Halloweekend getaway in Bourton-on-the-Water

Visited October 2020

“The Venice of the Cotswolds” is the nickname for Bourton-on-the-Water because of the numerous little bridges spanning the River Windrush that are reminiscent of the Italian city’s own charming bridges. And though that might be a little bit of a stretch, it doesn’t mean that Bourton isn’t well worth the visit. We booked this trip last minute not knowing it would be our last chance to get away before the U.K.’s November-December lockdown, but we are so glad we did! There is just the right amount of things to do here that it made for the perfect fall break.


The Main Town

Exploring the bridges, candy shops, and more bridges

The Model Village

Pretending to be Godzilla for a few hours at the Model Village


How we got there and how we got around

The Main Town

Exploring the bridges and shops

If you search Google for images of Bourton-on-the-Water, the results make it seem like the town center is a lot bigger than it is, with dozens of different bridges to cross over the River Windrush. The reality is that it was much smaller than we were expecting, but that’s not a bad thing. There may only be 5 or so main bridges, but each one is as photogenic as the last, and if you are lucky enough with the weather, doing a zig-zagging route across them would be enough to get your money’s worth here.

We spent most of an afternoon just following the river from shop to shop, crossing over each bridge a couple of times. You have your standard small-English-village stores: a post office, sweet shops, antique stores, and ice cream parlors. There are also a lot of beautiful stone buildings everywhere you turn, which are even prettier when you see them lined up along the banks of the river.

Bridges in town

Looking back towards the end of town

Because we visited in October, the sun started to set pretty early. In fact, we probably only had an hour or two of daylight from the time we actually parked (there is limited parking right in town, but there are two pay-and-display lots that are easily walkable from the main center), but it felt like enough time. If you did it straight, you could walk from one end of the town to the other in 5 minutes, so you really don’t need all day.

After we had our fill of walking, we decided to warm up and have a few drinks before dinner at the Kingsbridge Inn, which is right along the river. They have outdoor seating, but it was just chilly enough that we decided to stay indoors. After warming up at the Kingsbridge Inn, we literally crossed the street to The Croft for dinner. It’s also on the water and has an outdoor garden area, but again due to the chill we decided to eat inside. The restaurant was fantastic – very cozy and nicely decorated, and everyone working there was friendly. Not to mention delicious, hearty food. Tip! The deep fried breaded brie was wonderful, and the chili jam that comes with it even better. Everyone seemed to be getting it. On top of all that, we were pleased to find that they served mulled wine, which just added to the coziness.

    Sunset along the river

    The War Memorial

    Cozy corner at The Croft

    The Model Village

    Playing Godzilla for the day

    Bourton-on-the-Water does offer a few other cultural attractions (the Motor Museum being one of them, that we didn’t have time for), but the biggest draw for us was the Model Village. Because it closed early on Saturday, we returned on Sunday morning to check it out. We got lucky with almost nobody ahead of us, so we got to explore the miniature village and pretend to be Godzilla practically to ourselves. Basically every building in town is faithfully recreated with tiny stones, down to the colorful doors. It’s a really fun way to spend a half hour (thought it’s uncovered, so you have to hope for some decent weather).

    Model church

    Wandering around


    Getting there and getting around

    We decided to combine our trip to Bourton-on-the-Water with a couple of other Cotswold stops, and so renting a car was our best option. From brief research, there didn’t appear to be close train stations anyway, and the drive was only about 2 hours from London, so overall it was easiest to have the mobility of a car. If you are driving, you definitely should stop at least in Upper & Lower Slaughter, two quaint villages only 5 miles down the road, and consider a stop in Bibury, which we did on the way home because it was only 20 minutes south and partially en route.

    Get in Touch