The Cotswolds’ beautiful scenery and peaceful feel make it an ideal spot to escape to for a romantic break for two. As well as our usual favourite things to do in the region – like countryside walks, evenings by the fire in a cosy pub and visits to pretty villages like Bibury or Castle Combe – we’ve rounded up a selection of the most romantic things to do in the Cotswolds for couples. And they’ll last you well beyond Valentine’s Day, with 14 ideas to keep the love going all year.
Romantic things to do in the Cotswolds
1. Have a romantic picnic
Spend a relaxing afternoon in the Cotswolds enjoying a romantic picnic. Pack your own using supplies from locals delis and food producers. Or pre-order a luxurious picnic hamper packed with tasty treats from The Slaughters Country Inn or Little Picnic Shop in Castle Combe.
Then you just need to find the perfect place to enjoy it in. For parks and gardens try Cirencester Park, Cheltenham’s Pittville Park or the grounds of Blenheim Palace. If you prefer being by the water, grab a spot by the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water or the riverside ruins of Minster Lovell Hall. Or for panoramic views from up high, check out our sunset locations below.
2. Indulge in a couples’ spa treatment
Unwind and release any tension with a couples spa treatment. The Cotswolds has a great selection of spa hotels to relax in, and some offer special treatments for two. Enjoy a Lovers Pamper Day with a Rasul ritual treatment and afternoon tea at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel. Or treat yourself to some private pampering in the Double Treatment Room at Dormy House Spa.
Or the Thermae Bath Spa in Bath’s steaming pools are heated by thermal springs. Chill out in the Wellness Suite’s steam rooms and celestial relaxation room, and admire the views across the city skyline from the rooftop pool. Their evening Twilight Spa package means you can watch the sunset as you soak, with two hours of relaxation time plus tapas and drinks in the restaurant.
3. Travel back in time on a steam train
Be transported back to the Golden Age of rail travel on a vintage steam train ride through the Cotswold countryside. The Gloucestershire–Warwickshire Steam Railway is a volunteer-run heritage railway which travels on a 28-mile round trip from Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway.
The sound of the engine chugging along and the smell of the steam make it a really magical way to travel as you sit back and soak up the scenery. Services run on selected dates from March until October, with special festive events over Christmas. And with a day Rover ticket so you can get on and off the train, and stop to explore Winchcombe or Broadway along the way.
4. Drive the Romantic Road
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in the Cotswolds, what could be more apt than the Romantic Road? This driving route starts in Cheltenham and has two different loops, each taking in some of the area’s prettiest towns and villages, viewpoints, museums and manor houses.
The northern loop goes to Winchcombe, Broadway, Snowshill, Chipping Campden, Blockley, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and the Slaughters. And the southern visits Northleach, Burford, Lechlade, Bibury, Cirencester and Painswick. Each covers 60–90 miles mostly along quiet country lanes, but allow a day to take it slowly, stop off and admire the scenery.
And if you want to make the Romantic Road extra special, why not hire an open-top car to drive it in? Vintage Classics have over 10 classic cars to hire in the Cotswolds, including Jaguars, Aston Martins and MGs, and you can rent them by the day and head off wherever you like.
5. Stay in a castle
Live like a king or queen for the night with a stay in a Cotswold castle. Thornbury Castle* just west of the Cotswolds dates from the 1500s and was used as a countryside retreat by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Today it’s a luxurious hotel which is packed with original features, including wood panelling, brocade fabrics, frescoes, chandeliers and stone fireplaces with a roaring fire.
There are several different categories of rooms – or rather bedchambers – including three tower suites. You can sleep in Henry and Anne’s former room or choose the lavish Catherine of Aragon suite with its own stone spiral staircase and the largest four-poster bed in any UK hotel.
You can also stay in the grounds of 15th-century Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe – once home to one of Henry VIII’s other wives, Katherine Parr. There are 17 cottages around the estate, but our pick is the Castle Gatehouse*, a mini tower with a four-poster bed in the master bedroom.
Or if you prefer a grand manor house, there are several historic houses turned luxury hotels in the Cotswolds, including medieval Abbots Grange* and Buckland Manor* in Broadway, Charingworth Manor* in Chipping Campden and the Slaughters Manor House* in Lower Slaughter.
6. Enjoy a sparkling wine tasting
Drink a toast at an award-winning Cotswold vineyard. Woodchester Valley Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc has recently been rated one of the world’s best in a blind tasting. But they also make delicious Champagne-style bubbly, and you can find out more and try it on a vineyard tour.
The Premium Vineyard and Winery Tour takes place at their Woodchester vineyard just south of Stroud. It starts with a walk through the vines and an introduction to the grape varieties they grow, before moving into the winery to learn how sparkling wine is made. It’s followed by a wine tasting and nibbles, with five wines to try, including four white and rosé sparkling wines.
7. Stroll through fields of flowers
Stroll hand-in-hand through fields of colourful blooms at one of the Cotswolds’ flower fields. At Cotswold Lavender near Snowshill the hillside is a sea of purple, with over 40 different varieties of fragrant lavender. Or the Real Flower Petal Confetti Co, just outside the Cotswolds near Pershore in Worcestershire, has miles of rows of pastel-hued delphiniums and cornflowers.
Both are open around June–July, and are the ideal place for a couples’ photoshoot – you can take your own photos or hire a professional photographer to capture shots for you.
8. Row your boat
Impress your partner with your paddling skills with a boat trip in the Cotswolds. You can hire a vintage wooden punt or traditional Thames Skiff rowing boat from Bath Boating Station. Then paddle along the River Avon, past historic buildings and bridges, willow-draped banks and waterside wildlife. It’s a relaxing way to explore, and you can pack a picnic and stop along the way.
You can also hire rowing boats for a spin around Cheltenham’s Pittville Lake (just watch out for resident lovebird swans George and Maisie). Their small boats are the perfect size for two, and are available from the park’s boathouse café, with no need to book in advance.
9. Take to the skies in a hot air balloon
Get a view of the Cotswolds from above in a hot air balloon. Virgin Balloon Flights‘ distinctive red balloons fly from Bath, Cheltenham, Oxford or Shipston-on-Stour. Depending on the wind direction you can sail over the Cotswold Hills or admire castles and country houses from the air.
Hot air balloon flying season runs from March to October but is dependent on the weather. The flight itself takes around an hour, but allow three–four hours for the whole experience, which ends with a celebratory glass of Prosecco after landing before heading back to the start point.
10. Treat yourself to a fancy dinner
When it comes to fantastic restaurants for a special dinner for two, we’re spoilt for choice in the Cotswolds. If you want to splash out on Michelin-starred dining, you can choose from Lumière or the Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham, the Bybrook Restaurant at the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe, The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury, or The Royal Oak in Whatcote.
Or our favourite restaurants for a romantic meal in the Cotswolds include cosy French Petit Coco in Cheltenham, the historic wood-panelled dining room at Ellenborough Park, posh pub The Wild Rabbit in Kingham and lunch in the garden at The Slaughters Manor House in Lower Slaughter.
11. Have a night at the opera
Enjoy a cultured night out with your love at the Longborough Festival Opera. This annual festival takes place each summer in the village of Longborough, close to Moreton-in-Marsh in the north of the Cotswolds. Each year there’s a different programme, with performances taking place in a beautiful 500-seat theatre surrounded by gardens and overlooking the Evenlode Valley.
This year’s festival takes place from 16 June to 6 August August, with performances including Wagner’s Die Walküre and Puccini’s La Bohème. There’s a 90-minute break in each show so you can book dinner at the festival restaurant, or bring your own Pimms and picnic to eat in the gardens.
12. Watch an outdoor cinema screening
Grab the popcorn and cuddle up under the stars at an outdoor film screening. These pop-up cinema events take place in a variety of different Cotswold venues each summer, from Westonbirt Arboretum and Cotswold Country Park and Beach, to Cowley Manor and Sudeley Castle.
The films are usually date-night classics like Jaws, Grease and Jurassic Park, and you can book a deckchair or bring your own blanket, with cinema snacks and drinks on sale. Check out the Alfresco Film Co and Luna Cinema websites for details of upcoming screenings.
13. Soak in your own private hot tub
For the ultimate in romance, hire a cosy cabin or cottage with its own private hot tub and escape the world for a few days. One of our top stays for couples in the Cotswolds is Log House Holidays, located on a private lake near Cirencester. Each of their waterside Scandi-style cosy log cabins comes with its own hot tub, as well as a woodburner, fire pit and a rowing boat to explore the lake.
There are also cottages and glamping sites around the Cotswolds with their own hot tubs, including The Old Candle Shop in Moreton-in-Marsh or Outbak shepherd’s hut in Hailes. Or splash out (literally) on a luxury hot tub suite at The Swan Bibury*, Cotswold House* or Dormy House.
14. Watch the sun go down
Watch the sun set from one of the Cotswolds’ high points with a picnic or a bottle of bubbly. Cleeve Hill is the highest point in the Cotswolds at 330 metres high, with views across Cheltenham Racecourse, Winchcombe and across the River Severn to Wales on a clear day.
You also get panoramic Cotswold views from the top of Leckhampton and Crickley Hills near Cheltenham, Dover’s Hill near Chipping Campden, Coaley Peak near Stroud and Painswick Beacon. Or head up to the fairytale hilltop Broadway Tower for sunset. It was built in 1798 for the 6th Earl of Coventry as a love token for his wife so comes with an impressive romantic pedigree.
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