The Cotswolds is an English area of outstanding natural beauty which covers almost 800 square miles. It spans 5 counties so it is safe to say there is a lot to explore! It is best known for its honey coloured villages, rolling hills, market towns and country houses; and is the perfect place to slow down and breathe in some fresh country air.
Getting There & Getting Around: I recommend driving to the Cotswolds as having a car will make it a lot easier to hop between the regions quaint villages. Just a warning though: parking can be hard to find, so ensure to get to the popular spots early on to guarantee a space!
Prices: The Cotswolds is known for being a little boojie and there are a lot of luxury 5 star hotels to choose from if you want to splash some cash. However as with almost any destination you can save money by choosing more affordable accommodation like a local BnB and by taking advantage of free activities like country walks and village visits.
Accommodation: As I said, the Cotswolds is home to some incredibly luxurious boutique hotels. We have stayed at The Slaughters Manor House and Crestow House, both of which I highly recommend. However if you want to save some pennies, then many of the villages have gorgeous pubs and inns which offer more affordable accommodation in beautiful locations.
How Long To Stay: The Cotswolds is a perfect long weekend destination as you can easily fill 3 days with a wide variety of activities. However, if you have more time then spending a week there would allow you to slow down and absorb the area’s natural beauty.
When To Go: As The Cotswold are located in England, the best time of year to get the highest chance of good weather would be summer. However, I would honestly recommend visiting any time of year. It is a gorgeous place to watch the gardens bloom in spring, kick up some golden autumn leaves or wake up on a frosty winter morning. It is truly a year round destination.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO:
Go For A Country Walk:
The Cotswolds is the perfect location to pop on your hiking boots and head out for a country walk. Click here to check out my beginners guide to hiking which explains how to find the best routes in an an area. Here are my top trail recommendations in The Cotswolds:
Broadway Tower. A 21km route which takes in the iconic Broadway Tower, an incredible viewpoint which allows you to look over 16 counties. AllTrails Route
Bourton On The Water, Stow On The Wold & The Slaughters. This 16km route ticks off some of the most iconic and popular villages in the Cotswolds. AllTrails Route
Guiting Power & Naunton. If you want to escape the crowds, this 8km loop goes through two sleepy but beautiful villages. All Trails Route
If you fancy a challenge then take on The Cotswold Way, a 164km national trail which takes in the best of the region!
Visit The Palaces & Castles:
Who doesn’t love a good castle? Luckily the Cotswolds is covered in historic landmarks for you to visit. Here are some of my favourites:
Blenheim Palace. A gorgeous 18th century building (officially a UNESCO World Heritage site!) that is steeped in history, complete with over 2000 acres of parkland for you to explore.
Sudeley Castle. A cracking castle with insightful exhibitions, 10 award winning gardens and a 15th century church. You can even stay overnight in a Castle Cottage on site!
Kenilworth Castle. With 900 years of history and a cosy tea room, this castle has something for all the family. Make sure you scale the tower for a view over the surrounding area.
Berkeley Castle. A 12th century castle which feels like it has been pulled out of a fairy tale, it even has a deer park within its 6000 acres of land.
Explore The Quaint Villages:
You can’t come to the Cotswolds without hopping between the famous honey-coloured villages. They are absolutely gorgeous and you can easily spend hours wandering their narrow streets, popping into the cosy pubs, independent shops and numerous tea rooms. Here are my personal favourites:
Bourton On The Water. Often voted as one of the prettiest villages in England, this popular spot has the River Windrush winding through its centre. Head to Bakery on the Water for delicious sweet treats.
Stow On The Wold. A medieval market town that is known for its antique shops. Don’t miss out on the tasty treats at Coach House Coffee and award winning fudge at Roly’s Fudge.
Burford. Another idyllic medieval town, this time home to an epic brush shop (Ant’s favourite haunt) and the most incredible garden centre I have ever seen!
Bibury. William Morris described Bibury as “the most beautiful village in England” and it is easy to see why. Don’t miss a walk along Arlington row, a street of typical Cotswold stone cottages. (A warning: this is a popular spot so get there early!).
The Slaughters. Two sleepy sister “chocolate box” villages connected by a countryside path. Lower Slaughter is home to “the most romantic street in Britain” Copse Hill Road.
Castle Combe. Yet another village often named as one of the prettiest in England (there’s a lot in The Cotswolds!!). It is a great spot to stop and have afternoon tea.
Naunton & Guiting Power. Two sleepy villages away from the crowds, head here for some peace and quiet. I recommend walking this route between them and stopping at The Old Post Office for a cuppa tea.
Walk Through The Arboretums & Gardens:
If you want to visit a garden then the Cotswolds will provide the goods. It is home to numerous award-winning gardens and acclaimed arboretums and are beautiful all year round.
Westonbirt Arboretum. The national arboretum and one of the most spectacular tree gardens in the world. It has 600 acres of land with over 3,000 trees and shrubs. A nature nerds dream!
Batsford Arboretum. This smaller arboretum (56 acres) is still seriously diverse with over 1,300 different plant species. It is home to numerous Japanese ornamental cherries which are beautiful in spring, and a collection of Acers which are stunning in autumn.
Hidcote Manor Gardens. This popular National Trust garden is known as an “arts and crafts” garden with a series of “outdoor rooms” each with their own unique style.
Kiftsgate Court Gardens. This garden has been created and expanded by a series of female gardeners and dates back to the 1920’s. It is best known for its beautiful Kiftsgate roses.
Visit Daylesford Farm:
I hate to be a cliche, but I have to recommend a cheeky visit to Daylesford Farm. This iconic organic farm has SO much to see and do and includes a whole host of wholesome activities to feed your soul. Take a cookery lesson, go to a floristry workshop, visit the wellness spa, browse the garden room, head out on a walk or simply browse the farm shop. It’s heavenly.
Safe travels & enjoy The Cotswolds!