10 Best Villages To Visit In The Cotswolds, UK - Updated 2021

10 best villages to visit in the cotswolds
Molly
Molly
Updated

The Cotswolds lie in the very heart of England. Home to vast scenic landscapes, picture postcard villages (literally!) and architecture steeped in history, the Cotswolds have something for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional pub lunch, an idyllic spot for a picnic or a walk to blow the cobwebs away, the villages of the Cotswolds will see you right. An easy two hour train journey from London and easily accessible by road there are no excuses not to strap on your boots and lose yourself in the expansive rolling hills of the Cotswolds.

Famously rural and countryside abundant, the Cotswolds are home to hundreds of small villages and hamlets that are all truly unique and intriguing. It’s easy to get confused as there are small clusters of villages, individualized by the prefix of Little, Upper, Lower or Great. Fear not, you will always find a friendly face to point you in the right direction.

Here is a list of the top 10 must visit Cotswold villages.

1. Stow-on-the-Wold

Although strictly not a village but rather a market town, Stow-on-the-Wold has the village vibe going on. Home to a number of fantastic pubs, you will not go thirsty around here!

Stow’s tumble down architecture is a sight to behold. Wonky windows, slanted doorways and lopsided chimneys make Stow a photographer’s dream and to top it off, all buildings have been constructed using traditional Cotswold stone.

Down narrow streets and back alleys, known to locals as ‘the sheep runs,’ small independent shops can be found. Talbot Court is an Aladdin’s cave of jewels, books and antiques.

St Edward’s Church is not to be missed. A key site in the English Civil War, the church dates back to 16th Century. Take a walk around the grounds and visit the back door, flanked by two imposing trees. The perfect photo opportunity.

Cotswold Villages Private Tour from London

Duration: 10 hours

4 reviews

2. Great Barrington

Barrington Park House
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dave.Dunford used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Great Barrington lies two hundred meters from the A40 and is a true hidden gem of the Cotswolds. Although there is little more here than the local pub The Fox Inn, Little Barrington is well worth a visit.

If you time your visit right, you could coincide your trip with the ultimate Cotswold experience: Gifford’s Circus. With their first show going on the road in 1999, Gifford’s Circus has become a household name. They visit Great Barrington in late July each year. A truly perfect summer’s day consists of a few ciders in the expansive garden of the Fox Inn followed by a night of raucous frivolity with Gifford’s.

Gifford's Circus

Address: Fennel’s Far, Stroud, Gloucestershire

Website: Gifford’s Circus

3. Lower Slaughter (from USD 1.0)

The sleepy village of Lower Slaughter provides a picturesque backdrop for an afternoon’s walking. Just four miles southwest of Stow-on-the-Wold, Lower Slaughter is a great addition to a trip to the quirky market town. Lower Slaughter’s most redeeming feature is the 19th Century watermill that is still in full working order.

Cotswold Villages Private Tour from London

Duration: 10 hours

4 reviews

4. Chedworth (from USD 1.0)

The often overlooked Chedworth may be off the radar of many travelers. Steeped in history and only 20 minutes from popular Bourton-on-the-Water, Chedworth is too good to miss.

Tucked away near the rural village of Yamworth, Chedworth Roman Villa is a stunning example of roman history. The Villa is one of the largest of its kind in the country and was taken over by the National Trust in 1924, who have since been responsible for its preservation and educating all who chose to visit.

Cotswold Villages Private Tour from London

Duration: 10 hours

4 reviews

5. Naunton

Nr-Naunton
Source: Photo by Flickr user Robyn Cox used under CC BY-SA 2.0

A convenient twelve miles east of Cheltenham Naunton is frequently a stop off on the way to Stow-on-the-Wold but with a village pub and golf club, Naunton is a destination in its own right.

The Black Horse Inn serves traditional pub food seven days a week. With freshly sourced local vegetables and meat, their menu leaves you spoiled for choice. With an impressive selection of gins as well as local ales, The Black Horse is the perfect place to rest your weary legs after a long day walking the downs.

Exploration by foot is a popular choice for most, although it is not uncommon to see groups of cyclists tour through this untouched, unspoiled, unassuming rural village.

The Black Horse Inn

The Black Horse Inn

6. Broadway (from USD 71.0)

If Bourton-on-the-Water is the Venice of the Cotswolds then Broadway is the Jewel of the Cotswolds. Falling in Worcestershire, Broadway is the perfect starting point for walking and hiking the Cotswold Way.

Broadway Tower is a great day out for all the family. Walk to the top of the 18th Century structure to enjoy views of the valley. Back in the village you will find a plethora of traditional tea rooms and independent shops. Stock up on souvenirs and postcards here!

Tour of the Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon

Duration: 8 hours

9 reviews

7. Chastleton

Chastleton
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Celuici used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Chastleton is another often overlooked Cotswold village but the Manor House and Gardens and impressive views of the rolling hills make Chastleton a must visit village. During harvest time, as the sun begins to set, grab your camera and capture the farmers at work. Visit Cotswold Riding and book yourself in for a horse riding lesson or a hike through the stunning village and surrounding woodland.

8. Bourton-on-the-Water (from USD 120.0)

Bourton-on-the-Water is widely regarded as the Venice of the Cotswolds and it is not hard to see why. With the River Windrush flowing through the heart of the village Bourton-on-the-Water is the epitome of Cotswold Life.

The small high street is home to a number of quaint, family run cafes that are perfect for a spot of lunch. In the summer months you are spoiled for choice with ice cream vendors on every corner. When the sun is out, visitors take to the village green to play football, enjoy a picnic and lap up the sunshine. Over the August Bank Holiday Weekend, crowds of spectators line the river banks to watch Bourton-on-the-Water FC play each other at Football in the River, a yearly charity fundraiser that is great fun for all involved! Be sure to bring a change of clothes. No one walks away dry!

Bourton-on-the-Water is also home to the Model Village, the Dragonfly Maze and Birdland. These make for a great family day out. In December, the local community place a decorated Christmas Tree in the River Windrush. Every night the tree comes to life as the lights are switched on and the refections dance on the water. Placed next to the little bridge, this romantic spot has been the site for many a marriage proposal.

Cotswolds Summer Day Trip from Oxford

Duration: 8 to 9 hours

4 reviews

9. Snowshill

The name Snowshill makes the village sound like an imaginary land far away, inhabited by fairies and elves. Confusion may occur if you ask a local for directions to ‘Snows Hill,’ this gorgeous village is most commonly referred to as ‘Snoz-all,’ pronounced with a thick Gloucestershire accent!

The best time of year to visit little Snowshill is mid-July when the fragrant lavender fields are in full bloom. As far as the eye can see you are met with rolling hills covered in vibrant purple lavender. One of England’s best kept secrets.

5-Day Best of England Small-Group Tour: Oxford, the Cotswolds and Bath

Duration: 5 days

9 reviews

10. Kingham (from USD 94.0)

The leading transport hub to London and Birmingham, Kingham is much more than an arrival point. Home to just over 1,000 people, Kingham boasts some of the most elegant cottages of the Cotswolds. Take a leisurely walk around the village and take a look at the truly unique thatched cottages.

Drop into The Wild Rabbit pub for a spot of lunch or perhaps a pint at The Plough Inn.

In late August, the little village of Kingham comes alive to the sounds and smells of The Big Feastival! The three day food and music festival run by local resident and bassist from Blur, Alex James and good friend of chef Jamie Oliver. The 2017 lineup includes world-famous Maddness and X-Factor runner-up Olly Murs.

Cotswold Electric Bike Tour

Duration: Flexible

1 review

Welcome to the village!

The Cotswolds are overflowing with hamlets and villages just waiting to be explored. With stately country manors, thatched cottaged and traditional old English inns galore you will be spoiled for choice for places to explore!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Molly is a full-time conservation volunteer and fundraiser, focusing primarily the Asian Elephant and blogs about her travels to keep her on the road. She has spent the last three years extensively...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Gloucester
Good things are meant to be shared!