Known as The Venice of the Cotswolds, beautiful Bourton-on-the-Water is surrounded by rivers, streams and brooks and the characteristically low stone bridges that cross them. The river Windrush runs straight through the village, and its shady, grassy banks are a popular location for a summer picnic or simply a spot to chill out and soak up the beauty of the village.
Most of Bourton’s buildings are made of the traditional yellow limestone of the Cotswolds, and Bourton’s picturesque high street that runs along the Windrush is home to lots of quirky gift shops and unique shopping experiences, such as the Cotswold Perfumery, where you can buy fragrances made on site and even create your own during a guided tour.
The core of the village is a conservation area that is popular with tourists and that locals are fiercely proud of. One of the busiest spots is the model village, a charming 1/9th scale replica of Bourton that was built in the 1930’s and is open every day to history enthusiasts, photographers and tourists.
The village is also popular with Cotswold walkers and cyclists, who after a day outdoors like to relax with an afternoon tea or a lazy lunch at one of its many tearooms with picturesque river views or pubs serving up hearty English fare.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Birdland in Bourton is a great place to spend a day. Covering seven acres of ponds and gardens, Birdland contains over 500 exotic and unusual birds, including a flock of flamingos and the only king penguins in the UK. There’s also a nature reserve for you to explore, home to over 50 species of bird, water voles and dragonflies.
One of the most popular destinations for tourists is the Cotswold Motor Museum, a collection of cars and motoring memorabilia that will delight families and strike a note of nostalgia as the home of the popular children’s character Brum. It also contains a toy collection that children and adults alike will adore.
Just outside the centre of Bourton is the Dragonfly Maze,a large yew maze designed by cult puzzle maker Kit Williams, who created the infamous treasure hunt book ‘Masquerade’ in 1979. The whimsical maze takes you on a journey that involves riddles to find the ‘golden dragonfly’ and discover the secret within this winding labyrinth.
Bourton is one of the best preserved locations in the Cotswolds, and a visit will involve a mix of idyllic moments by the river mixed with the bustle of the specialist shops on the narrow shopping lanes. With so much to see and do, it is also a great destination for families.