South Gloucestershire & South Cotswolds

South Gloucestershire and the South Cotswolds sit on the doorstep of Bristol and Bath. Largely rural, the areas are characterised by pretty, quintessential English market towns, medieval churches and traditional country pubs. 

If you want to explore the great outdoors, the region has a fantastic choice of activities. From walking and cycling routes set against a backdrop of beautiful rolling hills to adrenaline-fuelled mid-air adventures at Bristol Zoo Project, wildlife spotting at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre or wandering through magical woodland at Westonbirt Arboretum, there’s something to suit all ages and energy levels.  

If you’re planning a family holiday or day out, the area is crammed with family-friendly things to do – Berkeley Castle has an exciting events itinerary of jousts and Tudor experiences, incredible history to discover and extensive gardens. There are several wildlife and country parks in the area, including Old Down Country Park and Cattle Country Farm Park, surfing at The Wave and vintage steam trains at Avon Valley Railway to keep young'uns and old(er) 'uns entertained!  

Visiting in May? Don’t miss one of the region’s most prestigious events, the Badminton Horse Trials, or check our Event Calendar to see what’s on while you’re here. 

The stunning landscape of South Gloucestershire lures walkers and cyclists with many traffic-free paths along the National Cycle Network. The Bristol and Bath Railway Path is a popular cycling route linking the two cities along a former railway line, which passes through Warmley, with its historic signal box and tea gardens, and Bitton, which still has its Victorian train station and goods shed for steam locomotives. For information about cycling in South Gloucestershire visit Better by Bike for details on local cycling routes. 

After all that activity, you’ll need to refuel with some delicious food and drink. From fine dining to rustic country pubs, there’s a wealth of restaurants, cafés and pubs to choose from across South Gloucestershire. The area also has plenty of exciting producers that you can visit, including Woodchester Valley Vineyard and 6 O’clock Gin

It's too much to fit it all in one day, so why not stay a while. From romantic, luxury country hotels such as De Vere Torthworth Court to historic guesthouses such as Old Church Farm, or modern spa hotels such as Aztec Hotel & Spa and Village Hotel Club, South Gloucestershire has accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes.

Cribbs Causeway

Located handily on the M5 motorway, Cribbs Causeway is full of entertainment options, from bowling and a multiplex cinema to ping pong and the world’s biggest trampoline park at AirHop Bristol. Or for a more leisurely day out, plan an epic shopping trip to The Mall, which boasts over 150 shops and plenty of restaurants, as well as thousands of free parking spaces. 


With a history dating back to the Domesday Book and beyond, the small market town of Thornbury sits in the Severn Valley, with stunning views across the Severn Estuary and across to South Wales. The high street has several independent shops, boutiques and cafes where you can pick up souvenirs, or stop in for a coffee or afternoon tea. Noteworthy sites include Thornbury Castle (Henry VIII honeymooned here with Anne Boleyn, the castle is now a luxury hotel) and St Mary Church, which are both Grade I listed. 

The Thornbury and District Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday and is free to enter. It’s a great place to learn more about the area, pick up a Heritage Trail map and even book a guided walk from a local expert. If you’re looking for more activities in the area, you can book a tour and tasting at the 6 O’clock Gin distillery, or visit Wolfridge Alpaca Barn. Take a guided tour of Acton Court in nearby Iron Acton, which dates from 1535 and was built for a visit by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. 

Get treated like royalty at beautiful Thornbury Castle where you can sleep in a luxurious four poster bed, explore the 15 acres of gardens, or just stop in for afternoon tea or dinner at the 3 AA Rosette restaurant. For something a bit more casual, visit one of the local country pubs such as The White Hart in Littleton or The Bowl Inn in Almondsbury for a Sunday roast or some classic pub grub.  

Chipping Sodbury

A medieval market town with a pretty market square, Chipping Sodbury is located close to the M4 and M5 motorways and just 13 miles from Bristol, so a great option for a day trip, or as part of a tour of local towns and villages. It has that classic Cotswold feel, with a mix of 17th century and Georgian stone buildings, and over 120 listed properties on the main streets.  

Explore more by picking up a Circular Walk or Treasure Hunt leaflet from the Tourist Information Centre (open six days a week), based in the Clock Tower on High Street. Yate and District Heritage Centre in the neighbouring town of Yate has exhibitions and collections on local history if you wish to learn more. 

As well as a good selection of independent shops, historic pubs and popular restaurants, the town also hosts regular markets (which is where the name Chipping Sodbury actually comes from – the prefix ‘Chipping’ denotes a place where markets are held), including Chipping Sodbury Farmers Market on the second Saturday and last Thursday of the month. 

The nearby village of Little Sodbury has several historic sites worth visiting too, including the 15th-century manor house (with a Great Hall that once hosted Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) and a large Iron Age hill fort. 

Once you’ve explored the town, you can venture further into the scenic surrounding countryside – Chipping Sodbury is located on both the Frome Valley Walkway and close to the Cotswold Way

Explore more of the Cotswolds

Staying in the area for a few days? There are plenty of other local Cotswold towns and villages worth visiting, including Cirencester, Tetbury, Malmesbury, Castle Combe and Corsham.  

Add some local attractions to your itinerary, whether you want to visit historic National Trust properties at Dyrham Park, Newark Park and Lacock Abbey, beautiful landscapes at Highgrove Gardens, or take part in outdoor activities at West Country Water Park.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can book on to a guided tour or excursion - Rabbie's Tours offer a one-day tour of Stonehenge and quintessential villages of the Cotswolds, a multi-day tours taking in the Cotswolds with other historic towns such as Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. Mad Max Tours run small group day tours to key local sites and towns, Cotswold villages, Cheddar Gorge, Stonehenge, Wells and Glastonbury. 

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Get to know the historic towns, pretty villages and gorgeous countryside that make this area so special.

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