Renowned for its quaint villages and historical towns built from trademark golden coloured stone, the rolling green hills, and stunning stately homes and gardens; the Cotswolds are designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, and for a good reason. A visit to the Cotswolds, whatever the time of year, will not disappoint, and provides the perfect base for cyclists and walkers alike to explore the many famous and less well-known towns and villages dotted around this stunning part of the world.
If you are lucky enough to visit this beautiful region we have put together a list of must-see villages and towns to ensure you do not miss out on the best places to go whilst here.
Known as ‘The Venice of the Cotswolds’ Bourton-on-the-Water is pretty high up the list of must-visit places in the Cotswolds (although it is also top of the list for most other visitors too so expect it to be pretty busy in the summer months and during the holidays). Regularly voted as one of the prettiest villages in the UK, expect picture-postcard-perfect scenes of charming Cotswold stone cottages, the clear waters of the River Windrush meandering through the village, and small stone bridges above. Explore the many museums, tea rooms, cozy pubs, and unique shops, or paddle in the cool waters on a warm day. Be sure to visit the Cotswold and Motoring Museum and Birdland, where there are more than 500 different breeds of birds, and delight in the detail of the Model Village which is an exact one-ninth-scale replica of the village itself.
One of the most iconic of the Cotswold villages, Bibury is most famous for its instantly recognisable row of 14th Century Weavers cottages, often adorning the front of postcards and front covers of books about the Cotswolds, as well as many tourists’ photo albums. The village which is built upon the banks of the River Colne, was once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England’.
Next to Arlington Row, find Rack Isle Water Meadow, named as such because it is where wool was once hung out on racks to dry after it had been washed at the Weaver’s cottages. It is now home to water voles, marsh orchids, flag iris, and marsh marigolds providing an important habitat for birds and plants.
Whilst there, visit one of the oldest and most well-preserved Trout Farms where you can ‘catch your own’ at the fishery or peruse the wide range of wine and deli products.
A typical Cotswold Village, located on the southernmost edge of the region, 5 miles north of the town of Chippenham. Castle Combe is a popular place to visit and has been featured as a backdrop in films such as Stardust and Warhorse. Stroll around the fairy-tale cottages adorned with floral hanging baskets and stone-tiled roofs. If you are looking for the perfect photo opportunity to encompass all that is Cotswold, wander down the hill to the bridge where the river, woodland, and historical weavers cottages meet, with views of Water Street and the church spire in the background. To find out more about the history of the village book a step back in time tour.
Often referred to as ‘the gateway to the Cotswolds’, Burford is a small medieval town situated on the banks of the River Windrush, 18 miles west of Oxford and 22 miles south-east of Cheltenham. Wander through the streets of 17th and 18th-century buildings and across the traditional medieval bridge. An antique lover’s dream, there are many antique shops to peruse and several cozy, friendly places to stop for a bite to eat.
This picturesque village nestled in the Gloucestershire countryside boasts some of the best-preserved settlements in the region and is often referred to as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’. It is set amongst some of the best countryside and walking routes in the area and provides several other interesting places to explore close by, including the stunning Rococo Gardens and the nearby villages of Sheepscombe and Slad.
Visit the ‘most romantic street in Britain’, Copse Hill Road, and explore the charming streets of Lower Slaughter where you will be met with golden-coloured cottages and lush, green countryside. Visit the Lower Slaughter Manor Gardens and explore the five acres of beautiful plants, trees, and flowers, or learn about the history of bread making at The Old Mill.
Naunton may be the place to visit if you are wishing to escape the more touristy areas and bustle of nearby towns such as Cheltenham and Stow. It is a relatively unspoiled and tranquil Cotswold village, set amongst the rolling green hills of the Cotswolds. The perfect place to relax and unwind and take in the views or explore the crisscrossing footpaths that cover the area.