The Cotswolds is an area in England which has captured the hearts of many and is often voted as one of the best places to visit in the country. Its charm is down to it’s multitude of quaint English villages, traditional pubs, beautiful long walks and idyllic setting. It seems to slow down the pace of life, back to an England of old, and exploring the area is a special thing to do when visiting.
But did you know, The Cotswolds actually spans in to 5 different counties in England – Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, meaning it’s a pretty big area to cover. If you really want to take in all of my favourite Cotswolds spots, then you will probably need at least a week; though hopefully the list has lots of options so you can pick your favourites if you have a shorter time in the area.
1. Castle Combe
Castle Combe, one of the most famous villages in the Cotswolds is often voted the prettiest in England. With no new buildings since the 1600s, it really is a time warp. Visit early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the mega crowds! You can read my detailed post on Castle Combe HERE.
2. Lower Slaughter
The name of the village of Lower Slaughter stems from the Old English name for a wet and muddy place, ‘slough’ (sounds about right!). This quaint village sits beside the little Eye stream and is known for its unspoilt limestone cottages, being home to the ‘most romantic street’ in England, and the village’s Mill museum. You can read more about The Slaughters and other areas on my recommended Cotswolds itinerary HERE.
Lacock is one of my favourite places in the Cotswolds because of not only its beautiful houses around every corner, but also because it’s home to an ancient abbey. The abbey still has its cloisters and main structure in tact which is rare in England following Henry VIIIs dissolution of the monasteries which destroyed most of these buildings. The village itself is also full of quaint houses, mainly timbered and ancient. You can read more about Lacock HERE.
4. Bourton on the Water
Bourton is one of the most picturesque towns in The Cotswolds, and is known for the river running through it with its low bridges and traditional stone houses. There’s lots to do in Bourton, from tea rooms, to model villages, to a big maze and a Christmas shop, it’s a great place to spend half a day. It’s also close to Upper and Lower Slaughter so it makes for a lovely walk to walk between the three to make a full day of it. Bourton also features on my recommended Cotswolds itinerary HERE.
Another Cotswold classic is Bibury, most famous for the absolutely postcard perfect Arlington Row. One of the houses is even a holiday let which you can stay in, though I’m not sure I’d want all the tourists at my window every day!
6. Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon is such a picturesque town. It’s got a lot of independent shops, pretty tea rooms and wonderful river walks to take in. It’s also on a hill, and atop the hill sits a special church – the Chapel of St Mary Tory with its glorious views. Other things to see in the town include an Anglo Saxon church built in the 10th Century and a 14th century original tithe barn. You can read more about Bradford on Avon HERE.
Northleach is another little gem of a village, home to a great pub called The Wheatsheaf Inn. The village church is particularly lovely, built from the money made here via the wool trade in the 15th Century and it’s another base for some great walks in the countryside.
8. Upper Slaughter
Upper Slaughter is next door to Lower Slaugher, and would once have been dominated by a Norman castle, though this is now long gone. Its most famous building is The Manor House, which is now a hotel but dates back to the 15th Century. As another interesting fact, Upper Slaughter is a Double Thankful village. This means that all their members of the armed forces survived both WW1 and WW2 with no fatalities – a very rare thing.
Kingham is yet another picture perfect stop on this list – and it’s not far from the town of Chipping Norton which is also worth a visit. It’s full of houses most can only dream of affording, and is also home to a couple of amazing pubs. The Kingham Plough is a great option, especially for a nice dinner with drinks or a Sunday roast.
10. Sudeley Castle
This is my favourite place in the whole of The Cotswolds, because here you can visit the burial place of Catherine Parr, one of Henry VIII’s wives, in the onsite church. The gardens are stunningly beautiful and Sudeley Castle is also home to one of the largest public collections of rare and endangered species of pheasants from around the world. Sudeley & Winchcombe below are also covered on my Cotswolds itinerary HERE.
Winchcombe is a market town of Anglo Saxon early medieval origin, in the Cotswold hills of Gloucestershire. It has some lovely old houses and buildings, a few nice shops on the high street and The Corner Cupboard pub is great for the English tradition of a Sunday roast.
Known as the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’, Burford is one of the most famous towns in the Cotswolds, with its picture perfect hill of beautiful house after beautiful house. It is also famous for its medieval bridge over the River Windrush and is great for shopping and eating.
Mickleton is one of the less known and quietest spots on this list, but its no less beautiful. It’s also famous for being home to The Pudding Club, a great British tradition celebrating all things pudding (dessert). You can go to a pudding ceremony, where you can taste everything from sticky toffee to jam roly poly all caked in custard of course. Please just make sure you book well in advance as tickets sell fast. You can read more about Mickleton and The Pudding Club HERE.
14. Hidcote Manor
Hidcote Manor is a National Trust property, famous for its beautiful gardens which are landscaped to be art in themselves. The entrance fee is pretty steep, but worth it if you want to see a lovely stately home in a picturesque setting. You can read more HERE.
A large village which is most famous for its namesake tower which was constructed in the 1700s by a lady who wanted to see if she could see the beacon from atop the tower from her house (she could!). It later became home to a printing press and then later a cold war bunker site, before becoming a tourist attraction. Again, you can read more HERE.
What do you think of The Cotswolds? Have you visited or would you like to one day, and which is your favourite spot that I’ve featured? I love this beautiful part of England and I’m looking forward to seeing even more of it in 2022 – then I can no doubt add some more spots to this list. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone.