17 Best Villages in the Cotswolds

Visiting the Cotswolds is akin to stepping into the pages of a storybook. Undulating hills blanket nearly 800 square miles and five counties that make up this picturesque region. It’s the tiny Cotswold villages that really capture your heart in this breathtaking locale, located about two hours west of London.

Honey-colored stone buildings line ancient laneways, and medieval market squares highlight town centers, while thatched cottages push the charm factor to a whole new level in the prettiest Cotswolds villages. The backdrop for films and inspiration for everything from paintings to novels, this lovely region was named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966.

As quintessentially delightful as England gets, the Cotswolds region is one of the best places to spend a weekend. Hike along the 102-mile Cotswold Way National Trail, a footpath stretching from Chipping Camden to the best attractions in Bath, or drive from village to village to truly enjoy the magic found in the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Before you go, plan your sightseeing with our list of the best villages in the Cotswolds.

1. Castle Combe, Wiltshire

Castle Combe

Castle Combe | Photo Copyright: Shandley McMurray

Castle Combe is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, and one of its most beautiful villages.

Time and again, Castle Combe has been deemed “the prettiest town in England.” Once you arrive, you’ll understand why it gained this title, along with its top placement on our list of the best villages in the Cotswolds. Peppered with slate-roofed, honey-hued cottages and featuring a 14 th -century market square, it’s hard to beat the authenticity found in this adorable village.

You won’t find box stores or tourist shops in this sleepy town. Instead, you’ll feel like a local while wandering its tiny streets. Speaking of streets, you’ll want to sightsee along these all day. Each building lining the laneways is ancient, dating back to the 14 th century at least.

Buy baked goods or flowers left for sale outside a resident’s home, enjoy a meal at The White Hart (it’s been around since the 1300s), or visit the oldest working medieval Castle Combe Clock. If you’re up for adventure, take your car for a spin at the Castle Combe Circuit.

Walk across the stone bridge spanning the winding Bybrook for one of the best photo-worthy backdrops. Then stop at the Manor House Hotel and Golf Club , a five-star hotel with impeccable grounds. This was once home to feudal lords.

2. Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water

Another area superstar is Bourton-on-the-Water. This captivating village has been dubbed the Venice of the Cotswolds due to the sparkling River Windrush, which runs through the heart of town. Spanned by multiple picturesque bridges, this river and the surrounding town are as pretty as a postcard. [NOTE: I REMOVED A LINK AND MOVED IT DOWN]

You won’t find even a hint of modern architecture, which is a lovely treat for visitors hoping for an authentic experience. Enjoy high tea at a riverside café, find your way out of the Dragonfly Maze, shop in a boutique store, or visit the Costwold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection.

Expect to share the narrow streets with busloads of tourists if visiting during the summer. This is one of the prettiest places to visit in the Cotswolds, so it gets busy. Plus, there are so many fun things to do in Bourton-on-the Water that it seems to be busy non-stop. If you’re hoping for a quieter, more private experience, try booking during the spring or fall.

3. Painswick, Gloucestershire

View over the charming village of Painswick

View over the charming village of Painswick

Painswick’s most awe-inspiring attraction is the 14 th -century St. Mary’s Church. Outside lies a churchyard so fabulous, it belongs in a storybook. Tombs dating to the 17 th century and 99 perfectly groomed yew trees (legend says the devil won’t let the 100th grow) cover the grounds, providing a photo-worthy backdrop.

Once a wool town, Painswick is located just over seven miles south of Gloucester and has been nicknamed “Queen of the Cotswolds” for good reason. This charming town’s captivating scenery will put your camera into a frenzy. Quintessential Costwold stone homes line the churchyard’s borders and the steep, winding streets of town.

It’s easy to get lost in the splendidly narrow laneways, but thankfully Painswick is small, so you’ll find your way eventually. Plus, getting lost gives you an excuse to explore areas you might have missed otherwise.

Eagle-eyed visitors can spy remnants of its past (like the donkey doors on Bisley Street) throughout the village. Another must-see is Rococo Gardens, an 18th-century venue featuring fab gardens, family trails, and art exhibits. Slightly outside of town, this is a lovely spot to enjoy sprawling countryside vistas.

4. Bibury, Gloucestershire

Bibury

Bibury

Bibury is a quiet village serenely set along the banks of the River Coln. Thanks to its impeccably preserved cottages, well-manicured gardens, and ancient Arlington Mill, this lovely spot has been dubbed “the most beautiful village in England.” You really can’t take a bad photograph in this pretty Costwold town.

The most famous street in Bibury is one you won’t want to miss and have likely seen on a zillion postcards – Arlington Row is lined by charming 14 th -century weavers’ cottages. Backed by a rolling hill, this lovely area is breathtaking, making it one of the most photographed spots in the country and one of the best villages in the Cotswolds.

Bibury Trout Farm is a must-visit for anglers. You’ll find a “catch your own” fishery on the premises, the oldest of its kind in the country.

Insider’s tip: Arrive in Bibury early in the morning or late in the day to avoid crowds. Also, spring is the most beautiful time to visit – the cottages will be covered with colorful blooms.

5. Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold

The highest of the Cotswold villages, Stow-on-the-Wold sits 800 feet up, on Stow Hill. What it lacks in size, this small market town more than makes up for with charm. It, too, boasts the typical Cotswold stone cottages with sloping roofs that push it into the category of prettiest Cotswold villages.

At its center lies a large market square, a testament to the village’s prior importance. Over 20,000 sheep were once sold during a fair held here. Today, you’ll find a vibrant farmer’s market taking place in the square from 9am to 1pm on the second Thursday of each month.

St. Edward’s Church is a gem you really must see. Built over many years between the 11 th and 15 th centuries (multiple additions took place), this unique church is most famous for the yew trees that encroach upon the intricate wooden doorway at the north porch.

6. Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

Ancient market hall in Chipping Campden

Ancient market hall in Chipping Campden

Not only is Chipping Campden one of the most vibrant of the Cotswold villages, but it’s also one of the largest. This bodes well for those of you who don’t fancy trying to drive a car down tiny narrow streets in search of an elusive parking spot.

An important market town during its wool trade heyday, Chipping Campden boasts a beautiful stone marketplace in the center of town. Alongside the streets lining this marketplace are quaint shops, excellent restaurants, and the most adorable cottages, easily making this one of the best villages in the Cotswolds.

Fulfill your desire to experience a true English teatime with a visit to Badger’s Hall Tea Room or Bantam Tea Rooms. Both will delight your senses with a delicious spread.

If you’re looking for action, you’ll find it in this buzzing Cotswold town, which plays host to music and literary festivals throughout the year. The Cotswold Olimpick Games have been held in Chipping Camden each spring since the early 1600s.

It’s here that you’ll find people competing in a quirky collection of events: a pentathlon called King of the Hill, rural games (we’re talking relays using garbage cans, wheelbarrows, and hay bales), tug o’ war, and shin kicking. This will likely be the most interesting games you’ve ever attended.

7. Burford, Oxfordshire

Burford

Burford

Dubbed the southern “gateway to the Cotswolds,” Burford lies 20 miles west of Oxford. The high street in this pretty Cotswold village is literally high – it’s perched upon a hill. Lined with charming antique shops, boutique stores, and cafés, it offers stunning views of the countryside and plenty of opportunities to lighten your pocketbook.

The Tolsey Museum, a 16 th -century building that once hosted meetings for merchants, lies halfway down the hill. Inside, you’ll find a bevy of information about the town’s storied past. Speaking of past, the iconic Church of St. John the Baptist stands as a testament to the town’s wealthy history.

Built in the late 1100s, this grand building was finished about 400 years later. Inside, you’ll find an abundance of ornate beauty, including the 13 th -century Lady Chapel, which boasts magnificent stained-glass windows.

8. Broadway, Worcestershire

Broadway in winter

Broadway in winter

Traditional honey-colored houses line the streets of beautiful Broadway. Its shining glory is the chestnut tree-lined high street, which is peppered with quaint shops, adorable cafés, charming restaurants, and intriguing art galleries. If you’re on a hunt for antiques, you’ll find them aplenty in Broadway.

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The impressive Broadway Tower lies just outside the center of town in the 50-acre Broadway Tower Park. You’ll find three floors of museum inside this well positioned structure, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can see 16 counties form the rooftop platform in this beautiful village in the Cotswolds.

The tower has been used for a multitude of purposes including as a home to the printing press of Sir Thomas Phillips, an artists’ retreat, and a farmhouse. The property also hosts nuclear bunkers left over from the Cold War.

9. Upper and Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire

Cotswold cottage in Upper Slaughter

Cotswold cottage in Upper Slaughter

Upper and Lower Slaughter are joined by the River Eye, a tributary of the River Windrush. Don’t let their slightly off-putting monikers fool you, these villages are gorgeous. Plus, “slaughter” apparently means “muddy place,” which isn’t so bad!

Both rife with beauty and history, Upper and Lower Slaughter have been around for a while – they’re both mentioned in the 1086 Doomsday Book.

Upper Slaughter is known as a “sainted village,” meaning it didn’t lose any residents during World War I. A mere four miles from Stow-on-the-Wold, this attractive town is positioned on a verdant grassy slope leading to a picturesque stream.

One mile away lies Lower Slaughter, which is traversed by a lovely stream and peppered with traditional limestone cottages. It’s also home to the most romantic street in Britain: Copse Hill Road.

The Slaughters Manor House is a contemporary hotel housed in an exceptional building dating back to the 17 th century. If you’re looking for a luxurious experience set within five acres of pristine gardens, you’ll want to stay in this Lower Slaughter marvel.

10. Kingham, Oxfordshire

Kingham Village

Kingham Village

Beautiful Kingham sits between Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton in the pretty Evenlode Valley. A mere hour-and-a-half train ride from London’s Paddington Station, this lovely Cotswold village is a popular weekend destination for big-city folk looking for peace.

For a tiny hamlet, Kingham dishes up a bevy of fantastic food options. The Kingham Plough is a wonderful spot to grab a British meal with a Mediterranean twist. The menu changes daily, so you never know what you’ll get, but it’s guaranteed to be delicious.

The Wild Rabbit is one of the best restaurants in the Cotswolds. Their innovative menu features food grown on the owners’ nearby farm, Daylesford, which is a wonderful place to visit. You’ll find everything from candles to creams to cutting boards in its shop. And just outside lies the Bamford Barn, Wellness Spa, and Cookery School.

In addition to its fab food, Kingham boasts the beautiful Cotswolds cottages you’ve come to see. If you visit in late August, you can catch The Big Feastival, a music and food festival offering concerts, cooking demonstrations, and other family-friendly things to do.

11. Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Parish Church of St. John the Baptist in Cirencester

Parish Church of St. John the Baptist in Cirencester

Dubbed the “Capital of the Cotswolds,” this ancient town is beautiful and bustling, not to mention one of the best villages in the Cotswolds. The largest village in the region, Cirencester is a popular tourist destination. You’ll find plenty of great lodging options, as well as a high street filled with shops ranging from chain stores to eclectic boutiques.

A medieval masterpiece, the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist is the most striking of the three Anglican churches in town. Visitors can join one of two daily guided tours from the middle of March through October. At times, the tower is also available to climb.

Just outside the village lies the extensive remains of one of Britain’s largest Roman amphitheaters. It dates to the second century, when Cirencester was known as Corinium. You can learn more about the town’s interesting past by exploring the Corinium Museum’s diverse exhibits.

12. Naunton, Gloucestershire

View of Naunton Village

View of Naunton Village

Naunton offers visitors a quiet respite in the loveliest of settings. Pack a picnic and enjoy it on one of the lush green spaces. Wander along the ancient streets lined with historic stone cottages. Or pop into the Black Horse Inn for a typical Sunday Roast. This is one of the best things to do in Naunton.

Naunton isn’t plagued by popularity, which means you won’t have to jostle through the crowds that descend upon other Cotswold towns (i.e. Bourton-on-the-Water). This lack of tourists leaves you more space to enjoy the beauty of this pretty medieval town and makes it easier to get to know the locals.

Set along the River Windrush, the best view on offer can be found from the top of the hill overlooking the village. This pastoral scene is guaranteed to soothe what ails you!

13. Snowshill, Gloucestershire

Lavender fields in Snowshill

Lavender fields in Snowshill

Fields of lavender surround the quaint town of Snowshill, infusing it with the most wonderful aroma. Another Cotswold beauty, the streets here are lined with small stone cottages, cute cafés, and unique shops. The reason most visit this sweet village, though, is for its spectacular views of the Severn Vale.

This bucolic locale is the perfect place to relax and recharge. Purchase lavender products at Hills Barn Farm. This is where you’ll find Cotswold Lavender, a company that farms the odorous crop. Visit during the summer when the lavender is in full bloom. Harvesting usually begins late July into August.

Snowshill Manor and Garden are must visits. Run by the National Trust, this unconventional home once belonged to a one-of-a-kind collector, Charles Wade. Inside, you’ll find a variety of eclectic toys, armor, bicycles, and musical instruments, among other interesting finds. Outside, the well-maintained garden offers plenty of hidden places to explore.

14. Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire

Minster Lovell

Minster Lovell

Minster Lovell serves up romance on a grand scale. Home to a babbling brook and set on the picturesque banks of the River Windrush, this lovely, quiet town seeps charm and is one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. Thatched roofs and honey-hued stone cover the homes that line its quintessential Cotswold streets.

Once a 15 th -century West Oxfordshire manor home, Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote are British Heritage sites you won’t want to miss. Today you’ll find the romantic ruins of the hall, tower, and dovecote on these pristine grounds.

If you’re feeling brave (and the sun is shining) the river makes a good place for a summer dip. Pack a towel as well as a picnic to enjoy on the riverbank or stop in at one of the cute restaurants in town.

15. Lacock, Wiltshire

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey

Named in the Saxon times, Lacock translates to “little stream.” The bubbling Bide Brook runs dramatically through the center of town, upping the charm factor dramatically in this top village in the Cotswolds.

Run by the National Trust, Lacock is wonderfully preserved, and its greens are perfectly manicured. As a result, it’s a popular location for film and television productions. You’ll recognize its historic buildings and lovely streets from Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

The 13 th -century Lacock Abbey is one of the village’s most popular attractions. Founded by Ela, Countess of Salisbury, this later became the quirky home of Henry Fox Talbot (he invented the photographic negative). Today, it also houses the Fox Talbot Museum.

16. Stanton

Thatched Cotswold cottage in the village of Stanton

Thatched Cotswold cottage in the village of Stanton

The tiny Cotswolds village of Stanton is pretty no matter what season you choose to visit. Whether covered in a blanket of snow, bursting with vibrant floral blooms, or highlighted by the colorful hues of autumn, this untouched, ancient town is one of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Like the other best Cotswold towns, this sleepy village is devoid of modernity and high street shops, as well as crowds and large buildings. Instead, you’ll find a peaceful, and incredibly photographable, mix of honey-colored limestone homes and a medieval church (St. Michael and All Angels) that dates to the 12 th century.

A mere three miles from Broadway, this charming village is located close to multiple walking trails, making it easy for visitors to spend a few hours exploring the pastoral landscape. Don’t miss a trip to the Shenberrow Hilfort, a historic Iron Age camp that overlooks the village.

17. Asthall

Rose-covered entrance to Asthall Manor

Rose-covered entrance to Asthall Manor

The River Windrush winds its way through the quaint village of Asthall, which is highlighted by an ancient, 12 th -century church and its most famous tourist attraction, the historic Asthall Manor.

Once home to the Mitford sisters (Nancy Mitford authored the 1945 novel, The Pursuit of Love), this spectacular Jacobean manor home and its stunning gardens host on form, an artistic exhibition of numerous sculptures created by artists from around the world. It dates to the early 1600s, and its grounds are more than worthy of a visit if you get the chance.

Located in Oxfordshire, the village’s name translates to “at the east nooks,” and it is as beautiful as you would expect a Cotswold village to be. You’ll find the typical honey-colored stone cottages, gabled roofs, and stunning blooms during warmer months.

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Best Places to Visit in The Cotswolds

Our guide to the best places to visit in the Cotswolds feature some of the prettiest towns and villages in the area that are special for their iconic thatched roof cottages, honey colored stoned houses and picture postcard properties. The Cotswolds is a designated Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty set within the glorious English countryside, and is easily identifiable for its iconic rolling hills that elegantly pass between six counties. The area is home to many bustling market towns which offer a taste of quality local produce as well as some of the more quieter and off-the-beaten-track villages.

Many visitors choose to take a Cotswolds tour to the region from Central London.

Burford:

Burford: Best places to visit in the Cotswolds

Burford: Best places to visit in the Cotswolds. Photo by Herry Lawford

If you’re traveling to the Cotswolds from London, then Burford is probably the first place to visit. Its known as the “Gateway to the Cotswolds” since its located right at the edge of the region, just off the A40. The main high street is set down a sloping hill, and you’ll find on either side of the road local shops, cafes and antique stores, as well as the local honey-coloured stone houses.

bourton-on-the-water:

Probably the most famous of the Cotswolds villages, Bourton-on-the-Water is known locally as “Little Venice” because of the bridges that crisscross the river that flows through the middle of the town. It really doesn’t get more picture postcard than this! There are plenty of things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water – you’ll find traditional pubs and local antique shops on both sides of the river and there’s even a Cotswolds motoring museum with a collection of classic British cars. You can visit Bourton-on-the-Water as part of our Cotswolds day tour which departs regularly from London.

stow-on-the-wold:

Stow-on-the-Wold Market Town

Stow-on-the-Wold Market Town. Picture by Tony Walmsley

Just 5 miles down the road from Bourton-on-the-Water lies the market town of Stow-on-the-Wold. Once upon a time, this town was famous for its sheep market, where as many as 20,000 sheep would be sold. And even today, there’s a market held on the first Thursday of each month. Whilst nowadays you won’t find any sheep for sale, you’ll see loads of local stands selling food, drinks, cheeses, jams, clothing and more…The town is well known for its many art galleries and antique shops and is a place to base yourself if you are planning to stay a few days in the Cotswolds, with lots of accommodation options. You can visit it on our Cotswolds & Oxford day tour, with departures from London and Oxford.

broadway:

Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds: Broadway

Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds: Broadway. Picture by Nikki Tysoe

Broadway centres around a very wide (or broad) street and is where you’ll find lots of art galleries, boutique furniture stores and very upmarket shops. One of the best hotels in the area, the Lygon Arms, is located right on the high street, not far from Broadway Museum, which takes its collections from the world famous Ashmolean museum in Oxford.

Cirencester:

Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds: Cirencester

Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds: Cirencester

For those looking for an authentic Cotswolds experience, head to the market town of Cirencester, known by locals as the capital of the Cotswolds and included in our list as one of the best places to visit in the area. Be sure to catch the bustling markets that take place each week, the street market (Monday and Fridays), the Cattle Market (Tuesdays) and the Antiques Market (Fridays). The town also has a great selection of boutique shops, restaurants and cafes. Cirencester is one of the most interesting places to visit in the Cotswolds, with a rich historical past, at one point being the second largest town in Britain during the Roman era. Visitors can appreciate remnants of its historic tradition including its impressive Roman amphitheater which offers free entrance to visitors. A trip to the Corinium Museum provides a wealth of history about the area, as well as a rare collection of Roman mosaics. Also of interest are the beautifully landscaped gardens at Cirencester Park, home to the Earl of Bathurst. Cirencester is also included in our 2 day tour of the Cotswolds, Bath & Oxford.

Lacock:

Lacock. Picture by Karen Roe

Lacock. Picture by Karen Roe

Lacock might seem a familiar sight, having been used in a number of film and TV series including Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Wolfman and Pride and Prejudice. The centerpiece of the village is Lacock Abbey, founded in 1232 and later to become a Tudor Family Home. It is famous for being the site where William Henry Fox Talbot took the first photographic negative, which is documented in the Talbot Museum, located on the ground floor of the Abbey. Discover the Medieval Cloister, used for hundreds of years by nuns as well as the 18th Century Gothic hall and the impressively furnished rooms. Visit Lacock as part of our day tour to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle & Bath.

Avebury:

Stone Circles at Avebury

Stone Circles at Avebury by Andy Wright

Avebury contains the largest stone circles in Europe which date back thousands of years to Neolithic times. It is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds and a designated World Heritage Site which rivals the nearby Stonehenge, attracting thousands of visitors each year who flock to Avebury to see and explore these mysterious sites. The nearby Avebury village contains many pretty thatched houses, and well as two interesting museums. We offer a day tour to Avebury from Central London that also visits Stonehenge and Salisbury.

Bamtpon:

The village of Bampton is most recognizable for the role it played in the filming of the TV series Downton Abbey, where it served as the fictitious town of Downton. The old grammar school building was used as Downton Hospital. St Mary’s Church was used for many key events including weddings and funerals. Churchgate house served as Crawley’s family home. Tours to Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace & Bampton are available twice a week from London.

Stratford-upon-Avon:

Stratford-upon-Avon. Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is perhaps best known for its literary connection being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Thousands of Shakespeare admirers flock to this pretty market town each year to check out the five Tudor homes and gardens that are all linked with the life of the great English writer. One of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon is ideally located on the banks of the River Avon, a popular place to chill out and relax.

best places to visit in the Cotswolds:

other nearby places:

Trips to the Cotswolds are often combined with other nearby towns and cities. The city of Bath lies 15 miles from Lacock village and is famous for its Roman baths as well bustling contemporary shops and restaurants. The university town of Oxford is popular with visitors who are returning to London and wish to stop off on the way to break up the journey.

tours to the Cotswolds:

Taking a tour can be the most convenient and effective way to see some of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds. Our top tours to the Cotswolds departing include:

cotswolds tour from Oxford

This day tour to the Cotswolds from Oxford is available 3 times a week and includes a tour guide, transportation, and a two-course lunch. Visit picturesque Cotswolds towns and village including Burford, a medieval market town nicknamed “Gateway to the Cotswolds” and Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”. It also includes a visit to Blenheim Palace This is a great to get a feel for the typical Cotswolds villages in a day.

The 16 Best Towns To Visit In The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are one of the most beautiful places to visit in Britain. Covering around 800 square miles and five different counties, it’s an area that is known for its old-fashioned charm, gorgeous little villages and status as one of the best places to come on holiday in the UK.

Because the Cotwolds cover such a large area of the country, trying to decide which of its towns to visit can seem like an impossible task. Do you take a trip to the tourist hotspots and enjoy some of the finest food and sightseeing in the area? Or do you head off the beaten path and visit the more undiscovered towns and villages in the Cotswolds that are perfectly peaceful and encompass classic English charm?

To help guide your decision, we’ve rounded up 16 of the best towns to visit in the Cotswolds, featuring visitor favourites and some more unheard of options.

Burford

In the North of Oxfordshire lies Burford, known by many as the gateway to the Cotswolds. With plenty of traditional pubs and little independent shops, it’s a popular tourist destination that features some classic examples of 17th and 18th century English architecture and still maintains a historic charm to this day.

If you’re visiting the Cotswolds then you should definitely consider coming to Burford to sample the offerings from its cafes and tea rooms or taking home a charming antique from one of the town’s many stores.

Bourton-on-the-Water

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water comes at the top of most people’s lists of recommendations. Often called ‘The Venice of the Cotswolds’, the River Windrush flows through this gorgeous village and is covered by five, arched bridges that are incredibly popular photo spots.

There are plenty of different attractions in Bourton-on-the-Water suitable for all ages, from the Cotswold Motoring Museum to the miniature model village. Its popularity can mean that it gets very busy, especially in the summer months, but it’s still well worth a visit for the charming architecture, excellent food and range of things to see and do.

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Painswick

If you’re looking for Cotswolds villages that will take you away from the crowds, you should definitely visit Painswick. Many refer to it as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ because it is such a beautiful place, with charming architecture, gorgeous surrounding countryside and a very peaceful atmosphere.

A highlight for history fans is the Painswick Rococo Garden, and keen walkers will find plenty of routes around the area including the Cotswolds Way National Trail. Many people think of the village as one of the most romantic places to visit in the Cotswolds, and once you’ve seen the beauty of Painswick, you’ll understand why. It’s also a great part of the area to stay with dogs, as the traffic is minimal and there are lots of open spaces for walks around the village.

Chipping Campden

One of the liveliest towns in the Cotswolds is Chipping Campden, found in Gloucestershire. If you’re looking for a change from all the sleepy, peaceful villages that this area is so well known for, this town offers plenty of locally organised events, tourist attractions like Hidcote Manor Gardens and lots of different accommodation options.

Chipping Campden is also one of the best towns to stay in the Cotswolds, as it provides an excellent base to go and visit other popular nearby villages like Moreton-in-Marsh and Broadway.

Cirencester

One of the most historic towns in the Cotswolds is Cirencester; a destination that dates back to Roman times. Often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’, a highlight of Cirencester is the cathedral-like Parish Church of St. John Baptist, located in the bustling market square and one of many fascinating historic buildings found around the town.

Visitors should come to Cirencester if they’re looking to see a more vibrant side of the Cotswolds than its classic, sleepy villages. There are lots of shops, cafes and restaurants lining the streets, a Roman amphitheatre to visit and regular farmers, craft and antique markets.

Broadway

Broadway is one of the larger villages in the Cotswolds, found in the county of Worcestershire. It’s full of charming houses and shops built with signature golden Cotswolds stone, making it a very pretty part of the area that gets plenty of visitors throughout the year.

One of the main attractions in the village is Broadway Tower, a Saxon structure that overlooks the surrounding countryside and is not a good choice for anyone afraid of heights! Never fear however; there are lots of top-rated pubs, restaurants and cafes nearby that still make it a location that is well worth visiting.

Upper Slaughter

Upper Slaughter is a similarly quiet part of the Cotswolds that is an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for a more laid-back trip. You can walk from Lower Slaughter to the village alongside the beautiful River Eyre and enjoy a picnic on the green or a walk admiring the pretty, stone houses.

There’s a 17th-century gabled Manor House that has been converted into a hotel in Upper Slaughter that does excellent food (and afternoon tea!), but there aren’t as many other attractions in the village as you’ll find in a lot of other places in the Cotswolds.

Lower Slaughter

Whilst this location might not have the most encouraging name, it’s actually one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages. Lower Slaughter is only a few minute’s drive from the popular Bourton-on-the-Water which means that most tourists overlook it, but this is good news if you’re looking for a quieter experience of the area that is still full of quintessential Cotswolds charm.

Lower Slaughter is named after the Old English word for marsh, and so the village is surrounded by wetland. There are a couple of lovely cafes and a museum to pass the time, as well as lots of walks nearby that are great for visitors with dogs.

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is referred to by many as ‘the prettiest village in England’. Whilst the castle that this picturesque Cotswold village is named after no longer exists, the 17th-century architecture has remained well-preserved and gives the whole area an idyllic, ‘chocolate-box’ feel that has many luxury holiday accommodation options.

Located in the county of Wiltshire, Castle Combe is an incredibly popular tourist hotspot in the summer months, but if you visit in the early spring you’ll have the quaint streets almost all to yourself.

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the best towns in the Cotswolds if you’re looking for plenty of delicious places to eat. This historic market town is full of tea rooms, cafes and pubs that make it an ideal place to come for an afternoon or to stay for a weekend and sample all of the eateries found around the pretty little streets.

This town is also home to a brilliant array of gift shops and galleries, as well as classic examples of unique architecture, including Porch House and St Edward’s Church.

Blockley

The village of Blockley was once famous for its silk production in the 18th and 19th centuries. Overlooking a hill and a Norman church in Gloucestershire, many of the historic mills in the village have now been converted into accommodation, and there are many classic golden stone Cotswold cottages around as well.

Blockley is one of the best towns in the Cotswolds if you want to enjoy some authentic peace and quiet without hordes of daytrippers, making it an ideal choice for holidaymakers looking to get away from it all.

Kingham

Close by to Chipping Campden in Oxfordshire is the quiet, secluded village of Kingham. This location in the ‘Golden Triangle’ is one of the most beautiful Cotswold villages, with picturesque cottages lining the streets, an elegant Norman church and a surprisingly lucrative dining scene that includes a restaurant run by a Michelin starred chef.

Kingham also has a train station that connects directly to the centre of London, making it an excellent choice for visitors who are coming to the Cotswolds straight from the city.

Stanton

Gloucestershire’s Stanton is a village that perfectly captures everything you first think of when you hear the word ‘Cotswolds’. The charming houses are all built out of signature golden stone, there are miles of gorgeous countryside surrounding the village and an authentic pub serves local food and drink all year round.

If you’re after a really authentic experience of the area then Stanton is the place to come, as the village lacks any real commercialisation and isn’t ever overrun by tourists.

Chedworth

One of the best Cotswolds villages to visit if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and discover a new side to the area is Chedworth. This tiny village is only really accessible by car or on foot, is home to only 700 inhabitants, and has a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere that is ideal if you need a break from the busier tourist traps.

A highlight of the village is the National Trust Chedworth Roman Villa, which is one of the best-preserved Roman sites in the whole of Britain. Even if you’re not that much of a history fan, the intricate mosaics are stunning.

Tetbury

Tetbury is found on the southern side of the Cotswolds and is a very lively market town that is also full of history. As the second largest town in the Cotswolds and the home of HRH Prince Charles, it’s a location that gets a lot of visitors all year round, but for good reason.

Whether you’re looking for shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants or tourist attractions, Tetbury has got it all. Highlights include the Grade I-listed historic market hall, local markets and stalls, the gardens at Highgrove and the famous Goods Shed Arts Centre.

Bibury

Finally, if you want to see one of the most photographed places in the Cotswolds, head to the village of Bibury in Gloucestershire. The famous Arlington Row of period houses is featured on the inside cover of the British passport, and attracts hundreds of tourists to snap a shot of the iconic line of houses every week.

Aside from the must-see street, Bibury is one of the nicest places to visit in the Cotswolds in the springtime, where you can enjoy afternoon tea in the William Morris Tea Room, visit the local trout farm and stroll alongside the River Colne.

Summary

When it comes to choosing the best towns in the Cotswolds, the list is endless. Some locations stand out for their food and shopping opportunities, others that feature iconic landmarks and historic sites, and some that are simply so beautiful that you need to visit just to take it all in.

Whichever towns in the Cotswolds you decide to visit, you’re sure to find classic architecture, stunning natural landscapes, friendly locals and plenty of things to see and do. No matter what time of the year it is, the area is known as one of the most stunning parts of the country for a good reason, and all of the towns and villages showcase something special.

If you’re planning a visit to one of the towns or villages in this popular part of England, check out our range of self-catering properties in the Cotswolds. If you’re looking to book a last-minute break, you can view our selection of cottages with last-minute availability here.

One thought on “ The 16 Best Towns To Visit In The Cotswolds ”

You’ve hit the nail on the head with this list here! Such a great read and I love reading other peoples opinions as a resident of The Cotswolds!

Source https://www.planetware.com/england/best-villages-in-the-cotswolds-eng-1-44.htm

Source https://www.touristengland.com/best-places-visit-cotswolds/

Source https://www.independentcottages.co.uk/holiday-blog/best-towns-to-visit-in-the-cotswolds/

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