The picturesque town of Bradford on Avon is situated on the southern edge of The Cotswolds – one of the most popular tourist destinations in England and a simply stunning place to relocate or buy a property.
Surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and woodland, just a stone’s throw from the city of Bath and boasting beautiful honey-coloured buildings, it’s no wonder more people than ever want to get away from it all and move to this rural retreat.
But what many people don’t realise is that Bradford on Avon is more than just a rural delight but a great place to get outdoors, learn more about history, indulge in some delicious foods and even treat yourself to something special from one of the numerous independent boutique shops.
We want to show you just how much we love the town, so we’ve gathered together a list of the best things to do in Bradford on Avon here. Don’t miss them!
1. Explore The Shambles
If you only visit one place in Bradford, make sure it’s the iconic cobblestoned passageway known as The Shambles. This beautiful street features the only timber-framed building in the town that dates back to Tudor times and was once a marketplace in the centre of town.
These days it’s filled with independent and quirky retailers, cafes, beautiful floral displays and much more besides. If you look closely at the Post Office, you’ll even notice a rare monogram of Edward VIII. Come here for a step back in time, afternoon tea or even a spot of retail therapy.
Find out more about The Shambles, Bradford on Avon here.
2. Mess around on the river and canal
Prefer to get some fresh air and see the town from a whole new perspective? Then why not hire a paddle board (SUP), Canadian canoe, kayak, punt or rowing punt and hit the Avon river or Kennet and Avon Canal?
Simply visit the Lock Inn or the Bath Boating Station and pay a small fee for a few hours of fun for the whole family.
You can even enjoy lessons from a qualified instructor from the Wiltshire Outdoor Learning team if needed.
Find out more about outdoor adventures in Bradford on Avon here.
Of course, you can take your paddle board with you if you’re already a fan of this water sport but you’ll need a licence. Once you’ve finished your active day of fun, take the family to one of the nearby cafes or restaurants to refuel and get ready for more adventure.
3. Visit the medieval Tithe Barn & Barton Farm
Tithe Barn is one of the largest medieval barns in England measuring an impressive 51 metres long with an amazing timber cruck room that stands in beautiful countryside.
Built back in the 1400s, it was designed to serve the richest nunnery in England, Barton Grange and is now owned by English Heritage.
The barn itself forms part of a group of six buildings that make up Barton Grange Farm and is considered to be one of the best surviving medieval barns in the UK. What better place to soak up local history, treat yourself at the lovely family-run cafe and, in the summer, even treat yourself and the family to ice cream?
4. Treat yourself to afternoon tea
Here at Cobb Farr, we love nothing better than the cosy ritual of traditional English afternoon tea, especially just over the bridge from us at The Bridge Tearooms in Bradford on Avon.
This award-winning place used to be a tailor’s and then a blacksmith’s cottage and retains the same ‘Hansel and Gretel’ feel of when it was built in around 1502. Once you step inside, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you take in the Victorian decor, wooden beams, gleaming bone china and classical music playing faintly in the background. There are even stories that this place is haunted by a ghostly woman.
When it comes to food, you can choose from a fantastic menu of traditional English breakfasts, light bites, meals and even vegetarian and vegan options for afternoon tea.
5. Enjoy a historic walking tour of Bradford on Avon
We believe that this is one of the best ways to get clued up about 2500 years of local Bradford on Avon history and really get to know this ancient Cotswold Town.
Run by Blue Badge Tourist Guides, you’ll be taken on a 90-minute adventure through time and visit all the famous tourist sites. If you prefer, you can also do your own walking tour, starting at Tourist Information, crossing over to Bridge Street, north to the 13th century town bridge and then on to The Shambles.
From here you can walk through old passageways to the old Weaver’s cottages, up the hillside and on to the Saxon Church of St. Lawrence.
6. Visit Fairfield Animal Centre
Did you know that Bradford on Avon also boasts the Fairfield Animal Centre that makes the perfect kid-friendly day out? Set in 15 acres of Southwick Country Park and just 4 ½ miles from the town, it’s a natural haven for wildlife.
The highlights include alpaca, donkeys, emus, goats, sheep, wallabies and pigs and even a special ‘Rabbit and Guinea Pig Village’ that lets you get up close with these cute creatures. Once you’ve finished, make sure you take any young ones to the Adventure Play Area where they can let off some steam and you can have a break! It’s one of our favourite things to do with kids in Bradford on Avon.
Whether you’re planning a visit to Bradford on Avon to view a property, are new to the area or simply want ideas of some of the things to do here, consider trying one (or all) of the places on this list.
Treat yourself to that afternoon tea, be adventurous and hire a SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard), soak up centuries of history or enjoy some fun with the animals, and you’ll see what a beautiful place this historic Cotswold town is.