The Cotswolds attracts millions of tourists every year and is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year. I love visiting The Cotswolds and make an annual trip here to visit some of the best villages in Cotswolds.
Beautifully rural, with rolling hills, stone villages, winter walks and a beer by the roaring fire in a local pub, but with easy accessibility from London.
Whether you fancy a good walk, pub lunch, or a pamper at a spa, there is no better place than The Cotswolds.
Here is my guide of the best villages in Cotswolds…
Where is The Cotswolds
Covering an impressive 800 square miles, an ultimate guide to the Cotswolds would be 100’s of thousands of words long due to the number of things there is to do in The Cotswolds. The Cotswolds also cover fives counties including Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
It is called the Cotswolds due to the rolling hills found all across the region and is widely known for being traditionally British, with farmhouses, hiking trails ad beautiful cottages. It is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Where to stay in The Cotswolds
- Cotswolds Hotels and Places to Stay
- Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa
- Tewkesbury Park
- White Hart Royal Hotel
- The Slaughters Country Inn
- The George Townhouse
- The Lygon Arms
- Lords of the Manor Hotel
- Three Ways House Hotel
- The Fish Hotel
READ: How to spend a weekend in The Cotswolds
Best Villages in Cotswolds
Stow-on-the-Wold is a market town and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England, on top an 800-foot hill at the junction of main roads through the Cotswolds, including the Fosse Way, which is of Roman origin. The town was founded by Norman lords to take advantage of trade on the roads converging there.
Another one of the best villages in Cotswolds is Moreton-in-Marsh is a small market town in the Evenlode Valley, within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The town stands at the crossroads of the Fosse Way Roman road and is relatively flat and low-lying compared with the surrounding Cotswold Hills. The River Evenlode rises near Batsford, runs around the edge of Moreton and meanders towards Oxford, where it flows into the Thames just east of Eynsham.
One of the most popular places in The Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in Gloucestershire that lies on a wide flat vale within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of the village core 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. The river is crossed by five low, arched stone bridges. They were built between 1654 and 1953, leading to the namesake of the village also being known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”.
Rather unknown, but one of my favourites, Daylesford is a small, privately-owned village in Gloucestershire, on the border with Oxfordshire. It is situated just south of Stow-on-the-Wold and five miles west of Chipping Norton. The village is on the north bank of the small River Evenlode and the area falls within the Cotswold Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
At Daylesford House, you can find lakeside gardens with wooded walks and unusual trees and shrubs are occasionally open to the public in the summer months. There is a farm shop on the estate, which sells organic food under the Daylesford Organic brand.
Chipping Campden is a small market town in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. It is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century. A rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages, Chipping Campden enjoyed the patronage of wealthy wool merchants, most notably William Greville. Today it is a popular Cotswold tourist destination with old inns, hotels, specialist shops and restaurants. One of the best villages in Cotswolds!!
Lower Slaughter is a village in the Cotswolds, south-west of Stow-on-the-Wold. The village is built on both banks of the River Eye, a slow-moving stream crossed by two footbridges, which also flows through Upper Slaughter.
At the west end of the village, there is a 19th-century watermill with an undershot waterwheel and a chimney for additional steam power. While the mill is built of red brick most of the 16th and 17th-century homes in the village use Cotswold limestone and are adorned with mullioned windows and often with other embellishments such as projecting gables.
Cheltenham is a large spa town and borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in the county of Gloucestershire, England. Cheltenham became known as a health and holiday spa town resort following the discovery of mineral springs in 1716. The town hosts several festivals of culture, often featuring nationally and internationally famous contributors and attendees, including the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the Cheltenham Science Festival, the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, and the Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival.
Burford is a small medieval town on the River Windrush, in the Cotswold hills, often referred to as the ‘gateway’ to the Cotswolds. Burford is located 18 miles west of Oxford and is a popular place to visit and live. In September 2001 Burford was twinned with Potenza Picena, a small town in the Marche, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. And in April 2009 Burford was ranked sixth in Forbes magazine’s list of “Europe’s Most Idyllic Places To Live”.
Gloucester is a cathedral city, on the River Severn, between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the west. Gloucester has a population of around 150,000 and the major attraction of the city is Gloucester Cathedral, which is the burial place of King Edward II and Walter de Lacy, and features in scenes from the Harry Potter films.
Other features of interest include the museum and school of art and science, the former county jail, the Shire Hall (now headquarters of the County Council) and the Whitefield memorial church.
Tewkesbury is a market town and civil parish in Gloucestershire. It stands at the confluence of the River Severn and the River Avon, and also minor tributaries the Swilgate and Carrant Brook.
In February Tewkesbury holds a Winter Beer Festival, organised by the Tewkesbury branch of CAMRA. And since 2005, an annual Food and Drink Festival has been held, in or near the Abbey grounds. And if you love history, on the second full weekend of July the town hosts Tewkesbury Medieval Festival.
Best Villages in Cotswolds
Castle Combe is a village and civil parish within the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty and is one of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds. This adorable village is like its been frozen in time for the past century, with no new houses have been built in this tiny Wiltshire village since the 1600s.
The village is ancient, with honey-hued Cotswold stone cottages remaining its standout feature. It’s one of the best villages in the Cotswolds and for good reason. On a summers day, you can sit on the bridge above the river!
Painswick is a town in Gloucestershire and is best known for its parish church’s yew trees and the local Rococo Garden. The village is mainly constructed of locally quarried Cotswold stone. The village is beautiful and stands on a hill overlooking one of the Five Valleys, between Stroud and Gloucester.
It has narrow streets and traditional architecture, and a beautiful hotel called The Painswick. There is a popular golf course on the outskirts of the town, and Painswick Beacon is in the nearby hills.
Cirencester is a market town in Gloucestershire, 80 miles west of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswolds. It is the home of the Royal Agricultural University, the oldest agricultural college in the English-speaking world, founded in 1840. The town’s Corinium Museum has an extensive Roman collection.
Stroud is a market town and civil parish in the centre of Gloucestershire, England. Situated below the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills at the meeting point of the Five Valleys, the town is noted for its steep streets, independent spirit and cafe culture.
The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west. It lies 10 miles south of the city of Gloucester, and only 91 miles from London.
Tetbury is a town and civil parish inside the Cotswold district in England. It lies on the site of an ancient hill fort, on which an Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded, probably by Ine of Wessex, in 681. During the Middle Ages, Tetbury became an important market for Cotswold wool and yarn.
The Tetbury Woolsack Races, founded 1972, is an annual competition where participants must carry a 60-pound sack of wool up and down Gumstool Hill. Notable buildings in the town include the Church House, Market House, built-in 1655 and the late-eighteenth century Gothic revival parish church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalene and much of the rest of the town centre.
Which of these are the best villages in Cotswolds?! You decide!
My Travel Tips and Recommendations
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