham and 33 miles (53 kilometers) west of Oxford. Great for daytrips, Cheltenham is also an ideal base for exploring other scenic towns and villages in the Cotswolds. Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh and Winchcombe are all less than a 30-minute drive away.