Travel Cotswolds

Travel Cotswolds: England’s Best Kept Secret Where Enchantment Awaits (2023)

If you’re looking for a popular travel destination, that’s off the beaten path, consider the Cotswolds.

This picturesque 800 square mile region in England draws an impressive 25-30 million visitors annually. This number becomes even more significant when you consider that popular destinations, such as Las Vegas and Times Square, attract 30 million and 50 million visitors each year, respectively.

Despite its popularity, the Cotswolds somehow manages to maintain its quaint charm and peaceful atmosphere, making it a perfect destination for those seeking a relaxing getaway.

Visiting the Cotswolds is a journey into the quintessential English countryside, where you’ll be surrounded by charming villages, lively market towns, and picturesque landscapes. It’s here you can leave the hustle and bustle of city living far, far away.

As you explore the region, you’ll come across well-preserved historic sites, magnificent palaces, castles, and country houses that add an element of enchantment to the area. There are many places to see, activities to do, places to stay, and you can tailor your Cotswolds experience to suit your preferences.

To make the most of your Cotswolds adventure, be sure to plan ahead by considering the optimal time for activities such as hiking or visiting the region’s beautiful gardens.

Immerse yourself in local culture with guided walking tours or itineraries that showcase hidden gems, or indulge in other leisure pursuits like golfing or romantic getaways.

Whether you’re a solo traveler or on a family vacation, the Cotswolds offers boundless opportunities for memorable experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover picturesque villages, historic sites, and stunning landscapes in the Cotswolds
  • Plan ahead to enjoy various activities and choose from a range of accommodations
  • Engage in guided tours, leisure pursuits, or romantic escapades for a fulfilling trip

Travel Cotswolds

Things to Do and See

The Cotswolds is a beautiful region in England, known for its picturesque landscapes and charming villages and covers an area of approximately 800 square miles.

In this travel guide, you’ll find a few must-visit attractions that will help you make the most of your time in this wonderful area.

First, explore the quintessential English villages built with honey-colored stone. You can stroll through their narrow streets, appreciate the architecture, and visit some of the local shops and pubs. Some of the most picturesque villages include Bourton-on-the-Water, Castle Combe, and Chipping Campden.

Visiting market towns is another great way to experience the Cotswolds. These bustling hubs are filled with cultural history, delicious foods, and unique shopping opportunities. Some popular market towns to visit include Cirencester, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Tetbury.

While in the Cotswolds, don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the country’s most magnificent palaces, castles, and country houses. Marvel at the stunning architecture and learn about their rich histories. Some notable places to visit are Blenheim Palace, Sudeley Castle, and Hidcote Manor Garden.

When you’re in need of a break, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the Cotswolds. There are several reserves and parks you can visit, where you can soak in the tranquility and observe wildlife. Popular natural attractions include the Cotswold Country Park & Beach and Cotswold Way National Trail.

With so much to do and see, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable visit to this charming region of England, and in this designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

Accommodations

Family-Friendly Options

When planning your trip to the Cotswolds, finding the perfect family-friendly accommodations is essential. With charming cottages and welcoming bed and breakfasts, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Many offer spacious rooms to accommodate your entire family, some places offer playgrounds, games, and outdoor spaces for children to explore.

Luxury Vacation Rentals

For a more lavish stay in the Cotswolds, consider opting for luxury barn rentals (barndos). These upscale accommodations provide a unique vacation experience, combining rustic charm with modern amenities.

With fully equipped kitchens, spacious living areas, private gardens, and some have swimming pools and hot tubs, games rooms, meaning you and your family can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the countryside without compromising on comfort.

Whether you’re seeking a romantic escape, a special celebration, or simply a relaxing retreat, choosing the right accommodations is key to a memorable Cotswolds experience.

Remember to book your stay well in advance to ensure availability and make your visit unforgettable.

Hidden Gems

The Cotswolds is a beautiful area of outstanding natural beauty with many hidden gems waiting to be discovered, especially during the low season. If you’re a nature lover, this is the perfect time to explore the stunning landscapes, breathtaking views, and peaceful surroundings.

One such hidden gem is the ancient yew trees in Stow-on-the-Wold. These impressive old trees make for an incredible sight in the heart of the English countryside.

If you’re interested in gardens, the Cotswolds is home to several picturesque examples. Visit the famous Kiftsgate Court Gardens to admire the well-kept borders, water features, and stunning views. The tranquility of these gardens makes for a refreshing and calming experience.

Don’t forget to explore the adorable Cotswolds villages, like Castle Combe. With its quaint stone buildings, cobbled streets, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder it’s often regarded as one of the prettiest villages in England. Take the time to wander through the winding lanes, grab a bite at a charming café, and enjoy the charm of the Cotswolds.

Make the most of your visit to the Cotswolds and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of these hidden gems. You’re sure to make unforgettable memories as you wander the serene landscapes and take in the awe-inspiring scenery.

Best Time for Hiking

When planning your hiking adventure in the Cotswolds, timing is crucial for a memorable experience. Spring, particularly March, is an excellent season to visit. The landscape awakens from its winter slumber, with temperatures averaging around 50ºF (10ºC) during the day and 37ºF (3ºC) at night. However, the weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for both sunshine and snow showers. And rain. England loves rain so come with an umbrella, spare shoes, and a raincoat.

Summer, specifically June through August, is another great time for hiking in the Cotswolds. You’ll enjoy long days, warm temperatures, and an array of events in the area. Keep in mind, though, that this is peak season, so expect crowded roads and fully-booked accommodations. Make sure to book your lodging and restaurant reservations in advance during this time. Expect rain at some point.

Embarking on a Cotswolds hiking trip during the fall months offers a unique perspective with colorful fall foliage. The weather remains mild, and the trails are generally less congested than during peak season.

Regardless of the season you choose, make the most of your Cotswolds hiking experience by exploring some of the best trails in the region. For those up for a challenge, consider conquering the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile trail that stretches from Chipping Campden to Bath and takes between 6 to 10 days to complete.

This well-marked path leads you through lush meadows, serene woodlands, and quaint villages showcasing the quintessential charm of the English countryside

Ultimately, the best time to visit the Cotswolds for hiking depends on your personal preferences and tolerance for crowds, weather conditions, and available events.

Walking Tours and Itineraries

Cotswolds is an enchanting region that offers a splendid array of walking tours and itineraries tailored to fit your interests and energy levels.

As you embark on your journey, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of the picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and ancient historical sites.

If you’re looking for a flexible adventure, consider the self-guided tours offered by Cotswold Journeys. They provide personalized itineraries and an array of options ranging from short strolls to week-long hikes. Plus, you’ll have their support with accommodation, luggage transfers, and other logistics for a seamless experience.

For those seeking guided tours, consider joining Intrepid Travel’s Walk the Cotswolds adventure, where you’ll hike up Dover’s Hill, visit Broadway Tower, and even enjoy afternoon tea in a Broadway deli. They offer a rich blend of local culture, gorgeous scenery, and delightful company.

Lastly, Macs Adventure showcases various itineraries tailored to your personal hiking style. Whether you’re a leisurely stroller or an avid trekker, they have something for everyone. Simply download their guide or reach out to their experts for advice on finding the perfect Cotswolds walking tour to suit your needs.

In summary, the Cotswolds offers an abundant selection of walking tours and itineraries, each promising a unique and memorable experience. Choose the one that suits your preferences and pace, and soak up the splendor of this captivating region.

If you prefer to explore the trails on your own or with other people, and you are new to the area, make sure you follow the requisite safety protocols.

It’s easy to get disorientated in forests or follow the wrong trail for example.

This may sound old fashioned, but take a guide book or paper map with you in case the mobile signal or phone battery fails. It’s best to note down emergency numbers and leave your itinerary with a friend with a check in time. Be safe!

Golf Courses

Cotswolds is home to some fantastic golf courses, each offering unique landscapes and challenges. Golf enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to perfect their swing and enjoy a memorable game.

One particularly notable golf course is Brickhampton Court Golf Complex, which boasts two 18-hole courses set in 200 acres of beautiful rolling countryside. The complex even has a clubhouse and restaurant, so you can unwind after an enjoyable round of golf.

Many of the Cotswolds golf courses are known for their challenging nature, featuring narrow fairways, tricky bunkers, and undulating greens that demand precision and skill. These courses are designed not only to test your abilities but also to provide a beautiful and engaging golfing experience.

When you’re in the Cotswolds, don’t miss out on the 10 must-play golf courses, which have been handpicked to provide the perfect blend of stunning backdrops and exhilarating gameplays. You’re sure to have a fantastic time exploring these courses and making the most of your golfing getaway.

In addition to the exceptional courses and scenery, most venues offer excellent practice facilities like driving ranges, chipping areas, and putting greens, ensuring you have everything you need to hone your skills. If you want to find the best Cotswolds golf courses, check out TripAdvisor’s top picks for both seasoned golfers and newcomers alike.

So, put on your golf gloves and grab your clubs – a world-class golfing experience in the picturesque Cotswolds awaits you.

Gardens

The Cotswolds region offers a plethora of beautiful gardens for you to explore during your visit. Ranging from small, intimate gardens to sprawling estates, there’s something for everyone who loves the charm of England’s rural heartland.

As you walk along the winding paths and admire the intricate designs, you’ll find yourself immersed in an idyllic setting where nature takes center stage. Each garden in the Cotswolds showcases unique plants, architecture, and the best of the English countryside.

When planning your visit, don’t miss the opportunity to marvel at the stunning collections of rare and unusual plants. These well-cared-for gardens exemplify the passion and dedication of their creators. With each season offering something new, a visit to these Cotswold gardens provides a memorable experience at any time of the year.

So, whether you’re a passionate gardener yourself, or simply looking for a tranquil retreat, make sure to include some of these captivating gardens in your Cotswolds itinerary.

Romantic Getaways

When planning a romantic getaway in the Cotswolds, you’ll find many charming options sure to ignite love and passion. The quaint villages, rolling hills, and stunning views set the perfect backdrop for cozy moments shared with your significant other.

In the Cotswolds, you can choose from various accommodations tailored to couples, from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels including Barnsley House, a 17th-century retreat with chic furnishings and acres of manicured gardens where you can unwind and take leisurely strolls together.

For a unique experience, surprise your partner with a stay in Thornbury Castle. Once used as a retreat for Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, this luxurious hotel now offers royal accommodations featuring original wood paneling, frescoes, chandeliers, and stone fireplaces.

Delight your taste buds at some of the romantic dining spots in the Cotswolds. Indulge in a candlelit dinner at an intimate restaurant or opt for a gourmet picnic in a picturesque location. Whatever your preference, the Cotswolds cater to every palate and culinary desire.

While you’re here, make time for a leisurely stroll through the charming villages of the region, such as Bibury, and enjoy the peace and tranquility as you wander hand-in-hand.

Couple this with breathtaking viewpoints like Broadway Tower or delightful garden walks, and your romantic getaway in the Cotswolds will be a memory to cherish for years to come.

Solo Travel

Exploring the Cotswolds as a solo traveler can be an incredibly rewarding experience. This picturesque region in the south of England boasts rolling hills, quaint villages, and stunning countryside views. With its tranquil and charming atmosphere, the Cotswolds is an ideal destination for anyone seeking some peaceful alone time.

One appealing village to visit is Bibury, often referred to as the “most beautiful village in the Cotswolds.” Here, you can marvel at the buttery stone buildings and winding paths while visiting the local church or stopping for a meal at a cozy tearoom.

Another great stop for solo travelers is the highest village in the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold. Sitting on an 800-foot hill, this historic village is known for its lively market square, independent shops, bars, and restaurants.

When you adventure through the Cotswolds, you’ll find various activities that cater to your interests. Engage in outdoor pursuits like walking, cycling, and horse riding or take time to explore the rich history and architecture in each village.

Villages

Bourton on the Water

Bourton on the Water, often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” is a beautiful village characterized by its low bridges and picturesque stone houses. Take a relaxing stroll, grab a bite to eat in one of the charming cafes, or even take a paddle in the stream!

Ozleworth

Ozleworth is a haven of tranquility, nestled within the idyllic Cotswolds region. This lesser-known village is a perfect destination for those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With its delightful old-world charm, you’ll be enchanted as you explore the village’s historic landmarks, such as the unique circular church tower and the impressive Ozleworth Park estate.

Winchcombe

Winchcombe is a true gem in the Cotswolds, with a rich history that dates back to Saxon times. This historic market town is the perfect destination for history buffs and nature lovers alike. Meander through the ancient streets, visit the famous Sudeley Castle, or take in the breathtaking scenery on one of the many walking routes surrounding the town.

Upper Slaughter

Often considered one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, Upper Slaughter is a must-visit destination. Here, the River Eye gently flows through the heart of the village, connecting it with its equally charming neighbor, Lower Slaughter. As you explore the elegant limestone houses and meandering lanes, you’ll truly understand why this village is referred to as the “Queen of the Cotswolds.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ways to get around the Cotswolds without a car?

Even without a car, you can still explore the Cotswolds. Many villages and towns are connected by public transport, such as buses. However, keep in mind that some rural areas might have limited or infrequent services.

Walking and cycling are also popular ways to enjoy the scenic countryside, and guided tours are available for those who prefer a more structured experience. Don’t rely on the train service; notorious for cancellations, complicated timetable and ticket prices that are eye watering.

What are some of the must-see villages in the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds is home to numerous charming villages with their distinct character and charm. Places like Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Winchcombe, Upper Slaughter, and Chipping Campden are just a few popular destinations you should consider visiting.

How many days should I plan to visit the Cotswolds?

Generally, a 3-5 day visit can allow you to experience the region’s highlights. Longer stays would enable you to immerse yourself in local culture and explore more hidden gems.

What are some of the best road trip routes through the Cotswolds?

There are several scenic drives through the Cotswolds that you can enjoy. The Cotswold Way is a well-known route that runs for about 100 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath. Other popular drives include the B4632 from Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon, passing through Winchcombe and Broadway, or the A429, also known as the Fosse Way, with its Roman roots.

When is the best time of year to visit the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds is a year round destination, but each season offers unique experiences. Spring and summer bring vibrant colors, pleasant temperatures, and many outdoor activities. However, these seasons also attract more tourists.

Fall can be an excellent time to visit as the foliage changes color and crowds thin out, while temperatures remain comfortable. Winter offers a quieter experience, with fewer visitors and idyllic frost-covered landscapes, perfect for cozy pub visits.

What are some good places to stay in the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. Consider staying in a historic market town like Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, or Tetbury to immerse yourself in local life. Smaller villages like Kingham, Painswick, and Lower Slaughter can provide a more intimate and tranquil experience.

Enchantment Awaits
Enchantment Awaits

The Cotswolds region is home to many charming villages and towns, churches, historic landmarks, outdoor activities, in a beautiful part of England. After visiting the region many times, we created the TravelCotswolds.com website dedicated to helping others plan their own trips to the Cotswolds.

Check out some popular posts on Travel Cotswolds website including: Cotswolds Public Toilets: Locations, Charges, and Accessibility, Subject: Our Enchanting Cotswold’s Escape Awaits!, Romantic Dining in the Cotswolds: 5 Must-Try Memory Makers, and The Bathurst Estate: A Historic and Fascinating Landmark.

Scroll to Top