The Cotswolds is famous for its beautiful villages and picturesque cottages built from honey-coloured stone. Here are the best villages in the Cotswolds that you should not miss on your trip.
Best Villages in the Cotswolds
An official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds is spread over five English counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. The Cotswolds region covers almost 800 miles of English countryside.
These are are some of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds. Most of these Cotswolds villages are easily accessible by road or rail.
This popular Cotswolds destination has been described as “the most beautiful village in England”. Bibury is one of the world’s prettiest villages, and the Huffington Post recently featured it in an article entitled “The Most Charming Towns In Europe You’ll Want To Visit ASAP”.
You’ll spot many enchanting Cotswold stone cottages on a walk around Bibury village. The narrow streets are beautifully maintained by its residents.
Arlington Row was built in 1380 to store wool and converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. These beautiful golden stone buildings are actually owned by The National Trust.
There’s a nice walk from the main road, over a bridge to the cottages and past the nearby trout farm and shop. St Mary’s Church dates from Saxon times.
This Cotswolds village on the river Windrush is one of the most picturesque places in England. It has quite a few tourist attractions including the Model Village, which recreates the local buildings in perfect detail.
There’s also the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection, as well as Birdland Park and Gardens, which has a lifesize collection of model dinosaurs as well as real birds.
This large village in the county of Worcestershire is known for its wide main street and array of antique shops. The Jewel of the Cotswolds, as Broadway is nicknamed, has several luxury hotels including The Dormy House Hotel and The Lygon Arms. Oliver Cromwell stayed here in 1651 before the Battle of Worcester.
Check out The Gordon Russell Design Museum, which celebrates the work of the 20th century furniture designer, Sir Gordon Russell. Broadway is also a good base from which to go hiking along the Cotswold Way.
Head up to Broadway Tower for panoramic views of the surrounding Cotswolds countryside. Built by the 6th Earl of Coventry, the tower was an artists’ retreat popular with painters such as William Morris. He set up a printing press in the tower!
This is one of England’s most attractive medieval Cotswold market towns, 20 miles west of Oxford. The best place to park is by the church and the river, as it’s free and you can stay as long as you want.
Take a look inside St John the Baptist church. This is one of the oldest buildings in Burford and more like a cathedral in its scale.
There are quite a few interesting shops on Burford High Street too. You can stock up on Burford cheese and Cotswolds food specialties at the Cotswold Cheese Company.
The Lamb Inn on the appropriately named Sheep Street in Burford is a good option for lunch. It has 2 Rosettes and won Oxfordshire ”Gastronomique” Restaurant of the Year. We visited in Autumn but it’s beautiful at any time of year.
5. Castle Combe
Often described as the prettiest village in England, Castle Combe is located in Wiltshire. Part of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty, the village takes its name from the castle that stood here in the 12th century.
Although there’s no longer a castle here, the medieval houses are extremely well preserved. The luxurious Manor House hotel is a great place to stay. If you’re feeling energetic, Castle Combe Circuit is popular for motor racing.
6. Chipping Campden
Although it’s often considered as a market town rather than a village, Chipping Campden is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the Cotswolds. Known for its long, wide high street with its medieval buildings, this is a vibrant hub for the local community.
Chipping Campden Market Hall was built in 1627 and is still used by traders today. If you like horticulture, don’t miss Kiftsgate Garden and Hidcote Gardens which are both located nearby.
7. Chipping Norton
One of the best villages in the Cotswolds, Chipping Norton is home to some very chic gift shops and cafes. This West Oxfordshire parish is the epicentre of the “Chipping Norton set”. These are rockstars and politicians who have houses or second homes in the area.
This privately owned village is well known for Daylesford Organic Farm. Visitors flock to the pretty Cotswolds village, located close to Stow-on-the-Wold, for its organic food and flower shop.
Nearby, Daylesford House is the Gloucestershire residence of Lord and Lady Bamford. They have successfully developed the farm shop and added the popular Bamford Wellness Spa.
Just 4 miles from Chipping Norton, Kingham is a quaint and peaceful Cotswolds village. However, it has a railway station on the Cotswold Line, with regular Great Western Railway trains.
Kingham has a large village green and many picturesque honey colored cottages. The church of St Andrew has a Gothic tower dating from the 14th century.
The main attraction is The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, a stylish gastropub. Located in an 18th century building, The Wild Rabbit boasts a Michelin star for its delicious food.
10. Lower Slaughter
In spite of their rather ominous sounding names, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter are two of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds. The name comes from the old word “slothre” or “slough” which means muddy place.
Lower Slaughter is a small village situated on the River Eye and crossed by two footbridges. The old 19th century mill is built from red brick, however most of the houses are constructed with golden Cotswold limestone.
You can easily walk from Lower Slaughter to Upper Slaughter, it’s about 1 mile. Known as a Double Thankful Village, meaning that all the inhabitants survived both World Wars, it has a luxury Cotswold hotel: The Lords of the Manor.
11. Minster Lovell
This charming village and civil parish on the River Windrush has three areas: Little Minster, Old Minster and New Minster. The ruins of 15th century Minster Lovell Hall are very atmospheric.
The Old Swan and Minster Mill is a short drive from Burford and Bibury, and a fantastic base for a Cotswolds break. Set on the river, it’s a luxury Cotswolds hotel and restaurant, with a very relaxed vibe.
It’s best to reserve dinner at The Old Swan, particularly if you wish to eat in the bar area. The log fires and oak beams certainly give it a cosy touch.
Enjoy a hearty dinner with very generous portions, prepared by head chef David Mwita, who uses the very best local ingredients. You can also dine outside in Summer and enjoy a game of outdoor chess on their giant chess sets.
The Old Swan has traditional rooms and next door in the Mill the rooms have a more contemporary and casual feel. It’s an easy 40 minute drive to the luxury outlet shopping at Bicester Village.
The Old Swan has a luxury spa and shopping package, which entitles you to a reduction on spa treatments and gives you a VIP Invitation to Bicester Village, where you are presented with a VIP Day card, entitling you to additional savings at over 130 British and international designer stores.
With a beautiful location near Stroud, Gloucestershire, Painswick is nicknamed the Queen of the Cotswolds. Large enough to be considered a town, it retains the charm of a Cotswolds village, with many fine limestone buildings.
Painswick is known for its 18th century Rococo Gardens. The village is a great stop along the Cotswold Way walking itinerary.
Set on top of Stow Hill, Stow-on-the-Wold was founded by the Normans. This attractive Cotswolds village has been an important trading hub for many years.
The Porch House on Digbeth Street is England’s oldest inn. Astonishingly, it dates from around 947 AD!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide of things to the best villages in the Cotswolds. Have you ever visited?
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