Heading to Gloucestershire for a weekend or midweek break over Easter? We’ve done the work for you and crafted an itinerary in advance, passing many top sites, from the best stone towns of the Cotswolds to woodland wonders, Regency architecture and inspiring film locations. We’ve also included top tips on some of the best cafes and restaurants to grab a bite to eat or sit down for a full gourmet three-course meal.
Start the day with a hearty breakfast at Hubble Bubble Cafe At the heart of Gloucesterwhere the full English breakfasts are to die for, or opt for their American pancakes or mashed avocado on toast.
Stroll up to gorgeous Gloucester Cathedral, once one of the largest medieval religious buildings in the UK, famous for its grand Gothic architecture, ancient stained glass windows and vaulted cloisters. It was also used as a filming location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
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Jump in your car and head west towards the Forest of Deanwhere you can have lunch at 17 and Century Speech House Hotelonce a royal hunting lodge and an ideal base from which to explore one of Britain’s few ancient forests.
Direction the departure of Sculpture Trail, a free trail of 3.5 to 7 km through the trees to discover 16 in situ sculptures ranging from a suspended stained glass window to a cabin on stilts of impossible length. Then proceed to the atmosphere Jigsaw wood near Coleford, a favorite filming location with winding paths through old, gnarled trees.
Return to your car for the drive to Cheltenham and a well deserved meal at the end of a busy day. If you’re feeling well, you can treat yourself to a spread at Ivy in Montpellier, plus cocktails before or after at the ultra-cool No. 131 in Le bal. A walk in the moonlight Montpellier before bed is worth admiring the late Regency architecture and window shopping in the boutiques. For a lighter option on the pocket but still delicious, try the much-loved 288 Bar & Wok on High Street, serving classic Cantonese dishes and street food. Even more reasonable is Star Burger on Bath Road, Cheltenham’s independent answer to fast food takeaways.
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Breakfast at The Curious Cafe at Bath Road, a family-run cafe that serves a variety of delicious options from full English to vegetarian options and sweet treats. On sunny days, the backyard festooned with Mediterranean-inspired plants is worth trying to set up a table to enjoy your morning coffee and pancakes.
Take the A40 for Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, where the River Windrush meanders. There’s so much to do here you’ll have to choose, but highlights can include a visit to Birdland Park and Gardens for families, to see penguins frolic and flamingos strut. Just down the road is enchantment Model village, a complete miniature model of the city that you can walk around and look through tiny windows. Or you might prefer a visit to Cotswolds Motor Museumhome to Brum, the Children’s TV Car, as well as vintage cars, quaint trailers and original automotive memorabilia.
Be sure to stay for lunch at one of the many cafes that perch along the Windrush, including The Bourton Riverside Cafe with its fabulous ice cream, or The Croftserving burgers, veggies, croques and more, plus a dedicated kids’ menu that’s not just frozen chicken nuggets.
Worth a short drive Stow-on-the-Wold if only to visit the magnificent St. Edward’s Churchwith his 13 and Century north gate framed by ancient yew trees, said to have inspired the elven gates of the dwarven fortress of Moria in The Lord of the Rings.
Hop back in your car and drive along the A424 to the jewel of the Cotswolds Chipping Campden, the honey-hued Cotswold stone town that’s not one foot wrong architecturally. Its main street dates back to 14 and Century and is lined with buildings that display a wealth of vernacular architecture, including the Grade I listed market hall, built in 1627 and still in use by traders. It is also the starting point of Cotswolds Patha 102 mile long distance trail that eventually leads to Bath.
Stop for supper here before heading home. A high-end option is the Cotswold House Hotel in The Square, where you can sip pre-dinner cocktails. If you have more than one budget, Bistro Da Luigi offers reasonably priced Italian cuisine, or The arms of the bakers in nearby Broad Campden, with its quintessential British pub food.