The Cotswolds is home to some of the most unspoilt and historic villages in England. Famed for their honey-coloured stone, cosy pubs, quaint cottages and traditional tea rooms, it’s no wonder the Cotswolds is one of the most charming places to visit in the UK. Made up of picture perfect towns and enchanting villages, the Cotswolds are ideal for passing through or staying a few days, so plan ahead and visit as many of these beautiful Cotswolds villages as you can.
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1. Castle Combe
The chocolate box village of Castle Combe is situated in the idyllic countryside of Wiltshire. It is often called the ‘prettiest village in England’, and has even featured in several films, including Dr Dolittle and the War Horse.
Castle Combe’s popularity stems from the village being untouched by time. Since the 1600s, there have been no new houses built in Castle Combe, so the ancient and well preserved honey stone cottages remain the standout architectural feature of this quaint village in the Cotswolds.
Unfortunately the ‘Castle’ in Castle Combe no longer exists, but the village is still home to one of the most majestic buildings in the Cotswolds, the ivy covered Manor House Hotel. Situated past the bridge, this beautiful estate is photogenic from every angle, and has a Michelin star restaurant and 18 hole golf course to keep you busy.
The village itself is also home to St Andrew’s Church, famous for housing one of the oldest working clocks in the country, and The Old Rectory Tearoom, one of the best places to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. Making Castle Combe one of the must visit Cotswolds villages.
2. Bibury Village
Home to Arlington Row, the small but picturesque village of Bibury is so famous it features on the inside cover of the British passport. Owned by the National Trust, the postcard view of Arlington Row is unsurprisingly one of the most photographed locations in the whole of England.
Once you’ve photographed Arlington Row from every angle, head to Bibury Trout Farm. As one of the oldest trout farms in the country, and with 15 acres of countryside, it is the perfect place for budding fishermen. You can learn how to catch your own dinner or purchase some of the trout and deli products to take home.
The riverside village of Bibury is best visited in Spring, when the quintessential cottages are covered in blooming flowers and the weather warms up enough to enjoy the creamy ice creams on offer from the local ice cream van.
Originally a market town, Stow-on-the-Wold’s unique Saxon name means ‘holy place on the hill’. In the middle ages the village was the centre for the wool trade, hence the towns narrow alleyways which were originally constructed to help shepherds herd their sheep to market. Nowadays the Cotswolds town is filled with fascinating architecture from beautiful 16th century churches, to unique crooked houses.
The Cotswold village also has plenty of excellent shops to explore, including local butchers, galleries, craft and antique shops, as well as several spots for afternoon tea and scones.
Stow-on-the-Wold is situated close to Bourton-on-the-Water and Upper Slaughter, (two other beautiful villages in the Cotswolds you must visit) and only half an hour from the town of Bampton, where the popular TV show Downton Abbey was filmed.
Submitted by Christina from Travel2Next
4. Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden is one of the largest Cotswolds villages, and with great road access it’s easy to visit if you’re planning a UK road trip.
Compared to the other prettiest Cotswold villages, Chipping Campden is lively and has more of a buzz. Locals regularly put on charity events in the village centre and tourists are encouraged to join in.
There are a range of places to eat in Chipping Campden, including the famous Badgers Hall Tea room and the Eight Bells Inn, which has been feeding, watering and accommodating guests since the 14th century.
The best attractions in this village in the Cotswolds are the magnificent Hidcote Manor Gardens, run by the National Trust, and the impressive Kiftsgate Court, with breathtaking views across the whole of the Cotswolds.
Submitted by Kathryn from Wandering Bird
Situated in North Oxfordshire, Burford is known as the gateway to the Cotswolds. It is one of the most beautiful villages in England, filled with traditional pubs, quaint tea rooms and quirky independent shops.
If you plan to stay a few days in the Cotswolds book a night or two at The Bull at Burford – a family-run hotel with 600 years of history, a must do experience for your Cotswolds bucket list.
Submitted by Darek from Darek and Gosia
Close to Worcester, is the large Cotswolds village of Broadway. With 2,500 residents, there are several highly-rated restaurants and cafes making the village a great stop to add to your Cotswolds itinerary.
The streets of Broadway are lined with golden Cotswold stone which contrasts beautifully with well positioned classic red phone boxes. So despite being slightly larger than many Cotswolds villages, Broadway has no shortage of English charm.
One of the most famous attractions in the Cotswold village is Broadway Tower, a 312 metre Saxon tower overlooking the rolling English countryside. There is a £5 entrance cost, which includes the exhibits and entrance to the top of the tower, and once you’ve worked up a sweat, you can head to the onsite Morris & Brown Cafe, to indulge in a pick me up.
One of the best dinner options in Broadway is The Swan Pub, where you can tuck into world class cuisine including an exploding chocolate bomb dessert!
Submitted by Rose from Where Goes Rose
One of the most charming and beautiful Cotswolds villages is Lacock. The tiny village can be walked from top to bottom in less than ten minutes, but its untouched medieval vibe has over the years caught the attention of many film crews.
From period dramas to blockbuster movies, Lacock has featured in many of the nation’s favourite films and shows. The main attraction is Lacock Abbey, a 13th century property with sandy cloisters and large chambers. It has served as a Harry Potter filming location over the years as its magical ambience can easily be mistaken for that of Hogwarts.
Elsewhere in the Lacock village, you can enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at a traditional British pub or browse the honesty boxes containing products made or grown by locals.
Lacock is so stereotypically quaint and British, you can’t help but love this village in the Cotswolds.
Submitted by Laura from What’s Hot?
8. Minster Lovell Village
The Cotswolds village of Minster Lovell is home to the picturesque ruins of a 15th century manor house. The undiscovered gem of Minster Lovell hall was built in 1430 by William, Baron of Lovell who at the time, was one of the richest men in England. Today, the hall, a tower and a dovecote sit in crumbling golden ruin along the banks of the River Windrush in a beautiful rural setting.
Passing the Old Swan, a stunning hotel and the ideal place to stay in Minster Lovell, a narrow road leads across the river and through the local playing fields, where each Sunday a game of cricket will be in full swing.
Further on past a row of immaculate chocolate box houses, the ruins open up in a small hidden field, making the perfect spot for a picnic in a stunning Cotswolds setting.
Submitted by Paul Healy from Anywhere We Roam
Kingham is a secluded village in the Cotswolds that has maintained its unspoilt, honey-stoned charm. Beside a wide open green and rows of chocolate box houses, a Norman church stands tucked away behind weathered old trees. It’s beautifully atmospheric, but it’s the dining scene that sets this diminutive Cotswolds village apart from other charmers in the area.
The local pub – The Plough – is operated under a Heston Blumenthal prodigy who has reinvented classic dishes on their innovative menu. It’s the perfect country pub to enjoy after a long day hiking in the nearby bucolic countryside.
For another unforgettable dining experience, the Wild Rabbit with its Michelin starred chef churn out culinary masterpieces – made with local ingredients – in a relaxed unstuffy setting. Both the Kingham Plough and the Wild Rabbit have rooms and Kingham is within easy access of London via a direct train line, making it one of the best Cotswolds villages to visit.
Submitted by Paul Healy from Anywhere We Roam
10. Lower Slaughter
Don’t be put off by the village’s ominous name, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan traveler.
You’ll be happy to know that Lower Slaughter is not a reference to a ye’ olde slaughterhouse. It actually comes from an Old English word “sloh”, which can mean “marsh” or “bog”. OK, so maybe that doesn’t sound so appealing either. But in this case, it refers to the lovely wetlands that surround Lower Slaughter village and the River Eye that runs through it.
The river, and the stone footbridges that cross it, are a main feature of the village and a big part of its charm. In fact, a few years ago the road that follows the stream was even named the ‘most romantic street in Britain’. You can follow this quaint path all the way to the next beautiful Cotswolds village, which is fittingly named Upper Slaughter.
Submitted by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
The ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds. The River Windrush flows through the village with five low arched bridges, creating a peaceful and beautiful natural environment.
Whilst strolling along the quaint walkways you’ll find children paddling in the river and families feeding the ducks on the river banks.
The Cotswolds village is filled with charming stone buildings, housing the Cotswold Motoring Museum, Birdland Parks and Gardens, and the model village which even has a miniature replica of Bourton-on-the-Water for you to explore.
In the evening you can join the Bourton Ghost walking tour, and visit one of the many pubs and restaurant in this must visit village in the Cotswolds.
Submitted by Heather Raulerson from RaulersonGirlsTravel
Best known as ‘the Queen of The Cotswolds’, Painswick is a romantic village away from the tourist hotspots in the area. Painswick village sits halfway along the Cotswolds Way National trail, making it a great base for hikers.
The beautiful Cotswolds village is built from honey coloured stone quarried from the nearby Painswick Beacon, and is a great place to sample locally brewed ales.
Nestled in the heart of The Cotswolds Hills, Painswick has England’s sole surviving complete rococo garden, which was famously used as a place for lavish events. The best time to visit the Rococo Gardens is in early Spring when you can witness the world renowned white snowdrops.
If you plan to stay in the Cotswolds village for a few days, choose the small 16 room boutique hotel, The Painswick, with incredible views of the rolling hills.
Submitted by Jasmine Buckley from The Life of a Social Butterfly
13. Upper Slaughter
Upper Slaughter is a must visit place on a road trip around England due to its most famous attraction, the majestic 17th century Manor House. Best visited on a sunny day, when it’s easy to spend a few hours roaming the manicured gardens and taking in the picture perfect views.
Upper Slaughter also has several alms houses and fords dating back to medieval times and even a beautiful old school house, that is well worth a visit.
One of the best places to stay in this Cotswold village is the Lords of the Manor Hotel, rated one of the Top 200 hotels in the UK, and one of the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds.
Submitted by Kathryn from Wandering Bird
One of the most underrated and prettiest villages in the Cotswolds is Winchcombe, close to Cheltenham.
The main attraction is the almighty Sudeley Castle and Gardens. Over a thousand years old, Sudeley Castle is known as the ‘hidden gem of the Cotswolds’. On site there are ten magnificent gardens to explore, and the beautifully restored St Mary’s Church. Which is uniquely home to the tomb of Queen Katherine Parr, the only English queen to be buried on private land.
Step back in history further and explore the rest of Winchcombe, made up of traditional coffee shops, restaurants and pubs, making for a wonderful day out in the Cotswolds.
Submitted by Vicky from Day Out In England
The quaint village of Chedworth is off the beaten track for most tourists. However, located only seven miles from Cirencester it is well worth making the short trip to this beautiful Cotswolds village, especially to visit its main draw.
Chedworth Roman Villa, is preserved by the National Trust and is one Britain’s largest remaining Roman Villas. Decorated with intricate mosaics, the site is a must for history buffs.
The village of Chedworth is nestled in a valley and is home to only 700 people. The easiest way to reach the village is by car, as trains no longer run there, and buses are infrequent. However, Chedworth village is also accessible via the Monarch and Macmillan Way walking routes. With hikers usually stopping to fill up at the famous Seven Tuns pub.
Chedworth village is perfect for a day trip from Cirencester or Gloucester, but if you want to stay longer and soak up the peace and quiet, there are several guesthouses in this Cotswold village.
Submitted by Jenna Rank from I Know the Pilot
Villages of the Cotswolds Map
Lastly, if you want to view all the beautiful Cotswolds villages on a map, have a peek at the one I’ve created below. It should help you plan where to stay in the Cotswolds and which of these best villages to visit in the Cotswolds together. Enjoy!