Okay, so there are signs of spring everywhere – snowbells, daffodils, cherry blossom, and even some lambs – but...
The Cotswold region is renowned for its breath-taking natural beauty and having different types of terrain to suit every level of walker. So, for those in search of soulful scenery or picturesque hikes, there’s no other place quite like the Cotswolds here in the UK. The local chefs are worth raving about too and the use of local produce makes dining out divine in this charming part of the country.
Visiting a gastropub at the end of a long day of walking is a brilliant foodie experience. But that’s not all, because this region is also home to countless chocolate box villages, and towns and cities that are steeped in heritage. So, if nature isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to see and do.
From quaint hamlets with cobbled streets to boutique shopping and sights in historical cities, the Cotswolds has something for everyone. Here are 27 of the best places to visit the next time youre in the Cotswolds.
1. Bourton on the Water
Often dubbed the “Venice of the Cotswolds”, this beautiful village is a great little place to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Youll find some great cafes, tearooms, pubs and independent shops, and youll be ideally placed to explore the northern and central part of the Cotswold region. Some things to do include a visit to Birdland, the Cotswold Motor Museum, the Cotswold Perfumery and the Dragonfly Maze.
There are many reasons to visit the market town of Cirencester, including its many shops and restaurants, and its iconic market square which can be instantly recognised by the impressive church that towers over it. Known as the Capital of the Cotswolds, it boasts great transport links so it’s easy to get to from anywhere in the area and you won’t be disappointed with the food and drink choices on offer.
3. Chipping Campden
Home to one of the most stunning streets in England, Chipping Campden makes a wonderful day out for all ages. If you love history and architecture, the High Street and its charming buildings dating from the 14th to 17th Century will truly inspire you. Its convenient central location in the northern section of the Cotswolds also makes it the perfect base to explore the rest of the region.
Bath is one of our all-time favourite places to visit in the Cotswolds. This historic spa town is set on the region’s southern edge, so it may take a while to get to from the central and norther parts, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Spend a day or two enjoying the sights, museums and restaurants. And don’t pass up an opportunity to spend a few hours in the Thermae Baths.
5. Stow on the Wold
This is perhaps one of the better known small towns of the Cotswolds. Particularly if you love antique shopping. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm and variety, and there is plenty to see and do. Foodies can get their fix with the fantastic choice of restaurants, bistros, gastro pubs and tearooms. Plus there’s a Farmers Market every second Thursday of each month so you can pick up the best local ingredients to cook up a feast in your self-catering cottage.
6. Moreton in Marsh
If you love a good old fashioned British market, Moreton in Marsh is not to be missed. This is one of the top market towns in the northern Cotswolds, with great shopping, loads of history and ample places to lay your hat down for a pint or two. The famous weekly market event takes place every Tuesday and features over 200 stalls with food and local produce, clothing, leather goods, gifts and more. There are also literary links with J R R Tolkien, and The Bell Inn pub is said to be the inspiration behind ‘Prancing Pony’ (the pub in Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings).
Naunton is wonderfully unspoilt and is best known for its 17th Century dovecote and for the hill which offers a great vantage point over the church and town. If you want to escape the tourist crowds, this is the place to come.
Enjoy a day out in this medieval town, where shopping is truly unique. There are many independent shops including Burford Woodcraft, the Cotswold Cheese Company, Mrs Bumbles Delicatessen, The Stone Gallery, Rose Dodd Shoes, Madhatter Bookshop, Chris Walker Antiques, Wren Gallery and the Burford Emporium. Here, you can also dine where Lord Nelson dined, visit the places frequented by King Charles, or see England’s oldest pharmacy dating all the way back to the 18th Century.
The locals know it as the Queen of the Cotswolds and its convenient location in the region’s centre makes it a superb base for those wishing to explore the great outdoors. Surrounded by lush countryside, you’ll have access to some of the Cotswolds’ best walking routes. Don’t miss the Painswick Rococo Garden, which has a fabulous maze and stunning garden features.
Cheltenham’s café culture makes it the perfect town for a morning or afternoon out. And if youre passionate about food and drink, you can get your fix here with the numerous gin tasting events, brewery tours, food walking tours and much more. The Cheltenham Festival Series is fantastic for music, literature and science plus there are fine art collections housed in many of its galleries.
Another pretty chocolate box village that you wont want to miss whilst you’re holidaying in the Cotswolds. Blockley is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in the Cotswolds and it makes for a lovely day trip. There are a number of walks that can be taken from the village, as well as some great pubs, cafes and tea shops. Here are 7 things to do on a stay in Blockley.
Found on the stretch of the River Coln and just 6 miles east of Cirencester, Fairford is a charming town with a terrific location. It boasts a beautiful wool church which tells the story of local history and the regions wool trade, and it’s also a nice place to drive / hike through to grab some lunch. Some popular places to eat and drink are The Plough Inn, The Railway Inn and The Bull.
13. Lower Slaughter
Lower Slaughter is a conservation-minded village, boasting some of the prettiest views in the region. The tiny River Eye is perhaps its most defining feature and the traditional stone buildings and quiet streets makes it a great little spot to pass through. Dont miss The Old Mill Museum to learn more about local history.
According to William Morris, Bibury is the most beautiful village in England and although small in size, theres a lot to be explored here. Visit Arlington Row (the iconic street lined with weaver’s cottages) or try your hand at getting the catch of the day at the Bibury Trout Farm (all ages and group sizes welcome). Great places to grab a bite to eat are The Catherine Wheel Pub and The Swan Brasserie.
Gateway to the Cotswolds, the village of Bredon lies on the banks of the River Avon and is the ideal little spot to delve into the history of Worcestershire County. The traditional houses and cottages are a sight to behold and some of the structures date back to medieval or Roman times.
This historic charm is always a favourite because of its unique charm and style. Theres a great high street and a weekly market, as well as a number of museums, sights and attractions to check out during your stay. Foodies love Winchcombe because awesome gastronomy is easy to come by and there are quality delicatessens, independent coffee shops and specialist tearooms to keep everyone happy. For Michelin star dining in a casual and friendly atmosphere, book at table at 5 North Street. And for the best in craft beer around, there’s the award-winning Goffs Brewery or the Stanway Brewery located on Stanway Estate.
17. Castle Combe
It seems that there are a number of Cotswold villages claiming to be ‘the prettiest village in England’ and Castle Combe is one of them. It’s easy to see why with its beautiful streets, stone cottages and lush green surroundings. It’s so pretty in fact that it’s been featured in a number of films, including the original Dr Doolittle movie, The Wolf Man, Stardust and Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse.
18. Chipping Norton
One of the gateways to the Cotswolds, Chipping Norton makes a great starting point for walks and outdoor adventures. It’s also home to some great pubs including The Fox, The Blue Boar and The Chequers. For a bit of local gastronomy, book a table at the Wild Thyme Restaurant and there’s also a superb summer festival presented by Jamie Oliver located nearby.
Antique fans will fall in love with the small town of Tetbury, a haven of antique shops and markets. In addition to the antique shops, there are also a number of specialist boutiques. Don’t miss the iconic market house which was built in 1655, and go on a journey through Cotswold history at the Heritage Centre & Police Museum. In the summer, be sure to walk the Chipping Steps where medieval buildings and beautiful flower beds line the path.
The cathedral city of Gloucester has great shopping, nightlife, gastronomy and everything else in between. Sights and attractions include Gloucester Cathedral, The Museum of Gloucester, Gloucester Waterways Museum, Nature in Art Museum & Gallery, and the Beatrix Potter themed museum (The Tailor of Gloucester).
The village of Mickleton is an inspiring place where Cotswold countryside meets Shakespeare. Located just 10 minutes from Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon, this is the perfect base to explore one of England’s most famous literary geniuses. A lovely local tradition to embrace is the Pudding Club®, an event that takes place at Three Ways House (started in 1985 to help preserve the ‘Great British Pudding’ and to fulfil the desires of every sweet tooth in the country).
A small civil parish with elegant stone cottages. And just a short drive from Chipping Norton. For great good and family fun in the summer, the Big Feastival on Alex James’ Farm is not to be missed. The festival is presented by Jamie Oliver and features outdoor camping, rides, entertainment and the best food from local producers and farmers. The Wild Rabbit in Kingham is also a Michelin acclaimed pub so you’ll be guaranteed the best culinary delights here.
Stroud makes a good base for anyone wishing to explore Coaley Peak. It offers the most fantastic viewpoint of the Cotswold countryside and in the summer, its the perfect place to head for a picnic. Stroud also has the fantastic Museum in the Park, set on the glorious grounds of Stratford Park. And brimming with boutique shops, cafes and tearooms, as well as a regular Farmers Market.
The Avebury Ring is one of the Cotswolds’ hidden gems. Featuring ancient stone monuments but without the crowds of the famous Stonehenge despite being much older and larger. The stone circle is the biggest Neolithic circle in Europe and was constructed sometime between 2850 and 2200 BC.
A medieval town with a beautiful abbey and inspiring architecture. Stunning black and white Tudor houses line the riverside, and the main high street features traditional buildings that look great all year round. This is a top destination in all seasons and attractions not to be missed are the Tewkesbury Museum Tewkesbury Nature Reserve and John Moore Countryside Museum.
Worth visiting for the famous Chastleton House alone, this tiny village is fantastic for soaking up the summer sun (although just as beautiful in the winter time). Stroll through the Jacobean garden at Chastleton House, with its 400-year-old tree and spectacular topiary. Or visit the nearby tourist hot spots of Moreton-in-Marsh, Batsford Arboretum and Stow-on-the-Wold.
If you happen to be passing through Chedworth, make sure you stop to have a walk around. This beautiful village is home to one of the biggest Roman villas in the UK, once home to some of the most affluent people in the country during the 4th Century. Walk through the courtyard ruins and check out the stunning mosaics and bathhouses of the plot. There’s also a fantastic museum there for history fans.
Here at Character Cottages, we’ve got an array of charming properties across the Cotswolds, so whichever area you’d like to explore, get in touch today and we’ll find the perfect holiday home for you.