12 of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to visit

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Joanne Owen

written by Joanne Owen

updated 26.03.2024


If asked to picture a quintessential rural England , chances are your mind’s eye will conjure a  Cotswolds  landscape. Covering a stretch of south-central and southwest England and the West Midlands, the region is strewn with handsome hamlets nestled in river valleys, and elegant history-rich towns that radiate English country charm. Read on to discover the 12 prettiest Cotswolds villages to visit.

1. Blockley — a picturesque village with glorious gardens

2. bourton on the water — the venice of the cotswolds villages, 3. burford - gateway to the cotswolds, 4. castle combe — one the prettiest cotswolds villages in england.

  • 5. Chipping Campden — one of the best Cotswolds villages

6. Cirencester — the capital of the Cotswolds

  • 7.  Stanton — thatched fabulousness

8. Stow-on-the-Wold — scenic shopping

9. the slaughters — pastoral perfection.

  • 10. Stratford-Upon-Avon - Beauty and the Bard

11. Broadway - quaint Cotswolds village allure

12. bibury - timeless english architectural charm, free online resources with our staycations cotswolds guidebook.

The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Cotswolds , your essential guide for visiting Cotswolds .

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Refreshing English Countryside Break

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Refreshing English Countryside Break

Outside of London, England is known with a countryside full of history, picturesque villages, patchwork hills, and winding country roads. Explore the countryside with its castles, parks, and historical cities such as Oxford.

Built on a series of terraces above the valley of the Knee Brook, beautiful Blockley offers a window into England’s medieval landscape. Speckled with grazing sheep, the open pastures on the hill opposite the village look pretty much as they did back then when sheep were brought to Blockley to be sheared before their wool was woven in mills at the bottom of the valley.

In time, the woollen mills were converted to process silk, a legacy you’ll see today during a scenic stroll around the village’s maze of paths. Look out for the Old Silk Mill and the Ribbon Mill buildings.

Row of Cotswold cottages, Blockley © Andrew Roland/Shutterstock

Row after row of Cotswold quaintness in Blockley © Andrew Roland/Shutterstock

Testifying its idyllic English charm, Blockley’s Vicarage and St Peter Church were used as locations in the  Father Brown  TV series. As for other sights, Blockley is known for its elegant English country gardens.  Mill Dene Garden is a must-visit for romantics and horticulturists. This is an especially great place to visit in the spring,

With a beautiful stream, and a garden terraced into the steep valley, the panoramas offer awe-inspiring views across the rolling Cotswold landscape. There’s also a Fruit Garden and herb potager, plus an enchanting grotto to relax in.

Where to stay in Blockley

  • For a relaxing family break: Pearl Cottage
  • For a charming atmosphere: Middle Rose

Find more accommodation options to stay in Blockley

Thanks to the elegant 18th-century bridges that cross the River Windrush that flows through its heart, Bourton-on-the-Water is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds and one of the most romantic places in the UK .

While it’s definitely one of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to visit ( and England as a whole , for that matter), it’s also home to attractions that will keep the whole family happy. Among them is the Old New Inn's fun Model Village  that depicts Bourton as it was in 1937. You can also book a stay at the inn — the rooms ooze warm and welcoming country elegance.

Bourton-on-the-Water village in the Cotswolds © Reimar/Shutterstock

No bridge is too far in Bourton on the Water - the Venice of the Cotswolds villages © Reimar/Shutterstock

Set in nine acres of woodland,  Birdland  is another child-pleasing Bourton highlight. Home to over 500 birds - from owls and pelicans to flamingos and ibis - it also boasts England’s only King Penguin breeding group.

With an area devoted to parrots (the Pandemonium of Parrots), a Jurassic Journey woodland experience replete with life-sized dinosaur models, plus the indoor Discovery Zone it’s easy to spend an entire day here without hearing a single “I’m bored!” complaint.

Where to stay in Bourton on the Water

  • For location: The Lansdowne Guest House
  • For couples: Chester House Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay in Bourton on the Water

Often referred to as the “Gateway to the Cotswolds (it’s part of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds region),  Burford  boasts an outstandingly beautiful high street, with attractive 17th- and 18th-century houses descending to a packhorse bridge over the River Windrush.

Halfway down the hill, the 16th-century Tolsey building houses the  Tolsey Museum . As you descend, look out for the oldest pharmacy in England -  Reavley's . This establishment has operated as a chemist since 1734 and dispenses tried-and-tested traditional remedies to this day.

Burford high street in the Cotswolds © Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

Burford high street in the Cotswolds © Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

The vista around the river is dominated by a huge cathedral-like church, considered so important that its substandard 19th-century restoration prompted William Morris to found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. If you fancy basing yourself in Burford,  Burford House comes highly recommended. Here you'll find a 17th-century Cotswold stone inn with exposed beams, leaded windows, cosy log fires and four-poster beds.

Where to stay in Burford

  • For stylish stays: The Fox at Barrington
  • For price and quality: The Royal Oak Burford

Find more accommodation options to stay in Burford

Tucked in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in northwest Wiltshire, Castle Combe is often called “the prettiest village in England." It's certainly one of the best Cotswolds villages to visit. With no new houses built here since the 1600s, Castle Combe has a decidedly fairy-tale feel - honey-hued houses, a faceless 13th-century clock, and a picture-perfect bridge over a babbling river.

Little wonder, then, that it's long been used as a home base for all manner of movies and TV shows, from  Bridgerton  and  The Wolf Man to  Stardust  and  War Horse . It also featured in the original Dr Doolittle film.

Quaint Castle Combe village in the Cotswolds - "the prettiest village in England"

Quaint Castle Combe village - one of the best Cotswolds villages to visit in England © Shutterstock

As for what to do in crazily quaint Castle Combe, after snapping an obligatory shot of the bridge, head up The Street from Market Place and follow the footpath onto the woodland trail - a lovely 5.5-mile loop along which you might spy woodpeckers, owls and buzzards.

Then head back to Market Place to enjoy a well-earned pint in the most picturesque of surroundings. Take your pick from  The White Hart  or  The Castle Inn , both of which also serve great grub, and have stylish rooms to overnight in.

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5. Chipping Campden — one of the best Cotswolds villages

Situated at the start of the national  Cotswold Way Trail, Chipping Campden is the quintessential Cotswold town, with its buildings and old-time ambience having been preserved by the fastidious Campden Trust since 1929. No messy telegraph and power cables sully the attractiveness of the high street here — all wires are buried underground or else brought into the backs of houses. Intrusive shop fronts are banned too.

Historic Cotswolds village of Chipping Campden, featuring its ancient market hall © Peter Nadolski/Shutterstock

The ancient market hall of historic Chipping Campden © Peter Nadolski/Shutterstock

Another of  Chipping Campden’s  quirks (and attractions) is the huge variety of architectural styles that have endured through the centuries. Here many architectural pleasures await from the 1627  National Trust Market Hall  that looks like an Italian Renaissance loggia (but with Cotswold-style gables) to the dramatic Jacobean gatehouse to Campden Manor House, also known as  Old Campden House .

The town is also dappled with boutiques devoted to exquisitely-made crafts, in part a legacy of the  Guild and School of Handicrafts , which was established in East London in 1888 before moving here in 1902. Head to  Robert Welch’s  on the Lower High Street to see contemporary incarnations of the Guild’s design excellence ethos.

Otherwise, visit the  Court Barn Museum of Craft and Design  to learn about the Guild and buy beautifully-made pottery, textiles and jewellery. As might be expected of Chipping Campden, this makes for an exceptionally scenic shopping experience.

Where to stay in Chipping Campden

  • For delicious English breakfast: Badgers Hall
  • For unique character: Eight Bells Inn

Find more accommodation options to stay in Chipping Campden

Back in the day, when it was founded in the 1st century AD, Cirencester was the second largest city in Roman Britain — only surpassed by London in size. Today it’s a thriving market town in which locals are well-used to unearthing Roman pottery in their gardens.

Talking of which, visit the  Corinium Museum  to marvel at incredible archaeological finds representing Cotswold life over the course of 12,000 years - it’s an enthralling experience for all ages, kids included.

Cirencester a small town in The Cotswolds in England © KayRansom/Shutterstock

The mega-pretty Cirencester Park Mansion © KayRansom/Shutterstock

Other Cirencester sights include  Cirencester Park . Known locally as The Mansion, and set in a 3000-acre woodland and pasture park, it's screened from the town by the tallest yew hedge in the world, no less.

Cirencester is also a great place to shop, not least for craft lovers.  New Brewery Arts , for example, is one of the finest centres of contemporary craft in southern England, with a gallery and studio shops to peruse, and a coffee house to kick back in.

Where to stay in Cirencester

  • For B&B: The Old Brewhouse
  • For an ambient atmosphere: Wild Thyme & Honey

Find more accommodation options to stay in Cirencester

7.  Stanton — thatched fabulousness

Could a village  be  more perfect?  Stanton  is definitely one of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to visit and (you know the drill by now) that’s really saying something. A parish in Gloucestershire’s Tewkesbury Borough, Stanton sits sleepily on the slopes of Shenbarrow Hill, its narrow streets framed by impossibly attractive thatched stone cottages.

Head to the 17th-century  Mount Inn  to enjoy a post-walk, locally-brewed pint, and stirring views towards the Malvern Hills and Welsh mountains. Arty types might want to check out the summer schools held in  Stanton Guildhouse , with expert-led courses on everything from making stained glass and pottery to woodturning and watercolour painting.

Stanton thatched cottage © PJ photography/Shutterstock

Picture book perfection - an impossibly pretty thatched cottage in Stanton © PJ photography/Shutterstock

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After exploring Stanton, head to  Snowshill Manor and Garden . Stanton and Snowshill are connected by a wonderful walking trail  that will make you feel like you've stepped into the pages of a picture book. This charming - and unique - National Trust property was designed by eccentric Charles Wade, who was hugely influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

His playful passion for hand-crafted objects is clear to see from the curios on display - everything from unusual musical instruments to flamboyant masks.

The highest and one of the prettiest Cotswolds villages, Stow-on-the-Wold is also a high point for visitors seeking a spot for retail therapy. And it was ever thus here - the town has been an important trading centre since Roman times. 

The Cotswold town of Stow on the Wold © Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

Stow-on-the-Wold's famous Market Square before traders and shoppers descend © Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

With a huge market square showing the scale of sheep trading that took place between 1107 and the 1980s, Stow is rich in classy antique shops, galleries, delis and independent boutiques peddling country style products. Check out the wooden stocks that once served as a warning to wrong-doers while here.

A lively Farmers Market is held on the square on the second Thursday of the month. Stow is also within easy reach of  Batsford Arboretum  and the  Cotswold Falconry Centre , both of which delight kids and adults alike.

Where to stay in Stow-on-the-Wold

  • For a central but quiet location: Stow Lodge Hotel
  • For lovely cosy stays: Lucy's Tearoom

Find more accommodation options to stay in Stow-on-the-Wold

If compelled forced to pick  the  prettiest Cotswolds villages, The Slaughters (Lower and Upper) might just nab the number one slot. Connected by the tiny River Eye stream, a tributary to the river Windrush, both villages boast traditional Cotswold limestone cottages, with the Eye flowing and tinkling beneath a series of stone bridges.

Fascinating fact - while the name might conjure images of a bloody historic battle, Slaughter actually derives from the Old English word for a miry, muddy place - a “slough” or “slothre” - which describes the land on which the villages lie.

Lower Slaughter’s Old Mill  is a must-visit beacon of loveliness, with a long history to boot - the 1086 Doomsday Book records a mill on this very site. Today it houses a museum, craft shop and tearooms, plus a parlour famed far and wide for its homemade ice cream. 

Cotswold village of Lower Slaughter © Andrew Roland/Shutterstock

Lower Slaughter - one of the prettiest Cotswolds villages. Probably. © Andrew Roland/Shutterstock

To reach Upper Slaughter, follow the lane that follows the Eye upstream, looking out for the Elizabethan manor house on your right as you approach the village. Set in 8 acres of gardens and parkland with a river meandering through its gorgeous grounds, this 17th-century former rectory is now  Lords of the Manor Hotel  - well worth staying in if you fancy living it large, aristo-style.

10. Stratford-Upon-Avon - Beauty and the Bard

If you’re visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, chances are you’ll want to take in all (or at least some) of its many Shakespearean sights. We’ll begin at the beginning by suggesting a visit to the  Bard’s Birthplace  on Henley Street.

Next up, put Shakespeare’s life in context by exploring the award-winning  Tudor World Museum , before heading to the site of his  New Place  home. Demolished in 1759, it’s been reimagined so visitors can walk in Willy’s footsteps, with artefacts relating to his life here exhibited in neighbouring  Nash’s House .

William Shakespeare's Birthplace at Henley street, in Stratford upon Avon ©  Alicia G. Monedero/Shutterstock

Lost for words - Bard's beautiful birthplace building in Stratford upon Avon © Alicia G. Monedero/Shutterstock

To see where Shakespeare first put quill to paper, you could join an informative, interactive tour of his schoolroom. Alternatively, if you’re pressed for time, nothing beats the convenience (and fun) of an  open-bus tour around Stratford-upon-Avon. Several other Shakespearean attractions can be enjoyed close to town, among them  Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and  Mary Arden’s Farm .

Home to Shakespeare’s grandparents and the childhood home of his mother, Mary Arden, the farm has plenty to entertain the whole family - from falconry displays and nature trails, to “meet the animals” experiences and 16th-century-style entertainers.

  • For historic charm: The White Swan Hotel
  • For modern stays: Baraset Barn Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Wedged into an outlying corner of Worcestershire five miles west of Chipping Campden Broadway is a handsome medieval village at the foot of the steep escarpment that rolls along the western edge of the Cotswolds. It seems likely that the Romans were the first to settle here, but Broadway’s zenith was a stop for stagecoaches plying between London and Worcester.

This has defined much of the village’s present appearance – its long, broad main street framed by honey-stone cottages and former coaching inns shaded beneath chestnut trees. It’s undeniably attractive and, like Campden, can attract more visitors than is comfortable – but unlike its neighbour, Broadway feels less able to absorb them.

Pretty cottages along High Street, Broadway, Cotswolds © Shutterstock

Pretty cottages along High Street, Broadway, Cotswolds © Shutterstock

Ordinary, everyday life exists here somewhere, away from the tearooms, souvenir shops and neatly mown roadside lawns, but in truth, there’s not much sign of it. Visit the two outstanding museums, and enjoy an early morning stroll while the streets are empty.

Then move on great walks leading up to the iconic hilltop Broadway Tower and around peaceful Stanton village, there are interesting stately homes at Snowshill and Stanway, and ruins of a medieval abbey at Hailes.

Where to stay in Broadway

  • For luxury: Abbots Grange Manor House
  • For couples: Russell's

Find more accommodation options to stay in Broadway

Hidden away on the B4425 between Cirencester and Burford, at the point where the road crosses the River Coln, the village of Bibury – like Broadway, Burford and Bourton-on the-Water – is a hugely popular Cotswolds tourism honeypot. Winningly attractive (and famously dubbed among the prettiest Cotswolds villages), it draws crowds by the coachload.

Set back from Bibury’s main road is the focus of every photographer’s attention. Arlington Row , originally built around 1380 as a wool store, was converted in the seventeenth century into a line of cottages to house weavers working at nearby Arlington Mill. It was this glimpse of hound’s-tooth gables, warm yellow stone and wonky windows which is now immortalized in the UK passport as an image of England.

Cotswold cottages in Bibury © Shutterstock

Cotswold cottages in Bibury © Shutterstock

By a tiny bridge over the River Coln stands the Bibury Trout Farm . Unsurprisingly popular, since it’s the only paying attraction in a heavily touristed village, the fishery has footpaths leading out across a network of ponds to scenic picnic spots.

Outside of London, England is known for its idyllic countryside full of history, picturesque villages, patchwork hills, and winding country roads. Explore the countryside with our tailor-made Refreshing English Countryside Break .

Where to stay in Bibury

  • For stunning surroundings: The Swan Hotel
  • For the attention to detail: Sycamore

Check out the maps listed below to discover the highlights and best places to visit while walking and driving in picturesque Cotswolds locations. You'll find full descriptions of the routes, plus much more, in the Rough Guide Staycations Cotswolds guidebook.

  • South Cotswolds full-day excursion
  • Cirencester to the Churn Valley tour
  • Towns and Gardens around the North Cotswolds

Ready for a trip to the Cotswolds? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Cotswolds or The Rough Guide to England .

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to England without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

We may earn commission from some of the external websites linked in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Header image: it's not for nothing that Castle Combe in the Cotswolds is known as “the prettiest village in England” © Shutterstock

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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The Cotswolds: The 20 Best Places To Visit

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The Cotswolds epitomise the very best of the English countryside: gorgeous villages of honey-coloured stone nestling in the hills, surrounded by green fields that have been farmed for centuries.

cotswolds pin

Covering over 2,000 square kilometres and the second largest protected landscape in England, visitors to the Cotswolds will be spoilt for choice with things to see and do.

Here’s our list of twenty of the best places to enjoy if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this beautiful part of the country.

Table of Contents

One of the principal towns in the Cotswolds, Burford sits on the River Windrush eighteen miles to the west of Oxford.

Its high street of golden stone buildings is typical of the area. Notable landmarks include the Grade I listed parish church of St John the Baptist, the beautiful Burford Priory and the 16th century Tolsey building, once a meeting place for medieval merchants and now home to a museum charting the town’s history.

Burford is a great location for shoppers, with a treasure trove of antiques shops and up-market boutiques. After flexing your credit card, why not take a break in one of its excellent restaurants and spend the night at a historic inn.

2. Castle Coombe

Not one of the more famous Cotswolds villages – which reduces the number of tourists – but one of the prettiest.

Castle Coombe is one of several Wiltshire villages in this list. It is divided into two main areas: the By Brook next to the river, and Upper Castle Coombe, on higher ground to the east.

The village has a collection of picturesque landmarks including a market cross, two water pumps and a parish church with what is reputed to be one of the oldest working clocks in England. There is also a luxury hotel and a golf course, and on the edge of the village something a little different – the Castle Combe racing circuit, where you can try out different vehicles or test the limits of your own.

3. Cirencester

Lying on the lower slopes of the Cotswold Hills, Cirencester is sometimes referred to as the “Capital of the Cotswolds”.  It has been an important town for centuries and the local Corinium museum traces its long history through artefacts including Anglo-Saxon gold, Roman mosaics and medieval sculptures.

Visitors with some time to spare should head west to Cirencester Park, the country house of Earl Bathurst, to view its collections of art and spectacular gardens. As well as the pleasant walks and grottoes, the park contains the tallest yew hedge in England. The million tons of clippings produced by its annual pruning are used in the manufacture of drugs to treat cancer.

4. Upper and Lower Slaughter

As well as having the most interesting names in the Cotswolds (Slaughter is actually derived from the ancient English word for muddy), Upper and Lower Slaughter are amongst the area’s most beautiful villages. They are also extremely old: they were mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086.

Both Slaughters lie on the banks of the tiny river Eye, a tributary of the Windrush. A ford crosses the water at its widest point and several stone footbridges connect the two sides of the communities. Amongst the historic buildings are the Old Mill at Lower Slaughter, now open to the public and housing a museum, tea room and gift shop. There is limited parking  in the villages, but they are easily reached on foot via a pleasant stroll from Bourton-on-the-Water.

5. Bourton-On-The-Water

As its name suggests, Bourton lies on a river, the Windrush, which meanders its way through the heart of the village flanked by long, wide greens. The several bridges which arch across the water have given Bourton its nickname of “The Venice of the Cotswolds”.

The river is at the heart of village life and provides the unlikely venue for an annual game of medieval football. Both the goals are placed in the river itself, making this the wettest  football match you’re ever likely to see. Year-round attractions include a one-ninth scale model of the village (complete with its own model village), the Cotswold Motoring Museum, and Birdland Park and Gardens, home to avian life from penguins through to parrots.

6. Chipping Norton

Fondly known as “Chippy” to the locals, Chipping Norton still runs much as it has since the 13th century. Unlike some of its neighbours it remains a ‘real’ town, not yet overshadowed by the demands of tourism.

There has been a market here since the 13th century, while the 15th century saw the town thrive with the profits of the wool trade. The great church of St Mary, with its richly decorated interiors, provides evidence of its former wealth and status.

Even older than the church and market are the Rollright Stones, an ancient megalithic stone circle just to the north of the village. The circle is comprised of three monuments known as the King’s Stone, the King’s Men and the Whispering Knights. Legend has it that a local witch petrified the king and his men when the king failed a challenge, and that the King’s Stone comes to life when the church clock strikes midnight.

7. Winchcombe

A haven for walkers, Winchcombe sits on no fewer than seven different long-distance footpaths: the Cotswold Way, Gloucestershire Way, Wychavon Way, Windrush Way, Warden’s Way, St Kenelm’s Way and St Kenelm’s Trail. Keen ramblers should visit in May when the town holds its annual walking festival.

For lovers of locomotives, Winchcombe also has a station on the restored heritage Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway. Nearby Sudeley Castle (shown above) with its nine beautiful gardens is well worth a visit, but check the website before you go: it remains a private residence and is only open to visitors at particular times of the year.

8. Broadway

Sometimes referred to as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds”, Broadway’s pretty high street is lined with a variety of shops and cafés and is known as a centre for arts and antiques. Visitors planning to stay in the town will find a variety of accommodation, including the grand Lygon Arms, a historic inn dating back to the 17th century.

As well as plenty of places to eat and shop, Broadway offers two museums, the Ashmoleon and the Gordon Russell Museum, dedicated to the twentieth century furniture maker. Just outside the village the imposing Broadway Tower has a long and fascinating history. Used in its time as a beacon, a residence for famous artists, and a wartime look-out point, it is today open to visitors. Climb to the top to enjoy stunning views of the Cotswold scenery.

9. Moreton-in-Marsh

One of the Cotswold towns to be served by its own railway station, pretty Moreton-in-Marsh has a small high street lined with golden-coloured buildings. A handful of antiques, craft and gift shops are supplemented by several good cafés and hotels.

The nearby Batsford Arboretum houses England’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs, as well as glass and woodturning studios where visitors can observe the craftspeople at work. The venue hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including photography workshops and treasure hunts.

10. Stow-on-the-Wold

The small market town of Stow-on-the-Wold is thought to have originated as an Iron Age fort. In later centuries several fairs were established there and the large market square that still stands at its centre testifies to its former importance to regional trading.

Today, Stow has many fine antique shops, art galleries and crafts shops. A farmer’s market is held in the town square on the second Thursday of every month, and May and October see hundreds of visitors arrive for the Gypsy Horse Fair, held in open fields just ten minutes’ walk from the town centre.

The picture postcard village of Bibury lies on the banks of the river Coln in Gloucestershire. Named “the most beautiful village in England” by the famous designer and artist William Morris, perhaps Bibury’s most photographed cottages are those found at Arlington Row.  These were once the homes of weavers and wool was washed there before being taken to nearby Arlington Mill. In recent times they have been used as locations for television series and films including  Stardust and  Bridget Jones’s Diary.

This is a village to look at and enjoy. There is little in the way of amenities, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a prettier spot to while away a quiet afternoon.

12. Cricklade

Everything you need to know about Cricklade can be summed up by the town’s Latin motto, i n loco delicioso -“in a pleasant place”.

Founded in the ninth century, today its main claim to fame is its large nature reserve, North Meadow. Here, the unique habitat formed by the regular winter flooding of the rivers Thames and Churn provides a home for eighty per cent of England’s snake’s head fritillaries – a pretty, purple flower which blooms in late April to early May.

In June, the annual Cricklade Festival welcomes thousands of visitors from across the region to enjoy a day of free entertainment including live music, dancers, magicians and puppet shows.

13. Tetbury

Tetbury’s history as an important market for the Cotswold wool and yarn trade has shaped one of those eccentric traditions beloved of English provincial life – the annual Tetbury Woolsack Races. Participants carry a 60 pound sack of wool up and down the steeply sloping Gumstool Hill to raise money for good causes. Visit on the last Monday of May to join the thousands of spectators cheering them on.

Both Charles, the Prince of Wales and Anne, the Princess Royal have estates near Tetbury. You can sample some of the produce from the former in the town’s own Highgrove Shop. Whilst in the town centre be sure to check out the historic market hall and the “Chipping Steps”, once home to a medieval jobs fair.

14. Malmesbury

The market of Malmesbury in Wiltshire lies in the southern reaches of the Cotswolds. It is perhaps best known for its ancient abbey which provides the resting place for Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great and the first king to rule the whole of England. The abbey guest house was constructed in 1220 and now houses The Old Bell, which claims to be the oldest hotel in the country.

The last two weeks of August see the Malmesbury carnival come to town, with the finale procession held on the first Saturday in September. Over thirty events take part around the carnival itself, including a recent attempt to break the world record for the largest pillow fight.

15. Stanton

Built almost completely of golden Cotswold stone, Stanton is considered to have some of the most distinguished architecture of any of the Cotswold villages. Its parish church, St Michael’s and All Angels, is a Grade I listed building with the oldest parts dating back to 1200. Other notable buildings include the Elizabethan Old Manor Farmhouse and Stanton Court, a manor house built early in the seventeenth century.

The 102 mile footpath, the Cotswold Way, runs through Stanton. Visitors climbing the steep hill from the village to the Mount Inn will be rewarded with a real fire in winter and spectacular views from the terrace in summer.

16. Cheltenham

Located on the edge of the Cotswolds, the elegant Regency town of Cheltenham has been a spa resort ever since its mineral springs were discovered in 1716.

The town is a great destination for culture vultures. Its main museum and art gallery, the Wilson, hosts regular exhibitions and events throughout the year, while music lovers can sample from three regular festivals – the Cheltenham Music Festival, Jazz Festival and the somewhat more niche Ukelele Festival of Great Britain.

For sports lovers, the Cheltenham Cricket Festival features Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, whilst March sees Cheltenham Racecourse host yet another Cheltenham Festival, the National Hunt horseracing meeting.

17. Chipping Campden

Another of the Cotswold towns to have a rich history in the wool trade, today Chipping Campden is a popular destination for tourists looking to sample its independent shops, cafés and restaurants. Cultural attractions include a literary and music festival, while there are many pleasant walks through the town and surrounding countryside.

Chipping Campden has hosted the annual Olimpick Games since 1612, with sports including the painful skin-kicking, the destructive piano smashing, and the inexplicable “dwile flonking”, involving two teams of dancers and a wet rag. Fireworks, a torch-lit procession and dancing mark the end of the festivities, which take place on the Friday after the Spring Bank Holiday.

18. Northleach

Founded in the eighth century, the small market town of Northleach near Cheltenham has  a population of fewer than 2,000 people. The compact town centre has changed little in over 500 years: small alleys lined with half-timbered houses lead off the marketplace, and it is rumoured that a maze of tunnels and vaults lie beneath the streets.

Most of the shops in Northleach are independently owned and offer everything from bread and cakes to dolls houses and music boxes. Visitors looking to extend their stay will find a good selection of accommodation, pubs and restaurants.

19. Snowshill

The tiny village of Snowshill, with its fewer than 200 inhabitants, makes up for in beauty what it lacks in size. It is also one of the most fragrant of the Cotswold villages, home to 35 acres of lavender fields at Snowshill Lavender. Visitors to the farm can purchase lavender products, plants and local crafts.

Just outside the village lies Snowshill Manor, built in the 16th century and now owned by the National Trust. Built in Cotswold stone, it is notable for housing the collection of one of  its former owners, Charles Paget Wade. Wade’s tastes were nothing if not eclectic, and visitors can view objects including alarm clocks, toys, musical instruments and 26 sets of Japanese samurai armour.

Our list closes with something a little different…

The otherwise unassuming town of Bladon is notable for one reason: it is the resting place of probably the most famous Englishman of the past 100 years, wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Generations of Churchills lie in the small churchyard of St Martin’s. Winston’s wife, Clementine, who died twelve years after her husband is buried in the same grave.

Now that we’ve whet your appetite for the Cotswolds, why not take a look at our gallery of ten stunning Cotswolds cottages.

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17 Best Villages in the Cotswolds

Written by Shandley McMurray Updated Mar 30, 2022 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Visiting the Cotswolds is akin to stepping into the pages of a storybook. Undulating hills blanket nearly 800 square miles and five counties that make up this picturesque region. It's the tiny Cotswold villages that really capture your heart in this breathtaking locale, located about two hours west of London .

Honey-colored stone buildings line ancient laneways, and medieval market squares highlight town centers, while thatched cottages push the charm factor to a whole new level in the prettiest Cotswolds villages. The backdrop for films and inspiration for everything from paintings to novels, this lovely region was named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966.

As quintessentially delightful as England gets, the Cotswolds region is one of the best places to spend a weekend . Hike along the 102-mile Cotswold Way National Trail , a footpath stretching from Chipping Camden to the best attractions in Bath , or drive from village to village to truly enjoy the magic found in the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Before you go, plan your sightseeing with our list of the best villages in the Cotswolds.

1. Castle Combe, Wiltshire

2. bourton-on-the-water, gloucestershire, 3. painswick, gloucestershire, 4. bibury, gloucestershire, 5. stow-on-the-wold, gloucestershire, 6. chipping campden, gloucestershire, 7. burford, oxfordshire, 8. broadway, worcestershire, 9. upper and lower slaughter, gloucestershire, 10. kingham, oxfordshire, 11. cirencester, gloucestershire, 12. naunton, gloucestershire, 13. snowshill, gloucestershire, 14. minster lovell, oxfordshire, 15. lacock, wiltshire, 16. stanton, 17. asthall, map of villages in the cotswolds.

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, and one of its most beautiful villages.

Time and again, Castle Combe has been deemed " the prettiest town in England ." Once you arrive, you'll understand why it gained this title, along with its top placement on our list of the best villages in the Cotswolds. Peppered with slate-roofed, honey-hued cottages and featuring a 14 th -century market square, it's hard to beat the authenticity found in this adorable village.

You won't find box stores or tourist shops in this sleepy town. Instead, you'll feel like a local while wandering its tiny streets. Speaking of streets, you'll want to sightsee along these all day. Each building lining the laneways is ancient, dating back to the 14 th century at least.

Buy baked goods or flowers left for sale outside a resident's home, enjoy a meal at The White Hart (it's been around since the 1300s), or visit the oldest working medieval Castle Combe Clock . If you're up for adventure, take your car for a spin at the Castle Combe Circuit .

Walk across the stone bridge spanning the winding Bybrook for one of the best photo-worthy backdrops. Then stop at the Manor House Hotel and Golf Club , a five-star hotel with impeccable grounds. This was once home to feudal lords.


Another area superstar is Bourton-on-the-Water. This captivating village has been dubbed the Venice of the Cotswolds due to the sparkling River Windrush , which runs through the heart of town. Spanned by multiple picturesque bridges, this river and the surrounding town are as pretty as a postcard.

You won't find even a hint of modern architecture, which is a lovely treat for visitors hoping for an authentic experience. Enjoy high tea at a riverside café, find your way out of the Dragonfly Maze , shop in a boutique store, or visit the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection .

Expect to share the narrow streets with busloads of tourists if visiting during the summer. This is one of the prettiest places to visit in the Cotswolds, so it gets busy. Plus, there are so many fun things to do in Bourton-on-the Water that it seems to be busy non-stop. If you're hoping for a quieter, more private experience, try booking during the spring or fall.

View over the charming village of Painswick

Painswick's most awe-inspiring attraction is the 14 th -century St. Mary's Church . Outside lies a churchyard so fabulous, it belongs in a storybook. Tombs dating to the 17 th century and 99 perfectly groomed yew trees (legend says the devil won't let the 100th grow) cover the grounds, providing a photo-worthy backdrop.

Once a wool town, Painswick is located just over seven miles south of Gloucester and has been nicknamed "Queen of the Cotswolds" for good reason. This charming town's captivating scenery will put your camera into a frenzy. Quintessential Costwold stone homes line the churchyard's borders and the steep, winding streets of town.

It's easy to get lost in the splendidly narrow laneways, but thankfully Painswick is small, so you'll find your way eventually. Plus, getting lost gives you an excuse to explore areas you might have missed otherwise.

Eagle-eyed visitors can spy remnants of its past (like the donkey doors on Bisley Street ) throughout the village. Another must-see is Rococo Gardens , an 18th-century venue featuring fab gardens, family trails, and art exhibits. Slightly outside of town, this is a lovely spot to enjoy sprawling countryside vistas.


Bibury is a quiet village serenely set along the banks of the River Coln . Thanks to its impeccably preserved cottages, well-manicured gardens, and ancient Arlington Mill , this lovely spot has been dubbed "the most beautiful village in England." You really can't take a bad photograph in this pretty Costwold town.

The most famous street in Bibury is one you won't want to miss and have likely seen on a zillion postcards — Arlington Row is lined by charming 14 th -century weavers' cottages. Backed by a rolling hill, this lovely area is breathtaking, making it one of the most photographed spots in the country and one of the best villages in the Cotswolds.

Bibury Trout Farm is a must-visit for anglers. You'll find a "catch your own" fishery on the premises, the oldest of its kind in the country.

Insider's tip: Arrive in Bibury early in the morning or late in the day to avoid crowds. Also, spring is the most beautiful time to visit — the cottages will be covered with colorful blooms.


The highest of the Cotswold villages, Stow-on-the-Wold sits 800 feet up, on Stow Hill . What it lacks in size, this small market town more than makes up for with charm. It, too, boasts the typical Cotswold stone cottages with sloping roofs that push it into the category of prettiest Cotswold villages.

At its center lies a large market square, a testament to the village's prior importance. Over 20,000 sheep were once sold during a fair held here. Today, you'll find a vibrant farmer's market taking place in the square from 9am to 1pm on the second Thursday of each month.

St. Edward's Church is a gem you really must see. Built over many years between the 11 th and 15 th centuries (multiple additions took place), this unique church is most famous for the yew trees that encroach upon the intricate wooden doorway at the north porch.

Ancient market hall in Chipping Campden

Not only is Chipping Campden one of the most vibrant of the Cotswold villages, but it's also one of the largest . This bodes well for those of you who don't fancy trying to drive a car down tiny narrow streets in search of an elusive parking spot.

An important market town during its wool trade heyday, Chipping Campden boasts a beautiful stone marketplace in the center of town. Alongside the streets lining this marketplace are quaint shops, excellent restaurants, and the most adorable cottages, easily making this one of the best villages in the Cotswolds.

Fulfill your desire to experience a true English teatime with a visit to Badger's Hall Tea Room or Bantam Tea Rooms . Both will delight your senses with a delicious spread.

If you're looking for action, you'll find it in this buzzing Cotswold town, which plays host to music and literary festivals throughout the year. The Cotswold Olimpick Games have been held in Chipping Camden each spring since the early 1600s.

It's here that you'll find people competing in a quirky collection of events: a pentathlon called King of the Hill , rural games (we're talking relays using garbage cans, wheelbarrows, and hay bales), tug o' war, and shin kicking. This will likely be the most interesting games you've ever attended.


Dubbed the southern "gateway to the Cotswolds," Burford lies 20 miles west of Oxford . The high street in this pretty Cotswold village is literally high — it's perched upon a hill. Lined with charming antique shops, boutique stores, and cafés, it offers stunning views of the countryside and plenty of opportunities to lighten your pocketbook.

The Tolsey Museum , a 16 th -century building that once hosted meetings for merchants, lies halfway down the hill. Inside, you'll find a bevy of information about the town's storied past. Speaking of past, the iconic Church of St. John the Baptist stands as a testament to the town's wealthy history.

Built in the late 1100s, this grand building was finished about 400 years later. Inside, you'll find an abundance of ornate beauty, including the 13 th -century Lady Chapel , which boasts magnificent stained-glass windows.

Broadway in winter

Traditional honey-colored houses line the streets of beautiful Broadway. Its shining glory is the chestnut tree-lined high street, which is peppered with quaint shops, adorable cafés, charming restaurants, and intriguing art galleries. If you're on a hunt for antiques, you'll find them aplenty in Broadway.

The impressive Broadway Tower lies just outside the center of town in the 50-acre Broadway Tower Park . You'll find three floors of museum inside this well positioned structure, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can see 16 counties form the rooftop platform in this beautiful village in the Cotswolds.

The tower has been used for a multitude of purposes including as a home to the printing press of Sir Thomas Phillips, an artists' retreat, and a farmhouse. The property also hosts nuclear bunkers left over from the Cold War.

Cotswold cottage in Upper Slaughter

Upper and Lower Slaughter are joined by the River Eye , a tributary of the River Windrush . Don't let their slightly off-putting monikers fool you, these villages are gorgeous. Plus, "slaughter" apparently means "muddy place," which isn't so bad!

Both rife with beauty and history, Upper and Lower Slaughter have been around for a while — they're both mentioned in the 1086 Doomsday Book.

Upper Slaughter is known as a "sainted village," meaning it didn't lose any residents during World War I. A mere four miles from Stow-on-the-Wold, this attractive town is positioned on a verdant grassy slope leading to a picturesque stream.

One mile away lies Lower Slaughter , which is traversed by a lovely stream and peppered with traditional limestone cottages. It's also home to the most romantic street in Britain: Copse Hill Road .

The Slaughters Manor House is a contemporary hotel housed in an exceptional building dating back to the 17 th century. If you're looking for a luxurious experience set within five acres of pristine gardens, you'll want to stay in this Lower Slaughter marvel.

Kingham Village

Beautiful Kingham sits between Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton in the pretty Evenlode Valley . A mere hour-and-a-half train ride from London's Paddington Station, this lovely Cotswold village is a popular weekend destination for big-city folk looking for peace.

For a tiny hamlet, Kingham dishes up a bevy of fantastic food options. The Kingham Plough is a wonderful spot to grab a British meal with a Mediterranean twist. The menu changes daily, so you never know what you'll get, but it's guaranteed to be delicious.

The Wild Rabbit is one of the best restaurants in the Cotswolds. Their innovative menu features food grown on the owners' nearby farm, Daylesford , which is a wonderful place to visit. You'll find everything from candles to creams to cutting boards in its shop. And just outside lies the Bamford Barn , Wellness Spa , and Cookery School .

In addition to its fab food, Kingham boasts the beautiful Cotswolds cottages you've come to see. If you visit in late August, you can catch The Big Feastival , a music and food festival offering concerts, cooking demonstrations, and other family-friendly things to do.

Parish Church of St. John the Baptist in Cirencester

Dubbed the "Capital of the Cotswolds," this ancient town is beautiful and bustling, not to mention one of the best villages in the Cotswolds. The largest village in the region, Cirencester is a popular tourist destination. You'll find plenty of great lodging options, as well as a high street filled with shops ranging from chain stores to eclectic boutiques.

A medieval masterpiece, the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist is the most striking of the three Anglican churches in town. Visitors can join one of two daily guided tours from the middle of March through October. At times, the tower is also available to climb.

Just outside the village lies the extensive remains of one of Britain's largest Roman amphitheaters . It dates to the second century, when Cirencester was known as Corinium. You can learn more about the town's interesting past by exploring the Corinium Museum's diverse exhibits.

View of Naunton Village

Naunton offers visitors a quiet respite in the loveliest of settings. Pack a picnic and enjoy it on one of the lush green spaces. Wander along the ancient streets lined with historic stone cottages. Or pop into the Black Horse Inn for a typical Sunday Roast. This is one of the best things to do in Naunton.

Naunton isn't plagued by popularity, which means you won't have to jostle through the crowds that descend upon other Cotswold towns (i.e. Bourton-on-the-Water). This lack of tourists leaves you more space to enjoy the beauty of this pretty medieval town and makes it easier to get to know the locals.

Set along the River Windrush, the best view on offer can be found from the top of the hill overlooking the village. This pastoral scene is guaranteed to soothe what ails you!

Lavender fields in Snowshill

Fields of lavender surround the quaint town of Snowshill, infusing it with the most wonderful aroma. Another Cotswold beauty, the streets here are lined with small stone cottages, cute cafés, and unique shops. The reason most visit this sweet village, though, is for its spectacular views of the Severn Vale .

This bucolic locale is the perfect place to relax and recharge. Purchase lavender products at Hills Barn Farm . This is where you'll find Cotswold Lavender , a company that farms the odorous crop. Visit during the summer when the lavender is in full bloom. Harvesting usually begins late July into August.

Snowshill Manor and Garden are must visits. Run by the National Trust, this unconventional home once belonged to a one-of-a-kind collector, Charles Wade. Inside, you'll find a variety of eclectic toys, armor, bicycles, and musical instruments, among other interesting finds. Outside, the well-maintained garden offers plenty of hidden places to explore.

Minster Lovell

Minster Lovell serves up romance on a grand scale. Home to a babbling brook and set on the picturesque banks of the River Windrush, this lovely, quiet town seeps charm and is one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. Thatched roofs and honey-hued stone cover the homes that line its quintessential Cotswold streets.

Once a 15 th -century West Oxfordshire manor home, Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote are British Heritage sites you won't want to miss. Today you'll find the romantic ruins of the hall, tower, and dovecote on these pristine grounds.

If you're feeling brave (and the sun is shining) the river makes a good place for a summer dip. Pack a towel as well as a picnic to enjoy on the riverbank or stop in at one of the cute restaurants in town.

Lacock Abbey

Named in the Saxon times, Lacock translates to "little stream." The bubbling Bide Brook runs dramatically through the center of town, upping the charm factor dramatically in this top village in the Cotswolds.

Run by the National Trust, Lacock is wonderfully preserved, and its greens are perfectly manicured. As a result, it's a popular location for film and television productions. You'll recognize its historic buildings and lovely streets from Downton Abbey , Pride and Prejudice , and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince .

The 13 th -century Lacock Abbey is one of the village's most popular attractions. Founded by Ela, Countess of Salisbury, this later became the quirky home of Henry Fox Talbot (he invented the photographic negative). Today, it also houses the Fox Talbot Museum .

Thatched Cotswold cottage in the village of Stanton

The tiny Cotswolds village of Stanton is pretty no matter what season you choose to visit. Whether covered in a blanket of snow, bursting with vibrant floral blooms, or highlighted by the colorful hues of autumn, this untouched, ancient town is one of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Like the other best Cotswold towns, this sleepy village is devoid of modernity and high street shops, as well as crowds and large buildings. Instead, you'll find a peaceful, and incredibly photographable, mix of honey-colored limestone homes and a medieval church (St. Michael and All Angels) that dates to the 12 th century.

A mere three miles from Broadway, this charming village is located close to multiple walking trails, making it easy for visitors to spend a few hours exploring the pastoral landscape. Don't miss a trip to the Shenberrow Hilfort , a historic Iron Age camp that overlooks the village.

Rose-covered entrance to Asthall Manor

The River Windrush winds its way through the quaint village of Asthall, which is highlighted by an ancient, 12 th -century church and its most famous tourist attraction, the historic Asthall Manor .

Once home to the Mitford sisters (Nancy Mitford authored the 1945 novel, The Pursuit of Love ), this spectacular Jacobean manor home and its stunning gardens host on form , an artistic exhibition of numerous sculptures created by artists from around the world. It dates to the early 1600s, and its grounds are more than worthy of a visit if you get the chance.

Located in Oxfordshire, the village's name translates to "at the east nooks," and it is as beautiful as you would expect a Cotswold village to be. You'll find the typical honey-colored stone cottages, gabled roofs, and stunning blooms during warmer months.

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More Places to Visit in England: While you'll likely visit London on your trip to the UK, you'd be amiss if you didn't venture farther into the country to get a real feel for life as a Brit. You can't help but feel smarter in Cambridge . Wandering around the magnificent university's 31 colleges is an unbeatable experience. York boasts a massive and impressive medieval church, as well as a lengthy collection of town walls visitors are welcome to walk.

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20 Stunning, Drool-Worthy Places to Visit in the Cotswolds!

Last Updated: August 11, 2022

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cotswolds towns to visit

Looking for a list of the most beautiful places to visit in the Cotswolds ? Look no further… Below you’ll find a detailed roundup of my favourite Cotswolds towns, villages, and attractions. Enjoy!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with the little part of England we know as the Cotswolds.

With its buttery limestone buildings wedged into rolling green hills, the Cotswolds are an irritatingly wonderful piece of the world with  everything this silly Canadian girl dreamt England would be – charming cottages, adorable pubs, and enough ahh-worthy sights to keep you drooling for weeks on end.

I’ve had the pleasure of road tripping around the Cotswolds twice now, along the way adding many new spots to my ‘retire here with 15 dogs’ list.

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cotswolds towns to visit

And so, I figured it was finally time to round up some of my most delightful finds around the Cotswolds for you! You know, in case you, too, want ideas on where to retire with 15 dogs.

There really are countless incredible places to visit and fun things to do in the Cotswolds, whether you’re after a quiet escape in the countryside or a more vibrant getaway with fun attractions and activities. The question of “which Cotswold village is best” really depends on a lot of factors, so I’ve decided to cover all the bases.

Below, you’ll find my favourite places to visit in the Cotswolds –a Cotswold bucket list with everything from vibrant and exciting hot spots to sleepy and picturesque escapes. Enjoy!

PS: Click here for a full list of beautiful places to visit around England !

Arlington Row, in Bibury, a beautiful village in the Cotswolds

The Best Places in the Cotswolds for a Vibrant and Lively Escape

I’m a bit of a restless traveller, so my preferred getaway is a place that not only offers swoonworthy landscapes and sights, but also opportunities for fun and interesting things to do .

The following places in the Cotswolds are ones I felt had the best of both worlds: scenic views along with plenty of opportunities for shopping, dining, and more.

1. Cirencester

Confusingly pronounced as Siren-sester, this beautiful Cotswold town is known as the Cotswolds’ capital, and one of my favourite places to visit (and eat) in the area.

Sweet potato hash with a poached egg from Jacks in Cirencester

Despite its status as capital, Cirencester feels far less crowded than some of the smaller villages in the Cotswolds, which get congested with coach tours throughout the day.

This means that you’re able to explore more or less in peace, with plenty to see around its warm colourful streets as you gallivant and salivate.

Cirencester in the Cotswolds, Englan

One of the best things to do in the Cotswolds is to simply walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, so eager explorers will also be happy to know that the town is filled with hidden courtyards crammed with adorable boutiques, cafes, and independent retailers, along with The Church of St John the Baptist, by far the most beautiful church I’ve visited in the Cotswolds.

Don’t miss its wide range of interesting artifacts on display, like a golden goblet crafted for Anne Bolelyn.

Inside the Church of St John the Baptist in Cirencester, the Cotswolds.

Of course, I have to mention that Cirencester harbours a special little secret too: a rich Roman history which you can trace at the Corinium Museum, through special plaques scattered around town, and even a quick visit to the former Roman amphitheatre (once a seating space for 8000+ people, now a leafy green space ideal for strolling).

A quaint courtyard in Cirencester in the Cotswolds.

2. Bourton on the Water

While undoubtedly one of the busiest towns in the Cotswolds in terms of tourism, I can’t omit the adorable Bourton on the Water, affectionately dubbed the Venice of the Cotswolds thanks to the scenic River Windrush which cuts through town.

Besides offering the classic Cotswold charm with beautiful houses and peaceful green spaces, Bourton on the Water wins for me in terms of delightful, surprising and quirky attractions.

The Miniature Village for instance is a wonderfully detailed recreation of the village, built to a 1:9 scale with the local Cotswold limestone, complete with miniature trees, miniature displays in the shop windows and a (very meta) miniature version of the Miniature Village which, upon close inspection, has its OWN miniature village. I’ll give you a second to process that.

Miniature village at Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds in England

If you’re travelling with kids (or are a kid at heart), this is probably one of the best things to do in the Cotswolds!

Bourton on the Water Miniature village in the Cotswolds

Another fun attraction is the deceptively challenging Dragonfly Maze, which mixes a traditional maze with a scavenger hunt/riddle of sorts. It’s really good fun, even for a pair of adults.

A photo of tourists relaxing by the water in Bourton on the Water in England.

Combined, all these things make Bourton on the Water one of my favourite villages in the Cotswolds, certainly for those travelling with kids (or still feel about 5 on the inside, like me).

Last but not least, visit during the August Bank Holiday weekend and you’ll get to witness the annual Football in the River match, which yes, is exactly as it sounds….. they play football in the river. Click here for a video!

Bourton on the Water, known as the Venice of the Cotswolds in England

The charming town of Tetbury is (in my mind) one of the loveliest places in the Cotswolds, and if you don’t trust my peasant opinion, know that the town has some royal backing too, as Tetbury is the swanky homebase of none other than Prince Charles, future king of England.

So…. *puts on crown* you know, it’s a pretty nice place.

And while Tetbury is the second largest town in the Cotswolds, its size has done nothing to erode its charm.

A quick stroll through the beautiful streets of Tetbury and you’ll find an endless stream of lovely boutiques, including a flagship shop for Prince Charles’ luxury brand, Highgrove, and even a quirky and free police museum, complete with eerily lifelike figures that snore.

A picture-perfect scene in Tetbury, England in the Cotswolds

Another highlight of course are the medieval Chipping Steps, one of the oldest parts of Tetbury, which consist of a steep set of stairs lined with centuries-old cottages. If you’re lucky (and unfathomably rich), I even saw a few up for sale…

Chipping Steps in Tetbury, England in the Cotswolds

4. Broadway

As its name hints, Broadway’s starring attraction is its High Street, a spacious wide road filled with wonderful boutiques, restaurants and antique shops to rummage through and throw money at. No doubt, this is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds if you’re looking to do a bit of shopping!

During my first Cotswolds road trip, this was the first “busy” town we visited and while I was initially deterred by the bustle of it compared to the sleepy villages we had been hopping through…

Independent boutique in Broadway, England in the Cotswolds

However, I was soon won over with Broadways’ wonderful assortment of cute shops, like Blandford Books, where I picked up a new summer read, and Broadway Deli, with its fully stocked shelves of enticing local goods.

After a quick bite at the ridiculously adorable Crown & Trumpet, I was won over: Broadway is a busy Cotswold town, but one with a lot of vibrant hub bub – perfect for a getaway that’s a bit more fast-paced.

Broadway, England in the Cotswolds

PS: Broadway Tower is located nearby, and it’s well known as one of the most scenic places in the Cotswolds to nab an excellent view!

Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds from outside.

5. Wotton under Edge

Wotton under Edge was another wonderful surprise on my recent trip.

Frequently missed by travellers, this small off-the-radar Cotswold town is one with plenty of surprises to offer those who stop by.

Wotton under Edge, England in the Cotswolds

Not only does Wotton under Edge have a delightful High Street studded with lovely shops, but it also has the unexpected bonuses of charming pink-washed buildings, hidden almshouses, a heritage center with a free museum, and a fascinating 13th century inn, “The Ancient Ram Inn”, beloved by ghosthunters for its connections with the paranormal . Oooooh. If you’re looking for something a little less terrifying, the nearby Wotton Hill supposedly offers stunning green views.

Random fact: Wotton under Edge was the first market town in Gloucestershire to install CCTV. So… now you know.

Perry and Dawes Almshouses in Wotton under Edge, England in the Cotswolds

6. Chipping Camden

As one of the best preserved towns in the Cotswolds, Chipping Camden is a must-add for any Cotswold bucket list.

There’s a little something for everyone here: history lovers can geek out over the sprawling history of this quaint market town, which still has its original 17th century market hall in tact for nosy perusal.

cotswolds towns to visit

Shoppers will be delighted to find an elegantly curved High Street with a lovely assortment of shops…

cotswolds towns to visit

And sports lovers can even make a trip for the annual “Cotswold Olimpicks” (not a typo) which happen every spring, with delightful sporting events including “shinkicking”.

Chipping Camden, England in the Cotswolds

PS: For those of you keen to explore the Cotswolds on foot…….. very far on foot…. Chipping Camden is also the starting point of the Cotswold Way, a walking route that spans 100 miles all the way down to Bath.

Street signs pointing out the Heart of England Way and Cotswold Way in Chipping Camden, England

7. Stow-on-the-Wold

The delightful Stow-on-the-Wold was one of my favourite Cotswold towns we visited during my 1st trip!

No lie – this town is everything you want the Cotswolds to be – quaint cottages charmingly stacked along narrow streets, yet with an ample selection of restaurants, pubs, and shops for some additional things to do.

A beautiful crooked limestone pub in Stow on the Wold, England.

Especially noteworthy is the sprawling market square, once the hotspot for buying/selling sheep, and the nearby Gypsy Horse Fair which comes to town twice a year.

If you have the time, make sure you don’t miss the St Edward’s Church, which is home to a magical little door flanked by yew trees. I didn’t find out about it until after my visit, and I pretty much kicked myself twenty times.

A cute vintage car parked in front of a shop in Stow on the Wold

8. Chipping Norton

Chipping Norton is another market town famous in the Cotswolds for its lively atmosphere and picture-perfect facades.

Historic buildings like beautiful Almshouses and centuries-old pubs fill the town, all sprinkled with delightful pops of colour and life in the form of fun independent shops.

A row of shops in Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds, England

Amusingly, Chipping Norton has a few ties to the pop culture world too. For instance, one of my favourite actors, Wentworth Miller (yes from Prison Break!) was born here, and Jeremy Clarkson (of Top Gear fame) also calls the town home.

And if the name itself doesn’t sound familiar, odds are you would at least know some of the music created in Chipping Norton. That’s because once upon a time (in the 90s), the Chipping Norton Recording Studios were a bustling hub for music recording at their humble location on New Street. Famous hits like “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight” by Cutting Crew were recorded here!

Sorry if that song is now forever stuck in your head again for the next decade.

A farmer's market in the main square of Chipping Norton.

Beautiful Burford has a lot going for it: for instance, it has an elegant sloped High Street that is lined with some of the prettiest stone houses and storefronts in the Cotswolds.

But make no mistake: Burford is more than just a pretty face – this town also has an abundance of historical gems scattered throughout town, like Reavley Chemist – England’s oldest pharmacy, a medieval stone bridge that dates back centuries, and little pops of half-timbered whimsy.

High Street in Burford, England in the Cotswolds

We arrived during golden hour for a quick stop in Burford, but I was lucky enough to catch the town in its prime: late Spring, when wisteria season meant plenty of elegant purple and white wisteria draped across those honey-coloured cottages we love so much.

Does it get any prettier than this?  Not tough to see why I consider the Cotswolds one of the best Spring destinations in Europe.

Wisteria in Burford, England, in the Cotswolds

The Best Sleepy and Picturesque Villages in the Cotswolds

If it’s a relaxed and peaceful getaway you’re looking for, then the following Cotswold villages will likely be of interest. These photogenic gems are the definition of lovely, although a bit lacking in excitement/things to do. Regardless, I still consider them some of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds for a quick escape. So, here are some of the best quiet places in the Cotswolds (in no particular order)…

If you’ve heard of the Cotswolds, odds are you’ve heard of Bibury, perhaps one of the most photographed villages in the entire country.

The scenic houses of Arlington Row are a sight synonymous with the Cotswolds name, and for good reason – they embody all the charm of the Cotswolds in a single frame.

Bibury, England in the Cotswolds

For that reason, it has become a tourist magnet for visitors from all around the world: the Japanese Emperor Hirohito once stayed here during his grand European tour, and it is even said that Henry Ford even once tried to buy a row of these houses to ship back to Michigan because he loved them that much.

cotswolds towns to visit

… But anyways, for those of us without the funds to um, transplant an entire village across continents, a quick visit and photograph will have to suffice. Or a few thousand photographs even… I swear Cotswolds pictures take up 90% of my hard drive.

cotswolds towns to visit

I do think Bibury is one of the prettiest corners of the Cotswolds, but be warned that there isn’t a ton to do here besides scenic strolls, photo opps and eating/drinking at one of the local pubs. If it’s a relaxing escape you’re after though, perhaps that’s all you need!

A peaceful garden in Bibury, England along the water.

11. Castle Combe

Nestled in a picturesque valley in Wiltshire, you’ll find the achingly perfect Castle Combe (pronounced Coom, like coom to this village), one of the loveliest villages in the Cotswolds.

With its photogenic array of classic Cotswold stone houses and bridge, it may lay claim to one of the most picture-perfect photo opps in the entirety of the Cotswolds.

Castle Combe, England in the Cotswolds

And if the village looks familiar, that might be because it has featured in numerous films, including Stardust and War Horse. So, while it may not be the most exciting place to visit in the Cotswolds, I’d say it’s indisputably one of the prettiest.

A beautiful row of houses in Castle Combe, England.

PS: If you fancy a… fancy place to stay, Castle Combe is home to one of the most luxurious hotels in the entirety of the Cotswolds. We had a quick walk around the Manor House grounds and let me just say, it would be a dream to stay here. Click here for photos to see what I mean.

Travel blogger Christina Guan from Happy to Wander walking along the main street of Castle Combe, England.

12. Snowshill

I still remember driving into Snowshill for the first time. The grass was so green, it looked photoshopped.

And as we glided past the honey-coloured stone houses lined with radioactively green grass, a classic red phone booth caught my eye and I was just about ready to hurl myself out the car.

Which I did, for photos’ sake… of course.

Red phone booth in Snowshill, England.

While there isn’t a ton to do in Snowshill, this picturesque village does have one main attraction going for it: the nearby Snowshill Manor and Garden, which stores the bizarre and eclectic treasures of Charles Wade, a man who sought to turn his manor into an extraordinary world away from the monotonous lull of regular life.

A beautiful row of houses in Snowshill, England.

To be fair though, if my regular life looked like this, I would be pretty okay with that…

Snowshill, England in the Cotswolds

13. Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter

Just before my 1st Cotswolds road trip, a friend of mine told me “you HAVE to visit the Slaughters”, and for a second I thought that was her way of telling me, not so subtly, that she wanted me to die.

This is not the case. Against all odds, the Cotswold Slaughters (Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter) are both exceedingly lovely little villages that frequently rank among the cutest villages in the Cotswolds.

cotswolds towns to visit

And while they really have no made-for-tourist attractions like some other Cotswold villages and towns in the area, what they offer up is a simple and quiet idyllic charm.

Both hugging the banks of the River Eye, Lower Slaughter is home to a restored flour mill and a beautiful bridge that makes the ideal backdrop for scenic photos.

Bridge in Lower Slaughter, England.

And Upper Slaughter, which is home to lovely almshouses and a unique ford crossing, has the unique distinction of being one of only a handful of “Doubly Thankful Villages”, having lost no men during either of the world wars.

In fact, George Collett, the village’s local handyman, was part of select few who served in both.

Upper Slaughter, England in the Cotswolds

And as for the name?  Well, they’re said to come from the old English word ‘Slohtre’, which simply means “Muddy place”, rather than… “murder”.

A beautiful bridge over water in the Cotswolds.

14. Adlestrop

Adlestrop doesn’t often make top lists of places to visit in the Cotswolds, but to me, it was one of the quaintest and most adorable villages I’ve been.

Adlestrop, England in the Cotswolds

From classic cottages crowded with green ivy and colourful flower beds to the friendliest village cat named Buster, who apparently sadistically loves attending funerals so he can get cuddles, this tiny rural village (with, admittedly, no attractions for tourists at all), is a lovely little spot to admire the quiet charm that makes the Cotswolds so special.

Fun fact: Jane Austen spent some time in Adlestrop and it’s said that the village inspired her when writing ‘Mansfield Park’.

Adlestrop, England in the Cotswolds

Cotswolds Attractions to Check Out

Besides adorable towns and villages, there are also several wonderful attractions nestled in the Cotswolds as well. Here are some I’d recommend visiting.

15. Berkeley Castle and Butterfly House

What’s a list of pretty places in the Cotswolds without a castle thrown in?

Well, if you’re a princess wannabe/castle junkie like me, the Cotswolds is home to the world-famous Berkeley Castle, a must for your Cotswolds attractions bucket list.

This Norman Castle has been inhabited by the same family for over 9 centuries, which is (by the way) a longer time than any fortress in England can brag about. History creeps through every brick of this beautiful property, where King Edward II was supposedly murdered, so if you want your dose of morbidity, there you go.

Free guided tours are available to all visitors, along with a tropical butterfly house and beautiful walled garden.

Berkeley Castle in the Cotswolds

Plus, a visit here also means a visit to filming sites for various famous productions, including The Other Boleyn Girl and Poldark.

Last but not least, the Edward Jenner Museum is a short walk away from the castle and is dedicated to Berkeley’s most famous resident: Edward Jenner, who pioneered the smallpox vaccine that would go on to save millions of people from the deathly disease.

Edward Jenner Museum in the Cotswolds near Berkeley Castle.

16. Chedworth Roman Villa

I know that Roman ruins aren’t what you typically think of when you imagine the Cotswolds, but nonetheless, the Chedworth Roman Villa is here for you if you want to get a little nerdy with Roman history!

This property (owned by the National Trust) is one of the largest of its kind in Britain, with a lengthy history going all the way back to the 2nd century. A visit here means getting to check out ancient mosaics, sophisticated underfloor heating systems, and artifacts that have remained here for over a thousand years.

Chedworth Roman Villa in the Cotswolds

17. Highgrove Royal Gardens

Just outside of Tetbury is the royal residence of the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles… and while “stopping by” sounds like a great recipe for getting stopped by security (trust me, we actually tried), we normals can actually explore the beautiful gardens of the property through pre-arranged tours!

Tours have been running at Highgrove for 24 years now, and as you might expect, the grounds of this palace are immaculately stunning. Click here for more details!

18. Sudeley Castle

Not far from Winchcombe is where you’ll find the historic Sudeley Castle, which, throughout the past thousand years, has acted as the backdrop to stories from some of the most prominent people in history, including Henry VIII, Anne Bolelyn, and Queen Elizabeth I.

Katherine Parr, AKA Henry VIII’s wifey number 6 is even buried here.

And while Sudeley Castle has the unique distinction of being one of the few castles left in England that is still a residence, it is nonetheless open to the public most days of the year, so you can come see the 10 unique gardens and beautiful rooms of the castle for yourself.

PS: a random but wonderful fact: Sudeley Castle is where you’ll find the world’s largest collection of rare breed pheasants – 16! Click here for more details on how to visit.

Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds <3

19. Blenheim Palace

Grand architecture, stunning grounds and history come together at Blenheim Palace, known best as the birthplace of Winston Churchill (and actually, a little known filming location from Harry Potter! ). This makes it probably one of the most exciting attractions you can visit in the Cotswolds.

As the only non-royal home in the country to have the title of “palace”, it also happens to be one of the biggest houses in all of England. The estate is in fact so expansive that it even has its own miniature railway… It’s a busy place, so it would be a good idea to get a ticket in advance here.

You can also book a variety of tours to Blenheim that combine your day with other Cotswold villages! Here’s a Downtown Abbey themed one.

Blenheim Palace in the Cotswolds

20. Broadway Tower

Last but not least, at 312 metres above sea level, Broadway Tower is the second highest point in the Cotswolds, which of course means it’s a wonderful place for views.

That said, this tower is far more than just a scenic viewpoint. Beyond just a pretty spot for photos, Broadway Tower actually houses a 3-story museum, a nuclear bunker from the Cold War, a stylish visitor center, and a cozy cafe.

Tourists visiting Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds.

Other Cities to Visit in/Near the Cotswolds

Alright, now onto the final section! I want to conclude with some cities and towns on the fringes of the Cotswolds that, while often lumped together with the rest of the spots on this list, aren’t part of the actual Cotswolds proper. It would be a shame to leave them out of this roundup though, so here they are!

I had always known Gloucester for its cathedral, but as I discovered on my recent visit, this city has a lot more than just that to offer.

Gloucester Cathedral is, naturally, a highlight, and reason enough to visit on its own, but all around town, you’ll find beautiful half-timbered buildings and pretty historical streets, a legacy of the city’s 2000+ years of history.

Itching for something a little cooler? Gloucester has seen a vibrant revival in the past few years, with over a dozen Victorian warehouses near the city’s docks converted into space for a variety of shops, museums and bars. Needless to say, Gloucester is a must-see.

cotswolds towns to visit

I adore Lacock.

*brief pause for snickering*

Okay, but really. Lacock is the best. This little village just outside of the Cotswolds feels like stepping back in time, so much that it’s a favourite among TV and film productions, including two of the Harry Potter films .

cotswolds towns to visit

Lacock Abbey is of course a beautiful must-see, but for me, wandering around the streets, perusing the fun honesty shops in front of local homes and just soaking in the atmosphere is more than reason enough to visit again and again.

cotswolds towns to visit

Last but not least, we have Bath.

…. I…. LOVE this city.

A list of stunning bucket list destinations in England, including historic sights, quaint villages and beautiful must-sees.

Sentimentally, Bath was one of the first places in England I ever visited outside of London, and I fell in love with it almost right away.

This historic city is filled to the brim with scenic streets to prance through, and wonderful viewpoints for days… not to mention some truly lovely spa hotels nearby. Add to that amazing knockout attractions like the Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths and you have a winning recipe for a weekend break. Click here for a guide to spending 2 days in Bath!

A list of stunning bucket list destinations in England, including historic sights, quaint villages and beautiful must-sees.

Did I miss any of your favourite places in the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds are definitely one part of the world I’d never tire of visiting. I know there are plenty more Cotswold towns, villages and more to visit, so let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any of your favourites!

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14 thoughts on “20 Stunning, Drool-Worthy Places to Visit in the Cotswolds!”

I went to a few of these when I was 12 or 13 (I remember Bath for sure), but I have been obsessing over the Cotswalds lately thanks to Pinterest showing me pins from blog posts there. I’m hoping to go one day soon – it looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing – saving this for when I go back!

So many great spots to check out around the Cotswolds. Top of my list are all of those forts, castles, and villas!

This is a great list, Thanks for sharing such an useful Information 🙂

I have been 4 times but haven’t been to all of these so I’m saving this for my next visit, thanks!

I loved Bibury and Castle Combe when I went to the Cotswolds! I actually stayed in a cottage in Bibury, and it was amazing! Unfortunately it rained on all the days I visited other villages, so I want to go back and visit again when the weather is nicer.

Hi, Lovely photos of the Cotswolds… I have made some notes for future visits. I have been to Cheltenham, Gouchester , Bath, Staveley, Churchdown, and Chipping Norton before (where Michael Palin fell off his bicycle as bicycle repairman). I too am an avid traveller from Canada… older than you perhaps, from Vancouver BC. I’ve been to over 30 countries. I did count them up once, but have forgotten the exact #. I will weigh in on that later. I am tracing my family tree with a thought to going back to the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. I got to your site by typing in Google “prettiest places in England” and got stuck on #1, the Cotswolds because I remember how lovely it was. I did do a tour of some of the Cotswolds, but it was a too quick. It was my first trip out of North America with my Aunt for my cousin’s wedding in Churchdown. We hit Gloucester and Cheltenham because Churchdown is a tiny town with nothing but farms around. We walked out to find a 7-11 to pick up some supplies only to find all we could get was eggs from the local farmers! LOL. There was a pub in the B&B we stayed in so all was fine. I jotted down some of the villages/cities you mentioned that look so cool. I am also interested in Ashton Under Lyne where my Nana was born, Manchester where my great great Grandfather was born and Sussex where my Maternal Great Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandfather were born… Roscommon Ireland where my paternal great great great Grandmother was born and Tietsjerkstradiel Friesland in the Netherlands where my Maternal Grandfather’s mother was born. So confusing, I know. Also my cousins are half Italian because my Dad’s sister married an Italian. He was born in Montreal, but his parents were both born in Campo Basso Italy. Have you been to any of these places? The Sussex ties were Uckfield & Blackboys, with relatives in Brighton and Tunbridge Wells. The Manchester end mentioned Salford, Bolton and Oldham… there were mentions of trips to Liverpool, Blackpool, and the Yorkshire Dales as well as “the Moors” . For Ireland… my Mum’s Dad was half Irish, the consensus was Cork, but on having my DNA tested, it’s more likely Donegal. I have been both places, but need to go armed with dates etc I’ve collected from ancestry. Sorry… I am running on. I just love your site so much. I am going back in to explore more! Keep up the good work! Susan 🙂

I’ve lived in The Cotswolds are my entire life, so I love seeing it pop up on bucket lists. You’ve picked two of my favourite places – Cirencester, my home town, and Bourton-on-the-Water. But I’d also add nearby Cheltenham to this list, it’s just on the outskirts of the Cotswolds, and one of my favourite towns.

I live in the Cotswolds so I’m always happy to see posts about it! Bourton-on-the-Water is my favourite village to visit here. Followed by Bibury. Cirencester is actually my home town and I’m happy to hear you like it as much as I do. Especially all the back streets and eateries.

As someone who lives in the Cotswolds I love reading up on what others think of this gorgeous areas. Love that you included Broadway and Broadway Tower, such a great spot to watch the sunset.

Wow wow WOW! What a fantastic article! As a resident of the Cotswolds, it’s so great to see other people adoring this beautiful place in the world!

Your Brunch as Jacks looks to die for! super jealous of that, I may have to pop in one day soon!

You’ve given really great info which is super helpful, and your photographs are so gorgeous! Even though I live here, there’s still more and more to explore!

Wow this is such a wonderful read! The cotswolds is jam packed of beautiful places to visit and you’ve really shown that here, and gone the extra mile to explain each one to help anyone toying with the idea of visiting this amazing area!

There is much More to explore. Lavenham, bornplace from Harry Potter, Kelsey, A fine small community, Much Wenlock, the locks in the canals like the one in Devizes. And much More as you Can see on my website http://www.engelse.jouwweb.nl

Thank you for this amazing piece on Places to Visit in the Cotswolds; I love your writing style and feel every line of your writing.

Hi there We are a group of retired Aussies presently staying in Bourton on the Water, using it as a base to tour the Cotswold over 3 days (I know hardly enough time – but you know places to go things to do ….) I have found your blog most informative and I will go out on a limb here and say the best of mannny! A very unseasonable hot September in 2023.

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30 Best Places in the Cotswolds To Visit – Don’t Miss No. 9!

bribery pretty village cotswolds

Table of Contents

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Wondering where to go in the C otswolds ? With its scenic walks, picturesque villages, quaint tea shops and bags of history, it’s little wonder travellers flock from far and wide to soak up this little patch of heaven in Southern England . In this guide, I’m going to share all the best places to visit in the Cotswold to help you plan the perfect trip.

COTSWOLDS ESSENTIALS Rough Guides The Cotswolds Accommodation:  Booking.com Car hire – Rentalcars.com

Cotswolds places to visit – handy map

The Cotswolds is an area surrounded by the Cotswolds Hills. It spans Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, South Warwickshire and Somerset. It reaches Bath , Cheltenham and almost to Oxford . Driving from one end to the other would take two hours but you could spend weeks spotting all the famous attractions along the way. Driving from London to the Cotswolds takes around two hours.

best places to go cotswolds

To get a better idea, see this map of the best Cotswold destinations:

cotswolds towns to visit

This post is designed to give you inspo about some of the beautiful places to go in the Cotswolds but if you’re looking for itineraries and how to plan a trip, head over to my Cotswold weekend itinerary . If you’re on a tight schedule check out my Cotswold day trip itinerary . For the most idyllic locations, read my guide to the 20 most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds !

Best places to go in the Cotswolds

With no further ado, here are the most beautiful places in the Cotswolds including towns, villages, stately houses, gardens, landmarks and other points of interest. From hidden UK gems to major tourist attractions, here are the highlights…

1. Arlington Row

Bibury best places to visit Cotswolds

This adorable row of Cotswold cottages dates back to the 1300s. They were originally built for the storage of wool belonging to the nearby monastery but, several centuries later, were converted into homes for the weavers. They’re still lived in by locals today (who I doubt still work in weaving) apart from Number 9 which can be booked as a holiday cottage. You can book on the National trust website from £800pn (ouch!). Fun facts about Arlington Row :

  • The Arlington Row houses feature in British passports alongside Big Ben and the White Cliffs of Dover. Weirdly, they’re painted blue in the image. As you can see here, they’re definitely not blue.
  • Apparently, a resident with a bright yellow sports car was pressured into getting rid of it because it was spoiling peoples’ photos!

Stone cottage Bibury

Arlington Row puts Bibury on the map but don’t just snap the pretty cottages and leave. Quaint Bibury is a beautiful Cotswold destination in its own right, described by William Morris as the most beautiful village in all of England.

When in Bibury, make a stop at William Morris Tea Room filled with quirky clutter and homemade cakes. Other things to do in Bibury include crossing the River Coln by footbridge, seeing wildlife in the National Trust Wildfowl Reserve and sampling local delicacy, trout, at Bibury Trout Farm.

tetbury where to go cotswolds

Another of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds is Tetbury, a civil parish with 1,300 years of history built on the site of an ancient hill fort. Tetbury is known for its antique shops and bizarre emblem of a dolphin (apparently – it looks more like an evil sea monster to me!). These quirky decorations can be found dotted around the town.

Tetbury dolphins

Tetbury is a short drive from Highgrove House & Gardens, the official residence of Princes Charles.

Read next: Things to do in Tetbury

4. Moreton-in-Marsh

Wisteria in Moreton in Marsh best Cotswold places

Pretty Moreton-in-Marsh is one of the best places to go in the Cotswolds because you can experience all the charm of the region yet it’s never as crowded as Bourton-on-the-Water. With over 1,000 years of history dating back to Saxon times, Moreton is brimming with history: you can still see the building where King Charles I hid during the Civil War. Don’t miss the Curfew Tower with its original clock and bell as well as Redesdale Hall holding regular antique markets. After a couple of hours on your feet, stop at cute tea shops including The Marshmallow .  You won’t find anywhere more picturesque than this cafe, or anywhere with better cakes! For a luxurious place to stay, check out the White Heart Royal for £200pn . This 4* star hotel is inside an old 17th-century coaching inn. For the best place to stay on a budget, the Swan Inn has rooms from £80 .

Tip – if you don’t want to drive, Moreton is one of the easiest places to reach by train. From there, you can book on a Cotswolds day tour .

5. Chipping Campden

Chipping Camden

Between Moreton-in-Marsh and Broadway is Chipping Campden , a quaint market town in the Cotswolds with buckets of history and buildings made of golden Cotswold stone. Nearby is Hidcote Manor Gardens, known as one of the UK’s best ‘arts and crafts gardens’ with rooms of manicured hedges and landscaped gardens. In Chipping Campden, you can learn about the history of the region through crafts and paintings at The Court Barn , and silk goods at the Silk Mill . There are plenty of places to stay in Chipping Campden .

6. Broad Campden

cotswolds towns to visit

En route to Chipping Campden, you’ll likely drive through Broad Campden. Although there’s not much to do in this tiny settlement, it’s one of the prettiest places in the Cotswolds, in my humble opinion. Pay a visit to St Michael & All Angels Church and admire what the locals have done with their gardens. The topiary is something else!

7. Chastleton House

Chastleton House

This Grade I listed building is just 10 minutes from popular Moreton-in-Marsh. You can go inside the 400-year-old house, wander the gardens or just view it from outside (which I did as I’m cheap). It’s one of the best places in the Cotswolds for a combination of grandeur and rolling countryside. House and garden entry costs £10.50 per adult.

8. Cirencester

Although it’s not as idyllic as some Cotswolds spots, don’t overlook Cirencester. With 20,000 residents, it’s known as the ‘capital of the Cotswolds’. You could consider basing here for the varied, affordable accommodation options. Visit the many Cirencester pubs, boutique shops, galleries, the Corinium Museum, take a walk along the Thames Path, and try your hand at watersports at Cotswold Waterpark.

9. Cotswold Lavender

Cotswold lavender best places to go Cotswolds

How stunning are these lavender fields? This is THE most beautiful place in the Cotswolds between June and August! Entry to the lavender fields is £7 and you can visit between June and early August. The very best time to visit Cotswolds Lavender is early to mid-July when the lavender stretches as far as the eye can see. There’s also a cafe on-site and a gift shop where you can purchase every lavender-related product under the sun. Afterwards, pop in at Snowshill, another gorgeous village known for Snowshill Manor and Gardens.

10. Winchcombe

This small settlement six miles from Cheltenham has a long history and several points of interest. It’s thought that the body of Saxon King Offa’s murdered son was hidden here, and that a note from heaven was received by the Pope alerting him to its whereabouts. As a result, the body was enshrined in the Winchcombe Abbey which became a pilgrimage site, bringing money and notoriety to the area. Today, you can learn about the history at Winchcombe Museum and tour the churches (St Peter’s and Saint Nicholas). For food and drink, don’t miss The Corner Cupboard and Food Fanatics , a luxury groceries and cafe. Finally, stroll along Vineyard Street, one of the prettiest areas of Winchcombe. The name dates back to when tobacco plants were grown here after the decline in the wool trade.

11. Bourton-on-the-Water

Stream Bourton on the Water

Bourton-on-the-Water is probably the   most popular place to visit in the Cotswolds. I haven’t personally been here in a while as it’s SO crowded at weekends. Still, it’s a must-see place in the Cotswolds so take my advice: swing by early then escape to quieter corners of the Cotswolds. Walk the tiny bridges over the shallow rivers that trickle through town, then indulge in the trinket shops and cafes. I like  Bakery on the Water where you can grab a tasty lunch for a fraction of the gastropub prices. Other things to do include admiring Bourton in miniature format at the Model Village, seeing more than 500 species of bird at Birdland and having a pint at the Cotswolds Brewing Company. For a luxurious place to stay in the centre of town, choose the  Dialhouse (£250pn ) . For a budget option, stay at Old Manse Hotel (£70pn) .

12. Burford

Burford what to see cotswolds

Towards the Oxfordshire side of the Cotswolds (east), pretty Burford is a real gem. A busy road runs through the main street of Burford so it isn’t the most beautiful Cotswold town in terms of location – but the attractive buildings more than make up for it. You can easily escape the traffic in the cosy cafes or go walking in the surrounding countryside. There are some fantastic walks in Oxfordshire which aren’t too far from the Cotswolds. Tip for visiting Burford: get your fill of English tea and cake at Huffkins !

Read next: things to do in Burford

13. Minster Lovell ruins

cotswolds towns to visit

Right on the edge of the Cotswolds beside large town, Witney, is this impressive set of 15th-century ruins. Belonging to the seventh Lord Lovell, these ancient ruins have an ominous history. Francis Lovell seemed to disappear without trace, puzzling historians, but in the 18th century, it was rumoured that an underground vault was discovered below the ruins. Word has it that in the room was found a skeleton sat at a desk surrounded by paper and pens. No one has found the vault since it was mentioned in 18th-century documents, so his fate remains a mystery! The ruins are free to visit. There’s parking at the end of the lane leading to the ruins. Pretty Minster Lovell village is also worth a wander.

cotswolds towns to visit

The tiny village of Lacock in the southern Cotswolds is regularly used as a filming location for period dramas because it’s so quaint and picturesque with almost nothing pointing to the modern-day. Clear away the cars and you really could be in the 1800s! Lacock has a few Cotswold must-sees for TV and movie buffs. Spot scenes from Downtown Abbey and the Other Boleyn Girl , as well as Harry Potter’s parent’s house from a flashback scene in The Philosopher’s Stone .

15. Lacock Abbey

Lacock abbey cotswolds

While Lacock village is indeed beautiful, it’s Lacock Abbey that draws the crowds. With more than 800 years of history, it’s a fantastic place in the Cotswolds for history buffs. Founded in the 13th century by the Countess of Salisbury as a nunnery, it was also once the home of William Henry Fox Talbot who helped invent parts of the photography process. Now you can visit an exhibition on photography and its history or simply stroll the grand grounds. If you’re into Harry Potter, there’s an extra reason to visit Lacock Abbey. There are several Harry Potter filming locations at Lacock Abbey . Don’t miss the grand cloisters (shaded corridors with large windows looking onto grassy quads) and enclave rooms that served as Snape’s Potions classroom and Quirrell’s Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Entry to Lacock Abbey is £10 or free for National Trust members.

16. Stow-on-the-Wold

Cottage Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold is another Cotswold town with gorgeous tearooms and country pubs. This medieval settlement has an atmospheric Market Square with original stocks and an ancient cross, while St Edward’s Church has become quite the photo spot due to the tree roots growing around the doors. While visiting Stow, don’t miss the many tearooms. The Old Bakery Tearoom and Lucy’s Tearoom are both known for their freshly-baked cakes and traditional English dishes. While in Stow, you can also browse the many antique shops as well as Fosse Gallery. Stay in the Porch House, the oldest inn in Britain, for £130pn .

17. Broadway

broadway cotswolds destinations

Broadway is one of the bigger villages in the Cotswolds, located within Worcestershire. It has 2,500 residents and plenty of pubs, shops and cafes. Browse the art galleries, visit a few antique shops and stop for a decadent meal at Russels of Broadway. If you’re travelling Britain on a budget and fancy hearty local cuisine, grab lunch at Russell’s Fish & Chips instead. Check out the Lodge Broadway , one of the best places to stay in the Cotswolds.

18. Broadway Tower

Girl in red coat Broadway Tower

Just five minutes’ drive from Broadway lies Broadway Tower. The bird’s-eye view from the top is unrivalled at 312 metres above sea level. There’s also a cosy cafe once you’ve climbed the tower and explored the surrounding countryside. Another thing to do is discover the past during a bunker tour of Broadway Tower.

19. Upper Slaughter

Upper Slaughter where to go Cotswolds

Not far from Stow-on-the-Wold is a village called Upper Slaughter. For the ultimate picnic spot, nab the bench at the top of the hill. It’s one of the quieter places to go in the Cotswolds, perfect for escaping the weekend crowds. For me, it brings back childhood memories of paddling in the brook at the bottom.

Read next: things to do in Upper Sla ughter

20. Lower Slaughter

Down the hill from Upper Slaughter is creatively named Lower Slaughter. Both the slaughters names’ originate from the word slough which means ‘muddy place’. Luckily on a sunny day, there’s no mud to be seen, just a picturesque Cotswold village with pretty bridges crossing the steam. There’s more to do in Lower Slaughter than Upper including drinking in the garden of the Slaughters Country Inn . The streams and bridges create a Bourton-on-the-Water vibe but with fewer crowds – phew!

21. Kingham

If you visit the Cotswolds by public transport, Kingham is one of your best points of interest. The train from Paddington takes just 1.5 hours. Kingham is a pretty village surrounded by lovely countryside. One of the highlights for foodies is the White Rabbit , a Michelin-starred pub serving gourmet European cuisine.

22. Daylesford Organic

Daylesford organic

Just outside of Kingham is this garden centre and organic kitchen. Even though spending a day at a garden centre wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea, visiting Daylesford is a real experience. Not only are there various fancy shops to browse, but there’s a coffee and Prosecco bar, a dining area, cookery school and floristry events. Even though the prices may make you wince (£7 yoghurt, anyone?), it’s an entertaining place to visit. Locals come dressed to the nines to sip Prosecco and browse the goods on offer.

23. Castle Combe

Castle Combe

Down in the county of Wiltshire, you’ll find another of the most beautiful places to visit in the Cotswolds. Castle Combe is so picturesque it hardly looks real. The old-fashioned houses and little bridges built for horses and carts have hardly changed in centuries. There are just over 300 locals so during summer weekends the tourists outnumber them. Aside from wandering the peaceful streets, other things to do in Castle Combe include eating and drinking at the country pubs and cafes. Visit Michelin-starred restaurant, the Bybrook, enjoy tea and cake at the Old Stables or go for decadent afternoon tea at Rectory Tearoom .

24. Painswick (the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’)

painswick queen of cotswolds

Located on the west side of the Cotswolds near Stroud is Painswick, often called ‘the Queen of the Cotswolds’ due to its traditional architecture and picturesque scenery. Visit St Mary’s Church and wander the paths lined with yew trees. Rumour has it that 99 yew trees were planted but the locals believed the devil would destroy the 100th if ever it was planted. The church officials went ahead and – indeed – a few years later, one tree toppled due to floods. Whether it was down to the curse or a coincidence, we can’t be sure! There’s not a huge amount to do in Painswick but wandering the streets and admiring the scenery is enough. Check out the Loovre Gallery inside a refurbished public toilet! Hikers visiting the Cotswolds can make the most of the many walks near Painswick , one of which I’ll mention in a moment.

25. Rococo Gardens

Rococo gardens

Fans of historical gardens will enjoy visiting the Rococo Garden near Painswick, an impressive 18th-century garden with distinctive ornamental buildings. The surroundings are so visually appealing, it’s even been voted one of the best 50 wedding venues in the UK… If you have a small fortune to splash, of course! Seasonal events take place at the Rococo Gardens including art exhibitions for adults and discovery trails for children. There’s a fancy gift shop selling all kinds of flower-themed bath products and goodies, and a cafe with a huge range of teas and cakes. Entrance is £9.30 for adults and £4.25 for children.

26. Slad Valley

Slad valley

After visiting Painswick, take a 10-minute drive to the majestic Slad Valley. Of all the places in the Cotswolds I’ve visited, it boasts the most impressive scenery. This area in the west Cotswolds is intertwined with local author, Laurie Lee, who set his famous novel, Cider with Rosie in the region. Take a hike in the sweeping valley between Painswick and Stroud, along the Laurie Lee trail. Follow signposts engraved with chapters of his book. Finally, stop in Slad village for a pint at the Woolpack Inn . There’s a stained glass window dedicated to Lee and you can even see the chair where he used to sit.

27. Sheepscombe

cotswolds towns to visit

It may not be the biggest or most exciting place in the Cotswolds but if you visit the Slad Valley, take a quick drive through Sheepscombe before heading home. This hilly village set on several levels is full of beautiful Cotswold cottages. At the heart of the village is St. John the Apostle Church and a small war memorial. As well as being only 1.5 miles from Painswick, it’s 6 miles from both Stroud and Gloucester.

27. Gloucester

cotswolds towns to visit

Although the city of Gloucester is just outside of the Cotswolds, many parts of Gloucestershire fall within the region so you may pass through as a pitstop. By far the most impressive feature of Gloucester is the majestic Gloucester Cathedral. With 1,300 years of history and some impressive Harry Potter filming locations , it’ll blow you away. Gloucester city centre isn’t so impressive and parts feel quite rundown. I prefer nearby Cheltenham. However, one worthwhile area to visit is Gloucester Docks where there are lots of restaurants and cafes with impressive views.

At the meeting point of the Five Valleys lies Stroud, a pleasant market town surrounded by quaint Cotswold villages. Alongside scenery and walking opportunities, there are a few fun things to do in Stroud. Follow the historical trail spotting monuments around the town, purchase fresh produce at the Shambles Market, or take a 3.5-mile walk in nearby Woodchester Park (run by the National Trust).

30. Cotswolds walks and hikes

If you’re looking for gorgeous places to visit in the Cotswolds, don’t overlook the rolling countryside. There are plenty of walking trails in the Cotswolds , a few of the best being:

  • The Cotswold Way – this 100-mile route from Bath to Chipping Campden takes 10 days. Maybe it’s not the one for a weekend trip but I hear it’s glorious with countless tearooms and country pubs along the way.
  • Rollright Stones Walk – this 8km hike along a section of the Shakespeare Way departs Chipping Norton and arrives at these mysterious stones within a sweeping valley.
  • Windrush Way – this 13.5 mile circular trail can be done in a day if you’re feeling energetic. Pass Sudeley Castle and Westfield House on your journey from Winchcombe to Bourton-on-the-Water.

Don’t miss my pretty Cotswold villages blog and my tried-and-tested Cotswolds weekend itinerary !

Thanks for checking out these Cotswolds places to visit!

I hope these beautiful places in the Cotswolds have provided you with some travel inspo! They’re all gorgeous spots so whichever you pick, you’re going to have a fantastic time. If you have any questions, shoot me them in the comments.

For more travel content, follow me on Instagram , Facebook , Twitter and YouTube .

If you’re looking for England inspo, check out some of my other posts:

  • Backpacking the UK and budget tips
  • How to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds
  • How to spend a weekend in Oxford
  • The best walks in Oxfordshire
  • Wittenham Clumps walk in Oxfordshire
  • My London archives
  • How to spend a weekend in Bristol
  • How to spend a weekend in Norfolk
  • The ultimate day trip to Brighton
  • How to spend a weekend in Manchester
  • The perfect weekend in Dorset
  • 2 day Lake District itinerary
  • The perfect Margate day trip from London
  • Things to do in Liverpool in winter

See you next time for more adventures,

TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING THE UK Getting there & around by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going. Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals and campers in the UK (and all around the world). For UK trains , I use Trainline . The search feature allows you to compare prices with other modes of transport. For buses , I use busbud . It’s the only site that compares UK coaches and buses. Find London to Manchester journeys for £1!  For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com . You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com . To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters , a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets. Browse UK tours and activities on GetYourGuide . Pack the latest copy of Lonely Planet UK . Need travel insurance ? I use True Traveller (for Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote . For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing . See all my suggestions on my resources page .

cotswolds towns to visit

Rose is a solo traveller from the UK who has been on the road since 2015. She wants to show other women that solo travel isn't scary and doesn't have to be expensive! Rose has lived in Mexico, Canada and all over Asia, seeking out food, bubble tea and street art wherever she goes!

9 thoughts on “ 30 Best Places in the Cotswolds To Visit – Don’t Miss No. 9! ”

cotswolds towns to visit

I always love posts like these. It’s usually hard to find top destinations for places in Europe. Especially places that would be suitable for a weekend trip. I didn’t know much about the Cotswolds, but if I ever visit I know which post to consult. Thanks!

cotswolds towns to visit

Your post brought back so many memories. I lived in England for 3 years and the Cotswolds was one of our favourite places. We loved Bourton-on-the-water and my hubby deems the fish and chips there the best he’s had in all of the UK! We also LOVED Bibury and the Broadway tower 🙂 I would love to go back and enjoy another afternoon tea among the charming buildings 🙂

cotswolds towns to visit

Great photos – they make me home sick after emigrating from the UK for 6 years. I have fond memories of visiting the Cotswolds to stay with family as a child.

cotswolds towns to visit

The Cotswolds has been on staycation list forever but still haven’t made time to visit. This post is seriously making me want to road trip there soon (and also re-watch Bridget Jones’ Diary – haha).

cotswolds towns to visit

OMG! I’ve been wanting to visit the Cotswolds for a while now and this is pushing me even more! Love the view of Castle Combe, the photographer in me got chills. And the cozy little Inn with the fireplace, ugh, love it all!

cotswolds towns to visit

Completely agree that we rarely explore what’s on our doostep in favour of further afield! 25 countries later and I’ve still not seen any of the Scottish Islands despite being Scottish! Your photos are like something from a fairytale and everything you imagine English countryside to be – definitely adding to the bucketlist!

cotswolds towns to visit

Thank you for featuring Chipping Campden in your review, we are so lucky to live and work here.

cotswolds towns to visit

lovely write up. I want to take a ay tour for photo stops only at these places. Can you guide me as to which travels can cover these. I only have a day in London. 1.Burford . 2, burton on water. 3.Lower slaughters.4. Arlington row, 5. casle combe is a must. 6. if possible St Edwards & the yew trees.

cotswolds towns to visit

Hi Banumathi! Thanks for reading and commenting; i hope you get all your pics! I am not sure off the top of my head but if you are short of time, I would recommend a tour with GetYourGuide or Viator. Their itineraries should give you the info!

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14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit

In Search Of The Most Beautiful Street In England - Arlington Row, Bibury (9)

The Cotswolds is still one of my favourite areas in England to explore! Imagine, rolling green hills, quaint little villages and a huge amount of history. There are so many places in the Cotswolds that you’ll almost be spoilt for choice.

And you know what, that’s what I love most – there’s a surprise around every winding road. Over the years, I’ve visited the Cotswolds around four or five times, each time exploring some new picturesque hamlet or village that’s nestled in the region.

Now, whether it’s your first, fifth or fiftieth time exploring the pretty spots in England , I’d always recommend a little gallivant to the Cotswolds. It is a stunning place.

That being said, it can be tricky to narrow down the little villages and places in the Cotswolds to visit, especially on a shorter trip.

In Search Of The Most Beautiful Street In England - Arlington Row, Bibury (13)

That’s why I wanted to show you some of my firm favourites to see. Some are larger villages , some smaller towns and some are just countryside spots, but what they all have in common is they are some of the best places in the Cotswolds to explore.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (1)

Take a look below at some of the best places in the Cotswolds to explore. You’ll have an epic time visiting England. 

In Search Of The Most Beautiful Street In England - Arlington Row, Bibury (9)

Nestled on the banks of the River Coln, Bibury is a gorgeous little village that has one of the most famous streets in all of the Cotswolds, Arlington Row .

In Search Of The Most Beautiful Street In England - Arlington Row, Bibury (6)

Famed for its crooked little cottages, you’ll feel like you’ve been thrown back a few centuries to a time gone by. Arlington Row is just stunning.

Though be warned, it can be a little busy during the day so plan your visit in the morning or late afternoon when it’s a little quieter.

In Search Of The Most Beautiful Street In England - Arlington Row, Bibury (21)

Once you’re here, pop into the Catherine Wheel which serves up some piping hot British pub grub that I’m almost sure you’ll enjoy. Just make sure to leave some room for sticky toffee pudding.

Read more on finding Arlington Row

2.) Stow-on-the-Wold

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (4)

The market town of Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the best places in the Cotswolds to visit that’s perched right on top of a hill.

Once you’re here, make sure St Edward’s Church, see the Fosse Gallery and pop over to the Farmer’s Market that’s held every second Thursday of the month. For a yummy bite to eat, pop into Lucy’s Tearoom for some freshly baked scones with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (13)

Oh, and relatively close by is the stunning (Jacobean) Chastleton House which was built in the early 17th Century. It’s a great place to visit for an afternoon, especially if you want to see a historic house that has been left untouched by modern life.

3.) Kingham

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (11)

Around 4 miles from Chipping Norton, Kingham is a tiny little village that has hundreds of people living there. Once you’ve arrived, make sure to pop into The Kingham Plough for a tasty lunch and see St. Andrew’s Church (yep, there are quite a few of these in the Cotswolds).

4.) Naunton

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (21)

Based on the River Windrush, Naunton is a sleepy little village that’s a perfect stop-off point as you venture further towards Stow-on-the-World.  To get one of the best views of Naunton, climb (or ramble) the hill which overlooks the village itself.

There’s been evidence of a village here since the Doomsday Book recorded it as Niwetone (almost 1,000 years ago), which means there’s lots of history to soak up. If you visit on a Sunday, pop into The Black Horse Inn for a yummy roast dinner.

5.) Castlecombe

Exploring One Of England's Most Beautiful Villages - Castle Combe (7)

About 5 miles from Chippenham, Castlecombe is one of the best places in the Cotswolds to visit, which is split into two parts.

Firstly, explore the narrow valley of the By Brook then head towards Upper Castle Combe that’s quite a bit higher up.

Exploring One Of England's Most Beautiful Villages - Castle Combe (26)

Once you’re here, make sure to check out the Market Cross and St. Andrew’s Church, before heading for a stroll in this almost fairytale-like English village.

Read more: The most quaint places in England to visit

6.) Chipping Campden

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (5)

Chipping Campden is one of the picturesque places in the Cotswolds that’s perched on its northern fringes.

When you visit here make sure to visit the wool church as well as the historic marketplace that has been covered way back since the 17 th century.

Look to see if you can find the marker stone that signifies the start of the long-distance footpath of the Cotswold Way, it’s a great place to go on a ramble or trek through the countryside.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (7)

If that’s not your thing, take a stroll around the town and visit the Old Silk Mill located on Sheep Street and the Court Barn Museum. Set in a 17th-century farm building shows local arts and crafts that are perfect to visit, especially if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Oh, and for a tasty lunch, pop into Badger’s Hall Tea Room who have the best afternoon tea in town!

7.) Broadway

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (18)

A few miles south-west of Chipping Campden is the village of Broadway . It is one of the best places in the Cotswolds to explore, especially id you want to see one of the larger villages in the area.

An Afternoon In The English Villages Of Broadway And Bourton-On-The-Water... The Cotswolds, England (25)

Once here, make sure to pop over to the Broadaway Tower which was built way back in the 18th Century as a spot to view beacons that were lit on special occasions.

Also, make sure to explore Snowshill Manor, which was built in the 16th Century. Once inside, you’ll see a treasure trove of artefacts from all over the world. If you need somewhere to rest your head, check out the gorgeous and historical Abbots Grange Hotel.

Read more: What to see in Broadway

8.) Bourton-on-the-Water

Rainy Days In The English Countryside... The Wood Norton, Bourton-On-The-Water, Broadway, Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-wold (22)

Perched on the River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the best places in the Cotswolds to explore ‘ye olde England’.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (2)

With a heap of historical properties (dating hundreds of years back), it really is a stunning place to walk around and spend a few hours discovering its hidden gems.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (8)

Once you’re here, make sure to spot the tiny little bridges across the river, too.  Oh, and you can visit the quaintest model village that’s been in the town for decades. If all that exploring has your tummy rumbling, pop into Bakery on the Water which we went to on our last visit.

They have the best pasties (a little like a meat pie) and buns that are so yummy.

Read more: What to see at Bourton-on-the-Water

9.) The Slaughters

4 Villages And Towns You Have To Visit In The Cotswolds, England (32)

The Slaughters (upper and lower) are two tiny twin villages that are picturesque and some of the best places in the Cotswolds to experience a quieter way of life.

4 Villages And Towns You Have To Visit In The Cotswolds, England (33)

Now, don’t be fooled by the pretty macabre name, It has nothing to do with the modern interpretation of the word.

Historically, it is the Anglo-Saxon word for mud that was used to describe this area way back when.

4 Villages And Towns You Have To Visit In The Cotswolds, England (46)

Once here, make sure to explore the Old Mill Museum and take a stroll between the little cobbled streets that make this place so special.

Read more: What to see around the Slaughters

10.) Burford

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Burford is one of the Cotswold’s smaller medieval towns that’s perched on the River Windrush (similar to Bourton-on-the-Water).

Standing at the top of Burford’s High Street will give you a pretty good view of how many medieval buildings are actually in this town.

While you are visiting, make sure you visit the Tudor market house of Robert Reavley (number 124). It’s the oldest pharmacy in England It has existed here since 1734. Oh, and make sure to pop into the Tolsey Museum and see local artefacts from the region.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (9)

If you’re looking for some proper pub grub, head into The Royal Oak and make the best homemade pies.

Burford really is one of the best places in the Cotswolds to explore, especially on a sunny day.

11.) Painswick

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (17)

Around 8 miles south of Glocester, Painswick is a gorgeous town of steeply winding streets that is stunning.

Once here, you should visit the Church of St. Mary; it was built in the 14 th century and has lines of yew trees. There are 99 trees and there is a local legend that the devil will not allow more than that (who knows why?).

Also, if you feel like a little ramble, walk part of the Cotswold Way as the footpath passes through the village and carries on further into the countryside. If you’re hankering for a bite to eat, pop into Falcon Inn for a classic Sunday roast.

12.) Tetbury

A Trip The Beautiful English Town Of Tetbury In The Cotswolds... (32)

Tetbury was a somewhat accidental find whilst we were scouting some new spots to explore. Thankfully, our last trip remedied this when we decided to stay a few nights in Tetbury itself.

A Trip The Beautiful English Town Of Tetbury In The Cotswolds... (21)

Perched in the southern part of the Cotswolds, Tetbury is one of those quaint English towns that seems to have a little bit of everything. 

Whilst wandering around Tetbury, make sure to see Chipping Steps, a rather higgledy-piggledy street (filled with the quaintest houses) that’s so beautiful.

A Trip The Beautiful English Town Of Tetbury In The Cotswolds... (57)

For a stunning and quintessentially English place to stay, pop into The Royal Oak Tetbury (where we stayed). They have the most gorgeous rooms.

A Trip The Beautiful English Town Of Tetbury In The Cotswolds... (15)

Oh, and if you’re travelling from the west, pop into  The Wild Duck Inn in Ewen , they have some of the nicest food in the area (and some of the best Scotch eggs I’ve tried). Also, if you have time (and it’s a sunny day), head over to  Westonbirt Arboretum  for a little wander through the forests.

Read more: What to do in Tetbury

13.) Lacock 

Inside The Beautiful Cotswolds Village Of Lacock... (5)

Lacock is one of the gorgeous places in the Cotswolds that actually might feel quite familiar to you?

Over the last few years, Lacock has featured in a few big movies which have been shot on the pretty little lanes (Harry Potter and Downton Abbey, to name a few).

Once you’re here, make sure to explore Lacock Abbey, the historic home of Henry Fox Talbot (the inventor of the photographic negative). Also, make sure to see the 600-year-old tithe barn and head to King John’s Hunting Lodge for one of the best lemon drizzle cakes around. 

Read more: What to see whilst in Lacock

14.) Winchcombe

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (16)

Filled with Jacobean mansions, an ancient church (decorated with medieval gargoyles) and Victorian almshouses, Winchcombe is a beautiful town to explore.

Winchcombe’s origin dates way back to Saxon England where it was once a key meeting point of 5 ancient trails. Even today, these trails can be followed, especially if you’re a keen rambler. Just make sure to take one of the short trails (that can get steep) towards the Neolithic tomb of Belas Knap.

14 Best Places In The Cotswolds You Should Visit (3)

Also, whilst you’re in the area, pop over to Sudeley Castle, with its grand banqueting halls and gardens. It has had many owners during its lifetime including the last of Henry VIII’s six wives, Katherine Parr.

Just remember that it’s often closed in the winter months between December to February.

Read more: Beautiful places to see in the south of England

12 Best Places In Southern England To Visit

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The 16 Best Towns To Visit In The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are one of the most beautiful places to visit in Britain. Covering around 800 square miles and five different counties, it’s an area that is known for its old-fashioned charm, gorgeous little villages and status as one of the best places to come on holiday in the UK.

Because the Cotwolds cover such a large area of the country, trying to decide which of its towns to visit can seem like an impossible task. Do you take a trip to the tourist hotspots and enjoy some of the finest food and sightseeing in the area? Or do you head off the beaten path and visit the more undiscovered towns and villages in the Cotswolds that are perfectly peaceful and encompass classic English charm?

To help guide your decision, we’ve rounded up 16 of the best towns to visit in the Cotswolds, featuring visitor favourites and some more unheard of options.

cotswolds towns to visit

In the North of Oxfordshire lies Burford , known by many as the gateway to the Cotswolds. With plenty of traditional pubs and little independent shops, it’s a popular tourist destination that features some classic examples of 17th and 18th century English architecture and still maintains a historic charm to this day.

If you’re visiting the Cotswolds then you should definitely consider coming to Burford to sample the offerings from its cafes and tea rooms or taking home a charming antique from one of the town’s many stores.


cotswolds towns to visit

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water comes at the top of most people’s lists of recommendations. Often called ‘The Venice of the Cotswolds’, the River Windrush flows through this gorgeous village and is covered by five, arched bridges that are incredibly popular photo spots.

There are plenty of different attractions in Bourton-on-the-Water suitable for all ages, from the Cotswold Motoring Museum to the miniature model village. Its popularity can mean that it gets very busy, especially in the summer months, but it’s still well worth a visit for the charming architecture, excellent food and range of things to see and do.

If you’re looking for Cotswolds villages that will take you away from the crowds, you should definitely visit Painswick. Many refer to it as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ because it is such a beautiful place, with charming architecture, gorgeous surrounding countryside and a very peaceful atmosphere.

A highlight for history fans is the Painswick Rococo Garden, and keen walkers will find plenty of routes around the area including the Cotswolds Way National Trail. Many people think of the village as one of the most romantic places to visit in the Cotswolds , and once you’ve seen the beauty of Painswick, you’ll understand why. It’s also a great part of the area to stay with dogs , as the traffic is minimal and there are lots of open spaces for walks around the village.

Chipping Campden

cotswolds towns to visit

One of the liveliest towns in the Cotswolds is Chipping Campden , found in Gloucestershire . If you’re looking for a change from all the sleepy, peaceful villages that this area is so well known for, this town offers plenty of locally organised events, tourist attractions like Hidcote Manor Gardens and lots of different accommodation options.

Chipping Campden is also one of the best towns to stay in the Cotswolds, as it provides an excellent base to go and visit other popular nearby villages like Moreton-in-Marsh and Broadway .


One of the most historic towns in the Cotswolds is Cirencester ; a destination that dates back to Roman times. Often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’, a highlight of Cirencester is the cathedral-like Parish Church of St. John Baptist, located in the bustling market square and one of many fascinating historic buildings found around the town.

Visitors should come to Cirencester if they’re looking to see a more vibrant side of the Cotswolds than its classic, sleepy villages. There are lots of shops, cafes and restaurants lining the streets, a Roman amphitheatre to visit and regular farmers, craft and antique markets.

cotswolds towns to visit

Broadway is one of the larger villages in the Cotswolds, found in the county of Worcestershire . It’s full of charming houses and shops built with signature golden Cotswolds stone, making it a very pretty part of the area that gets plenty of visitors throughout the year.

One of the main attractions in the village is Broadway Tower, a Saxon structure that overlooks the surrounding countryside and is not a good choice for anyone afraid of heights! Never fear however; there are lots of top-rated pubs, restaurants and cafes nearby that still make it a location that is well worth visiting.

Upper Slaughter

Upper Slaughter is a similarly quiet part of the Cotswolds that is an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for a more laid-back trip. You can walk from Lower Slaughter to the village alongside the beautiful River Eyre and enjoy a picnic on the green or a walk admiring the pretty, stone houses.

There’s a 17th-century gabled Manor House that has been converted into a hotel in Upper Slaughter that does excellent food (and afternoon tea!), but there aren’t as many other attractions in the village as you’ll find in a lot of other places in the Cotswolds.

Lower Slaughter

cotswolds towns to visit

Whilst this location might not have the most encouraging name, it’s actually one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages. Lower Slaughter is only a few minute’s drive from the popular Bourton-on-the-Water which means that most tourists overlook it, but this is good news if you’re looking for a quieter experience of the area that is still full of quintessential Cotswolds charm.

Lower Slaughter is named after the Old English word for marsh, and so the village is surrounded by wetland. There are a couple of lovely cafes and a museum to pass the time, as well as lots of walks nearby that are great for visitors with dogs .

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is referred to by many as ‘the prettiest village in England’. Whilst the castle that this picturesque Cotswold village is named after no longer exists, the 17th-century architecture has remained well-preserved and gives the whole area an idyllic, ‘chocolate-box’ feel that has many luxury holiday accommodation options.

Located in the county of Wiltshire , Castle Combe is an incredibly popular tourist hotspot in the summer months, but if you visit in the early spring you’ll have the quaint streets almost all to yourself.


cotswolds towns to visit

Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the best towns in the Cotswolds if you’re looking for plenty of delicious places to eat. This historic market town is full of tea rooms, cafes and pubs that make it an ideal place to come for an afternoon or to stay for a weekend and sample all of the eateries found around the pretty little streets.

This town is also home to a brilliant array of gift shops and galleries, as well as classic examples of unique architecture, including Porch House and St Edward’s Church.

The village of Blockley was once famous for its silk production in the 18th and 19th centuries. Overlooking a hill and a Norman church in Gloucestershire , many of the historic mills in the village have now been converted into accommodation, and there are many classic golden stone Cotswold cottages around as well.

Blockley is one of the best towns in the Cotswolds if you want to enjoy some authentic peace and quiet without hordes of daytrippers, making it an ideal choice for holidaymakers looking to get away from it all. 

Close by to Chipping Campden in Oxfordshire is the quiet, secluded village of Kingham. This location in the ‘Golden Triangle’ is one of the most beautiful Cotswold villages, with picturesque cottages lining the streets, an elegant Norman church and a surprisingly lucrative dining scene that includes a restaurant run by a Michelin starred chef.

Kingham also has a train station that connects directly to the centre of London , making it an excellent choice for visitors who are coming to the Cotswolds straight from the city .

cotswolds towns to visit

Gloucestershire’s Stanton is a village that perfectly captures everything you first think of when you hear the word ‘Cotswolds’. The charming houses are all built out of signature golden stone, there are miles of gorgeous countryside surrounding the village and an authentic pub serves local food and drink all year round.

If you’re after a really authentic experience of the area then Stanton is the place to come, as the village lacks any real commercialisation and isn’t ever overrun by tourists.

One of the best Cotswolds villages to visit if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and discover a new side to the area is Chedworth. This tiny village is only really accessible by car or on foot, is home to only 700 inhabitants, and has a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere that is ideal if you need a break from the busier tourist traps.

A highlight of the village is the National Trust Chedworth Roman Villa, which is one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the whole of Britain. Even if you’re not that much of a history fan, the intricate mosaics are stunning.

Tetbury is found on the southern side of the Cotswolds and is a very lively market town that is also full of history. As the second largest town in the Cotswolds and the home of HRH Prince Charles, it’s a location that gets a lot of visitors all year round, but for good reason.

Whether you’re looking for shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants or tourist attractions, Tetbury has got it all. Highlights include the Grade I-listed historic market hall, local markets and stalls, the gardens at Highgrove and the famous Goods Shed Arts Centre.

cotswolds towns to visit

Finally, if you want to see one of the most photographed places in the Cotswolds, head to the village of Bibury in Gloucestershire. The famous Arlington Row of period houses is featured on the inside cover of the British passport, and attracts hundreds of tourists to snap a shot of the iconic line of houses every week.

Aside from the must-see street, Bibury is one of the nicest places to visit in the Cotswolds in the springtime, where you can enjoy afternoon tea in the William Morris Tea Room, visit the local trout farm and stroll alongside the River Colne.

When it comes to choosing the best towns in the Cotswolds, the list is endless. Some locations stand out for their food and shopping opportunities, others that feature iconic landmarks and historic sites, and some that are simply so beautiful that you need to visit just to take it all in.

Whichever towns in the Cotswolds you decide to visit, you’re sure to find classic architecture, stunning natural landscapes, friendly locals and plenty of things to see and do . No matter what time of the year it is, the area is known as one of the most stunning parts of the country for a good reason, and all of the towns and villages showcase something special. 

If you’re planning a visit to one of the towns or villages in this popular part of England, check out our range of self-catering properties in the Cotswolds . If you’re looking to book a last-minute break, you can view our selection of cottages with last-minute availability here .

One thought on “ The 16 Best Towns To Visit In The Cotswolds ”

You’ve hit the nail on the head with this list here! Such a great read and I love reading other peoples opinions as a resident of The Cotswolds!

Your photos are absolutely gorgeous too!

Thank you for sharing!

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The Cotswolds is an absolute must-visit for all travellers, whether you’re visiting for the first time or looking for new avenues to explore during your fifth (or even tenth!) visit to the Cotswolds. Often considered the “most beautiful street in England,” Arlington Row, Bibury is easily one of the most iconic sights (and most photographed) in the Cotswolds and a hot favourite for those seeking a UK getaway.

With picture-perfect little cottages, Bibury is a charming, typically Cotswold, village just a short drive from Cirencester.

Beyond Bibury’s iconic cottages, there are so many awe-inspiring views to wake up to and capture during your visit – here are just a few of our favourite suggestions:

Walk The Cotswold Way

This National Trail is a famous walk, offering 100+ miles of scenic strolls and panoramic views of the countryside.

The Most Romantic Street in Britain

Lower Slaughter, a popular postcard-worthy Cotswolds village, is home to ‘the most romantic street in Britain’.

Check out Lavender Season

A total sight for sore eyes, if you’re visiting late April/early May to August, get your camera at the ready for the Cotswolds’ local lavender in bloom.

Warwick Castle

This medieval castle is located on the bend of the River Avon, in the town of Warwick – first built by William the Conqueror in 1068.

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The complete tourist guide for visiting ancient CotswoldsTowns and Villages

The Cotswolds is an expanse of gently sloping green hills and ancient, picturesque towns and villages in south-western and west-central England. It is a designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the largest in the country, and its quintessentially English charm predominantly spans the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, while also reaching into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Landscape of the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds has the largest number of conservation areas of any English region for the travel visitor to see. It stretches from the northern gateway of Broadway to the magnificent roman town and Georgian city of Bath on the southern fringes. The fringes of the region include Shakespeare's Stratford upon Avon, the king maker's castle of Warwick, the historic academia of Oxford, and Winston Churchill's childhood home, Blenheim Palace.

Northern Cotswold Places

Cottage covered in Wisteria in Broadway

Some of the best Cotswold gardens can be found all within a five-mile radius, including Batsford Arboretum, Hidcote, Kiftsgate, Sezincote and Bourton House. Leading visitor attractions include Snowshill Manor, the mysterious Rollright Stones and Chastleton House.

Central Cotswold Places

Town of Minchinhampton

Southern Cotswold Places

In the south part of the Cotswolds you’ll find the World Heritage City of Bath and lovey, ancient, untouched villages like Lacock and Castle Combe.

Cotswold Way Walk signpost

The Cotswolds is particularly famous for its ancient honey-coloured limestone, which was used to build the villages and bustling market towns. The warm, mellow colour of the communities blends perfectly with the surrounding golden green countryside — a big part of what makes the Cotswolds so breathtakingly distinctive.

J. B. Priestley once wrote of Cotswold stone:

"The truth is that it has no colour that can be described. Even when the sun is obscured and the light is cold, these walls are still faintly warm and luminous, as if they knew the trick of keeping the lost sunlight of centuries glimmering about them."

The Cotswolds is one of the most treasured and visited destinations in the UK and indeed the world. Nowhere else will you find such timeless, unique and heart-warming preservation on such a scale. No doubt a reason it recently placed number two on a list of top ten paradise locations on earth.

For further Cotswolds information: - See - Exploring & Getting Around See - Coach Trips London to Cotswolds See - Top Things in the Cotswolds See - Heritage & History See - Cotswolds Fact Sheet See - Most Romantic Street in Britain See - 5th Top shopping street in Britain

Practicalities of Touring the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is a very rural region interlaced with many thousands of miles of country lanes. Many of the ancient villages are hidden in idylic valleys and within wooded hills. To fully explore these timeless places touring by car is certainly the best option and if you do not want to drive then the hire of a Chauffeur Personal Car is a good alternative.

Tours by Bus or Coach companies are available for exploring the more accessible towns and villages.

Touring by using Public Buses can be done reasonably easily but it is suggested you choose your base at a largish Cotswold town to have more choice of destination places to explore.

Touring by using an Organised Tour Company is a 'hassle free' way of seeing the best of the region.

Getting to the Cotwolds by train

The Cotswolds are at the heart of the British Rail network with mainline trains to the Cotswolds from London, the Midlands and the North and the South West of England.

There are main line railway stations at Cam and Dursley, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Kemble (serving Cirencester), Moreton-in-Marsh, Worcester, Stonehouse and Stroud.

Visitors as part of a rail based holiday are recommended to plan accommodation within easy reach of these stations.

There are regular rail services through the Cotswolds including:-

  • From London Paddington to Cheltenham via Swindon, Kemble (serving Cirencester), Stroud, Stonehouse, and Gloucester
  • From London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh via Charlbury and Kingham and ending at Worcester.
  • Between Gloucester and Cardiff
  • Between Birmingham and Bristol via Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Dursley
  • For further information see - Touring by Train

Getting to the Cotswolds by Car

Travel time by car from London - circa. 1.45 hours

Travel time from Birmingam - circa 1.0 hours

For more - travel information and useful tips

This way to navigate

  • Birmingham NEC
  • Bourton on the Water
  • Bradford-on-Avon
  • Broadway Tower
  • Bugatti Owners Club
  • Castle Combe
  • Chipping Campden
  • Chipping Norton
  • Chipping Sodbury
  • Cirencester
  • Cotswold Water Park
  • Droitwich Spa
  • Greenfield Village USA
  • Guiting Power
  • Lower Slaughter
  • Marlborough
  • Minchinhampton
  • Minster Lovell
  • Moreton in Marsh
  • Prescott Hill Climb
  • Rissingtons
  • Shipston on Stour
  • Slimbridge WWT
  • Stow on the Wold
  • Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Upper Slaughter
  • Upton-upon-Severn
  • Wootton Bassett
  • Wotton under Edge

This way to navigate to small Cotswold villages

  • Many other Cotswold Villages

Hint : Click on the link immediately above to explore many more beautiful villages

  • Gloucestershire
  • Worcestershire
  • Herefordshire
  • Berkeley Castle
  • Blenheim Palace
  • Broughton Castle
  • Buscot Park
  • Charlecote Park
  • Chastleton House
  • Chedworth Villa
  • Corinium Museum
  • Coughton Court
  • Great Coxwell Barn
  • Gloucester Cathedral
  • Hailes Abbey
  • Hailes Church
  • Hanbury Hall
  • Holst Museum
  • Farnborough Hall
  • Kelmscott Manor
  • Sherborne Estate
  • Longleat House
  • Malmesbury Abbey
  • Newark Park
  • Owlpen Manor
  • Pershore Abbey
  • Prinknash Abbey
  • Ragley Hall
  • Rodmarton Manor
  • Rollright Stones
  • Roman Baths
  • Rousham House
  • Salisbury Cathedral
  • Shakespeare
  • Snowshill Manor
  • Stanway House
  • Sudeley Castle
  • Sulgrave Manor
  • Warwick Castle
  • Woodchester Park
  • Worcester Cathedral
  • Barnsley House
  • Batsford Arboretum
  • Bourton House
  • Cerney House
  • Croome Park
  • Hidcote Manor
  • Kiftsgate Court
  • Lydney Park
  • Painswick Rococo
  • Spetchley Park
  • Westbury Court
  • Westonbirt Arboretum

Image of a Cotswolds village

Cotswold Towns and Villages to Visit

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15 Stunningly Beautiful Cotswolds Villages to Visit 2024

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The Cotswolds is home to some of the most unspoilt and historic villages in England. Famed for their honey-coloured stone, cosy pubs, quaint cottages and traditional tea rooms, it’s no wonder the Cotswolds is one of the most charming places to visit in the UK.

Made up of picture perfect towns and enchanting villages , the Cotswolds are ideal for day trips, Airbnb stays , hot tub getaways or glamping breaks , so plan ahead and visit as many of these beautiful Cotswolds villages as you can.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to yourself. This helps towards the upkeep of this website for which I am grateful.

Whilst in the Cotswolds , you might also like to check out:

  • 15 Best Airbnbs in the Cotswolds
  • 8 Cottages in the Cotswolds with Hot Tubs
  • 10 Top Glamping Spots in the Cotswolds

15 Best Villages in Cotswolds

1. castle combe.

The chocolate box village of Castle Combe is situated in the idyllic countryside of Wiltshire.

It is often called the ‘prettiest village in England’, and has even featured in several films, including Dr Dolittle and the War Horse.

Castle Combe’s popularity stems from the village being untouched by time.

Since the 1600s, there have been no new houses built in Castle Combe, so the ancient and well preserved honey stone cottages remain the standout architectural feature of this quaint village in the Cotswolds.

Unfortunately the ‘Castle’ in Castle Combe no longer exists, but the village is still home to one of the most majestic buildings in the Cotswolds, the ivy covered Manor House Hotel .

Situated past the bridge, this beautiful estate is photogenic from every angle, and has a Michelin star restaurant and 18 hole golf course to keep you busy.

The village itself is also home to St Andrew’s Church, famous for housing one of the oldest working clocks in the country, and The Old Rectory Tearoom , one of the best places to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the Cotswolds.

Making Castle Combe one of the must visit Cotswolds villages.

2. Bibury Village

Home to Arlington Row, the small but picturesque village of Bibury is so famous it features on the inside cover of the British passport.

Owned by the National Trust, the postcard view of Arlington Row is unsurprisingly one of the most photographed locations in the whole of England.

Once you’ve photographed Arlington Row from every angle, head to Bibury Trout Farm .

As one of the oldest trout farms in the country , and with 15 acres of countryside, it is the perfect place for budding fishermen.

You can learn how to catch your own dinner or purchase some of the trout and deli products to take home.

The riverside village of Bibury is best visited in Spring, when the quintessential cottages are covered in blooming flowers and the weather warms up enough to enjoy the creamy ice creams on offer from the local ice cream van.

If you fancy a quirky stay nearby then check out this luxury Shepherd Hut with a hot tub on AirBnB .

3. Stow-on-the-Wold

Originally a market town, Stow-on-the-Wold’s unique Saxon name means ‘holy place on the hill’.

In the middle ages the village was the centre for the wool trade, hence the towns narrow alleyways which were originally constructed to help shepherds herd their sheep to market.

Nowadays the Cotswolds town is filled with fascinating architecture from beautiful 16th century churches, to unique crooked houses. As well as stunning cottages that can be rented or beautiful glamping sites that can be enjoyed .

The Cotswold village also has plenty of excellent shops to explore, including local butchers, galleries, craft and antique shops, as well as several spots for afternoon tea and scones.

Stow-on-the-Wold has a number of historic places to stay such as the Kings Arms Inn and the Porch House , one of England’s oldest inns and a historic landmark in England .

Stow-on-the-Wold is situated close to Bourton-on-the-Water and Upper Slaughter , (two other beautiful villages in the Cotswolds you must visit) and only half an hour from the town of Bampton , where the popular TV show Downton Abbey was filmed.

Submitted by Christina from Travel2Next

4. Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden is one of the largest Cotswolds villages, and with great road access it’s easy to visit if you’re planning a UK road trip .

Compared to the other prettiest Cotswold villages, Chipping Campden is lively and has more of a buzz.

Locals regularly put on charity events in the village centre and tourists are encouraged to join in. 

There are a range of places to eat in Chipping Campden, including the famous Badgers Hall Tea room and the Eight Bells Inn , which has been feeding, watering and accommodating guests since the 14th century.

The best attractions in this village in the Cotswolds are the magnificent Hidcote Manor Gardens , run by the National Trust, and the impressive Kiftsgate Court , with breathtaking views across the whole of the Cotswolds.

Submitted by Kathryn from Wandering Bird

Situated in North Oxfordshire, Burford is known as the gateway to the Cotswolds and attracts plenty of tourists and locals to this Cotswold town.

It is one of the most beautiful villages in England, filled with traditional pubs, quaint tea rooms and quirky independent shops.

Burford Cotswolds is filled with great places to eat, notably the Bakery on the Hill , and Lynwood & Co. Café .

If you plan to stay a few days in the Cotswolds book a night or two at The Bull at Burford – a family-run hotel with 600 years of history, a must do experience for your Cotswolds bucket list.

Submitted by Darek from Darek and Gosia

6. Broadway

Close to Worcester, is the large Cotswolds village of Broadway. With 2,500 residents, there are several highly-rated restaurants and cafes making the village a great stop to add to your Cotswolds itinerary .

The streets of Broadway are lined with golden Cotswold stone which contrasts beautifully with well positioned classic red phone boxes.

So despite being slightly larger than many Cotswolds villages, Broadway has no shortage of English charm.

One of the most famous attractions in the Cotswold village is Broadway Tower , a 312 metre Saxon tower overlooking the rolling English countryside.

There is a £5 entrance cost, which includes the exhibits and entrance to the top of the tower, and once you’ve worked up a sweat, you can head to the onsite Morris & Brown Cafe, to indulge in a pick me up.

One of the best dinner options in Broadway is The Swan Pub , where you can tuck into world class cuisine including an exploding chocolate dessert!

Submitted by Rose from Where Goes Rose

One of the most charming and beautiful Cotswold villages is Lacock.

The tiny village can be walked from top to bottom in less than ten minutes, but its untouched medieval vibe has over the years caught the attention of many film crews.

From period dramas to blockbuster movies, Lacock has featured in many of the nation’s favourite films and shows.

The main attraction is Lacock Abbey , a 13th century property with sandy cloisters and large chambers.

It has served as a Harry Potter filming location over the years as its magical ambience can easily be mistaken for that of Hogwarts.

Elsewhere in the Lacock village, you can enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at a traditional British pub or browse the honesty boxes containing products made or grown by locals.

Lacock is so stereotypically quaint and British, you can’t help but love this village in the Cotswolds.

Submitted by Laura from What’s Hot?

8. Minster Lovell Village

The Cotswolds village of Minster Lovell is home to the picturesque ruins of a 15th century manor house.

The undiscovered gem of Minster Lovell hall was built in 1430 by William, Baron of Lovell who at the time, was one of the richest men in England.

Today, the hall, a tower and a dovecote sit in crumbling golden ruin along the banks of the River Windrush in a beautiful rural setting.

Passing the Old Swan , a stunning hotel and the ideal place to stay in Minster Lovell, a narrow road leads across the river and through the local playing fields, where each Sunday a game of cricket will be in full swing.

Further on past a row of immaculate chocolate box houses, the ruins open up in a small hidden field, making the perfect spot for a picnic in a stunning Cotswolds setting.

Submitted by Paul Healy from Anywhere We Roam

Kingham is a secluded village in the Cotswolds that has maintained its unspoilt, honey-stoned charm.

Beside a wide open green and rows of chocolate box houses, a Norman church stands tucked away behind weathered old trees.

It’s beautifully atmospheric, but it’s the dining scene that sets this diminutive Cotswolds village apart from other charmers in the area.

The local pub – The Plough – is operated under a Heston Blumenthal prodigy who has reinvented classic dishes on their innovative menu.

It’s the perfect country pub to enjoy after a long day hiking in the nearby bucolic countryside.

For another unforgettable dining experience, the Wild Rabbit with its Michelin starred chef churn out culinary masterpieces – made with local ingredients – in a relaxed unstuffy setting.

Both the Kingham Plough and the Wild Rabbit have rooms and Kingham is within easy access of London via a direct train line , making it one of the best Cotswolds villages to visit.

10. Lower Slaughter

Don’t be put off by the village’s ominous name, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan traveler .

You’ll be happy to know that Lower Slaughter is not a reference to a ye’ olde slaughterhouse.

It actually comes from an Old English word “sloh”, which can mean “marsh” or “bog”. OK, so maybe that doesn’t sound so appealing either.

But in this case, it refers to the lovely wetlands that surround Lower Slaughter village and the River Eye that runs through it.

The river, and the stone footbridges that cross it, are a main feature of the village and a big part of its charm.

In fact, a few years ago the road that follows the stream was even named the ‘most romantic street in Britain’.

You can follow this quaint path all the way to the next most beautiful village in Cotswolds, which is fittingly named Upper Slaughter .

Submitted by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan

11. Bourton-on-the-Water

The ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds.

The River Windrush flows through the village with five low arched bridges, creating a peaceful and beautiful natural environment.

Whilst strolling along the quaint walkways you’ll find children paddling in the river and families feeding the ducks on the river banks whilst enjoying their fish and chips.

The Cotswolds village is filled with charming stone buildings, housing the Cotswold Motoring Museum , Birdland Parks and Gardens , and the model village which even has a miniature replica of Bourton-on-the-Water for you to explore.

In the evening you can join the Bourton Ghost walking tour , and visit one of the many pubs and restaurant in this must visit village in the Cotswolds.

One of the best places to stay in Bourton-on-the-Water is the Chapel Cottage .

Submitted by Heather Raulerson from RaulersonGirlsTravel

12. Painswick

Best known as ‘the Queen of The Cotswolds’, Painswick is a romantic village away from the tourist hotspots in the area.

Painswick village sits halfway along the Cotswolds Way National trail , making it a great base for hikers.

The beautiful Cotswolds village is built from honey coloured stone quarried from the nearby Painswick Beacon, and is a great place to sample locally brewed ales.

Nestled in the heart of The Cotswolds Hills, Painswick has England’s sole surviving complete rococo garden, which was famously used as a place for lavish events.

The best time to visit the Rococo Gardens is in early Spring when you can witness the world renowned white snowdrops.

If you plan to stay in the Cotswolds village for a few days, choose the small 16 room boutique hotel, The Painswick , with incredible views of the rolling hills.

Submitted by Jasmine Buckley from The Life of a Social Butterfly

13. Upper Slaughter

Situated between Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold , Upper Slaughter is widely considered one of the most beautiful villages in the UK.

Upper Slaughter is a must visit place on a road trip around England due to its most famous attraction, the majestic 17th century Manor House .

Best visited on a sunny day, when it’s easy to spend a few hours roaming the manicured gardens and taking in the picture perfect views.

Upper Slaughter also has several alms houses and fords dating back to medieval times and even a beautiful old school house, that is well worth a visit.

One of the best places to stay in this Cotswold village is the Lords of the Manor Hotel , rated one of the Top 200 hotels in the UK, and one of the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds.

14. Winchcombe

One of the most underrated and prettiest villages in the Cotswolds is Winchcombe, close to Cheltenham.

The main attraction is the almighty Sudeley Castle and Gardens . Over a thousand years old, Sudeley Castle is known as the ‘hidden gem of the Cotswolds’.

On site there are ten magnificent gardens to explore, and the beautifully restored St Mary’s Church.

Which is uniquely home to the tomb of Queen Katherine Parr, the only English queen to be buried on private land.

Step back in history further and explore the rest of Winchcombe, made up of traditional coffee shops, restaurants and pubs, making for a wonderful day out in the Cotswolds .

Submitted by Vicky from Day Out In England

15. Chedworth

The quaint village of Chedworth is off the beaten track for most tourists.

However, located only seven miles from Cirencester (the capital of the Cotswolds) it is well worth making the short trip to this beautiful Cotswolds village, especially to visit its main draw.

Chedworth Roman Villa , is preserved by the National Trust and is one Britain’s largest remaining Roman Villas.

Decorated with intricate mosaics, the site is a must for history buffs.

The village of Chedworth is nestled in a valley and is home to only 700 people.

The easiest way to reach the village is by car, as trains no longer run there, and buses are infrequent.

However, Chedworth village is also accessible via the Monarch and Macmillan Way walking routes. With hikers usually stopping to fill up at the famous Seven Tuns pub .

Chedworth village is perfect for a day trip from Cirencester or Gloucester, but if you want to stay longer and soak up the peace and quiet, there are several guesthouses in this Cotswold village.

Submitted by Jenna Rank from I Know the Pilot

Villages of the Cotswolds Map

Lastly, if you want to view all the most beautiful Cotswold villages on a map, have a peek at the one I’ve created below.

It should help you plan where to stay in the Cotswolds and which of these best villages to visit in the Cotswolds together. Enjoy!

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The Cotswolds

Undulating gracefully across six counties, the Cotswolds region is a delightful tangle of golden villages, thatched cottages, evocative churches and honey-coloured mansions. In 1966 it was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, surpassed for size in England by the Lake District alone.

Best Time to Visit

Best things to do, leave the planning to a local expert.

Experience the real The Cotswolds. Let a local expert handle the planning for you.


Must-see attractions.

Arlington Row

Arlington Row

Bibury's most famous attraction, this ravishing row of rustic cottages – as seen in movies like Stardust – was originally a 14th-century wool store,…

Corinium Museum

Corinium Museum

Most of this wonderful modern museum is, of course, dedicated to Cirencester’s Roman past; reconstructed rooms, videos and interactive displays bring the…

Cotswold Falconry Centre

Cotswold Falconry Centre

Home to over 150 birds of prey (owl, vulture, eagle and, of course, falcon), this exciting spot stages displays of the ancient practice of falconry at 11…

Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle

During its thousand-year history, this magnificent castle has welcomed many a monarch, including Richard III, Henry VIII and Charles I. Half a mile…

Painswick Rococo Garden

Painswick Rococo Garden

England's only surviving rococo garden, half a mile north of Painswick, was laid out by Benjamin Hyett in the 1740s as a vast 'outdoor room'. Restored to…

Minster Lovell Hall

Minster Lovell Hall

The main sight in Old Minster is Minster Lovell Hall, a 15th-century riverside manor house that fell into ruins after being abandoned in 1747. You can…

St John the Baptist’s Church

St John the Baptist’s Church

Burford's splendid church, near the river, took over three centuries to build, from 1175 onwards. Its fan-vaulted ceiling, Norman west doorway and 15th…

Batsford Arboretum

Batsford Arboretum

Created from 1880 onwards by Bertie Mitford (Lord Redesdale), and later briefly home to his famous granddaughters, the Mitford sisters, these exotic 22…

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10 of the best things to do in the cotswolds.

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  • The Cotswolds

The Best Cotswold Villages and Towns – Our Top 10

Discover our top 10 list of the best Cotswold villages and towns, then choose the perfect place to visit for your UK staycation!

The Best Cotswold Villages and Towns


Book direct with us for the best price, The Cotswolds are tailor-made for your 2024 getaway.

We reveal our top 10 list of the best Cotswold villages and towns to visit, and why.  From the quaintest, prettiest locations to the beautiful bustling high streets – read on to discover more.

The Best Villages in the Cotswolds

Wondering why this gorgeous village looks familiar? We thought so! Bampton became Downton Village during the filming of the critically acclaimed TV show, Downton Abbey. Revisit your most-loved Downton moments with a stroll down Church View to St Mary’s Church, home to some of Downton Abbey’s most dramatic scenes! You can also view a selection of Downton memorabilia at the Bampton Community Archive.

Not to worry if you’re not the biggest Downton fan, Bampton is also home to some great pubs and cafes. Looking for a perfectly cooked beef Sunday roast with huge Yorkshire puddings, then The Plough Inn is the answer, as you can spend your Sunday cosied up by the log fire with a glass of red. If you fancy a lighter bite, then head to Bampton Garden Plants Cafe, perfect for coffee and cake.

Bampton Village

Burford is a hotspot for shopping, cafes and some excellent pubs. Our favourite being The Angel at Burford , where you can enjoy some mouth watering gastro-pub food served all day. You must order the blade of beef, and if you enjoy a freshly pulled pint, the Hooky ale is the one to go for. The pubs surrounding Burford are also not to be missed, including the Maytime Inn , which has a gorgeous garden so you can soak up the sun in the Summer months.

Hoping for a fun-filled family day out? Head to the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens to get up close and personal with lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Burford really is one of the best Cotswold villages.

Burford Village, one of the best Cotswold villages

3. Chipping Norton

Chipping Norton has a buzzing, lively, high street lined with independent shops and every third Saturday of the month, you’ll also find a Farmer’s Market where you can pick up quality local produce to cook up a storm from the comfort of your holiday cottage in the Cotswolds . If you don’t fancy cooking (we don’t blame you, you’re on holiday after all!), why not try The Boxing Hare ? A quaint country pub with great food and stunning views of the Cotswold countryside.

Chipping Norton provides fun for all the family with many local attractions, including Heythrop Zoological Gardens , Fairytale Farm and The Lido – the perfect place to cool off during the Summer months! Plan your stay around one of Chipping Norton’s annual events, such as the Chipping Norton Lit Festival , and make the most of the activities on offer to keep the kids entertained whilst on holiday. Discover many more things to do in the Cotswolds over on our handy Cotswold guide!

Chipping Norton

4. Cirencester

The perfect place to shop till you drop! Cirencester has a great shopping area where you can find high street names as well as independent retailers. There’s plenty of things to see and do, the kid’s favourite tends to be Cotswold Country Park & Beach , as it’s home to a giant inflatable water park, high ropes course and BBQ pits, so that you can spend the whole day soaking up the fun!

If that sounds like your idea of hell on your relaxing Cotswold holiday, then visit the Corinium museum or Elemental Sculpture Park for something more low-key. If you took the plunge and visited the kid’s haven, reward yourself with a delicious, hearty dinner and freshly pulled pint at The Masons Arms and they will welcome you with open arms.

Cirencester Cotswolds

5. Fairford

This gorgeous village is just what you signed up for if you’re looking for a picture-perfect spot. We recommend a stroll along the River Coln with an award-winning cup of coffee and cake from Lynwood & Co . Don’t forget to pick up one of their sourdough loaves to enjoy during your stay. There’s also a delightful family-run Italian, Colosseo Ristorante , we hear their Carpaccio pizza is to die for!

If you’re looking for a family activity, plan your stay around the Fairford Festival in June where you can enjoy live music and appearances from top writers. You could even put your pooch to the test in their Dog Show! Alternatively, do you have a need for speed? Embrace the fast and the furious at Cotswold Driving Experiences which is open all year round for all you adrenaline junkies out there. There’s also The Royal International Air Tattoo which is one of the world’s largest military air shows, held annually in July at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.


6. Faringdon

With stunning views of the Cotswold countryside, Faringdon is a picturesque, historic market town. It’s 100ft tall Folly Tower is the area’s most famous landmark and you can explore it in all its glory with the 8km Farringdon circular walk, famous for its breath-taking views of the rolling Cotswolds hills. If this sounds a bit too far, you can follow the last bit of the route which features a sculpture trail in the woods, perfect for children.

Visit the National Trust site, Buscot Park , an 18th century house, home to enchanting gardens and the Faringdon art collection. Just around the corner from Buscot Park, you’ll find Buscot Weir, which is known by the locals as a great place for open water swimming. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, try Faringdon Coffee House, great for a light bite and also amazing Lebanese food… their sharing plate with grilled aubergine, chicken wings and vine leaves is absolutely divine!

Farringdon, Cotswolds

Voted England’s Favourite Village in 2006, Kingham is a beautiful, cosmopolitan village filled with chocolate box houses. A hotspot for visiting Londoners, as they can’t get enough of the independent boutiques, particularly Daylesford Farmshop ! Famous for local, organic produce, homeware and cookery classes.

You can also book in for some well-deserved relaxation time at the Bamford Wellness Spa, just next door to Daylesford. Kingham is also home to The Big Feastival , hosted on August Bank Holiday, where you can watch artists such as Rag’N’Bone man perform and tuck into street food from the best chefs around!

Kingham, Cotswolds

8. Longborough

This small, pretty Cotswolds village is not to be underestimated, as every Summer the village becomes a hub of activity for Longborough Festival Opera . Hosting beautiful classical performances in their intimate opera house with 500 seats and Big Top tent.

Kickstart the evening with a round of drinks at The Coach and Horses . If you’re looking for all-year-round activities, you can travel slightly further afield to visit Sezincote House , an old Indian palace in the heart of the Cotswolds (yes, you did read that correctly).


9. Stow-on-the-Wold

The ivy-clad buildings of Stow-on-the-Wold make it one of the most beautiful market towns in the Cotswolds. This pretty town is famous for its antique shops and has a lively Market Square lined with independent boutiques. If you’re a history buff, take a look at the ancient cross in the centre of the square or explore other areas of local history by heading down to St Edward’s Church for amazing architecture. Without doubt, one of the best villages in the Cotswolds!

There are many great places to eat and drink. Why not visit England’s oldest inn, also known as The Porch House founded in 947AD, for a freshly pulled pint by a cosy open fire? We love Alexiou’s restaurant and The Old Butchers in Stow for the most delicious seafood.


10. The Oddingtons & The Wychwoods

This collection of peaceful, beautiful, traditional Cotswold villages includes Upper & Lower Oddington, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Milton-under-Wychwood and Ascott-under-Wychwood. The Fox is a great pub located in Oddington, popular with visiting foodies and wine lovers. Oddington is also a stone’s throw away from our favourite Daylesford Farm Shop!

The Wychwoods have their fair share of delightful country pubs too, including The Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood and The Milton Hare at Milton-under-Wychwood , The Hare even offers a Champagne Happy Hour at 5pm on a Friday and regular live music (what’s not to love?!). Unwind by the open fire following a beautiful walk in Wychwood forest.

The Oddingtons & The Wychwoods

  • Things to do

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How to Plan a Perfect Trip to the Cotswolds

Grace Olivia Parry is a Britain-based freelance copywriter, writer, blogger, and consultant. Her work has appeared in the HuffPost UK and in other publications.

Britain’s worst kept secret? The Cotswolds. This charming part of the country is quintessentially British and England at its best. Unsurprisingly, the Cotswolds welcomes 38 million visitors each year—many in search of the area’s famous beauty. But what about this stunning region makes it so special?

Across 800 square miles, the Cotswolds spans five counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire. A wide range of towns and villages make up this breathtaking part of the world, each of which is unique and comes with its own kind of charm.

And this region's signature? Golden "Cotswold" stone buildings and miles of rolling hills. More than 3,000 miles, in fact. The Cotswolds boast an abundance of footpaths, woodlands, meadows, and aged sites to explore. Whether you take afternoon tea, walk through the sleepy villages, or stay in a historic hotel, there’s so much to explore in the Cotswolds.

Discover exactly what to do, what to eat, where to stay, and how to make the most of your Cotswolds experience in this guide.

Planning Your Trip

  • England has varying weather, with typical northern hemisphere seasons. The summer months in the Cotswolds are often warm and mild, but they’re also peak tourism time. Fall can be the best time to visit, as temperatures are still favorable, but the villages are less busy.
  • Hiring a car is a great idea when touring the Cotswolds. The villages spread out across 100 miles of the countryside, making them easily accessible by car. British public transport is also provided in most villages and towns, with a range of bus routes available. Taxis are also an alternative option.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted in the Cotswolds; however, some places do not take American Express. The majority of hotels and restaurants will take card payments, although you may need to pay cash for markets and street stalls, among other things. ATM machines are banks can be found in the larger villages and towns. Some of the villages can be quite remote, so cell phone service may be weak. Call ahead to your accommodation to check for internet service, although most hotels are likely to provide it.

Things to Do

When visiting the Cotswolds, you’re never short of something to do. This area of natural beauty offers rural outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, or biking, as well as a full range of attractions and things to do. Take a look at some of the most notable below to plan your itinerary.

Exploring the towns and villages

  • Savor the true Cotswold experience by strolling around one of the many pretty villages, such as Bourton on the Water , with its riverside shops and classic tea houses; or Bibury , with its row of 17th-century weaver’s cottages.
  • Roam around the many market towns, like Stow-on-the-Wold and its charming market square, antique stores, and art galleries; or Chipping Norton and its regular craft fairs and local concerts.
  • Step into the buzz of a bustling Cotswold town like Cheltenham, known for its horse racing events ; or Cirencester, with its many museums and lively Brewery Arts Centre.
  • Or take in an aerial view of the rolling Cotswold countryside from a hot air balloon to truly see it all.

Visiting historic houses and sites

  • Wander around momentous historical (and royal) buildings like Blenheim Palace , Berkeley Castle , and Sudeley Castle .
  • Uncover the striking history and heritage of The Roman Baths .
  • Work your way through the range of National Trust properties across the Cotswolds, such as Snowshill Manor & Garden in Broadway or Chastleton House in Moreton in Marsh.
  • Plus, the various country houses, churches, and museums found in towns and villages across the five counties.

Enjoying nature and notable gardens

  • Head to Westonbirt Arboretum or Batsford Arboretum , the botanic gardens centered around trees.
  • Visit the Rococo Gardens in Painswick to enjoy a seasonal display of plants, flowers, fruits, and accompanying festivities.
  • Explore the gardens of Highgrove House , the family residence of The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
  • Walk the Cotswold Way , take in nature, and explore the 100-mile trail of rambling paths and public footpaths.

Relaxing and unwinding

  • Indulge in the Bath Thermae Spa ; the modern rooftop natural thermal spa set in a gorgeous historical building.
  • Explore the beautiful Cotswolds surroundings from afar by taking the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway heritage steam train between Broadway and Cheltenham.
  • Hire a classic car and tour through the villages, stopping for a spot of lunch or afternoon tea, to really indulge in a classic British experience.

And fun for all the family

  • Enjoy a day out with the children at Cotswold Farm Park , to pet the animals and take part in a range of events; Cotswold Wildlife Park , to see a range of animals, wildlife, and attractions; or Birdland , to meet your favorite and rare birds.
  • Experience a waterside adventure among more than 40 square miles of countryside and 150 lakes at infamous Cotswold Water Park . Find adventure activities like archery, horseback riding, or shooting, and watersports such as waterskiing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, or visit the inland Cotswold Country Park & Beach .
  • Stop by the Cotswold stone Model Village in the picture-perfect Bourton on the Water.

What To Eat & Drink

The Cotswolds offers a wide variety of food, and can easily accommodate your tastes and needs. Alongside traditional British fares, such as fish and chips and afternoon tea, enjoy fine dining, street food, and international influences in casual or classic settings. That’s the beauty of the Cotswolds; you can choose from pub grub or a Michelin starred experience—or even a blend of both! And a full range of British craft beers, cocktails, and fine wines can be found throughout the many towns and villages.

Classic British food

  • Dine on British staples such as fish and chips at the award-winning Simpsons Fish and Chips, or a full roast Sunday lunch with all the trimmings at The Halfway House in Kineton.
  • Find a traditional afternoon tea served up all throughout the Cotswolds. Some of the best can be found at The Slaughters Manor , with its stylish surroundings; Whatley Manor , set in a gorgeous manor house; and Well Walk Tea Room , and its quaint antique décor.

Fine Dining

  • The Michelin Starred Le Champignon Sauvage offers classic French food, for both lunch and dinner.
  • Restaurant Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park , with it’s Michelin Star, serves exciting seasonal dishes surrounded by elegance and sophistication.
  • Purslane in Cheltenham, for a creative menu centered around seafood, served in a stylish yet relaxed setting.

Casual favorites

  • Enjoy delicious British fare in a relaxed setting at local gems like The Porch House in Stow on the Wold or the Gloucester Old Spot in Cheltenham.
  • Relax in a thoroughly English environment at The Wheatsheaf Inn, Cheltenham, or The Lamb Inn, Burford to taste some of the best cooking around.

Where To Stay

It’s safe to say that the Cotswolds has an abundance of incredible accommodation. Whether you want to live it up in luxury, stay in a quaint country cottage, or tour from town to town, you’ll find it here.

  • Find The Dial House , the charming bed and breakfast hotel, in Bourton on the Water.
  • Enjoy an indulgent stay at The Lygon Arms with its first-class spa facilities, found on the Broadway high street.
  • The Inn For All Seasons at Burford is in a stunning location and is the perfect blend of character and contemporary.
  • When in Cheltenham, treat yourself to a special stay at Ellenborough Park , or enjoy a quaint experience at The Bradley .
  • If you’re looking to go camping, the Campden Yurts at Chipping Campden are lots of fun.
  • In Cirencester, The Old Brewhouse is a sweet B&B to stay at, and it just a short walk from the town center.
  • When in the market town of Moreton in Marsh, stay in the old coaching inn, White Hart Royal .
  • The Sheep on Sheep Street in Stow on the Wold offers and warm and accommodating stay.

Getting There

The Cotswolds are accessible by air, road, rail, and sea, so choose your arrival process based on your own preferences. The region is in easy reach of London (around two hours by car or rail), should you fly into any one of London’s airports, such as Heathrow or Gatwick. Nearby airports also include Birmingham International Airport or Bristol Airport. The option to travel by ferry from New York City to Southampton is also available and can take around a week.

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22 of The Cotswolds Best Villages You Must Visit [Plus Things to Do & Map]

Cotswolds Best Villages and Places to Visit - The Ultimate Guide (Includes Map)

The Cotswolds best villages are full of honey-coloured limestone buildings with deep-pitched roofs, topped with heavy stone tiles. All this nestled in gently undulating countryside, with shallow streams running through the valley filled with trout hunted by egrets and kingfishers. 

To see the Cotswolds best villages, get off the main roads and away from the towns. The most adorable villages are found on the quiet country roads that fill the gaps on the map. This comprehensive guide of hand-picked villages provides you with everything you need to know about the best villages in the Cotswolds. I’ve even included individual guides for many of these charming villages so you’ll know the best things to do and places to visit in the Cotswolds.

Here are the best villages in the Cotswolds you need to visit.

Map of the Cotswolds Best Villages and Top Things to Do

Don’t miss my cotswolds travel guide for more tips.

1.  Stow-on-the-Wold

Cotswolds Best Villages - Stow-on-the-Wold - The Kings Arms and Market Cross

Before you leave, make sure to experience the best Afternoon Tea in town. Pop into Lucy’s Tearoom and savour their exquisite scones and decadent cakes. You won’t regret it.

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Stow-on-the-Wold .

2. Moreton-in-Marsh

Cotswolds Best Villages - Moreton-in-Marsh - Pretty cottage home covered in flowers

Highlights include the Curfew Tower which is the oldest building in the village. Then there’s The Bell Inn which is considered to be the inspiration for the ‘Prancing Pony’, Middle Earth’s most famous pub in J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

Don’t be fooled by the bustling High Street, head towards St. David’s Church where you’ll see a lovely collection of cosy cottages covered with wisteria and other colourful flora. 

Located a few minutes from the town centre are other must-see attractions including the elegant Chastleton House, Batsford Arboretum for its 56 acres of beautiful parkland, Bourton House Garden for its award-winning gardens, and Sezincote House for a taste of Hindu and Muslim inspired architecture in this elaborate home. 

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Moreton-in-Marsh .

3. Bourton-on-the-Hill

Cotswolds Best Villages - Bourton-on-the-Hill - Row of pretty cottages

4. Bourton-on-the-Water

Cotswolds Best Villages - Bourton-on-the-Water - River and stone bridge

There’s a lot to see and do in Bourton-on-the-Water, from getting lost in The Dragon Maze, to enjoying warm scones for Cream Tea at Bakery-on-the Water. The village’s main attractions include the Model Village, a one-ninth scale and perfect replica of Bourton-on-the-Water at the time it was built between 1936-1940. There’s the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection home to the famous sentient vintage car, Brum. 

Last but not least, there’s the Birdland Park and Gardens covering 9 acre and home to over 500 birds including flamingos, pelicans, penguins, cranes, storks, and waterfowl all in a natural water habitat.

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water .

5. Lower Slaughter

Cotswolds Best Villages - Lower Slaughter - Old Stone bridge

You won’t need more than a couple of hours to explore Lower Slaughter. Start your visit with a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Eye which hug the village. Visit the Old Mill which is home to the Lower Slaughter Museum and where you’ll learn about the village’s history through the art of breadmaking. 

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter .

6. Upper Slaughter

Cotswolds Best Villages - Upper Slaughter - Cute cottage home and garden

The main attraction here is Lords of the Manor hotel which dates from 1649. Wander the extensive grounds before enjoying their Afternoon Tea either in the lounge or in the garden.

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Upper Slaughter .

7. Broadway

Cotswolds Best Villages - Broadway - Rainbows over pretty Jacobean homes on Upper High Street

For the best fish ‘n chips around, head to go Russell’s Fish & Chips and order ANYthing. Their batter is so light, fresh and crisp. Then head to Tisanes Tea Room for a wonderful traditional Afternoon or Cream tea. This place is so loved that there is usually a queue out the door!

Located just 25-minutes from Stratford-Upon-Avon , Broadway is home to one of the Cotswold famous icons, Broadway Tower. Set within a 50-acre estate of parkland with wild deer roaming the ground, the spiral staircase for a whopping 360-degree view of the surrounding 16 counties.

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Broadway.

8. Snowshill

Cotswolds Best Villages - Snowshill - St Barnabas Church

While you’re here, visit the 16th-century country house Snowshill Manor to see the treasure-trove of tiny toys, Samurai armour, musical instruments all collected by its previous owner, Charles Paget Wade.

If you’re visiting during summer, be sure to head over to the Cotswold Lavender farm to wander the fields and pick up your favourite lavender-based gifts, soaps, toiletries and body products.

Cotswolds Best Villages - Burford - View from the High Street

Located half-way down the High Street is the Tolsey, where medieval merchants had to pay their tolls. Hence the name Tolsey. At the opposite end of the village is the elaborate St. John the Baptist Church. Inside is the impressive mausoleum of Lawrence Tanfield, James I’s Chancellor of the Exchequer with his wife and the funerary plaque of Edmund Harman who was Henry VIII’s barber and surgeon. The plaque depicts four Amazonian figures, considered the earliest of its kind of native Americans in Britain.

Hungry? Not to be missed are the delicious homepage pies at The Royal Oak or the award-winning meals The Angel at Burford. It’s a hard choice!

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Burford.

10. Castle Combe

Cotswolds Best Villages - Castle Combe - Sitting on the bridge at Water Lane near weavers cottages

There are plenty of signature Cotswold stone cottages here which were once weavers’ cottages. As you enter the village from the north, look out for the striking yellow Grade II listed Dower House which appeared as the fictional Puddleby-on-the Marsh in the 1967 film Dr. Dolittle. Continue to the centre of town to see the old Market Cross, remnants of the Buttercross and the 15-century ‘wool church’, St. Andrew’s Church.

The most famous vantage point of Castle Combe is from Water Lane looking back towards town. Castle Combe really is a photographer’s dream.

Plan your visit with my guide to the best things to do in Castle Combe .

Cotswolds Best Villages - Bibury - Arlington Row weavers cottages and swan

Just opposite Arlington Row is The Swan Hotel, a former coaching inn that overlooks the banks of the River Coln. Stop here for lunch in The Swan Brasserie or enjoy afternoon tea by the river. The chef’s freshly baked fruit scones topped with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam are to die for.

12. Blockley

Cotswolds Best Villages - Blockley - Cottage called The Old Bank

The village is best explored on foot, with several enjoyable walks leading from the village to the beautiful surrounding countryside.

13. Woodstock

Cotswolds Best Villages - Woodstock - Blenheim Palace

There are several gardens, temples, monuments and other points of interest to explore within the palace’s extensive grounds. Not to be missed is the majestic 300-year-old Cedar of Lebanon tree known as the Harry Potter Tree, which featured in ‘Order of the Phoenix’.

In town, you can also visit Sir Winston Churchill grave at St Martin’s Church who rests alongside other family members.

14. Chipping Campden

Cotswolds Best Villages - Chipping Campden - High Street

At the heart of this delightful village is the impressive 17th-century market hall which provided merchants and farmers of the time shelter as they sold goods like cheese, butter, and poultry.

From here it’s just a short walk to the majestic wool church of St James. As you pass the almshouses you’ll see a sunken cartwheel wash just opposite. From St James’ graveyard, you can see the remains of Old Campden House and Gateway. In 1613 Sir Baptist Hicks began building a new home in the very latest style, unfortunately, it was burnt to the ground by retreating Royalist soldiers, only this single fragment remains.

For a relaxing lunch or the best afternoon tea in town, head to Badgers Hall Tea Room located on the High Street. From here head to the Court Barn Museum to learn how the Arts and Crafts movement shaped life in the north Cotswolds.

If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to stretch your legs, Chipping Campden marks the start of The Cotswold Way, a 102 mile (164Km) long National Trail running between this small market town to the city of Bath in the south. 

Just north of Chipping Campden village is Hidcote Manor Garden. This not-to-be-missed garden is one of the best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain.  Also located nearby is Kiftsgate Court Gardens famed for its roses, the creation of three generations of women gardeners. 

15. Naunton

Cotswolds Best Villages - Naunton - Naunton Village and Rolling hills

The village has two churches, St Andrew’s Church, which dates from the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th century, when a tower was added and Naunton Baptist Chapel. 

If you visit the local tourism board website, they mention that you can ‘climb the hill for a really good view of church and village’. When I visited I tried to find this mysterious vantage point but was on;y met with private land. The best view I got was from the main road B4068, which isn’t a safe place to stop. If you find a better route, please let me know! 🙂

If you have time, definitely visit the famous Cotswold Farm Park which has been helping protect rare breeds of farm animals since 1971. Specialising in historical farm animals, including those from the Bronze and Iron Ages, Roman, Viking and Norman periods, Cotswold Farm Park even supplied period-correct animals for Mel Gibson’s film, Braveheart.

16. Painswick

Cotswolds Best Villages - Painswick - Cottages in village centre

While you’re here, don’t miss taking a wander down Bisley Street, flanked by mostly fourteenth-century buildings and St Mary’s Church with a spire that dominates the village. Take your time to wander through the churchyard, where 99 yew trees, surround a collection of 17th and 18th-century table tombs. As the legend goes, there are exactly 99 trees, and the Devil himself brings death every time someone has tried to plant a hundredth.

Other places to visit in Painswick include the Painswick Rococo Garden, a short walk from the centre. Designed as a flamboyant garden in the mid-1700s, it also features a world-renowned collection of snowdrops.

17. Tetbury

Cotswolds Best Villages - Tetbury - Walking along Chipping Steps

Tetbury is a historic wool town which prospered from the wool trade. Many of the wool merchants’ houses remain largely untouched since the 16th and 17th century. Tetbury’s Grade I listed 17th-century Market House has been the heart of the town for centuries. Still today,  markets are held here every Wednesday and Saturday. 

Dominating the skyline is The Parish Church of St Mary’s with one of the tallest and most elegant spires in the UK.

The Chipping (which is now a car park) means ‘market’ and for centuries was the site of the mop fairs, where local farmhands, labourers and domestic staff offered themselves for employment.  The cobbled Chipping Steps are flanked by weavers’ cottages and where you’ll get some of the most iconic views of the town. 

Also worth visiting is The Police Museum in the Old Court House which houses the world-renowned Alex Nicols collection of handcuffs and restraints, together with Gloucester policing memorabilia.

A short 12-minute drive south of Tetbury village is Westonbirt, the National Arboretum with a staggering collection of plants and trees from all over the world. From towering Champion trees to rare and threatened trees, Westonbirt has it all.

18. Great Tew 

Cotswolds Best Villages - Great Tew - Deep Thatched roof home

Set behind a marvellous stone gateway, don’t miss visiting St. Michael and All Angels for its beautiful blend of different architectural styles. Much of it from the 13th and 14th century.

19. Stanway

Stanway is a small crossroads village centred around Stanway House, a superb Jacobean manor and home to the tallest gravity fed fountain in the world at just over 300 feet. 

From its baroque gatehouse, 18th-century water garden, 14th-century Tithe Barn, Stanway is an absolute delight.  Even St Peter’s Church, which was rebuilt in the 12th century and restored in 1896 makes up part of Stanway estate. 

20. Winchcombe

Cotswolds Best Villages - Winchcombe - Sudeley Castle

Dent’s Terrace

Winchcombe, which literally means ‘valley with a bend’ is one of the Cotswolds best villages to visit. Winchcombe has several drawcards, from its long main thoroughfare lined with a stunning medley of mellow yellow limestone and half-timbered buildings, Dent’s Terrace with ten Grade 2 listed charming cottages, to the magnificent Sudeley Castle with its award-winning gardens and where the last of King Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Parr, lived and is buried. 

Once the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, Winchcombe has a long and interesting history which reaches as far back as the Stone Age when people settled in the hills leaving a stone-lined, burial chamber known as the Belas Knap long barrow which you can visit. 

During the Middle Ages Winchcombe became a thriving wool town and centre for pilgrims who travelled to Hailes Abbey. Visitors travelled far and wide to see a phial that was said to contain the Blood of Christ – known as the Holy Blood of Hailes. It was so famous that Geoffrey Chaucer mentions it in The Canterbury Tales. Today, you can visit the tranquil ruins of Hailes Abbey and explore the beautiful surviving stonework. 

Just west of Wincombe is St. Kenelm’s Well, named after the son of a Mercian king Kenwulph. At only 7 years old, Kenelm became an Anglo-Saxon saint after being murdered by his foster-father Asceberht and sister Quendryth in their plot to gain power. 

As you leave Winchcombe, stop by Hayles Fruit farm to pick up some apples and pears or have afternoon tea before heading south to Cleeve Common to see the wild, windswept countryside from the highest point in the Cotswolds.

21. Kingham

Cotswolds Best Villages - Kingham - Cute cottages covered in a creeper

Take a stroll around the village greens, bordered by elegant cottages from the 17th and 18th centuries before visiting St. Andrew’s Church, a Norman church with a fine old rectory built in the 17th century.

With two highly-rated pubs, the Kingham Plough and The Wild Rabbit, Kingham is great for foodies. If that wasn’t enough, each year Jamie Oliver and Alex James host The Big Feastival on August Bank Holiday.

Less than 2 miles from the village is the fantastic Daylesford Organic Farm selling premium deli items of all kinds and delicious, award-winning organic food in its village shop.

Despite its modest size, Kingham has its own train station with services from London taking just 90 minutes, making it the ideal destination for a day trip.

22. Chipping Norton

Cotswolds Best Villages - Chipping Norton - Row of handsome almshouses near St Mary's Church

Start your visit in the Market Square where many of the original houses were rebuilt in the more fashionable Georgian style. Browse the antique shops, visit the medieval Guildhall, St Mary’s Church and a row of handsome almshouses, before heading to the Chipping Norton Museum to learn more about the history of the town dating back to the time of the Romans.

Chipping Norton offers a good choice of places to eat too. Located next to the theatre is The Chequers, an atmospheric pub with three softly lit beamed rooms with low ochre ceilings and log fires and an airy conservatory. Then there’s The Red Lion, the smallest pub in town and still a local favourite. Dating from 1684, The Red Lion serves local Hook Norton ales you can enjoy while playing on darts.

If you have time, I highly recommend visiting The Rollright Stones, located just 4 miles from Chipping Norton. This complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments provide a fascinating look at the region’s past. Each monument was erected during a period where there was a continuous tradition of ritual behaviour on sacred ground, from the 4th to the 2nd millennium BCE.

So, there you have it, the Cotswold best villages and what to do and places to visit in each of them. To help you plan your trip, check out my guide on how to get to the Cotswolds  and the most unique Cotswold cottages on Airbnb.

Want to see more of the Cotswolds? Join one of these top-rated tours.

  • Cotswolds & Downton Abbey Locations
  • Small-Group Tour of Cotswold Villages
  • Private Cotswold Village Tour (for your group only)
  • Oxford, Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle Day Trip from London
  • Lunch in the Cotswolds Tour from London
  • Downton Abbey Village, Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds Day Trip from London
  • Small-Group Day Trip to Oxford, the Cotswolds and Stratford-upon-Avon from London
  • Stonehenge, Windsor and Bath Full Day Trip from London

cotswolds towns to visit

Visiting the UK? Check out my other posts

  • Adorable Cotswolds Airbnbs: 26 Most Unique Airbnb Cottages in the Cotswolds
  • 6 Unmissable Things to Do in Castle Combe [The Cotswolds Prettiest Village]
  • 7 Wonderful Things to Do in Burford in The Cotswolds
  • 14 Unique Things to Do in Broadway [The Jewel of the Cotswolds]
  • 16 Best Things to do in Moreton-in-Marsh, The Cotswolds
  • Top 12 Things to do in Stow-on-the-Wold, The Cotswolds
  • 12 Best Things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water, The Cotswolds
  • 11 Lovely Things to Do in Lower Slaughter & Upper Slaughter, The Cotswolds
  • How to Get to The Cotswolds from London, around the UK & Beyond!
  • 16 Lovely Things to Do in Stratford-upon-Avon: A Detailed Guide to Shakespeare’s Birthplace
  • 10 Unusual Things to do in London You Never Knew About
  • B Bakery Bus Tour: The Best Afternoon Tea Tour in London
  • 31 Fascinating Origins of London Street Names Revealed
  • 25 Wonderful Phrases Shakespeare Invented that You Use Every day
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  • 20 Hidden Meanings of English Place-Names You Probably Didn’t Know
  • Self-Guided Banksy Walking Tour in Bristol: Where to See 10 Original Banksy Art
  • 29 Best Things to do in Bristol | The Ultimate City Guide

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UK Travel Planning

10 best villages in the Cotswolds (+ tips and map)

By: Author Tracy Collins

Posted on Last updated: July 21, 2023

Guide to visiting the Cotswolds in England

If you are planning your Cotswold itinerary you may be considering which villages are must-sees. In this article, we will introduce you to 10 pretty Cotswold villages (the best villages in the Cotswolds) including what to do and see and tips to make the most of your visit.

When touring Britain making time in your itinerary to escape the cities and visit The Cotswolds — a region in central southern England that has an assortment of picturesque medieval villages – is an absolute must-do!

Running through the English counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire the whole area — nearly 800 square miles — has been designated for conservation and deemed by the government to be an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) .

The villages in the Cotswolds are so utterly charming, they look as though they’ve come to life right out of a storybook. Imagine weathered stone cottages nestled in the rolling green countryside. Stacked stone walls line narrow streets while sheep blithely graze in ancient English pastures.

The region is about 100 miles from London so renting a car will ensure that you’re able to tour the best Cotswold villages. If you love walking, there are miles of footpaths to explore. If antiquing or sightseeing is more your cup of tea, there’s plenty of that too.

⭐️ Tip – Do you want to see the beautiful Cotswolds villages but prefer to avoid the stress of driving or taking public transport? We recommend this full-day tour of the Cotswolds from London which includes visits to Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford. Spend a relaxing day exploring the quintessentially British countryside with the help of your local guide.

There are dozens of villages in the Cotswolds, each with unique character and special attractions. So if you are wondering which are the prettiest Cotswolds villages, or the most adorable village, picturesque village or quaint village to ensure you don’t miss out when visiting the Cotswolds this article will provide the perfect introduction.

Our introduction to 10 of the most beautiful and best villages in the Cotswolds and will provide inspiration for your Cotswolds itinerary.

Looking for accommodation in the Cotswolds? Our guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds (villages and hotels) has options for every travel style and budget.

1. Chipping Campden for walks (Cotswold Way), history, arts and crafts

2. stow-on-the-wold for history (civil war), and quaint shops, 3. bibury for history & the most famous row of houses in the uk, 4. bourton-on-the-water a perfect base for exploring the cotswolds, 5. the slaughters, 6. castle combe, 8. broadway, 10. painswick, top tips – what you need to know if you are planning to visit the cotswolds, which of these beautiful cotswold villages will feature in your itinerary, 10 best villages in the cotswolds you can’t miss.

When visiting the Cotswolds, consider making the lovely market town of Chipping Campden your home base. Not only is it one of the most beautiful Cotswold villages, but it’s also centrally located by the region’s northern border and is not far from several other villages. 

As one of the larger towns, it offers a variety of accommodations that will suit any budget — cosy B&Bs, rustic inns or higher-end hotels.

In the Middle Ages, Chipping Campden was a thriving trading centre patronized by wealthy wool merchants. A remnant of that life is Chipping Campden’s Market Hall. It’s a 15th-century building erected in the centre of town that protected merchants from the elements while they sold their wares. You can feel the history as you step on its cobbled floor and gaze up at the vaulted ceilings.

It’s also the start or the finish of the Cotswold Wa y, an amazing walking trail covering 100 miles of scenic countryside and one of the best things to do in the Cotswolds . As you explore the town further, you’ll want to take your time enjoying High Street, which is lined with wheat-coloured houses and shops and boasts architecture from the 14th century up to the 17th century.

If you like historic churches, you’re in luck — Chipping Campden has several to explore. They also have a variety of very good restaurants and cosy pubs to kick back and relax in.

🏡 Where to stay in Chipping Camden

  • Noel Arms – Award-winning hotel with open log fires and free parking
  • Woolmarket House – A friendly welcome right in the heart of the village

Looking for accommodation in the best villages in the Cotswolds? My guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds (villages and hotels) has options for every travel style and budget.

A view of the town of Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds.

If you’re travelling from Chipping Campden, it’s about a 15-minute drive south through some especially lovely country to reach the beautiful village of Stow-on-the-Wold . It sits atop an 800-foot hill at the juncture of two mains roads.

This quaint village, like many others, began life as a market town, and today it possesses all the elements tourists seek in a Cotswold dream — scenic beauty, narrow roadways, Cotswold stone buildings and a thriving market square.

You could spend hours browsing through the town’s adorable antique shops or deciding which café is the right one for you. Stow-on-the-Wold’s tea shops are also considered to be some of the finest in the Cotswolds.

This is a very popular area, especially on weekends, so to beat the crowds, an early arrival will work in your favour. The parking is free but it’s at a premium, especially in the summer.

Don’t miss St. Edward’s Church . Built during medieval times, it looks to be plucked right out of a fairytale. If you walk around to the back, you’ll see its rather magical looking west door, flanked on either side by gnarled and thick-leaved trees. The word is that literary giant J.R.R. Tolkien himself drew inspiration from these very doors when he created The Fellowship of the Ring’s Doors of Durin.

If you’d prefer a dose of non-fiction, have a peek at the Cotswold Cricket Museum on Sheep Street. For cricket enthusiasts or cricket novices, there’s a lot of very interesting history there to learn.

🏡 Where to stay in Stow on the Wold

  • The Old Stocks Inn – a 17th-century coaching inn
  • Stow Lodge Hotel – Great location in the middle of the town

Looking for accommodation in these Cotswolds villages? My guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds (villages and hotels) has options for every travel style and budget.

A picture of a bookshop and cafe sign in Stow on the Wold

The village of Bibury hasn’t changed in years and that’s what people love about it. It’s quaint and picturesque, and as you admire the weathered stone cottages or stroll by the swans swimming in the River Coin, it’s easy to imagine living there hundreds of years ago. Bibury is one of the most popular villages in the Cotswolds and is a beautiful village to have as a base to further explore the area.

Arlington Row is a must-see collection of cottages in Bibury that were built in 1380 as monastic wool storage houses. Later, in the 17th century, they were converted into weavers’ cottages. Today they look much as they did back then, making Bibury unquestionably one of the prettiest Cotswold villages.

Arlington Row is one of the most photographed places in the United Kingdom. The best time to visit is either early in the day or later in the afternoon when the crowds will be at their lightest. Parking is at an absolute premium during the busy season.

There are a few places to eat in town and some shops that sell souvenirs, but the majority of your time in Bibury will be spent appreciating its tranquillity and beauty.

The Bibury Trout Farm is nearby. It is an ideal stop if you have little children who will enjoy feeding the fish. The Bibury Trout Farm has a café open during the summer months which is a pleasant and scenic place to have lunch.

🏡 Where to stay in Bibury

  • The Swan Hotel – Iconic ivy-clad hotel
  • The Bothy on the Green – Perfect for couples

A row of old cottages called Arlington Row in Bibury

The Windrush River flows right through the middle of Bourton-on-the-Water — one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages. Its river is clear and shallow and enclosed on either side by low stone walls.

Weeping willows sway at its banks, and the most difficult choice you’ll have to make while visiting this little slice of heaven is which weather-beaten stone bridge is the most photogenic.

Strolling along the banks of the River Windrush, you’ll understand why they call this village the Venice of the Cotwolds. Be careful — you may get so engrossed by watching the ducks swim lazily by, you could forget all about the town’s speciality shops, restaurants and tea rooms. All are housed in picture-perfect buildings set back from the river.

If you’re a fan of vintage cars or toys from days gone by, you’ll want to stop at the Cotswold Motoring Museum .

If you’re an architecture buff, there’s The Model Village, which is a 1/9th scale replica of the Bourton-on-the-Water as it was in the 1930s. The miniature engineering that went into this model village exhibit is really something to see, as is the level of detail.

For something really different, try Birdland Park and Gardens . They have nine acres of woodlands and gardens with over 500 types of birds including flamingos, owls and penguins.

Looking for accommodation in Bourton-on-the-Water? My guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds (villages and hotels) has options for every travel style and budget.

An photo of the river in Bourton-on-the-water one of one of the best villages in the cotswolds to visit

In spite of their slightly gruesome names, the villages of Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter are neck and neck in terms of which one should win the prettiest Cotswold Villages contest.

At first glance, both may seem familiar, as these picturesque villages have been photographed and painted ad infinitum. Forgive their name, it comes from the Old English “slough” which means miry or muddy place—understandable given their proximity to the River Eye, a tributary of the River Windrush.

When visiting both places, the best trick is to park in Lower Slaughter. This charming hamlet dates back to the middle ages, and even appears in the Domesday Book as the settlement Scolstre.

As you explore, you’ll find romantic stone cottages decorated with flowers and walking paths shaded by trees. Wandering leisurely around the town will make you feel that you’ve left this world and gone to where Mr and Mrs Prince Charming are enjoying their happily ever after.

The Church of St Mary in Lower Slaughter

One notable attraction is the Parish Church of St. Mary. It’s a lovely old stone church with a historic cemetery. Also, the Old Mill Museum and Café is worth a visit just to see the old paddle wheel out back.

From Lower Slaughter, it’s only a 15-minute walk to the sleepy village of Upper Slaughter. You’ll find more charming golden Cotswold stone cottages and picturesque settings to enjoy.

During the summer months, you’ll want to check out The Upper Slaughter Manor, an Elizabethan manor house with lovely lawns and gardens. Before going check the website of the UK’s Historic Houses Association for more information about their tour schedule.

Looking for accommodation in these pretty Cotswolds villages? My guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds (villages and hotels) has options for every travel style and budget.

The Old Mill in Lower Slaughter

Even though the castle in Castle Combe vanished years ago, it is surely one of the best villages in the Cotswolds to visit. Yet another contender for the most beautiful village, Castle Combe has retained its rural and picturesque charm in spite of the tourists who flock there.

Tucked in between lush green hills, Castle Combe is situated on the edge of the Bybrook River. Its history goes all the way back to when it was a fort occupied by the Romans. The Normans followed later and built their own castle.

In the Middle Ages, Castle Combe became a town of wool merchants, spinners and weavers. Today, there are two streets of charm-laden weavers’ cottages with a few pubs and churches sprinkled in. A visit to this charming village of Castle Combe is a must for anyone who likes to bask in natural beauty while appreciating the richness of English history.

Make sure you see the market cross in the town centre where the three main streets converge. It has been there since the 14th century and was formerly used for any and all town business. If you’re lucky, there will be local cake sellers that have set up tables to tempt you with some delicious freshly baked treats.

Castle Combe in the Cotswolds

Known as the Gateway to the Cotswolds , the medieval village of Burford is the first of the beautiful Cotswolds villages you reach when travelling from the east. It doesn’t take long to appreciate its charms. The Windrush River winds its way through the hills and valleys of town, making it one of the most pretty Cotswold villages.

Burford is an excellent place to situate yourself because of its proximity to other picturesque villages and the many things to see and do there. For history buffs, the St. John Baptist Church dates back to the 12th century and has a churchyard dotted with weathered old gravestones.

The Tolsey Museum has been recently refurbished and is housed in a timber-framed Tudor market building originally used as a gathering place for the town’s wool merchants. Inside you’ll find a wonderful collection of English historical items and a lot of information about the area.

If antique shopping is what you’re after from your trip to Burford, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of antique shops offering a fascinating assortment of treasures.

A street in Burford

Known as the Jewel of the Cotswolds, Broadway sits on a lovely piece of countryside at the bottom of Fish Hill—known as such because local monks had their fish ponds there. Today, it’s a tidy little town with lines of neat stone cottages and period houses in a setting of unparalleled beauty.

Like many other 16th century towns, Broadway was born largely out of the success of the wool trade. Its name comes from its particularly wide main road or “broad way” that ran through town.

This town distinguishes itself from the other villages because of its long association with the art world. Artists like John Singer Sargent and Francis Millet are just two famous names once captivated by the region’s charms.

If you are an art lover, head on over to Broadway’s Gordon Russell Design Museum . He was a renowned British cabinet maker, steeped in the Arts and Crafts traditions of making simple forms with excellent craftsmanship. The displays at the museum illuminate the evolution of furniture design throughout the 20th century.

If you’d rather go for a jaunt, a visit to the Broadway Tower is a must-do. As the second-highest point in the Cotswolds, it is a castle-looking structure that served as a beacon when lit back in the late 1700s.

It is smack-dab in the middle of an open field and is a rather steep, two-mile climb from Broadway’s town centre. Once there, the view is simply spectacular.

A row of shops and cafes in Broadway

→ Click here to discover how our travel itinerary planners can help you plan the perfect trip to 9 popular UK destinations (including all these beautiful villages in the Cotswolds)

When picking the best Cotswold villages to visit, Harry Potter fans simply must not leave out Lacock . Founded in 1232, Lacock is one of the best villages in the Cotswolds to explore by foot — check out the pubs, bakery and other quaint shops before you make it over to the Lacock Abbey.

Built on the foundations of a 13th-century nunnery, this country house has undergone remarkable changes over the ages which are reflected in its architecture. You could easily spend a few hours admiring the grounds and studying the remarkable building.

But what excites muggles and wizards alike is that a particularly photogenic part of the Abbey was used as a Hogwarts hallway in two of the Harry Potter movies . See if you can recognize which part.

The Cotswold village of Lacock isn’t all about the Abbey, however. The Fox Talbot Museum is there, which celebrates the photography of former resident William Henry Fox, known as a photography pioneer.

Lacock may also be familiar to fans of Downton Abbey due to its appearance in both series 5 and the recent movie. 

Lacock in the Cotswolds

Crowned with the title of The Queen of the Cotswolds , Painswick is a town born from the wool trade. It is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds because its stone architecture and narrow streets have been so well preserved.

But Painswick’s charms don’t end with there. It’s the proud owner of what has been called the grandest churchyard in England. St. Mary’s 15th-century churchyard is peppered with the tombs of famous Englishmen from days gone by, but the real draw is the 99 perfectly sculpted topiary yew trees. They have been trimmed and shaped in a way that makes them look otherworldly, a symbol of man’s triumph over the wildness of nature.

If the yew trees weren’t enough to satisfy your inner naturalist, then you simply must visit the Rococo Gardens. Designed in the 1740s as a setting for English garden parties, it was restored in the 1980s.

Now it is the country’s finest example of a true rococo garden—one that is fanciful and whimsical and a little over the top in its details and decoration. After you’re done tackling the hedge maze, there’s a café on the property to enjoy a nice cup of tea.

Looking for accommodation in some of the best villages in the Cotswolds? My guide to the best places to stay in the Cotswolds (villages and hotels) has options for every travel style and budget.

An aerial shot of Painswick one of the best villages to visit in the Cotswolds

These are my top tips for anyone planning to visit these villages in the Cotswolds!

  • Plan your itinerary before you go!

The Cotswolds are a popular area for visitors at every time of the year and can be incredibly busy. With its thatched cottages, cosy pubs, quaint tea rooms all set in a beautiful rural setting of idyllic countryside and rolling green hills it is easy to understand why it is one of the most popular destinations in England.

It features as one of our choices in the top 21 landmarks to visit in England too!

  • Book your accommodation in advance

Once you have decided on your itinerary and which Cotswold towns and villages to visit it is vital to book your accommodation to avoid disappointment.

Also, check that there is free parking near your accommodation. Parking can be tricky especially during the very busy summer months.

  • Book your restaurant of choice ahead of time (and also check the hours food is served)

This applies even in January when visiting the Cotswolds (we missed out on a table at our restaurant of choice in Bourton-on-the-Water as it was fully booked)

There are lots of traditional pubs and excellent restaurants to enjoy just ensure you book ahead!

  • Parking can be difficult throughout the year

There are large car parks in some of the Cotswolds villages and towns but they can be very busy. Places like Bibury are difficult to park at even in winter so go early!

Take change with you for parking machines and make sure you note the time you have before you need to return to the car.

  • Don’t miss the opportunity to have a cream tea!

With lots of delightful tearooms to choose from don’t miss the opportunity to partake of a cream tea. This is essentially a scone, jam and cream accompanied with a pot of tea! Delicious!

  • When is the best time to visit?

Read my seasonal and monthly guide to visiting the UK which includes information about events and activities.

I am sure you after reading this article you will probably want to see all of these beautiful Cotswold villages when exploring the English countryside.

It is certainly one of my favourite places to visit in England and I highly recommend booking accommodation in the Cotswolds and adding a few days into your itinerary to explore.

The Cotswolds are not easily navigated by public transport so I do recommend hiring a car.

If this is not possible there are some excellent tours which will enable you to experience some of the beauty of the area.

I recommend taking a look at the following tours

  • Warwick, Oxford and Stratford Full-Day Tour from London
  • Undiscovered Cotswolds Private Driving Tour
  • From London: Oxford and Cotswolds Villages Day Trip

Don’t miss my Cotswold itinerary (based on our own 2-day visit to the area) coming soon. Also, check out other things to do in South West England in my top 10 picks.

We have more helpful and informative posts to help you plan your trip to the Cotswolds

  • WHERE TO VISIT – Guide to the most beautiful Cotswold villages and towns many of which also feature in our choice of the most beautiful villages in England too!
  • PLANNING YOUR ITINERARY – 17 things to do and see in the Cotswolds
  • BEST TOURS – 7 Best Cotswolds tours from London
  • CITY GUIDES – Guides to the beautiful cities of Bath and Oxford
  • PLAN YOUR TRIP – Everything you need to know is in our Cotswold Travel Guide
  • WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO SEE? Check out our top 10 things to do in South West England
  • WHAT TO PACK – Check out our UK packing list for all seasons
  • WHAT TO READ – Our recommended UK travel guide books is a great place to start.
  • HOW TO GET THERE – How to travel to the Cotswolds from London
  • GUIDE TO VISITING ENGLAND – 9 regions to visit in England
  • HISTORY LOVERS – Castle hotels in England
  • PREFER A TOUR? – Guide to best UK tours 2022/3

10 best villages in the Cotswolds

The 10 best Cotswold holidays for 2024

From fresh air adventures with the family to intricate architectural tours, these are the best ways to experience the Cotswolds

A sunny morning at the small idyllic village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire

Chequerboard fields stretch over softly rolling hills, tall church spires punctuate villages of honey-coloured stone and wildflower meadows embellish smoothly winding valleys. Extending from Chipping Campden in the north to the outskirts of Bath in the south, the Cotswolds is 800-or-so square miles of nigh-on perfect pastoral England. The bucolic landscape reflects centuries of interplay between man and nature: ancient sheep-grazed pastures, deftly managed woodland of beech and oak, 4,000 (ish) miles of skilfully crafted dry-stone walls. In many respects, visitors might be forgiven for thinking they’ve time-warped back to an altogether kinder, gentler era here.

This is, of course, an ideal setting for families, with plenty of campsites, glampsites, imaginative hotels and safe activities to choose from. There’s plenty of outdoor action for all ages too, as vigorous or leisurely as you like. The Cotswolds presents immensely rewarding cycling terrain on quiet roads and lanes that provide a mix of easy-going undulations and energising bracing contours. There are walks galore, with about 3,000 miles of public footpaths, some offering undemanding strolls, others with bracingly steep stretches and immensely pleasing panoramas (you’ll experience all variations on the Cotswold Way long-distance trail).

Once home to William Morris and other members of the Arts and Crafts movement , the Cotswolds retains an arty heartbeat as well. You can explore this strikingly rich legacy in its galleries, gardens and architecture, and tune into this enduring sense of creativity by mastering new skills: there’s a first-rate range of workshops and classes to enjoy, from photography to cookery and floristry.

View of Kelmscott Manor and its front lawn

Whether you’re after inspiration for fresh-air exploits, family forays, aesthetic adventures or stimulating masterclasses, here’s our selection of the finest experiences to enjoy in the Cotswolds.

Walk the Cotswold Way

A strong contender as the nation’s most idyllic long-distance trail, the Cotswold Way can be walked in sections or completed in its entirety within five to 10 days. The 102-mile footpath passes through honey-stone villages, woodland and meadows and winds up steep hills with spectacular views. The Cotswold Walking Co organises hiking holidays to suit fitness levels and time constraints, arranging itineraries, luggage transfers and accommodation (they’re well-versed in appealing guesthouses). The eight-day trip taking in the complete trail is effortful without being a relentless slog: the shortest distance per day is nine miles, the longest 15.

How to do it: The Cotswold Walking Co (cotswoldwalkingco.com) offers an eight-day trip from £1,015 per person (based on two sharing a room).

Go glamping on a farm


Between handsome Northleach and pretty Bourton-on-the-Water lies the arcadian retreat of Notgrove. It’s a farm and holiday haven with cottages, pods and spacious safari tents that boast three bedrooms, a woodburner and flushing loo, making them ideal for families. The outlook is appealingly rural, with extensive views across rolling fields. The set-up is captivating: there are farm walks to enjoy and safe cycle routes to follow (with bikes on site to use), and the animals here – alpacas, goats and donkeys – are charming and seem more than happy to be hugged.

How to do it: Notgrove Holidays (07760 33744, notgroveholidays.com) offers safari tents sleeping six from £300 for two nights.

Hone your camera skills

Walk through staggeringly beautiful parts of the central and northern Cotswolds while learning how to capture compelling pictures. Cotswold Photography Tours tailors trips for individuals or small groups, with prior skill sets ranging from beginner’s enthusiasm to advanced expertise. Tours can be arranged by car but the most spectacular are on foot. Walks can be of any duration, although three to seven hours a day are recommended, allowing time to get to magnificent countryside, improve your camera techniques and complete a circular route.

How to do it: Cotswold Photography Tours (cotswoldphotographytours.co.uk) offers walking tours from £115 per person or £75 pp for groups of up to five. Stay in the northern Cotswolds at handsome Seagrave Arms (01386 840192, theseagravearms.co.uk) with doubles from £120 per night.

Eat, sleep and stretch at a yoga retreat

Brock Cottage's open plan living room

Replenish body, mind and soul at a serene rural haven near Chipping Norton. With years of experience in running health holidays, Jiva Healing has devised a holistic wellness package, Creative Cooking, Conscious Eating and Yoga, which takes place over selected weekends at Brock Cottage near the Foxholes nature reserve. “Cottage” is something of a misnomer, however, since Brock is a seven-bedroom house complete with yoga studio. Here guests enjoy twice daily yoga and meditation sessions, walks in the woods, massages and cooking demos. The food is plant-based and guests receive recipes at the end of the break.

How to do it: Jiva Healing (jivahealing.com) offers two-night Cotswold retreats from £420 per person, based on two sharing a room.

Live in a treehouse

It would be a tall call to find luxury family accommodation more enchanting and adventurous than the three beautifully crafted treehouses at the innovative Fish Hotel near Broadway. Set in a small forest, these super-swish large wooden pods on stilts are accessed by rope bridges. They offer a host of delights, from outdoor wooden bathtubs on big wrap-around decks with fabulous views, to stylishly panelled interiors with underfloor heating. There’s an open-plan area with a double bed for parents and a separate children’s room with bunk beds.

How to do it: The Fish (01386 858000, thefishhotel.co.uk) offers treehouses sleeping two adults and two children from £595 per night.

Join a culinary masterclass

The Wild Rabbit's interior, a bar and an armchair next to an unlit fireplace

Top local ingredients coupled with creative rivalry among the region’s renowned chefs (five with Michelin stars) give the Cotswolds gourmet lustre. You can tune into the gastronomic excellence with aplomb by taking part in a cookery workshop at Daylesford, the famously stylish retail haven of organic produce, recherché deli fare and chic homeware near Stow-on-the-Wold. Learn to create sensational dishes with wow-factor looks in a Seasonal Dinner Party class or discover the art of fire-pit cooking, breadmaking and more. Classes include demonstrations, hands-on cooking, recipes and lunch.

How to do it: Daylesford (01608 731620, daylesford.com) offers full-day courses at £210 per person. Stay at sister enterprise, the epicurean Wild Rabbit (01608 692866, wildrabbit.co.uk) with doubles from £225 per night.

Make a brilliant bouquet

Bloomery, based in the village of Broadway, creates fabulous floral designs that showcase natural British garden flowers. This inspiring enterprise was set up in 2019 by the former fashion buyer Allyson Martin who now also runs floral workshops from the company’s studio. Here you can master the art of wreath-making or devising elegant hand-tied bouquets, chatting through the principles of floristry and learning about colour contrasts and scent as you do so. Workshops are in the morning or afternoon, leaving time to explore this especially glorious part of the Cotswolds.

How to do it: Bloomery (07905 272644, bloomery.co.uk) offers bouquet workshops at £83 per person. Stay at the chic Broadway Hotel (01386 852401, broadway-hotel.co.uk), with doubles from £180 per night.

Go exploring by bike

Pedal along the back roads of the northern Cotswolds, taking in some of the region’s most exquisite landscapes and villages – Ebrington, Chipping Campden and Snowshill among them. Cycle the Cotswolds has devised trips that can be car-free, arriving and leaving by train and bringing your own bike or renting one – hybrid (road-mountain bikes) or electric bikes will be delivered to your B&B. Its self-guided four-night Classic Cotswold break starts at Moreton-in-Marsh (complete with a mainline station) and provides options for gentler routes or more vertiginous exertion. Accommodation is in comfy inns or guesthouses.

How to do it: Cycle the Cotswolds (07468 412201, cyclethecotswolds.com) offers four-night trips from £545 per person (based on two sharing a room). Bike hire costs £120 (£165 for an electric bike).

Enjoy an Arts and Crafts tour

View of Broadway Tower

Discovering the legacy of the Arts and Crafts movement across the Cotswolds is like a treasure hunt – a journey with numerous delights along the way. Hidden Cotswold Tours arranges bespoke guided days out in an SUV; trips include an Arts and Crafts day out that might take in (depending on preference) Chipping Campden, still a centre for craft; Broadway Tower, once the eccentric holiday home of William Morris; Rodmarton Manor, built by Ernest Barnsley; and (a must) Morris’s Kelmscott Manor containing his wonderful collections. The company’s other themes for excursions range from historic houses to picturesque villages.

How to do it: Hidden Cotswold Tours (07712 306690, hiddencotswoldtours.co.uk) offers full-day excursions from £495 for up to six people. For an Arts and Crafts break stay in Kelmscott at the charming Plough Inn (01367 253543, theploughkelmscott.com) with doubles from £155 per night.

Visit spectacular gardens

Thanks to the historic wealth and lush nature of the Cotswolds, some of the nation’s finest gardens are dotted across the region. Head for an appealing concentration in the north, basing yourself at a prime garden hotel. Lords of the Manor’s eight breathtaking acres include a flower meadow, a walled garden and even a beautiful bog. From this haven explore the gardens of Hidcote and Kiftsgate near Chipping Campden (with a dramatic contrast of hillside designs), Snowshill with terraces, ponds and a model village, and the brilliantly planted Bourton House Garden.

Hidcote Manor Gardens in Gloucestershire

How to do it: Lords of the Manor (01451 820243, lordsofthemanor.com) offers double rooms from £180 per night; summer garden tours with cream tea (£25 per person) take place on the last Tuesday of the month.

For further inspiration, read our expert guide to holidays in the Cotswolds.

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The Ultimate Guide To Traveling From London To The Cotswolds

  • Last updated May 09, 2024
  • Difficulty Advanced

Viajera Compulsiva

  • Category Travel

how to travel from london to cotswolds

The Cotswolds, located just a few hours outside of bustling London, is a picturesque region renowned for its idyllic landscapes, charming villages, and rich history. If you're dreaming of escaping the city for a tranquil countryside getaway, this ultimate guide will take you through everything you need to know about traveling from London to the Cotswolds. From the best modes of transportation to the must-visit attractions along the way, get ready to embark on a journey that will transport you to a world of rolling hills, thatched cottages, and timeless beauty. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a taste of rural England, this guide will ensure that your trip from London to the Cotswolds is nothing short of unforgettable. So pack your bags and get ready to experience the charm and tranquility of this beloved destination.

What You'll Learn

Overview of london to cotswolds travel options, taking the train from london to cotswolds, driving from london to cotswolds: routes and tips, exploring public transportation options from london to cotswolds.


If you're planning a trip from London to the Cotswolds, you have a few options for traveling between these two popular destinations. Whether you prefer to travel by train, bus, or car, each option offers its own advantages and considerations.

One of the most convenient ways to travel from London to the Cotswolds is by train. The journey takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the specific destination within the Cotswolds. Trains depart from London Paddington station, and there are regular direct services throughout the day. However, it's always a good idea to check the train schedule in advance, as some services may require a transfer at another station. Once you arrive in the Cotswolds, you can explore the region on foot, by bike, or by using local buses or taxis.

If you prefer a more scenic journey, you might consider taking a bus from London to the Cotswolds. Several bus companies operate services between the two destinations, offering comfortable and affordable transportation. The journey usually takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic conditions, and buses are equipped with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and onboard toilets. However, keep in mind that buses may be subject to delays due to heavy traffic, so it's a good idea to plan your journey accordingly.

For those who prefer the flexibility and convenience of driving, renting a car is another popular option. The journey from London to the Cotswolds usually takes around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on the specific destination and traffic conditions. Renting a car allows you to explore the Cotswolds at your own pace and visit remote villages and attractions that may not be easily accessible by public transportation. However, it's important to note that parking in some Cotswold towns and villages can be limited, so it's a good idea to check the availability of parking spaces in advance.

No matter which mode of transportation you choose, traveling from London to the Cotswolds is relatively straightforward and offers a variety of options to suit your preferences and travel style. Whether you're interested in the convenience of a train, the scenery of a bus journey, or the flexibility of driving, you'll have no trouble reaching this picturesque region from the bustling capital city. So pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready to explore the enchanting beauty of the Cotswolds.

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The Cotswolds is a charming region in south-central England, famous for its natural beauty, quaint villages, and picturesque countryside. If you're planning to visit this delightful area from London, taking the train is a convenient and hassle-free option. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to travel from London to the Cotswolds by train.

Step 1: Plan your journey

Before embarking on your trip, it's essential to plan your journey ahead of time. Decide which part of the Cotswolds you want to visit, as there are several train stations that serve different areas within the region. Popular destinations include Moreton-in-Marsh, Cheltenham Spa, and Oxford.

Step 2: Choose your departure station

There are several train stations in London from where you can catch a train to the Cotswolds. The most convenient options are London Paddington and London Marylebone. Both stations offer frequent and direct train services to the Cotswolds. Choose the station closest to your accommodation or the one that provides the most convenient connections for your chosen destination in the Cotswolds.

Step 3: Check train schedules and buy tickets

Once you've decided on your departure station, check the train schedules to find the most suitable departure time. You can easily do this online on the official websites of train operators like Great Western Railway (GWR) or Chiltern Railways. It's advisable to book your tickets in advance to secure the best fares and guarantee a seat on busy trains.

Step 4: Arrive at the train station

On the day of your journey, make sure to arrive at the train station in London with ample time before your scheduled departure. Arriving early allows you to find your platform and get settled in without having to rush. Additionally, train stations like London Paddington have convenient amenities such as shops and cafes where you can grab a snack or a cup of coffee before your journey.

Step 5: Board the train

Once your train is ready for boarding, head to the correct platform indicated on your ticket. Pay attention to any announcements or displays that may indicate platform changes or delays. When the train arrives, look for your coach number and seat reservation. Most trains to the Cotswolds have open seating, so finding a seat shouldn't be a problem.

Step 6: Enjoy the journey

As the train leaves London, sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic journey to the Cotswolds. Admire the picturesque English countryside passing by your window, and perhaps indulge in a good book or listen to your favorite podcast to pass the time. Additionally, many trains offer onboard amenities like Wi-Fi to keep you entertained during the journey.

Step 7: Arrive in the Cotswolds

After a relaxing train ride, you'll arrive at your chosen destination in the Cotswolds. Take a moment to gather your belongings and disembark the train. Once you step off the train, you'll be greeted by the beauty of the Cotswolds, ready to explore the charming villages, rolling hills, and historical landmarks the region is known for.

Traveling from London to the Cotswolds by train is a convenient and enjoyable way to experience the best of this beautiful region. With comfortable trains, frequent services, and breathtaking scenery, you'll have a memorable journey to the heart of England's countryside.

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If you're looking to explore the beautiful Cotswolds region in England, driving from London is a convenient and popular option. Not only does it give you the flexibility to explore at your own pace, but it also allows you to take in the stunning countryside views along the way. Here's a detailed guide on how to travel from London to the Cotswolds by car, including the best routes and some valuable tips for a smooth journey.

Planning your route:

  • There are several routes you can take from London to the Cotswolds, but the most direct and commonly used one is via the M40 motorway. Start your journey by heading northwest from London on the A40 until you reach Junction 8A, where you'll merge onto the M40.
  • Once on the M40, continue driving north towards Oxford. Take the exit at Junction 8 and follow the signs for the A40 towards Cheltenham. This road will take you through the heart of the Cotswolds.

Avoiding traffic:

  • Leaving London early in the morning or late in the evening can help you avoid heavy traffic. Rush hours in London typically occur between 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM on weekdays.
  • If possible, try to plan your journey on a weekday rather than a weekend, as there's usually less traffic during weekdays.

Useful tips:

  • Check for any road closures or delays before you start your journey. Websites or apps like Google Maps or AA Roadwatch can provide real-time traffic updates and suggest alternative routes if needed.
  • Make sure you have a full tank of fuel at the start of your journey, as there might be fewer petrol stations in rural areas.
  • Familiarize yourself with the parking options in the Cotswolds. Many towns and villages have designated parking areas, while others may require paid parking permits. Research parking options in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
  • Carry some cash with you, as some smaller villages may not have card facilities in all shops or parking areas.
  • Take breaks during your journey. The Cotswolds is known for its charming villages, so make the most of your drive by stopping at picturesque spots along the way.

Exploring the Cotswolds:

  • Once you've arrived in the Cotswolds, there are countless places to explore and enjoy. Popular towns and villages include Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, Chipping Campden, and Stow-on-the-Wold. Each town has its own unique charm, with beautiful architecture, historic landmarks, and lovely tea rooms.
  • Don't miss the opportunity to explore the Cotswolds' stunning countryside. Drive along country lanes and take in the rolling hills, charming cottages, and vibrant green fields. The Cotswolds offers plenty of walking and hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts as well.
  • Visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens near Burford, which is home to a wide range of animals and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Driving from London to the Cotswolds is a great way to experience the beauty and tranquility of this picturesque region. With the right planning and some useful tips, your journey will be smooth and enjoyable. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to explore the Cotswolds' enchanting landscapes and charming villages.

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If you're planning a trip to the picturesque Cotswolds from London, there are a few different public transportation options to consider. Whether you prefer a faster and more direct method or a scenic journey through the English countryside, there's something for everyone. Here are a few ways to travel from London to Cotswolds:

Taking the train is one of the most convenient and popular ways to travel from London to Cotswolds. There are regular direct train services from Paddington Station in London to various Cotswold destinations, including Moreton-in-Marsh, Cheltenham Spa, and Stroud. The journey usually takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your destination. Check the National Rail website for the most up-to-date schedules and fares.

Another option is to take a bus from London to Cotswolds. National Express operates regular bus services from London Victoria Coach Station to various Cotswold towns, such as Cirencester, Cheltenham, and Gloucester. The journey times can vary depending on the traffic, but it's generally a more affordable option than the train. It's worth noting that the bus routes may have multiple stops along the way, so the journey could take longer than the train.

If you prefer more flexibility and the ability to explore the Cotswolds at your own pace, renting a car is a great option. The journey from London to Cotswolds by car usually takes around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on your exact destination and the traffic. The Cotswolds is known for its scenic country roads, so driving can be a pleasant experience. Just remember to check for any traffic or roadwork updates before you set off, especially during peak travel times.

Combination of train and bus:

For some Cotswold destinations that don't have a direct train connection from London, you can consider a combination of train and bus travel. For example, you could take a train from London to a nearby town like Oxford or Cheltenham and then catch a local bus to your final Cotswold destination. This option may take a little longer but can still be an enjoyable way to explore the area.

Once you arrive in the Cotswolds, there are plenty of local bus services and taxis available to help you get around and explore the charming villages and countryside. Whether you choose to travel by train, bus, or car, it's important to plan ahead and check the schedules, fares, and any updates or disruptions that may affect your journey.

Overall, traveling from London to Cotswolds is relatively straightforward and offers a range of transportation options to suit your preferences and budget. So, pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready to explore the scenic beauty of the Cotswolds!

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Frequently asked questions.

The best way to travel from London to Cotswolds is by train. There are direct trains from London Paddington to various towns in Cotswolds such as Moreton-in-Marsh and Cheltenham.

The journey time from London to Cotswolds by train varies depending on the specific destination. On average, it takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to reach most towns in the Cotswolds from London.

Yes, driving from London to Cotswolds is also an option. The journey typically takes around 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic and your specific destination in Cotswolds.

Yes, there are bus services available from London to Cotswolds, but they may not be as frequent or as fast as trains. It is recommended to check the bus schedules and plan accordingly.

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Attractions in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is full of attractions for you to discover and explore. 

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Spring at Batsford Arboretum

Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre

Beautiful Batsford – a wild garden for all seasons. 56 acres of breathtaking woodland garden,…

Penguins at Birdland Park and Gardens

Birdland Park and Gardens

In a natural setting of woodland, river and gardens, Birdland is home to over 500 birds of 130…

Buscot Park - the Water Gardens

Buscot Park (National Trust)

Late 18th-century house, set in enchanting landscaped grounds, which houses an extensive art…

Abbey Grounds Cirencester

Abbey Grounds Cirencester

The Abbey Grounds is hidden behind the Market Place and the Parish Church.  The grounds contain the…


  • 1 Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre
  • 2 Birdland Park and Gardens
  • 3 Buscot Park (National Trust)
  • 4 Abbey Grounds Cirencester

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Tripadvisor Traveller Rating

Parkland/Woodland Garden


Beautiful Batsford – a wild garden for all seasons. 56 acres of breathtaking woodland garden, Batsford is a world of trees and so much more. Visit our award-winning visitor centre Gift & Garden Shop, Plant Centre & Garden Terrace Café.

Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park

Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park

Animal Collection

Established in 1971 as the home of rare breed conservation, Cotswold Farm Park offers a fun-filled day out. Children can interact closely with the animals in the Touch Barn and there’s also a wildlife walk, adventure playground and farm safari.

Snowdrop Weekends - Colesbourne Park

Snowdrop Weekends - Colesbourne Park


Visitors can walk through the ten acre garden at Colesbourne Park with its woodland and lakeside paths, the new Spring Garden and the formal garden to see huge banks of snowdrops, hellebores and other winter plants.The surrounding park, the…

Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle & Gardens


Winchcombe, Near Cheltenham

Award-winning gardens surrounding Castle and medieval ruins. Exhibitions, castle rooms, gift shop & cafes, the best adventure play fort in Gloucestershire!

Cotswolds Distillery

Cotswolds Distillery

Stourton, Shipston-on-Stour

Set in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside, the Cotswolds Distillery has been producing Outstanding Natural Spirits since 2014.

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

William Morris used this extraordinary folly on the Cotswold Ridge. You too can enjoy its spectacular views, architecture and setting.

The Lygon Arms Spa

The Lygon Arms Spa

Nestled in the idyllic Cotswold countryside lies the Lygon Arms Spa, a haven of peace away from the hustle and bustle of Broadway. Situated close to the three-acre private garden, this hidden oasis provides spa and hotel guests the opportunity to…

Rana, Asiatic Lion, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Get eye-to-eye with giraffes, watch rhinos grazing on the Gothic manor House lawns or walk with lemurs. With over 260 different animal species in over 120 acres of beautiful Parkland & gardens, there's plenty of space to relax and get closer to…

Blenheim Palace aerial photo

Blenheim Palace

Historic House/Palace

A visit to Blenheim Palace offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a chance to share the splendours of Baroque architecture, to wonder at the collections of art, tapestry and antiques, and to explore the Park and Gardens and discover landscapes…

Cirencester Park

Cirencester Park

Country/Royal Park

Historic Grade 1 Listed 3,000-acre park open daily to visitors. Dog friendly with accessible avenues for walkers. Refreshments available at Beano and The Old Kennels.

New Brewery Arts

New Brewery Arts

Craft Centre

New Brewery Arts is the home of craft and making in the heart of the Cotswolds, with galleries, artists’ studios, café and shop, and guest accommodation, and an extensive programme of courses and workshops (over 200 each year). Admission is free.

Highgrove Gardens

Highgrove Gardens

Highgrove Gardens are part of the private residence of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

Located near the town of Tetbury, discover the striking development of the gardens and the important sustainable principles instilled…


WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Planning on visiting the amazing WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre?...If so, click here to get the latest information direct from the official Cotswolds tourism site!

The gardens of Rousham House (photo Harpur Garden Images)

Nr Woodstock

One of England's most important gardens, Rousham represents the first phase of English landscape design and remains almost as its designer William Kent (1685–1748) left it. Many of the features that delighted its 18th century visitors are still…

Child climbing at Kilkenny Lane Country Park

Kilkenny Lane Country Park

Adventure Park/Playground

Set within 50 acres Kilkenny Lane Country Park is an ideal location for playing, walking, jogging, or simply relaxing with a picnic. There are 2.5km of paths (suitable for wheelchair access) and bridleways, as well as an adventure play area

Dyrham Park (photo by Sarah Fox)

Dyrham Park (National Trust)

National Trust Property

17th century house and garden

The Garden at Miserden

The Garden at Miserden

The Garden at Miserden is a family-run rural estate overlooking the Golden Valley - a timeless walled garden with spectacular views.

Valley walk at Woodchester Park (photo by Andrew Butler ©National Trust Images)

Woodchester Park (National Trust)

Woodchester Park surrounds Woodchester Mansion (not NT) in a hidden, quiet valley. Secret and closed to the public for many years it is now owned by the National Trust and can offer several miles of walking.

Minster Lovell Hall

Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote

Historic Site

Ruins of a large 15th century manor set around courtyard. Situated in attractive settings on the banks of the River Windrush. A skeleton found in 18th century is said to be that of Lord Lovell.

Croome.Credit: John Hubble

Croome (National Trust)

Expect the unexpected. Incredible innovation, devastating loss, remarkable survival and magnificent restoration. All in one place


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Spa Breaks in the Cotswolds

Spa Breaks

Treat yourself with some ultimate relaxation on a spa break at one of the many spa hotels in the Cotswolds.

Shopping in the Cotswolds


Shop until you drop at one of the many high street and independent retailers, or at a choice of markets.

Cotswolds Accommodation


Stay at one of the many accommodation options and experience wonderful hospitality.

cotswolds towns to visit

The Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds with Kids

T he Cotswolds is undeniably one of the most beautiful places to visit in England. There are loads of options if you’re looking for great things to do in the Cotswolds with kids. We are sure that the adults will enjoy these places too. 

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our  disclosure policy  for more details. Thank you for your support!

With a fantastic mix of sprawling countryside, cute villages, and picturesque towns to explore (plus you’re a stone’s throw from having a great day out in Oxford !), there’s tons to do on a visit to the Cotswolds. It’s designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), meaning the land is preserved and protected from development. So strap on your walking boots, pack some snacks, and get ready to explore this beautiful part of the country. 

Things to Do in the Cotswolds with Kids

1. cirencester.

First up, the lovely market town of Cirencester is a great place to visit with kids. If you’re looking for somewhere with familiar shops and plenty of cafes and restaurants, this is the place to go. It’s known as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’ due to its population and variety of attractions. 

There are plenty of fun things to do in Cirencester. Start by exploring the Corinium Museum , where children can discover Roman history and artifacts while enjoying the interactive exhibits. For outdoor activities, head to Cirencester Park, a sprawling green space perfect for picnics and leisurely walks. 

You could also pop into the independent ones, and take in the lively Cirencester atmosphere. If you’re in the Cotswolds for Christmas , there are some cute festive markets in Cirencester you should definitely explore. 

Jack’s Tea Room and Kitchen is lovely if you’re looking for a great place to stop mid-morning for some breakfast or brunch. For dinner, The Fleece should be on the menu as it’s one of the highest rated places to eat in the area. 

2. Barnsley

Onto the small village of Barnsley, which could win awards for its prettiness. Barnsley is a great spot to visit as it’s right in the heart of the Cotswolds. It’s surrounded by beautiful walks in all directions. This is a great place for a short walk in the Cotswolds for little ones. There’s plenty of nature and buglife to keep them busy.

Visit for the cute village vibes; there’s a church, a pub, and a luxury hotel called Barnsley House . It was once the home of the gardener Rosemary Verey, and its beautiful gardens are still well maintained to this day. 

3. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens – Burford

You can’t beat a trip to a wildlife park to see some amazing animals, especially if you’re bringing little ones on your day out in the Cotswolds. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is the perfect place to visit while you’re in the area since it’s one of the top zoos in England . 

The kids won’t be disappointed when they come across everything from bats to flamingos to giraffes to reptiles and much more. In fact, there are over 260 different animal species in the park.

Each day they offer zookeeper talks and feeding times so you can see the animals up close and personal! Don’t forget to hop on the little train that runs around the park. This is perfect for getting back to the exit when those little legs are tired after a fun day with the animals. 

4. Blenheim Palace – Woodstock 

Blenheim Palace is a must-visit while you’re in the Cotswolds, since it’s an absolutely stunning. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a fascinating history and beautiful architecture to discover. It was listed as a Heritage Site in 1987, and the team who runs the Palace spends a lot of time and effort into maintaining the property. 

This was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, so you know there is plenty of history in these walls. You can walk around the house and gardens, attend one of their many events throughout the year, and make memories on your day out in the Cotswolds . 

Blenheim Palace offers a host of activities for kids to enjoy. Start by exploring the stunning grounds and gardens, where children can run and play in the wide open spaces.

Take a stroll through the Butterfly House to marvel at the colourful butterflies fluttering around. The Pleasure Gardens have a giant hedge maze, a miniature train ride, and an adventure playground. 

Inside the palace, kids can join a family-friendly tour to learn about its rich history and grandeur. Blenheim Palace often hosts seasonal events and activities specifically designed for children. There’s nothing quite like Blenheim Palace at Christmas , when it’s arguably at its most beautiful, but it really is a spectacular visit all year round. 

5. Cotswold Farm Park – Cheltenham

You can never get enough of cute animals, so if the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens wasn’t enough, Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park has even more fun in that department. They boast over 50 rare breed British animals on their farm, and you can meet them all. You might even have a chance to feed them! 

The farm park is surrounded by beautiful woodland with bubbling streams, so if you want to explore beyond the farm grounds, this is a lovely spot. 

There is a lot to learn here, but there is also lots of fun to be had. Dare to go on the zipline, try driving a tractor, and learn to handle delicate (and insanely cute!) chicks with care. They offer many events throughout the year, like spring lambing and their Autumnal Harvest. You will find there is plenty of entertainment at the farm park. 

This is definitely one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds for kids of all ages. 

6. Broadway Village 

Broadway Village in the Cotswolds has a little bit of everything. There are great cafes and restaurants, independent shops, a beautiful countryside, a children’s activity park, and much more. Broadway Village is known as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’, and it’s a fantastic spot in the north of the area with plenty to do for the whole family. 

If a little retail therapy is in order, Broadway Village has unique shops offering fashion, handmade jewelery and homewares, flowers, and more. You’ll love picking up some gifts for loved ones that you won’t find anywhere else. Don’t miss the Broadway Deli , which has lots of delicious foods for a Cotswold picnic! 

Broadway Tower

We highly recommend a walk out to the iconic 200-year-old Broadway Tower. While you’re there, definitely visit the nuclear bunker which was built to record nuclear activity in the Cold War.

It was apparently a total secret until it was decommissioned in 1991, and today is a great way to travel back to the Cold War to learn about this fascinating time period. This is an interesting spot for adults, and also a great place for kids of all ages to run around. There’s also a picnic area if you want to enjoy an afternoon snack. 

Are you planning a trip to the Cotswolds with kids soon? A day out there is a terrific idea with so many lovely activities to try and villages to visit. Pack a bag with some snacks and water, bundle up the kids, put your hiking boots in the car in case you fancy a big walk in the Cotswolds, and drive to this beautiful area of the country to see where you end up!  

About the author : Headed up by top travel blogger, VickyFlipFlop, DayOutinEngland.com is filled with guides and itineraries to England’s best days out. It’s searchable by interests, counties, cities and areas – and definitely not just for the kids!

The post The Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds with Kids appeared first on Kids Are A Trip™ .

The Cotswolds is undeniably one of the most beautiful places to visit in England. There are loads of options if you’re looking for great things to do in the Cotswolds with kids. We are sure that the adults will enjoy these places too.  With a fantastic mix of sprawling countryside, cute villages, and picturesque towns...


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