The Cotswolds is a district, a series of hills, and a type of stone. But above all, it is a region that encompasses a dozen villages that are among the most beautiful in England.
In fact, it was declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so we will tell you what to see in the Cotswolds.
From here, a golden stone is extracted, which is used in the constructions of the area, giving the houses a unique honey color, and whose contrast with the green pastures of the countryside makes the whole region beautiful and makes you want to visit it again and again.
Visit Arlington Row
Whenever we talk about the most famous street in a city, we always talk about a central street, with a great monument or many shopping malls.
But in this case, the most famous street in the Cotswolds is Arlington Row, a small lane with a large row of traditional 16th-century houses built with stone and black and square tile roofs.
This street is located in the town of Bibury. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular images in the region.
Touring Cirencester, the Largest Cotswolds’ Village
The second place you have to see in the Cotswolds is Cirencester. It is famous for being the largest town in the district but also for its Roman past.
Here they built a fort and for a long time, it was the second most important city in the country, only behind London. This Roman past can be seen in the Corinium Museum.
Among the attractions of Cirencester is the Church of St. John the Baptist, whose first stage was built in the twelfth century and expanded in the fifteenth century.
You also have to visit Market Place, surrounded by houses and businesses with facades painted in different colors, making the place super photogenic.
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Walk Along “The Cotswold Way”
The Cotswold Way is a 164-kilometer walking trail.
This route winds through stunning rural scenery, from woodland to hills and historic villages, making it one of the most fascinating walks you can do in the UK.
The route passes several places of interest, such as Broadway Tower, an 18th-century tower offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and the magnificent Bath, an 18th-century Georgian city declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its baths and abbey.
Other sites of interest include the Neolithic fort of Belas Knap, the Roman village of Corinium Dobunnorum, and the medieval abbey of Hailes.
Visit Warwick Castle
Continuing with the list of places to see in the Cotswolds, we come to Warwick, an ancient town that is home to an impressive medieval castle, which is one of the largest and best preserved in the entire country and is a popular tourist attraction thanks to its rich history and breathtaking views.
Visitors can explore the castle walls and marvel at its views, thanks to its hilltop location. It is also worth touring its impressive interiors, which feature magnificent works of art and collections of weapons.
Warwick Castle is also known for its medieval knight shows, which are an exciting experience for the whole family.
Visitors can watch knights in armor battle it out in an exciting competition while enjoying live music and entertainment for all ages.
They also often present ghost shows, recounting some of the castle’s legends.
It is a small hamlet of 500 inhabitants in the Evenlode Valley, with large areas of pastureland and 17th and 18th-century cottages.
As we are in England, although there are only 500 inhabitants, there are 2 pubs, so you will have somewhere to eat and have a beer.
One of the attractions is its church. The original construction was erected 900 years ago, although it was later remodeled in the 14th century.
Cheltenham is a beautiful spa town located in the west of England, in the county of Gloucestershire. This charming town is famous for its beautiful gardens and stunning Victorian architecture.
Since the discovery of the mineral water springs, the city became one of the favorite summer resorts for the wealthiest families in the country, which is why you can see some of the region’s most sophisticated houses and gardens.
In addition, the city organizes the Cheltenham Festival once a year, which is one of England’s most important horse races.
Get to know Blenheim Palace
The Blenheim Palace is popular for having been the birthplace of Winston Churchill. But it is much more than that.
This large country house has events throughout the year, such as jousting tournaments, which transport you to the Middle Ages, or the Food Festival, where you can taste artisanal products and creations of the best chefs in the country.
It was built in 1720 and its unique style was very controversial at the time, but over the years it became an essential monument for the British and in 1987 it was declared a World Heritage Site.
Visit Tewkesbury Heritage Centre
The Tewkesbury Heritage Centre is a fascinating museum located in the town of Tewkesbury, in the west of England. This center is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the history and culture of the Gloucestershire region, and is definitely worth a visit.
The Tewkesbury Heritage Centre features a wide variety of exhibits, from local history to the region’s culture and traditions.
Visitors can explore the interactive galleries and learn about the War of the Roses, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution.
The museum is housed in a beautiful 17th-century building, so by itself it is quite an attraction.
Tour Asthall, One of the Region’s Most Beautiful Villages
Asthall is a small village in the Windrush Valley of Burford.
Although small, Asthall has a rich history and many interesting places to see. For example, an ancient Roman settlement on Akeman Street, which linked Cirencester to St Albans.
The 12th-century church, like the Elizabethan manor house, Asthall Manor, is another must-see.
If you’re preparing your list of what to see in the Cotswolds, you can’t leave out Bourton-on-the-Water.
This small town has been named “The Venice of England,” which may raise false expectations. No, you won’t find canals and gondoliers, but you will find a special charm as you walk along the banks of the Windrush River.
On that tour, you will see all the old stone houses and if you are lucky and you get a sunny day, something not very common in England, you will see how people take advantage of the weather to have picnics on the grass of the shore.
High Street is the main street with a great atmosphere with its ice cream parlors, bars, and restaurants.
In addition, there is a car and toy museum in the village, ideal if you travel in England with children.
Burford is in the county of Oxfordshire and is a good place to base yourself on your Cotswolds trip, as it is close to the center and north of the district.
Among the attractions is its main street, also called High Street, where the pubs and restaurants are located.
You can also visit the church of San Juan Bautista, which was built during the 12th century, although the current appearance corresponds to the renovations of the 15th century.
Another of the places we recommend you to see in Buford is the Tolsey building, built in the 16th century in a Tudor style. It currently houses a museum where you can learn about local history.
Painswick is one of the less touristy villages in the Cotswolds, so take the opportunity to walk through it quietly, without the crowds that can be in others, especially if you go in summer.
Among the must-sees is the church, which has a park with 99 trees and architecture, making it one of the most beautiful in the district.
Then you can walk along New St, the main street, where you will find the tourist office, pubs and hotels.
And if you want to visit something different, in Painswick, you have the Rococo Gardens.
As its name suggests, it is a large Rococo-style garden, that is, it has several pastel-colored buildings and multiple details, which are connected by winding paths from where you can see a variety of plants and flowers.
It is a small village that seems to be stopped in time. Only 300 people live there and due to its size, you will be able to visit it in a couple of hours. Don’t leave it off the list of what to see in the Cotswolds.
Visit the Market Cross, the main square, where the beautiful 13th-century St Andrews is located.
The other must-see in the village is the stone bridge which is right on the edge of the village and from where you will have a great view of the row of old houses, one of the most famous postcards of the Cotswolds.
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It was an important commercial center specializing in wool. You can still visit the Market Hall, built in 1627.
In addition, as in other towns, we recommend you to walk along its main street, to get to know the atmosphere of the locals and visit its church.
The best thing to do is to walk around and admire the large houses in town, which once belonged to wealthy wool merchants.
The English countryside surrounds Chipping Campden, and its natural and architectural beauty has put it on more than one list of England’s prettiest villages.
- Be sure to equip yourself with footwear suitable for all-day walking and, above all, comfortable for walking on cobblestones.
How Many Days Do You Need to Visit the Cotswolds?
Due to lack of time we toured the Cotswolds in one day. We only visited a few villages but would have loved to stay longer.
As you could see, the list of what to see in the Cotswolds is long, and there are many beautiful and interesting villages to visit.
So if you have time, pick one or two places to base yourself and stay in the area for 3 or 4 days, so you can get to know several of these English countryside villages, and you can spend time getting to know the history and the most important places in the Cotswolds.
Where to Stay in the Cotswolds
And while we’re on the subject of staying a few nights, we recommend some accommodation within the Cotswolds – 3 options that are well-rated and cater for different budgets and in different villages.
The Barrel Store Cirencester
It is located in an old stone building with a completely renovated interior.
The hotel offers double, triple and family rooms. It also has a shared kitchen, so you can prepare your breakfast or a meal on-site.
Less than a kilometer away is St Michael’s Park and the Abbey Grounds. In addition, due to its location, it has several bars and restaurants nearby.
A double room costs 71€.
The Crown Inn, Church Enstone
The Crown Inn is in Church Enstone, which is 5 miles from Chipping Norton and 8 miles from Blenheim Palace.
The hotel has a restaurant, a bar and a garden and offers a full English breakfast.
The rooms are equipped with extra large beds and are very spacious and comfortable. The decor has a vintage style that fits perfectly with the building but is also elegant and sophisticated.
Double rooms start at €143.
The Kingham Plough
This hotel is obviously in Kingham, one of the small towns we told you about before.
In the hotel you can enjoy its terrace and bar. They have British food and offer English style breakfast every day. From what guests say, the breakfast is fantastic.
The rooms and bathrooms are gigantic and exquisitely decorated. The bathroom includes a large bathtub and all toiletries.
Double rooms start at 221€.
The Best Time of Year to Visit the Cotswolds
The best months to visit the Cotswolds are July, August, and September.
In spring, the green meadows and crystal clear streams create a unique natural environment that is perfect for hiking or biking, taking advantage of some of the hiking trails in the region.
The ideal temperatures to visit the region are between late spring and summer. In May the maximum temperature reaches 16 degrees Celsius, and between June and September, the maximum temperatures are between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius.
On the other hand, in summer, the region is full of tourists and visitors, as this is the peak season for visiting the Cotswolds.
Although the temperature is higher and the weather is more pleasant, the days are quite rainy in summer, so it is advisable to bring waterproof clothing and at least two pairs of shoes.
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Visiting the Cotswolds
We’ve told you what to see in the Cotswolds and taken you on a walk around the district, hopping from its meadows to its castles to its churches.
Now it’s up to you to assemble your itinerary, choosing the best towns in the region. Don’t miss out on the must-sees, and if you enjoy nature, take the opportunity to do The Cotswold Way, which is an excellent excuse to walk and see the best sites in this region of England.
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Last Updated on 7 September, 2023 by Veronica
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Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.