Ten Picture-Perfect Villages to visit in the Cotswolds
…and a collection of stones, three gardens, two playgrounds and one tower.
The Cotswolds is known for its rolling hills, picturesque villages, and stunning countryside. It is one of the UK’s official ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and attracts visitors from all over the world and it spans six English counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Somerset.
A popular destination for walking and hiking, the Cotswolds has many trails to choose from, including the Cotswold Way National Trail. Visitors can also enjoy cycling, horseback riding, and fishing. The region is home to many historic villages and towns, including Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, and Broadway. Visitors from far and wide come here to enjoy exploring the villages’ shops, restaurants, and pubs, as well as all the outstanding natural beauty that surrounds them all.
The Cotswolds is a wonderful place to visit for a weekend break or a longer vacation. It is a region with something to offer everyone, from stunning countryside and picturesque villages to historic houses and gardens.
Picture-perfect Cotswold beauty
Stanton is a tiny village, but it has something to offer everyone. Whether looking for a relaxing break in the countryside, a chance to explore history and nature, or an opportunity to be active and enjoy the outdoors, Stanton is the perfect destination.
For those who enjoy history, Stanton has a number of historic buildings to explore, including the medieval church of St Michael and All Angels and the 17th-century Stanton Court.
If you are looking for outdoors activities, Stanton is surrounded by beautiful countryside with fields, meadows, and woodlands to explore. There are also several walking and cycling trails in the area, offering stunning views of the Cotswolds.
In the evening, visitors to Stanton can enjoy a meal at the traditional pub, The Mount Inn, which has unrivalled views of the area. The pub has a friendly atmosphere and serves a variety of traditional British dishes.
Stanton is a truly special village, and it is no wonder that it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Cotswolds.
Broadway Tower: A Majestic Landmark in the Cotswolds
Standing at 1024 feet above sea level, Broadway Tower is a majestic landmark in the Cotswolds, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Built in 1798 as a Gothic folly, the tower has since become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.
Visitors can climb to the tower’s top for panoramic views spanning as many as 16 counties on a clear day. The tower’s unique architecture and design, which features turrets, battlements, and gargoyles, make it a striking sight.
Broadway Tower has played an important role in the Cotswolds’ history. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited it in the 19th century, and it served as a military observation post during World War II. Today, the tower is a popular destination for walkers, hikers, and history buffs alike.
Several hiking trails lead to Broadway Tower, ranging from easy to challenging. Visitors can also drive to the tower but note that there is a charge for parking.
After exploring the tower and museum, be sure to visit the restaurant next door for a delicious breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes made with fresh, local ingredients, and the views from the dining room are simply stunning.
Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy a beautiful view, learn about the Cotswolds’ history, or simply have a delicious meal, Broadway Tower is a must-visit for anyone exploring the region.
Chipping Campden, a real Cotswold gem
Chipping Campden is quite simply one of the finest towns in the Cotswolds. It is well-preserved and full of history, and a vibrant and bustling community.
The town’s High Street is a delight to wander, with its honey-coloured stone buildings, many of which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Visitors can admire the beautiful architecture, browse the independent shops and galleries, and stop for a bite to eat or a drink at one of the many cafes and pubs.
Chipping Campden has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages when it was a major centre for the wool trade. This wealth is reflected in the many fine buildings that can be seen today, including the magnificent Market Hall, the Church of St. James, and Campden House.
In addition to its history and architecture, Chipping Campden is also known for its stunning natural setting. It is surrounded by rolling hills, picturesque villages, and ancient woodlands. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in the area, such as walking, cycling, and horse riding.
Chipping Campden is a popular destination for tourists worldwide, but it is also a thriving community with a strong sense of identity. The town is home to several businesses and organizations, as well as a variety of cultural and sporting events.
Some of the many things to see and do in Chipping Campden:
- Visit the Market Hall: This iconic building is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Cotswolds. It was built in the 17th century and was originally used for trading wool. Today, the Market Hall is home to a variety of shops and stalls selling everything from fresh produce to local crafts.
- Explore the Church of St. James: This beautiful church is one of the largest in the Cotswolds. It was built in the 14th and 15th centuries and features a stunning Perpendicular Gothic tower. The church’s interior is also impressive, with its high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows.
- Visit Campden House: This grand mansion was built in the early 17th century by Sir Baptist Hicks, a wealthy wool merchant. The National Trust now owns the house, and is open to the public. Visitors can tour the house and gardens and learn about the history of the Hicks family.
- Take a walk in the Cotswold countryside: Chipping Campden is surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in England. Visitors can enjoy a variety of walks, ranging from short strolls to challenging hikes. There are also many cycle paths in the area.
Chipping Campden is a truly special place, and it is no wonder it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Cotswolds. With its rich history, beautiful architecture, and stunning natural setting, Chipping Campden has something to offer everyone.
Chipping Campden Playground
A must-visit with kids
The recreation ground in Chipping Campden is a mere 3-minute walk from the centre of the High Street. It is a fantastic playground that you simply must visit if you are in the area with children. The grounds are perfect for a family, with various equipment for all ages, including a climbing frame, swings, slides, and a sandpit. There is also a large grassy area where children can run around and play.
- It is open to the public every day from dawn to dusk.
- There is a small car park on-site, but it can get busy during peak times.
- There are no toilets on site, but there are public toilets located nearby on the High Street.
- The recreation ground is dog-friendly, but dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Batsford Arboretum: A Lovely Getaway for All Seasons
Batsford Arboretum is a hidden gem in the Cotswolds, a romantic and intimate place to visit with interest all year round. From the first snowdrops of spring to the outstanding autumn colour in October and November, there is always something to see and do at this beautiful arboretum.
In the spring, the arboretum is awash with colour as the daffodils, tulips, and magnolias bloom. The air is filled with the sweet scent of flowers and the sound of birdsong. Visitors can wander through the arboretum’s many gardens and admire the stunning displays of spring blooms.
Summer brings a new dimension to Batsford Arboretum. The trees are lush and green, and the gardens are full of vibrant flowers. Visitors can enjoy a picnic lunch in the shade of a tree, take a boat trip on the lake, or simply relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the arboretum.
Autumn is a magical time to visit Batsford Arboretum. The leaves on the trees turn a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a truly breathtaking sight. Visitors can walk through the arboretum’s many paths and trails, admiring the autumn foliage and the stunning views of the Cotswolds countryside.
In the winter, Batsford Arboretum is transformed into a winter wonderland. The snow-covered trees and gardens create a magical scene. Visitors can enjoy a winter walk through the arboretum or simply relax and warm up in the arboretum’s cafe with a cup of hot chocolate.
No matter what time of year you visit, Batsford Arboretum is a beautiful place to relax, escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and reconnect with nature. It is also a perfect place for couples, with its many romantic spots and intimate gardens.
Batsford Arboretum is truly a special place, a place where visitors can create lasting memories together.
Broadway, a famous Cotswold beauty spot
This stunning village in the Cotswolds is popular throughout the year. Its wide main street is lined with independent shops, restaurants, hotels, and antique shops, making it one of our most beautiful towns.
Visitors to Broadway can enjoy a variety of activities, including:
- Browsing the unique shops, which sell everything from clothing and accessories to homewares and gifts.
- Sampling the delicious food at the many restaurants and cafes, which offer a variety of cuisines, from traditional British to international.
- Staying in one of the many charming hotels or guesthouses, many of which are located in historic buildings.
- Visiting the antique shops, all packed with treasures from the local area and across the globe.
- Simply strolling down the main street and admiring the beautiful architecture, including the honey-coloured Cotswold stone cottages and the historic Lygon Arms Hotel.
Broadway is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with picturesque villages, rolling hills, and lush meadows. Visitors can take walks or bike rides through the countryside or visit nearby attractions such as Snowshill Manor, Cotswold Lavender, and Broadway Tower.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing break in a beautiful setting or a fun-filled vacation with plenty of activities to choose from, Broadway is the perfect destination.
The most amazing playground we’ve ever seen
Nestled among the rolling hills and ancient woodlands of the Cotswolds, the playground in Broadway is a wonderland for children of all ages. From toddlers to teenagers and even adults, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
The playground is divided into different sections, each with its unique features. The toddler area is perfect for little ones, with soft surfaces and gentle play equipment. For older children, there are climbing frames, swings, slides, and a zipline. And for the adults, there’s even an outdoor gym!
In addition to the play equipment, there are also designated picnic areas, tables, and restrooms. So, you can easily spend a whole day at the playground, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery while your kids let loose and have fun.
The different sections of the playground:
- Toddler area: This area is designed for children under five years old, with soft surfaces and gentle play equipment, such as a sandpit, swings, and a climbing frame.
- Junior area: This area is for children aged 5-10 years old and features more challenging play equipment, such as a climbing wall, zipline, and slides.
- Senior area: This area is for children aged 10+ years old and features the most challenging play equipment, such as a large climbing frame with multiple levels and slides.
- Adult gym: This area features a variety of outdoor gym equipment, such as a cross trainer, rowing machine, and pull-up bars.
No matter what age your children are, they will have a blast at the playground in Broadway. So, if you’re looking for a fun and active day out for the whole family, be sure to check it out!
The Venice of the Cotswolds
The Venice of the Cotswolds
Step into the Cotswold countryside in and around Bourton-on-the-Water. Walk along the river and take in this pretty village, known far and wide for its rich architecture and tranquil village scenes, and is often referred to as ‘The Venice of the Cotswolds’.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a village and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England that lies on a wide flat vale within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village had a population of 3,296 at the 2011 census. Much of the village centre is a designated Conservation Area.
Bourton-on-the-Water’s high street is flanked by long, wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. Five low, arched stone bridges cross the river. They were built between 1654 and 1953, leading to the nickname of “Venice of the Cotswolds”.
The village often has more visitors than residents during the peak tourist season. Some 300,000 visitors arrive each year as compared to under 3,500 permanent residents. There are three churches: Our Lady and St Kenelm Roman Catholic Church, Bourton-on-the-Water Baptist Church and St Lawrence, Church of England.
Just a few of the things you can do in Bourton-on-the-Water:
- Visit the Cotswold Motoring Museum, which features a collection of vintage cars and motorcycles.
- Take a walk through the village and admire the honey-coloured stone cottages and bridges.
- Visit the Birdland Park and Gardens, which is home to a variety of birds, including parrots, owls, and penguins.
- Visit the Model Village, which is a miniature replica of Bourton-on-the-Water.
- Visit the nearby villages of Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter, also known for their picturesque scenery.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Bourton-on-the-Water, there are several hotels, guesthouses, and self-catering cottages to choose from.
Additional tips for when you visit Bourton-on-the-Water:
- The village can get very busy during the peak tourist season.
- There is a pay and display car park in the village centre.
- There is a public toilet near the car park – note that there’s a charge to use this.
- The village is well-served by public transport, with buses running to and from Cheltenham and Oxford.
- There are many restaurants and cafes in the village, so you won’t be short of places to eat.
- If you’re visiting with children, the village has several family-friendly attractions, such as the Birdland Park and Gardens and the Model Village.
Stanway Fountain and Gardens
Stanway House and Fountain: A wonder of the Cotswolds
Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Stanway House and Fountain is a beautiful example of a Jacobean manor house renowned for its stunning architecture, magnificent water garden, and the tallest gravity fountain in the world.
From the moment you arrive, you’re transported back in time. With its turrets and gables, the grand entranceway sets the scene for a truly memorable experience. As you step inside, you’re greeted by lavishly decorated rooms adorned with portraits, tapestries, and antiques. Each room tells a story of the house’s rich history, dating back to the 14th century.
But it’s the gardens that truly take your breath away. The 18th-century water garden is a masterpiece of Baroque design, with its cascading fountains, ornate statues, and manicured lawns. The centrepiece of the garden is the Stanway Fountain, which jets water up to 300 feet into the air, making it a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Beyond the gardens, you’ll find a picturesque landscape of rolling hills, ancient woodland, and charming villages. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, nature, or simply enjoying a relaxing day out, Stanway House and Fountain has something to offer everyone. It’s a unique and unforgettable experience.
The Slaughters (it’s not what it sounds like)
The perfect Cotswold postcard
Walk in your wellies through the charming villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, both unbelievably pretty and everywhere you look is a snapshot for the perfect Cotswold postcard.
These two villages are nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, surrounded by rolling hills, lush meadows, and ancient woodland. The River Eye flows through both, adding to their picturesque appeal.
Upper Slaughter is the smaller of the two, with a population of just over 500 people. It is known for its honey-coloured stone cottages, beautiful village green, and 12th-century church.
Lower Slaughter is slightly larger, with a population of around 1,000 people. It is home to several historic buildings, including the Old Mill, which dates back to the 17th century.
Both villages are popular with tourists but retain a sense of peace and tranquillity. Visitors can enjoy walking, cycling, and fishing in the surrounding countryside or simply relax and soak up the atmosphere of these charming villages.
Upper Slaughter: As you walk into the village, you are immediately struck by its beauty. The honey-coloured stone cottages cluster around the village green, and the River Eye flows through the heart of the village. There are several historic buildings in Upper Slaughter, including the 12th-century church and the Old Manor House.
Lower Slaughter: Lower Slaughter may slightly larger than Upper Slaughter, but it is just as picturesque. The River Eye flows through the village, and several stone bridges cross the river. The Old Mill is one of Lower Slaughter’s most popular tourist attractions. It is a working watermill, and visitors can learn about the history of milling in the Cotswolds.
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family holiday, or simply a place to relax and unwind, Upper and Lower Slaughter are the perfect destinations.
The Rollright Stones
The Rollright Stones: A Mystery and a Wonder
The Rollright Stones are an ancient relic, a mystery, and a wonder. Located on the border between the English counties of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, this Neolithic site consists of three major elements: The King’s Men stone circle, the Whispering Knights, and the King Stone.
The King’s Men is a circle of 72 standing stones, around 30 meters in diameter. The Whispering Knights is a portal dolmen, a prehistoric burial chamber with two standing stones and a capstone. The King Stone is a large, solitary standing stone located about 100 meters from the other two elements.
The Rollright Stones date back to around 3,800 BC, making them one of the oldest archaeological sites in Britain. Their purpose is unknown, but they are thought to have been used for religious or ceremonial purposes.
The Rollright Stones are shrouded in mystery and legend. One legend tells the story of a king and his army who were turned to stone by a witch. Another legend says that the stones are the petrified remains of a giant.
Whatever their true origins, the Rollright Stones are a fascinating and atmospheric place to visit. Visitors can walk among the stones, explore the Whispering Knights burial chamber, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
As you stand among the Rollright Stones, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. These ancient stones have stood here for thousands of years, and their purpose remains a mystery. But that’s part of what makes them so special. They remind us of our long and rich history, and they invite us to use our imaginations and contemplate the lives of the people who built them.
Home to the finest English lavender
Cotswold Lavender is home to the finest English lavender, a feast for the senses. The intoxicating aroma of lavender greets visitors as they wander through the fields of purple blooms. Cotswold Lavender grows over 35 different varieties of lavender, each with its own unique scent.
Visitors can purchase a wide range of lavender products at Cotswold Lavender, including bath and shower products, skincare products, essential oils, and other well-being items. The lavender products are made with natural ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals.
Just a few of the lavender products that visitors can purchase at Cotswold Lavender:
- Bath and shower products: lavender bath salts, lavender shower gel, lavender body wash, lavender shampoo, lavender conditioner
- Skincare products: lavender hand cream, lavender foot cream, lavender lip balm, lavender soap
- Essential oils: lavender essential oil, lavender blend essential oil
- Other well-being items: lavender eye pillow, lavender wheat bag, lavender diffuser, lavender tea
Whether looking for a relaxing way to unwind after a long day or a natural way to care for your skin, Cotswold Lavender has a lavender product for you. So come and experience the world of Cotswold Lavender, where lavender is king!
NOTE that Cotswold Lavender is only open in lavender season, which is from mid-June to mid-August.
The Queen of the Cotswolds
Painswick, also known as “The Queen of the Cotswolds”, is a stunning little town nestled in the heart of the Cotswold Hills. One of the best-preserved settlements in the region, Painswick is a historic wool town built from mellow honey-coloured stone quarried from nearby Painswick Beacon.
The town’s narrow streets are lined with charming Cotswold stone cottages and houses, many with beautifully preserved gables and doorways. Painswick is also home to several historic buildings, including the Parish Church of St. Mary, famous for its churchyard of 99 yew trees.
Visitors to Painswick can enjoy various activities, including exploring the town’s shops and galleries, visiting its historic buildings, and taking walks in the beautiful countryside.
Some of the things you can do in Painswick:
- Visit the Parish Church of St. Mary and its churchyard of 99 yew trees.
- Explore the town’s narrow streets and admire the charming Cotswold stone cottages and houses.
- Visit the Painswick Rococo Garden, a beautiful eighteenth-century garden with ornate follies and topiary.
- Take a walk to Painswick Beacon for stunning views of the Cotswolds countryside.
- Visit the Painswick Museum to learn more about the town’s history and culture.
- Enjoy a meal or drink at one of Painswick’s many pubs, restaurants, and cafes.
Painswick is a truly magical place, and it’s no wonder it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Cotswolds. With its stunning scenery, charming architecture, and rich history, Painswick has something to offer everyone.
Chipping Norton: A Charming Cotswold Market Town
Renowned for its antique shops and diverse shopping offers, including a regular market, Chipping Norton retains a robust living, working market town atmosphere. There is a good choice of places to eat and drink, with everything from traditional pubs to fine dining restaurants.
The Chipping Norton Theatre is a particular highlight of the town, offering top-quality entertainment all year round. From plays and musicals to concerts and comedy shows, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The theatre is also famous for its pantomime, which is a must-see for any visitor to the town during the festive season.
In addition to its shopping and entertainment, Chipping Norton is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. The town is located on the Cotswold Way, a long-distance walking trail that takes in some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. There are also many other walks and cycle rides to enjoy in the area, as well as several historic villages and attractions to visit.
Whether looking for a charming town to explore, a place to enjoy some top-quality entertainment or a base for exploring the Cotswolds countryside, Chipping Norton is the perfect destination.
Burford’s High Street: A Step Back in Time
Burford’s High Street is a picture-perfect street that has barely changed in centuries. It sweeps downhill towards the River Windrush, offering stunning views of the river and the surrounding countryside. The three-arched medieval bridge that crosses the river is a beautiful and historic landmark, and the impressive church of St. John the Baptist stands proudly at the foot of the High Street.
On either side of the High Street, visitors will find an unbroken line of ancient houses and shops. These buildings are made from the local Cotswold stone, and their honey-coloured facades give the street a charming and picturesque appearance. Many of the shops in Burford are independent businesses selling a wide range of goods, including antiques, crafts, and local produce.
Visitors to Burford can enjoy a stroll down the High Street, admiring the architecture and browsing the shops. There are also several cafes and restaurants along the street, where visitors can stop for a bite to eat or a drink.
One of the things that makes Burford’s High Street so special is its sense of history. It is easy to imagine what the street was like centuries ago when it was a bustling centre of trade and commerce. The buildings are still imbued with the spirit of the past, and visitors can feel like they have stepped back in time as they walk down the street.
Burford’s High Street is a must-see for any visitor to the Cotswolds. It is a place where you can soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful region and experience a taste of its history.
Brimming with independent shops, cafés and galleries and home to one of the best Farmers’ Markets in the country, Stroud, often referred to as the Bohemian Cotswolds, is a vibrant and eclectic town with plenty to offer visitors.
Whether you’re looking for a unique gift, a delicious meal or a cultural experience, you will find it in Stroud. Browse the boutiques on High Street, enjoy a coffee and cake in one of the many independent cafés or visit one of the many art galleries.
On Saturdays, visit the Stroud Farmers’ Market, where you can buy fresh produce, local meats and cheeses, and other artisan goods from local producers.
As well as its independent shops and cafés, Stroud is also home to several cultural attractions, including the Museum in the Park, which tells the story of the town’s history and heritage, and the Stroud Subscription Rooms, which hosts a variety of events, including concerts, plays and exhibitions.
For those who love the outdoors, Stroud is an excellent base for exploring the beautiful Cotswold countryside. There are many walks and cycle trails to choose from, and you can also visit nearby attractions such as Woodchester Mansion and Park, the Painswick Rococo Garden and the Cotswold Way National Trail.
No matter your interests, you’re sure to find something to enjoy in Stroud, the Bohemian Cotswolds.
The most beautiful village in England
The Most Beautiful Village in England
Bibury is a charming village in the heart of the Cotswolds, a region of rolling hills, picturesque villages, and honey-coloured stone cottages. It is often described as the most beautiful village in England, and when you visit, it is easy to see why.
One of the most iconic sights in Bibury is Arlington Row, a row of 14th-century cottages that were once a monastic wool store. The cottages are built in the traditional Cotswolds style, with golden stone walls and thatched roofs. They are set alongside the River Coln, and the scene is simply picture-perfect.
In addition to Arlington Row, Bibury has many other charms to offer visitors. The village has several historic buildings, including the Church of St. Mary, which dates back to the 12th century. There are also several traditional pubs, cafes, and shops.
Bibury is a popular tourist destination, but it has retained its rural charm. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the English countryside.
Some other things you can do in Bibury:
- Visit the Arlington Mill Museum to learn about the area’s wool production history.
- Take a walk along the River Coln and enjoy the scenery.
- Visit the Bibury Trout Farm and learn about how trout are raised.
- Have lunch or dinner at one of the traditional pubs in the village.
- Browse the shops for souvenirs and local produce.
If you are looking for a charming and picturesque village to visit in the Cotswolds, Bibury is the perfect place.