Are you visiting Bourton on the Water as part of your family trip to England? Then you’ll want to read this guide on all the best things to do in Bourton on the Water with kids!
When you visit Bourton on the Water, you’ll soon understand why it’s regarded as one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswold. Located in the northern region of the Cotswold, this popular village is known for its charming stone architecture and low bridges that cross the River Windrush.
There are plenty of things to do Bourton on the Water offers families. Bourton on the Water attractions include museums, model villages, a bird park and even a maze. There are also many things to do near Bourton on the Water, with villages such as Lower and Upper Slaughter and Stow on the Wold nearby, as well as major family friendly attractions including Cogges Farm and Sudeley Castle.
London to Bourton on the Water is two hours by car, so you can easily make a day trip – there are plenty of tours from London you can join. Or, if you’re planning on spending a few days in the Cotswolds, Bourton on the Water makes the perfect base, given its proximity to so many attractions in the area.
Whether you plan to spend the day or a few days, this Bourton on the Water things to do guide will help you make the most of your trip. The guide covers what to do in Bourton on the Water with kids and places to visit near Bourton on the Water – in the surrounding area.
This guide will also provide tips on how to go to Bourton on the Water from London and suggestions on the best places to stay in Bourton on the Water with kids.
So let’s jump straight into it and check out all the fabulous things to do and places to visit Bourton on the Water has for families.
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Things to do Bourton on the Water Map
To help you plan your trip, check out the map below, which shows the location of all the top family friendly Bourton on the Water places to visit, as well as the places near Bourton on the Water for families.
You can zoom in and out for a better view.
Best Things to do in Bourton on the Water with Kids
Below we list the very best things to do and things to see in Bourton on the Water for families.
Please note that all prices mentioned were correct at the time of writing and are in local currency. To check the rate in your currency, click here.
Walk along the River Windrush
The River Windrush flows through the centre of Bourton on the Water (hence its name). To enable the village residents to easily cross the river, five pedestrian and vehicle bridges were built between the 1650s and the 1950s.
The bridges are low level stone arch bridges and create a pretty focal point for the village – and for tourists. In addition, the bridges helped Bourton on the Water to gain its nickname of ‘Little Venice.’
Be ready to snap like a million photos of River Windrush from all different angles – it really is just gorgeous!
The Model Village is a 1/9th scale mini representation of Bourton on the Water village. Originally built in the 1930s by a team of local craftsmen, the attraction features over 100 detailed buildings made from local Cotswold Stone. Its intricate detail includes pruned to scale plants and miniature choirs singing in the churches.
The Model Village is continuously being restored and maintained – this makes it a great place to visit after you’ve explored the village, as the kids can spot some of the places they’ve seen.
Allow around 30 minutes to visit Model Village.
Location: The grounds of The New Inn Pub, Rissington Road
Hours: Daily from 10 am until 6 pm in Summer and 4 pm in Winter
Price : £4.50 Adults | £3.50 Kids (3-13) | Under 3’s free
Birdland Park is one of the best Bourton on the Water tourist attractions for kids. This 9 acre park is home to over 500 birds ranging from cassowaries and flamingos to owls, parrots and hornbills. In addition, you can see rare species such as the Waldrapp Ibis and England’s only breeding colony of King Penguins.
There are daily ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks and animal feeding times, plus pre bookable experiences such as feeding a penguin or meeting a giant tortoise. Check out the times of everything you want to do in advance so you can plan your day accordingly and not miss out on anything.
Plus, it’s not only birds here – if you’ve little dinosaur obsessed kids – they’re in luck as there is a woodland Jurassic Journey section with life sized models.
The park has an indoor play area, a large outdoor play playground, a picnic area and a cafe.
Allow at least a few hours to explore the park – but you could spend most of the day here if you have little ones.
Location: Rissington Road, Bourton on the Water
Hours: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm
Price : £11.95 Adults | £8.95 Kids (3-15) | Under 3’s free
This small, quirky maze is created from Yew hedges and consists of over 800 metres of pathways. Families must find 14 clues dotted around the maze which will enable them to solve the pictorial Rebus puzzle in the centre of the maze and find the hidden golden dragonfly.
A limited number of timed tickets are available each day, and tickets can only be bought on site for the day of your visit. However, you can purchase tickets in the morning and return later for your allocated slot.
There are no toilets or cafe facilities on site and prams are not allowed due to the narrow nature of the maze.
The maze is great fun and a good opportunity to burn off excess energy. Allow between 30 – 60 minutes for your visit.
Location: Rissington Road, Bourton on the Water
Hours: Opening hours vary from month to month – click here to find the opening times for your visit
Price : £4.50 Adults | £3.50 Kids (4-14) | Family (2A+2C under 14) £15 | Under 4’s free
St Lawrence’s Church
There has been a church on this site since the 8th century, but the oldest part of the church you see today dates back to the 14th century.
Highlights of the church include the ornate shield covered ceiling, the intricate oak screens of the Chancel and the stunning golden reredos behind the altar. It is a cool and tranquil spot to escape to when visiting Bourton on the Water on a busy summer’s day.
Location: School Hill, Bourton on the Water
Bourton Motor Museum
Across 7500 sq ft, the Bourton Motor Museum (also called the Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection) has an eclectic collection of more than 50 classic and vintage vehicles dating back to the early 1900s. Among the seven unique galleries, as well as cars, there are classic motorbikes, vintage bicycles, caravans and toys through the ages.
The museum is packed with driving related memorabilia, plus there is a fully recreated mechanics garage from the early days of motoring and an authentic blacksmith workshop. There’s also a special section just for memorabilia from the 60s and 70s.
And for the kids and a bit of nostalgia for the parents and grandparents, there’s an extensive toy collection, including pedal cars, bicycles, jigsaws, board games and more.
It’s recommended that you allow around 1 hour for your visit.
Location: The Old Mill, Bourton on the Water
Hours: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm from mid February to December
Price : £7 Adults | £5 Kids (5-16) | Family (2A+2C) £22.00 | Under 5’s free
Pick up a unique, locally made souvenir from The Cotswold Perfumery shop. This family owned business is set in a 300 year old historic property and is one of only six independent perfumers in the U.K.
The perfumery produces 116 products and if you have time, you can pre book a one day course to make your own perfume.
As well as perfume, they have a wonderful jewellery collection – jewellery lovers, beware! While I didn’t leave with perfume – I left with quite a bit of jewellery.
Location: Victoria Street, Bourton on the Water
Hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30 am – 5 pm | Sundays 10.30 am – 5 pm
Price: The shop is free to enter. Perfume Courses can be booked here.
Greystones Farm Nature Reserve
If you are looking for places to visit around Bourton on the Water to escape the crowds, this working dairy farm is a good option.
Greystones Farms’ wildflower meadows are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and are packed with colour and insects in late Spring and Summer.
At other times of the year, you can see various birds (including migratory species such as swallows) and river animals, including water voles and otters. The Time Trail and the Wildlife Trail are pushchair friendly.
The reserve is also home to Salmonsbury Camp, a Neolithic and Iron Age meeting spot and visitors can view a replica Iron Age Roundhouse.
Note that there is no parking on site – however, you can park at the Station Road car park in the village. From there, it’s a 5 minute walk to the reserve.
The toilets, cafe and visitors centre are closed over winter, though the reserve remains open, so you can still wander around the property.
Location: Greystones Lane, Bourton on the Water
Hours: Every day (the best time to visit is May to September)
Bloody Bourton Walking Tour
Discover the dark history of Bourton on the Water with a 2 hour Bloody Bourton Walking Tour.
The tour will lead you around the village, telling tales of ghosts, murder, gruesome deeds and witchcraft in a fun, educational way. You will look at Bourton on the Water with a different perspective as a result of this tour!
Tickets are available from Bourton Tourist Office on Victoria Street.
Location: War Memorial, Sherborne Street
Hours: Friday and Saturday from 7 pm
Price: £8 per person
Best Things to do near Bourton on the Water with kids
As well as having plenty of places to visit in Bourton on the Water, if you have your own vehicle, there are also several family attractions near Bourton on the Water worth visiting.
Cogges Manor Farm
Cogges Manor Farm is a historic farm and museum in Witney, about a 30 minute drive from Bourton on the Water. The farm is set on a 13th-century manor house surrounded by a working farm, gardens, and woodland.
Generally, the most popular activity with the kids is meeting the farm animals. Animals that call the farm home include goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and ducks. As well as meeting the animals, the kids can talk to the volunteers that care for them and learn more about the animals.
A walk through the manor is also a must where you can learn about its history and the various families that once lived there – some 1000 years ago. It is a beautiful home with several rooms set up as they may have once been throughout history.
Families are also encouraged to explore the 17 acres of gardens and there is a playground for the little ones. There is also a cafe on site for lunch and snacks.
A visit to the farm is one of the fun family things to do around Bourton on the Water and makes for a fantastic day trip for the family.
Location: Cogges Manor Farm, Church Lane, Witney
Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Price: Adults £9 | Child £6 (3-16) | Kids under 3 free | Family Pass (2A+3C) £28
Another one of the places to go near Bourton on the Water is Blenheim Palace. This large country house is located in Woodstock, just a 40 minute drive from town and is an excellent attraction for families with a range of activities for the kids to enjoy.
Most famously known as being the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, today Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was originally built in the early 18th century as a gift from Queen Anne to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his military victories over the French.
The palace is set within 2,000 acres of parkland and formal gardens and is surrounded by a lake. It is considered one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture and is known for its grand interiors and impressive art collection.
A tour of the palace is a must – kids will learn about the palace’s history and how people once lived here. On display are photographs, letters and diary entries that provide a glimpse into a world so long ago.
Families can also take a long walk wandering through the 150 acres of formal gardens. There are some beautiful gardens to explore, such as the Lavender Garden. The Pleasure Garden has a Butterfly House, maze and playground.
Other activities include hiring a rowing boat, taking a ride on the miniature train and exploring the various special exhibitions.
Location: Woodstock OX20 1PP
Hours: Hours change for different attractions and seasons – so best to check directly
Price: Adults £43 | Child £28 (3-16) | Kids under 3 free | Family Pass (2A+2C) £98
Cotswold Farm Park
Just a short 10 minute drive from Bourton on the Water is Cotswold Farm Park – a working farm home to a range of animals, including cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens. It’s a great place to take the kids where they can learn about farm life and the animals there.
The popular family attraction was founded by farmer and television presenter Adam Henson and is known for its commitment to conservation and sustainability. The farm is home to a range of rare and endangered breeds of farm animals, which families can learn about during their visit.
Specifically for the kids, they can meet the farm animals at the Animal barn and the Discovery Barn. The Discovery Barn is home to the farm’s smallest animals, such as baby chickens, guinea pigs, piglets and more. And grab some snacks and check out some rare breeds in the paddocks.
The kids will love the Adventure Barn, which has a huge indoor sandpit, soft play area, ride on toys and more. There’s a cafe here too so the parents can also have a break. Other play areas include the outdoor playground, the muddy kitchen and bouncy pillows.
Location: Guiting Power, Cheltenham
Hours: Daily 9.30 am to 3 pm
Price: Adults £12.50 | Child £12 (4-15) | Child £7.5 (2-3) | Kids under 2 free
Just a 20 minute drive from Bourton on the Water is Sudley Castle, another fabulous attraction in the Cotswold to take the kid. The castle dates back to the 10th century and offers a range of activities and attractions for kids.
The Castle has a long and varied history, having served as a royal palace, a fortification, and a private residence and linked to some of the most famous English monarchs, including Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, Katherine Parr, Elizabeth I and Charles I.
While visiting Sudeley, a tour of the Castle is a must! You can tour the castle’s west wing, which is home to several rooms as well as special exhibitions with a range of items of historical significance on display.
Families are also encouraged to explore the castle’s 10 award winning gardens which include a playground for the kids. Other interesting places to explore include St Mary’s Church, where Katherine Parr – the last wife of Henry VIII, is buried.
Location: Sudeley Castle & Gardens GL54 5LP
Hours: Daily 11 am to 4 pm during Spring to October
Price: Adults £19.50 | Child £8.75 (3-15) | Kids under 3 are free | Family Pass (2A+2C) £48
Broadway Tower is a castle-like folly built in the 18th century as a summerhouse for the Earl of Coventry. It is set within a large estate surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland and is just a 20 minute drive from Bourton on the Water.
Families visiting the tower will explore a range of historic rooms and exhibits with the help of a multi media guide. Through stories, you’ll learn about the daily life of the people that once lived and worked at the tower. Then from the top of the tower, you’ll enjoy stunning views across the countryside.
Also on the grounds of the Broadway Tower is a bunker, fifteen feet below the ground from the Cold War. On certain days you can take a 45 minute guided tour into the bunker, restored to what it would have been during the 1980s. Only children 10+ are allowed into the bunker.
There is a cafe on site for lunch and snacks too.
Location: Middle Hill, Broadway WR12 7LB
Hours: Generally daily from 10 am to 5 pm – but does change during seasons
Price: Adults £5 | Child £3 (10-14) | Kids under 10 free | Family Pass (2A+2C) £14
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. The castle has a long and varied history, having served as a royal palace, fortification, and private residence. Visiting the castle makes for a great day out with the kids and is just a 40 minute drive from Bourton on the Water.
There is a range of activities, tours and shows to see at the castle – so I recommend making a bit of a plan as soon as you get there so you don’t miss out on anything you want to do. Don’t miss a tour of the castle which includes interactive exhibits, so you’ll learn about the people who once lived there as you go. You can take a guided tour or wander through on your own.
Walking along the castle’s defensive walls is also a lot of fun. The kids can use their imagination – checking for invaders, while parents can enjoy the stunning views.
There are frequent shows and demonstrations throughout the day so the kids can learn about medieval activities. You can see birds of prey, bowman shows, watch things being catapulted far distances and live shows where actors really bring to life what once went on in the castle.
There is also a great playground on site for the young ones, as well as a maze and cafe for lunch.
No matter how old your kids are, there really is something for everyone at Warwick Castle – it makes for a fabulous day out.
Location: Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire
Hours: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm
Price: £37 per person | Under 3s are free – click here to purchase tickets online
Visit Upper Slaughter
Upper Slaughter is a village just a short drive north of Bourton on the Water – so close that you could even walk there – in fact, many people do. The small village is known for its charming, traditional stone houses and narrow, winding streets, which give the village a quintessentially English feel.
People come to Upper Slaughter to visit historic landmarks, such as the 13th-century St. Peter’s Church and the Square. You can also have a meal or afternoon tea at Lords of the Manor.
Visit Lower Slaughter
Lower Slaughter is between Upper Slaughter and Bourton on the Water, another gorgeous village with charming, traditional stone houses and narrow, winding streets. Like Upper Slaughter, people tend to visit the area on foot from Bourton on the Water, given its close proximity.
The village is home to several historic landmarks, including the 18th-century Lower Slaughter Manor and the St. Mary’s Church, which dates back to the 12th century. People also come to see Copsehill Road – considered the most romantic street in Britain. The Old Mill Museum is worth visiting with the kids too.
Visit Stow on the Wold
Stow on the Wold is a market town in Gloucestershire on the top of a 800 foot hill – the highest town in the Cotswolds. Once home to a booming wool industry, Stow on the Wold was famous for its huge annual fairs where up to 20,000 sheep were sold at any one time.
These days, people visit Stow on the Wold for its charming streetscape, old pubs, boutiques and its rumoured links to Lord of the Rings.
Stow on the Wold is just a 10 minute drive from Bourton on the Water, so it’s well worth checking out.
Visit Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon is worth spending a few days, but if you’ve only got a day – being just a 40 minute drive from Bourton on the Water, a day trip is very doable. Of course, famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, this historic market town has plenty of things to do for families.
Most people visiting Stratford Upon Avon will want to see the Shakespeare sites. There’s Shakespeare’s Birthplace (where you can explore his childhood home), Shakespeare’s School (a must for families with school aged children), Shakespeare New Place (Shakespeare’s home until he died), Ann Hathaway’s Cottage (the home of Shakespeare’s wife), and Mary Arden’s Farm (the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother).
A must for families is a visit to Tudor World, where the kids can dress up and experience what life was like during the Tudor period. Other great family attractions in Stratford Upon Avon include a boat cruise down the River Avon, a visit to the Butterfly Farm, the MAD museum and the Magical Alley.
Just a 30 minute drive from Bourton on the Water is Cirencester, one of Cotswold’s largest market towns. It is a beautiful town with gorgeous stone buildings and links to medieval times and the Romans.
One of the best things to do in Cirencester is to visit the Corinium Museum, where the kids can learn more about the Roman ties. The museum has a collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the history of the Cotswold region, including Roman and Iron Age objects.
Other worthwhile places to visit in Cirencester include visiting Chedworth Roman Villa – one of the most complete and well preserved Roman villas in Britain, Cirencester Park, which is home to a playground, lake and wildlife, as well as simply strolling through the Market Place seeing the historic buildings and exploring the various stores.
Visit Castle Combe
When you visit Castle Combe, you’ll soon understand why this fairytale like village is part of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Considered one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, Castle Combe is a must for families touring the area.
The village is home to several historic landmarks, including the 14th-century St. Andrew’s Church and the Castle Combe Manor House, which dates back to the 12th century. The village also has a number of pubs, shops, and restaurants, making it a popular place to stop for a meal or a drink.
Castle Combe is an hour’s drive from Bourton on the Water, so it can be a great day trip or a stopover when travelling to or from Bourton on the Water.
Bibury is a small village just outside Cirencester in the County of Gloucestershire. The village is considered one of the most beautiful in the Cotswold due to its row of 14th century postcard perfect cottages, famously known as Arlington Row.
While wandering around the picturesque town along the banks of the River Coln is one of the Bibury attractions in itself, other things to do Bibury offers include visiting the trout farm, enjoying a tasty lunch in an old pub, walking along the river and crossing an old footbridge.
Bibury is just a 20 minute drive from Bourton on the Water, making it an easy side trip with the kids.
Just a 30 minute drive from Bourton on the Water is Tewkesbury, a medieval market town in the North of Gloucestershire. Famous for its medieval black and white streetscape with half timbered buildings, narrow alleyways and beautifully carved doorways, most of the town lies in a conversation area and has over 350 buildings listed as having historical interest.
While getting lost exploring the alleyways is one of the Tewkesbury attractions in itself, other things to do include visiting one of the several museums, visiting the Tewkesbury Abbey, taking a self guided tour to explore the town and historic buildings and shopping in the various boutiques.
Bath is in a valley in the Cotswolds surrounded by rolling hills and home to beautiful architecture, which includes many Georgian townhouses. Famous of course, for its Romans Baths, other attractions include the Royal Crescent, the Bath Abbey, and the Museum of Bath Architecture.
Other places worth visiting include the Jane Austen Centre, the Holburne Museum, and the Thermae Bath Spa. Bath is also home to many excellent restaurants, pubs, and shops, making it a great place for food and shopping.
Click here for our detailed guide on things to do in Bath (coming soon).
How to get from London to Bourton on the Water
Driving from London to Burton on the Water takes around 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.
The most direct route is to take the A4 from central London to join the M25 for a short distance before joining the M40. The M40 becomes the A40; turn right onto the A429, bringing you into Burton on the Water.
The next best option for visitors without a car is to take the train from London to Burton on the Water.
You will need to take a train from London Paddington Station to Moreton in Marsh (a journey of 1.5 hours) and then take the local bus to Burton on the Water for an additional 30 minutes.
You can also visit Burton on the Water on a guided day trip from London.
Getting Around Bourton on the Water
Burton on the Water is a village, so the best way to get around is by foot. It is easy to navigate as the village is spread around one main thoroughfare.
If you are driving and your accommodation doesn’t have parking, there are a few car parks around the village. There are two small free car parks on the High Street just after Rectory Lane and near the junction with Moore Road (though this car park has a 1.5 hour limit).
A large Pay and Display car park is on Rissington Road near the Model Village.
For those without a car and wanting to travel further afield, there is a local bus and a taxi service.
Best Places to Stay in Bourton on the Water for Families
Looking for the best places to stay in Bourton on the Water for families? Below, we’ve covered our top three recommendations. These accommodation options offer great value for money and are in excellent locations for sightseeing around town.
The Roman Villa is a quaint 2-bedroom home around 700 metres from the village centre at the end of a residential cul-de-sac. The surrounding homes have the same facade, so you will need to look for the house number to locate Roman Villa.
The property has two bedrooms, each with a double bed. The living room has a sofa bed, so there is room for children to sleep in their own beds.
The modern kitchen has all the conveniences of home, including an oven, stovetop, microwave, fridge, kettle and toaster, plus a dining table. If you need to catch up on your laundry, a washing machine is available.
At the rear of the house is a small patio to get some fresh air and let the kids have a play. The patio also has a great green outlook to the hills, and the path into town runs past here.
Roman Villa also offers free parking and free Wi-Fi.
Wadham Cottage is a two bedroom home in the centre of Bourton on the Water.
The main bedroom with a double bed is on the ground floor, while the second bedroom is up a steep flight of stairs and has two single beds. To access the second bedroom, you need to go through the main bedroom.
The fully equipped kitchen has an oven, stovetop, microwave, fridge, kettle and toaster. There is a dining table seating four guests and there is also an outdoor dining table for enjoying meals during warmer weather.
Additional family friendly amenities include a bath which is great for the littlies, a washing machine to catch up on laundry, free parking (super convenient for this village) and free Wi-Fi.
Chestnut Bed and Breakfast is in the village centre with a gorgeous outlook over the village green and the River Windrush. The central location means you’re surrounded by all types of retailers, including a pharmacy across from the accommodation.
The character filled rooms are compact and can sleep a family of 4 in a double bed and pull out sofa bed. This particular property only accepts children over the age of 8, so unfortunately if you have younger kids, this isn’t the property for you.
Rooms include tea and coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi and folding chairs to take down to the river. A hearty English Breakfast is also included.
Hopefully, you found this guide to things to do in Bourton on Water helpful. Other great guides which you may also find helpful include things to do in Bath with kids (coming soon), things to do in London with kids or the best London hotels for families (coming soon).