Nestled in the heart of England, the Cotswolds is a region that effortlessly weaves the tapestry of nature’s beauty and timeless charm. While its rolling green hills and picturesque villages are perhaps the most famous features of this area, the Cotswolds has much more to offer than meets the eye.
No matter the season, this corner of the world beckons travellers with its unending allure and promises a memorable experience all year round. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, the Cotswolds holds something extraordinary for everyone.
Below, we’ll take you through a journey of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds this year. Whether you’re travelling with the whole family, exploring with friends or taking your four-legged friend on an adventure!
Exploring the Cotswolds
Nestled in the heart of England, the Cotswolds is renowned for its idyllic landscapes and charming villages. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of London, and other cities across the UK.
Here, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the English countryside and experience the timeless appeal of the Cotswolds. But where should you go? And what should you be doing during your stay?
Picturesque villages in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds boasts an array of picturesque villages that will transport you to a bygone era.
Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water are among the prettiest villages you can visit in the Cotswolds. Stow-on-the-Wold, situated in the rolling hills, offers stone cottages, and historic charm that dates back centuries.
Be sure to explore the famous Market Cross and the beautiful St. Edward’s Church during your stay. Psst, you can also check out our blog on the best churches in the Cotswolds, if you’re looking to visit in the Cotswolds and soak up some historic sites! Rumour has it, the north porch of Stow’s beautiful St. Edward’s Church is said to have inspired J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘Doors of Durin’.
Stow-on-the-Wold: A timeless gem
Stow-on-the-Wold is a charming market town that epitomises the quintessential English village experience. Steeped in history dating back to Roman times, this timeless gem offers visitors a glimpse into a bygone era. Stow-on-the-Wold is often described as the “most beautiful village in the Cotswolds,” and it’s easy to see why.
Historical significance and attractions
As you wander through the narrow, winding streets of Stow-on-the-Wold, you’ll be transported to a different time. The town’s name, which means “meeting place on the hill,” is fitting as Stow has been a hub of activity for centuries. Its historic market square, adorned with an ancient market cross, is a testament to its market town heritage.
One of the must-visit attractions in Stow-on-the-Wold is St. Edward’s Church, a stunning medieval church with a picturesque churchyard.
Inside, you can admire its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings. The churchyard is also home to two ancient yew trees, adding to the town’s timeless atmosphere. These yew trees have witnessed centuries of history, and their gnarled branches create an aura of quiet contemplation.
Suggested activities and places to visit
Stow-on-the-Wold invites visitors to explore its quaint boutiques, antique shops, and tea rooms that line its high street. You can spend hours browsing through antique treasures or savouring a traditional English cream tea in one of the charming tea rooms. The town’s historic charm is beautifully preserved in its architecture, with many of its buildings featuring the honey-coloured Cotswold stone that characterises the region.
For those seeking a short walk and a taste of natural beauty, you can venture to the outskirts of town to discover the Cotswold Way. This long-distance footpath offers scenic strolls through the Cotswold countryside, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rolling green hills and lush landscapes that surround Stow-on-the-Wold.
Throughout the year, Stow-on-the-Wold hosts various events that add vibrancy to its historic streets. From seasonal markets and fairs to music and arts festivals, there’s always something delightful happening in this beautiful village.
Bourton-on-the-Water: The Venice of the Cotswolds
Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” and a visit to this picturesque village will instantly reveal why.
Its timeless charm, meandering river, and quaint stone bridges create an ambience that evokes the beauty of the Italian city of Venice. Bourton-on-the-Water is a true gem in this region!
Embracing the waterscape
What sets Bourton-on-the-Water apart is its beautiful river, the Windrush, which flows right through the heart of the village. As you stroll along its banks, you’ll be greeted by charming stone bridges that crisscross the water, reminiscent of the canals of Venice.
One of the most iconic bridges is the picturesque footbridge that spans the river, offering visitors a delightful spot to pause, take photos, and soak in the serene surroundings.
Exploring the village
Bourton-on-the-Water boasts a variety of attractions that make it a must-visit destination.
Another notable attraction is the Model Village, a one-ninth-scale replica of Bourton-on-the-Water itself. This miniature village is a fascinating way to appreciate the intricate architecture and layout of the village from a unique perspective.
Things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water
While in Bourton-on-the-Water, consider visiting The Dragonfly Maze, an enchanting garden maze with intricate puzzles and beautiful landscaping. It’s a fun activity for families and offers a unique experience in the heart of the village.
Families and wildlife enthusiasts will also enjoy Birdland Park and Gardens, which is home to a wide variety of exotic birds and features lovely gardens where you can relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Throughout the year, Bourton-on-the-Water hosts various events and festivals that add vibrancy to the village. From classic car shows to arts and crafts fairs, there’s always something happening. Be sure to check our events page when planning your visit.
Why visit Bourton-on-the-Water?
As the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” it captures the essence of this region’s enchanting allure. So, take your time to embrace the waterscape, explore the village’s attractions, and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience of Bourton-on-the-Water. It’s a destination that promises a taste of Cotswolds magic.
Visiting Bibury in the Cotswolds
Bibury, nestled within the enchanting Cotswolds, is a village that seems to have sprung from the pages of a fairytale. It is often hailed as one of the most picturesque villages in England, and a visit here offers a glimpse into quintessential Cotswold charm. The main attraction in Bibury is Arlington Row, a row of honey-coloured stone cottages that date back to the 17th century.
These cottages, with their steeply pitched roofs and lush gardens, are an iconic image of the Cotswolds and a photographer’s dream. A stroll through Bibury’s streets allows you to admire the beautifully preserved architecture, visit the historic St. Mary’s Church, and soak in the tranquil vibes by the River Coln.
For those seeking outdoor activities, Bibury is an ideal starting point for exploring the Cotswold countryside with its scenic walks and opportunities for bird-watching. A visit to Bibury promises not only an appreciation of its undeniable beauty but also a peaceful retreat to a bygone era.
Kingham in the Cotswolds
Kingham is a hidden gem just waiting to be explored. With its idyllic countryside setting and honey-coloured stone cottages, Kingham embodies the quintessential Cotswold charm. Visitors are drawn to Kingham for its tranquil ambience and scenic beauty. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
What is there to do in Kingham while you visit the Cotswolds?
While in Kingham, you can embark on scenic walks and hikes through the surrounding countryside, offering breathtaking views of beautiful hills and lush meadows. The village is also home to outstanding dining options, including The Kingham Plough, which boasts a Michelin star.
With its warm hospitality and stunning surroundings, Kingham is a perfect destination for a relaxing getaway in the Cotswolds, offering a taste of rural tranquillity and culinary excellence.
Naunton: A hidden Cotswolds gem
Tucked away in the scenic Cotswolds, Naunton is a village that embodies the true essence of Cotswold charm. This hidden gem offers visitors a peaceful and quintessentially English experience that’s well worth exploring.
One of the highlights of a visit to Naunton is a leisurely stroll through the village, where you can admire the meticulously preserved architecture and feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Scenic walks and beautiful countryside
Surrounded by lush countryside, Naunton is a haven for nature enthusiasts and those seeking outdoor activities. There are several scenic walks and hiking trails in the area, allowing you to immerse yourself in the Cotswold’s rolling hills and serene landscapes. The Windrush Way, a long-distance footpath that passes through Naunton, offers an opportunity to explore the beautiful countryside on foot.
What else is there nearby?
While Naunton itself is a peaceful retreat, it’s also conveniently located near other Cotswold attractions. You can easily make day trips to explore nearby villages, historic sites, and landmarks. The historic town of Stow and the famous Bourton-on-the-Water are just a short drive away.
Additionally, the renowned Sudeley Castle and its beautiful gardens are within reach for those interested in history and architecture.
Castle Combe: A timeless Cotswold gem
Nestled deep within the Cotswolds, Castle Combe is often hailed as one of the most beautiful villages in England, and a visit here will instantly reveal why. This picturesque village is like a step back in time, offering visitors an enchanting journey into a bygone era.
Castle Combe is renowned for its quaint, honey-coloured stone cottages, which line its narrow streets, and its beautifully preserved medieval architecture.
What to expect
Upon arriving at Castle Combe, you’ll be greeted by a tranquil atmosphere and a feeling of serenity. The village is small and is primarily a residential community, which adds to its peaceful atmosphere. There’s a strong sense of preservation here, and you’ll find that Castle Combe has maintained much of its historic charm and character.
Exploring the village
A leisurely stroll through Castle Combe is a must-do activity. As you wander along the winding streets, you’ll be captivated by the timeless beauty of its stone-built houses and cottages. The Market Cross, located in the village square, stands as a testament to its market town heritage. The Bybrook River meanders through the village, adding to its picturesque charm, and there’s even a small stone bridge that’s perfect for photo opportunities.
Castle Combe is also home to a motor racing circuit where you can witness various events, including car racing and track days. If you’re a motorsport enthusiast, this is a unique and exciting aspect of the village. Additionally, the Manor House Hotel, a luxury hotel and golf club, offers fine dining and a chance to experience the grandeur of Castle Combe.
While the village itself is relatively small, it serves as an excellent starting point for exploring the wider Cotswolds region. Nearby attractions include the historic town of Chippenham, the town of Tetbury, and the stunning Westonbirt Arboretum, known for its impressive tree collection and vibrant autumn foliage.
Exploring Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden is a quintessential English town that exudes timeless charm and offers visitors a rich tapestry of history, culture, and exquisite beauty. From its historic market square to its picturesque streets lined with honey-coloured cottages, Chipping Campden embodies the essence of the Cotswolds.
The town is known for its impeccably preserved medieval and Jacobean architecture, and it retains much of its historic character. Chipping Campden’s quiet streets make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful escape.
Exploring the Town
A leisurely stroll through Chipping Campden is a delightful way to discover its many charms. The town’s market square, adorned with a historic Market Hall, is a focal point that harkens back to its heritage. Here, you can explore local shops, galleries, and tea rooms, offering opportunities to sample traditional English fare and shop for unique souvenirs.
Chipping Campden is home to several historic landmarks, including St. James’ Church, known for its striking Perpendicular Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass windows.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Chipping Campden serves as the starting point of the Cotswold Way, a long-distance footpath that spans over 100 miles through the Cotswolds. The trail offers scenic walks and hikes, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the never-ending hills and picturesque landscapes that surround the town.
Events in Chipping Campden
Throughout the year, Chipping Campden hosts various cultural events and festivals that add vibrancy to the town. The Chipping Campden Music Festival, which takes place in May, is a renowned classical music event that draws visitors from far and wide. It’s an excellent opportunity to experience the town’s cultural richness.
Nestled just a few miles away from Chipping Campden, the charming village of Broadway beckons travellers with its own unique allure within the Cotswolds.
This quintessential English village is known for its elegant streets, picturesque surroundings, and a must-see landmark that graces the nearby hilltop: Broadway Tower.
Perched atop a nearby hill, Broadway Tower is an iconic Cotswold landmark that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors are encouraged to make the short journey to this historic tower, where you’ll be rewarded with vistas that stretch for miles. On a clear day, you can even spot the Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains in the distance.
Built in the late 18th century, Broadway Tower has a rich history. It once served as a retreat for artists and writers, including William Morris and pre-Raphaelite artists. Today, it houses exhibitions and a quaint tearoom, making it a perfect stop to enjoy refreshments while soaking in the stunning scenery.
Aside from its own attractions, Broadway is conveniently located near other Cotswold gems. Chipping Campden, just a short drive away, offers the chance to explore more of the region’s historic and cultural richness.
Nearby villages like Snowshill and Stanton provide additional opportunities to discover the Cotswolds’ charming character, with some great walks, you’ll have a great time exploring
Visiting The Slaughters
The Slaughters, comprised of Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, are two tiny twin villages that epitomise the essence of picturesque serenity.
The Slaughters are perfectly situated for exploring the surrounding Cotswolds countryside. Nearby footpaths and walking trails allow you to immerse yourself in the scenic landscapes – The villages serve as an excellent base for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, providing opportunities for leisurely strolls or more challenging hikes.
The Slaughters, with their twin villages of Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, offer a serene and picturesque escape within the Cotswolds. These tiny hamlets, with their timeless beauty and tranquil riverside settings, provide a haven for those seeking a respite from the hectic pace of modern life.
Whether you’re exploring the quaint streets, enjoying the outstanding beauty, or simply soaking in the peaceful atmosphere, The Slaughters are a quintessential must-visit in the Cotswolds.
Burford, a charming medieval town nestled along the banks of the River Windrush, shares its riverside appeal with Bourton-on-the-Water. As you stand atop Burford’s High Street, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view that showcases the abundance of well-preserved medieval buildings that grace this town.
While exploring Burford, don’t miss a visit to the historic Tudor market house, known as Robert Reavley’s (number 124). This unique establishment holds the distinction of being England’s oldest pharmacy, with roots dating back to 1734.
Additionally, a stop at the Tolsey Museum is highly recommended, where you can peruse a fascinating collection of local artefacts that offer insight into the region’s rich heritage.
Exploring market towns and beyond
While Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water are remarkable, the Cotswolds offer more than just sleepy villages. Explore the town of Chipping Campden with its historic Market Hall and experience the artistic heritage of William Morris in Kelmscott.
Hidden gems and historic sites
The Cotswolds is not just about its villages and towns; it’s also home to hidden gems and historic sites. Discover the enchanting village of Castle Combe, often considered one of the prettiest in England.
Visit Sudeley Castle, steeped in history dating back to the time of King Charles I, even featuring in the movie “War Horse.” Explore the Roman history of Chedworth Roman Villa and take a leisurely stroll through the ancient woodlands.
Planning your visit to the Cotswolds
When planning your visit to the Cotswolds this year, consider the best times to go, especially if you want to witness the beauty of the region’s seasonal changes. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, or simply soaking in the tranquil atmosphere, the Cotswolds has it all.
Consider taking a day trip to nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, for more outstanding sights.
Take a look at our Cotswolds events page to see what’s happening during your visit!