A GUIDE TO THE BEST VILLAGES IN THE COTSWOLDS
Spending time in the Cotswolds can feel a bit like traveling back in time in the United Kingdom. In some of the hidden corners of this region are old market towns and quaint chocolate box villages that resemble something out of a history book. Many of these places are surreal in appearance and unmatched in their beauty.
With an old world charm that tells you tradition has not been left behind, there are plenty of beautiful accommodation options and vacation rentals, from cozy cottages to stunning stately homes. Time stands still in many of the region’s pretty villages, so it is the perfect place to relax and unwind. One gorgeous, 16th Century family home, that is very luxurious to stay in, is Cornwell Manor, situated on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border.
Here are some of our favorite villages which are also some of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to visit the next time you’re in the Cotswolds.
Quiet, peaceful and totally unspoilt. Blockley is one of our favorite places to get away from it all. And it’s renowned as one of the most charming villages in the Cotswolds, popular with tourists from around the world.
Blockley is tucked away in the lush green hills and features honey colored cottages and beautiful limestone buildings that give the village its traditional feel. The wonderful village green also overlooks the Norman Church, which is a great place for a light stroll or a picnic in the summertime.
Things to do: Take a walk in a “serious garden with a sense of humor” – this is how Mill Dene Garden has been described and is such a fun place for all ages. With cream teas and wildlife spotting, including ducks and Kingfisher by the pond. Just a few miles away is also Batsford Arboretum, worth visiting at any time of year.
Snowshill is often recognized for its famous church, St. Barnabas Church (thought to be one of the most photographed churches in the Cotswolds). Other times, it’s recognized for the beautiful Snowshill Manor (once home to poet Charles Wade and now managed by the National Trust).
But whatever you know about this Gloucestershire village, you won’t quite be prepared for its beauty in wintertime. If it snows in the Cotswolds, it will likely snow here first and the winter scenery is truly magical. With many of Bridget Jones’ Diary’s snow scenes shot here.
Things to do: Snowshill is simply spectacular in winter but if you are here during the summer months, be sure to head to the Cotswold Lavender Farm. During the lavender bloom season, there are rows and rows of purple flowers and it’s said to be a very popular place to propose as well as for honeymoons and romance.
Bibury is perhaps the most stunning of the chocolate box villages in the Cotswolds. It was once called “the most beautiful village in England” by poet William Morris, and it’s said to have been inspiration for many of the sets in Lord of The Rings. The most iconic section of this tiny hamlet, and one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, is the spectacular Arlington Row.
One of the most photographed areas in the whole of the UK and perhaps one of the region’s most recognizable, famed for its charming 14th Century weaver’s cottages backed by lush greenery.
Things to do: Visit Bibury Trout Farm to try your hand at getting your own catch of the day, with plenty of BBQs to cook it up after. Fish really doesn’t get fresher than this. There’s also an on-site shop selling wine and deli products to complete your meal. Pubs include The Swan Hotel and The Catherine Wheel.
Chipping Campden is technically a town (an affluent wool town dating back to Medieval times), but it’s very small in size. Making it the perfect place to come for a day trip. No matter where in the Cotswold’s you may be staying, a day out in Chipping Campden is well worth it.
It’s said to be home to “the prettiest high street in England”, the main road lined with ancient architecture and limestone houses. Each of the properties are considered to be true Cotswold masterpieces, made of Cotswold stone, and are iconic to the region’s limestone history. A great spot to walk around and always a top choice for ramblers and those on walking vacations who want the best of both worlds in terms of scenery and amenities.
Things to do: This small town is super for sightseeing adventures, so don’t miss St. James Church (one of England’s oldest wool churches), the ancient Market Hall (built in 1627), and the pretty Alms Houses.
The pretty village of Mickleton is said to be the inspiration behind one of the regions in Middle Earth of Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings. So it has attracted visitors and LOTR fans from all over, with Meon Hill and many of the village’s Cotswold stone architecture rumored to have inspired the film’s ‘Weathertop’. Mickleton is decorated with splendid black and white thatched cottages and impressive limestone buildings.
In addition to the Lord of The Rings link, Mickleton is also famous for its weekly Pudding Club. Taking place at the Three Ways House Hotel with enough desserts to entice every kind of sweet tooth and top entertainment to make the night even sweeter.
Things to do: For scenic views and wildlife, hit the ‘Mickleton and the Hidcotes’ route. This 2 hour walking route lends mind-blowing panoramas over the Vale of Evesham, with plenty of great pubs and pit stops along the way.
Another aesthetically pleasing location that you can’t miss on your travels whilst in the Cotswolds is Kingham. This lovely little hamlet was once voted as ‘England’s Favorite Village’ by Country Life Magazine and it’s probably most famous for The Big Feastival, an annual food festival hosted by Jamie Oliver and Alex James.
Other than this big food event which takes place each summer, the village is quite sleepy the rest of year. Peaceful and quaint in every way, yet still having great transport links to London.
Things to do: You simply cannot visit Kingham and not stop off at The Wild Rabbit. The Wild Rabbit is a Michelin acclaimed pub serving fantastic food made with seasonal and local ingredients. All within a spectacular setting with exposed stone walls, comfy leather armchairs and a roaring fire. One of our favorite luxury dining spots in the winter!
A handsome little village nestled within the delightful Windrush Valley. Naunton is just a short drive from the bustling town of Cheltenham (so shopping and nightlife won’t be too far), yet it feels miles away in a secluded spot away from the tourists.
In summer, you can come here for a picnic with a view and there are excellent walks all year round. The River Windrush trickles calmly in the background and everything here is wonderfully peaceful.
Things to do: There isn’t much going on in Naunton but that can be its biggest attraction. This is the type of place to sit back and watch the world go by, take leisurely strolls or go for long hikes in the countryside. For food and drink, there’s The Black Horse Inn which serves a selection of traditional ales and some classic pub grub.
A trip to Bourton-on-the-Water isn’t quite complete without a visit to one of its many tea rooms or one of its cozy pubs. So if you’re looking for somewhere to fill your boots, Bourton-on-the-Water is the place to come. This is another beautiful village in the Cotswolds that is simply great for walking around and exploring on foot.
It’s a true chocolate box style village, with honey-colored cottages and stone architecture to take you on a journey back in time. The calm waters of the Windrush and the beautiful bridges are a key feature here, and photographers will love this place no matter what time of year. Bourton-on-the-water is gorgeous in every season, so don’t forget to pack your camera.
Things to do: We enjoy watching the world go by here, but there are also lots of attractions to keep you busy. Including Birdland Park and Gardens, The Model Village, Cotswold Motoring Museum, and The Dragonfly Maze. When it comes to pubs, some of the local hangouts include The Mousetrap Inn, The Old New Inn and Kingsbridge which has fantastic riverside views.
UPPER & LOWER SLAUGHTER
Not too far from Bourton-on-the-Water, and another village to visit, is The Slaughters. Technically not one village, but consisting of twin villages, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter with a stream that connects the two of them together. Their unique names come from an old English term which actually means ‘muddy place’. But today, they are far from their old description and are picturesque destinations with amazing architecture that has been untouched since 1906!
It really is like a step back in time, and a trip here is ideal for anyone who prefers a slow pace of life. The Slaughters are particularly popular with couples who are in search of a romantic mini-moon or vacation.
Things to do: Upper Slaughter’s Eyford House is a must-see (voted as Britain’s Best House in Country Life Magazine) whilst Lower Slaughter’s Copse Hill Road is made for lovers (voted as England’s Most Romantic Road) and is wonderful inspiration for honeymoons and romance.
An attractive rural village located along the southern fringe of Worcestershire, with a rich history dating back to Roman times. Ashton-under-Hill is also famed as the once home of English farmer and author, Fred Archer, who based many of his stories on this picturesque region, with many books drawing inspiration directly from Ashton-under-Hill and other surrounding villages.
The architecture here is made up of Victorian houses, stone buildings and enchanting timber-framed cottages that look as though they’ve been plucked straight out of a fairy tale.
Things to do: This place stays quiet and mostly tourist-free throughout the year and there isn’t an awful lot going on in terms of events. But head to the Star Inn pub for the best food and drink around as well as tennis courts and a playground for kids.
Located around 5 miles north of Chippenham is the small civil parish of Castle Combe. It’s your typical traditional Cotswold village, so you can expect stunning limestone everywhere, old cottages with stone-tiled roofs and a beautiful village church. This southern Cotswold village has been featured in a number of films (including Stardust and Warhorse) and it’s renowned for its fabulous Town Bridge.
Things to do: Spend the afternoon at the Castle Combe Market or head to the Manor House Golf Club for a round of golf. For shopping and restaurants, the nearest town is Chippenham. Pubs in the area include The White Hart, The Salutation Inn, The Bell Inn and The Crown Inn.
You can’t spend time in the Cotswolds without visiting the village of Broadway. This is another amazing place in the Cotswold region that deserves to be at the top of your bucket list. It’s one of the northern Cotswold villages, located in Worcestershire County and is recognized for its striking high street.
The main road has rows of golden stone buildings, traditional shops, thatched cottages and pretty wisteria. This famous corner of the Cotswolds is perhaps the region’s most photographed area and we just love to walk around here to take in the glorious views. Stick around for sunset to be completely blown away.
Things to do: Broadway is a great place for shopping and has many independent shops and boutiques, as well as some perfect afternoon spots to help you refuel. We also recommend visiting the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery and going to the top of Broadway Tower for 360 vistas of the rolling countryside.
Bredon marks the gateway to the Cotswolds from the north and is rich in wonderful village history. Step back into time in Bredon with its many medieval barns, Cotswold stone houses and gorgeous thatched roof cottages. Its unique location means that it’s the perfect base to get to Tewkesbury, Evesham, Worcester, Cheltenham or Gloucester. And is a great entry point for exploring the northern Cotswold area, such as Broadway, Snowshill, Chipping Campden, Blockley, Alderton and Winchcombe.
Things to do: The defining landmark of the village is Bredon Hilll, which is so vast it can be seen from nine other counties in the UK! This is a great place for walking and rambling, and cyclists like to ride here too. Don’t miss Bredon Tithe Barn where you can learn more about the region’s interesting history.
There is so much to do in the Cotswolds that we’re sure that you’ll have an amazing time, if you’d like to discuss planning your visit and creating your Cotswolds itinerary to this beautiful part of the world, then please do get in touch today; we look forward to hearing from you.