The 8 Best places to visit in the Cotswolds

When you think of the typical quaint English Village you are most likely picturing the pretty villages in the Cotswolds. Small town squares, beautiful sandstone cottages, cosy pubs, fairy lights twinkly in windows and stone walls lining paddocks filled with sheep.

An area of Natural Beauty, is the official label of the Cotswolds. Located in south east England approximately 80 miles from London.

A visit to England is not complete with a drive through the Cotswolds. Keep reading to find out the best places to visit in the Cotswolds.

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Best places to visit in the Cotswolds

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stone buildings lining a village square

Stow-on-the-Wold is definitely one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds. In fact, it might be one of my favorite places in the Cotswolds.

It was once one of the most important places towns for wool trade and saw up to 20,000 sheep being sold at market per day.

Today, you’ll find a gorgeous market square surrounded by 18th centaury buildings, including cosy pubs and antique shops.

On the weekends, the town square comes a live with a local farmers market. Shop local produce and hand made crafts while nibbling on many snacks you can find at the market.

Stow-on-the-wold is one of the best places to visit in the cotswolds as it is a great place to base yourself while you explore other villages and towns in the area.

Bibury

Stone houses lining a street on Arlington Row

Home to the most pretty street in England (do you think it is the most pretty street?) Bibury is a must on your Cotswolds Itinerary. It is a postcard fairytale village and makes you wonder how this can be a real place.

Airlington Row is the main attraction in Bibury but don’t miss out the beautiful babbling brook, the grassy meadow and the classic stone cottages with crocked roofs.

I highly recommend venturing away from Airlington Row and exploring the rest of this tiny hamlet. Check out the church on top of the hill and pop into one of the pubs or tea rooms for a bite to eat.

Castle Combe

A bridge over a river leading to stone houses lining a street

Okay, so I know I said that Stow-on-the-wold is one of my favourite places to visit but another of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds is Castle Combe.

Don’t make my mistake and attempt to drive into the village, park outside the village and walk.

Castle Combe is probably the most iconic village in the Cotswolds and one that you will have seen on Instagram, Pinterest, postcards, blogs and even in movies.

The best thing do in Castle Combe is to explore on foot. Make sure you walk down to the bridge for some of the best photos of the village, check out the Market Cross and St. Andrew’s Church

Burton on the Water

Joanna, The world in my pocket

A stone house beside a river

Bourton-on-the-Water shouldn’t miss from any Cotswolds road trip itinerary, being one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds.

As Bourton-on-the-Water doesn’t have a train station, the easiest way to get here is by car. There are a few parking spots in the village but, to take advantage of them you must arrive early.

Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds and attracts many tourists who come here to enjoy a nice stroll along the river or one of the many other attractions in the village.

Often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”, Bourton-on-the-Water is a charming village with traditional honey-coloured limestone houses and low bridges crossing the river Windrush.

One of the most interesting things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water is visit the model village, which is a miniature representation of the village, from 1930. It’s fun to take photos in the model village and then compare them with the actual buildings, to see what changed during the years. The truth is, no much changed!

Another interesting place to visit in Bourton-on-the-Water is the motor museum. Besides a fantastic collection of old cars, motorcycles and caravans, the museum also hosts a fascinating collection of toys.

From Bourton-on-the-Water you can easily stroll to Lower Slaughter, another stunning village with a still working water mill.

Lower Slaughter

Sophie, Sophie’s Suitcase

A girl looking at stone house beside a river

The Cotswolds is one of the UK’s most picturesque spots. It is beautifully rural, with rolling hills, stone-coloured cottages, peaceful villages, winter walks and roaring fires in the local pub. 

Whether you fancy a good walk, pub lunch, or a pamper at a spa, there is no better place than The Cotswolds and one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds is Lower Slaughter.  

weekend in The Cotswolds is the perfect way spend a holiday and one of the best is Lower Slaughter. The village is located 4 miles south-west of Stow-on-the-Wold and was built on either side of the River Eye, a slow-moving stream. This stream is a beautiful starting point in the village, as it meanders down to 19th-century watermill.  

The watermill has a traditional waterwheel and a chimney for additional steam power, with a café to the side of the building which is open most days.  

The mill is built out of red brick, which makes it stand out set against the traditional limestone-washed cottages nearby.  

We spent some time here admiring the stunning houses dotted around the side of the river, before heading east towards The Slaughters Country Inn for a spot of lunch.  

If you are looking to stay around Lower Slaughter, I would suggest an overnight at the Slaughters Manor House, a stunning five-star hotel with beautiful gardens.  

Other things to see in Lower Slaughter include: Lower Slaughter Museum, The Slaughters Village Hall and The Parish Church of Saint Mary Lower Slaughter.  

And only a few miles down the road is the sister-village of Upper. Tourists can take the opportunity to wander around and take in the beautiful views for this stunning village with a ford that runs across the river.  

Stratford Upon Avon

Nina, Nina Out and About

Half timber and brick buildings lining a village street

Stratford upon Avon is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds. It is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich towns. It’s home to arguably England’s most famous resident, William Shakespeare. But before his birth, the town was known as the most significant marketplace in the south of England. More recently, it became home to the most beautiful coffee shop in the world, a Costa Coffee on Main Street.

This rich history of trade, literature, and architecture has left a significant mark on British history.

When you visit, you’ll be transported back in time with every step. One step will take you across the Avon River where farmers transported their livestock to market. Another step leads you to the birthplace of Shakespeare, which still stands in its original architecture. The next step will have you venturing through the cobbled streets to Anne Hathaway’s cottage or to tea at the riverside.

Stratford upon Avon is easily accessible by National Express bus to the Riverside bus station. There are various indirect routes via trains and city buses from London or Oxford, but the bus is the cheapest and most direct route.

The fastest route takes 2 hours, while the longest route can run over 4 and a half hours. Driving is the fastest option, although it’s difficult to find parking in the town during busy summer seasons. Stratford Upon Avon makes a fantastic day trip.

Most guides to Stratford upon Avon focus on the bard’s connection to the city through the heritage sites, but the best way to really learn about Stratford upon Avon is to take a walking tour. The best tour is run by Stratford Town Walks, costing 7 GBP (cash!) per person.

Don’t miss Stratford upon Avon on a tour of the Cotswolds. It’s often overlooked as part of the district or assumed to be only about Shakespeare but in fact it is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds.

In reality, it’s the best balance of beautiful cottages and bustling town. You’ll feel the energy of this Victorian market town as you walk the streets and the charms of a modern city when you pop in for a Costa Coffee.

Broadway

Lucy, Explore the Cotswolds

Old buildings lining a busy street

The Cotswold town of Broadway gets its name from its impressive wide High Street – the ‘broad way’ – which runs through the centre. What was once a stagecoach stop on the way to London is now a street lined with art, interiors and antique stores, independent cafés and restaurants.

Broadway has a long artistic history and was a center for the Arts and Crafts movement. It was home to furniture designer Gordon Russell, and there is a design museum which shows off some of his work, a restaurant in his former company headquarters and an award-winning, high-end fish and chip shop named after him.

Broadway’s high street is a great place to visit at any time of year, but it’s extra magical at Christmas, with festive lights draped from its horse chestnut trees, horse and carriage rides and late-night shopping evenings featuring mulled wine and roast chestnuts.

Make sure to take a walk up to the Broadway Tower, an 18th-century folly surrounded by a deer park which was used as a retreat for artists, including designer William Morris. It’s the second-highest spot in the Cotswolds with panoramic views out over the countryside. The tower lies on the Cotswold Way long-distance walking route, and is connected to the town by a circular walk of around four miles.

Broadway’s central location makes it a ideal base to explore the Cotswolds. It’s close to other well-known spots like Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold and Winchcombe, as well as being on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway heritage route from Cheltenham. It’s also only a few miles from the famous Cotswold Lavender fields, which are open from mid-June until August each year for visitors to enjoy their beautiful scents and colours.

And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Broadway, the Lygon Arms is packed with history without sacrificing on luxury. It was a coaching inn in the 13th century and where Oliver Cromwell spent the night before the Battle of Worcester during the English Civil War. Inside you’ll find four-poster beds, roaring fires and beamed ceilings.

Woodstock

Faith, XYUandBeyond

Flowers framing the entrance to a cafe

Woodstock was the first stop on my Cotswold’s tour. Situated right on the eastern edge just 8 miles northwest of Oxford Woodstock is a beautiful Georgian town with a long history of royal heritage.

Many folks stumble across Woodstock when visiting Blenheim Palace the birthplace of Churchill but there is much more to Woodstock than Churchill.  We strolled around the town for an hour or so and enjoyed the gorgeous architecture, the 18th century Town Hall and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene with a clock that plays tunes on the hour.  

There are two excellent Museums the Soldiers of Oxfordshire and the Oxfordshire Museum. A medieval ‘new town’, founded to cater for visitors to a royal hunting lodge, Woodstock has a 900 year record of hospitality. The town’s fine Georgian facades often hide much older buildings and today they house a fabulous selection of antique shops, boutiques and foodie destination restaurants.

Woodstock is a lovely town to just stroll around and admire the architecture and if you take a walk around the old town head to the Town Gate and enjoy the amazing views across to the Grand Bridge and Blenheim Palace which I would definitely say is the most stunning view of the Palace, perfect for those gorgeous Instagram photos.

Where to stay in the Cotswolds

To full experience the charm of the Cotswolds I suggest staying in one of the villages. We stayed at Victoria House in Stow-on-the-Wold and it was absolutely stunning. It is a small guest but no detail has been spared.

With a view out onto a gorgeous village street and a short stroll from the town square it is the perfect place to call home during your stay in the Cotswolds.

If you would rather stay outside the Cotswolds you can stay in Cheltenham which is about half an hour from the Cotswolds. I would recommend staying at the Premier Inn. The Premier in is a very comfortable hotel and not overly expensive. If you are staying at the Premier Inn make sure you get some apple crumble and custard ….. it is amazing!

Have you been to the Cotswolds? Where do you think are the best places to visit in the Cotswolds?

Fiona xoxo

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