The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful places in the UK, attracting thousands of visitors every year, regardless of the season. Rolling hills, fairytale-like meadows, and the mighty River Thames all combine into a unique scenery perfect for anyone looking to take a break from city life. But this is also a big area, so knowing what you can get up to while there is essential if you’re planning a trip, which is where we can help. Read on and learn everything you need to know about the Cotswolds, as well as what activities you could include for your next trip.
Spring and autumn are great times to visit the Cotswolds, offering the ideal middle ground for those wanting to experience everything the area has to offer without the huge crowds that can appear during the warmest months. Winter may be worth considering too, primarily because of the wonderful Christmas atmosphere and warm, inviting pubs.
While the summer is a great time to visit, it can get busy, especially in denser urban areas, so it may not provide an authentic experience. If you want to visit during the summer but want to skip the queues, why not fly via private jet charter? This way, you can have the best of both worlds.
There are a few very interesting events you’ll want to check out, too. The Big Feastival in August is something every foodie should visit, whereas WOMAD in July focuses on music. Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, however, takes you back to the 15th century and the Battle of Tewkesbury, with knights in shining armour, archers, falcons, and much, much more.
The Cotswolds is well-known for its incredible beauty, so much so that it’s an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), making it one of the most popular regions for nature lovers wanting to reconnect with the great outdoors.
Adding to this appeal, you can also find many beautiful towns in the wider Cotswolds area, including Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Chipping Campden. If you love traditional limestone buildings and that unique countryside charm, you’ll surely fall in love with this area.
While the area might look unassuming, it’s home to countless attractions. The Cotswolds is home to several key landmarks, including Sudeley Castle, Blenheim Palace (the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill), and the much-loved Roman Baths in Bath, the region’s unofficial capital.
To appreciate everything the Cotswolds has to offer, you need to take your time. Unlike a city break, we won’t aim to cram in as much as possible, instead helping you soak in the essence of this special area. This is a place where you come to relax and enjoy, but if you’re looking for the best things to see and do in the Cotswolds, here they are.
Cirencester is a great town from which to start exploring the Cotswolds. This is actually the largest town in the region, founded in the second century AD. As a matter of fact, it was only second to London in size at that time. Today, however, it is a lovely market town, so walking its streets will be quite a pleasure. Other Cotswold towns such as Bath, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon are all within 40 miles.
To get from A to B, you’ll need a car. Your first destination – Woodstock, a charming little parish of about 3000 people. The drive will about one hour, but it’s well worth it because you’ll get to see a beautiful Georgian town. The Town Hall and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene are the most famous sights around, but do try and walk around just to soak in the atmosphere a bit.
Once in Woodstock, head to Blenheim Palace, the home of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll be able to spend a good couple of hours exploring the many acres of surrounding land, as well as the 10 gardens you’ll find on-site. The building is truly unique, and we’re sure you’ll wish you could spend all day here. However, this itinerary has much more to offer!
As we’re sure you’re well aware, Oxford is home to one of the world’s oldest and most well-known universities. Let’s hope you’ve brought a packed lunch because things can get pricey in Oxford! This is the perfect time to learn about the school’s unique history and many buildings.
Just over an hour away from Oxford lies the city of Gloucester whose origins go back all the way to the Roman period. The main sight, however, is the magnificent Gloucester Cathedral, dating back to the 12th century. This beautiful piece of architecture is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic elements, and you may be surprised to know that it also played a role in the first two Harry Potter movies.
After a busy day of exploring and being on the road, you can settle back in Bath. Late afternoon and early evening are great times to explore the city, and you can stop for a drink in one of the many vibrant bars, including Lane7, Walcot House, and The Cork.
Here, you’ll be able to grab some snacks to have with your drinks, as well as be able to soak in the city’s unique character and charm. Once you’ve had enough to eat (and drink), you can head back to your bed for the night, with the city’s local taxis being a great option.
Where To Stay in the Cotswolds?
The Old Stocks Inn
The Square, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1AF, United Kingdom
The Old Stocks Inn is a very special place in Stow-on-the-Wold. A five-star hotel in the heart of the town in a 17th-century building certainly sounds interesting, but wait till you get inside! A welcome cocktail will be waiting for you, and the breakfast served here is nothing short of amazing. Wonderful and comfortable rooms will win you over in a heartbeat, while the staff really do an excellent job of making you feel welcome. Worth every last penny!
Kings Head Hotel
24 Market Place, Cirencester, GL7 2NW, United Kingdom
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Cotswolds, the town of Cirencester is an excellent choice. Kings Head Hotel, for example, offers beautiful rooms with a splash of rustic charm. The breakfast is excellent, and there is even a spa and wellness centre you can enjoy after a long day in the Cotswolds. Local shops and pubs abound in the vicinity of the hotel, so you’ll be able to get to know the town very quickly.
The Old Brewhouse
5-7 London Road, Cirencester, GL7 2PU, United Kingdom
The Old Brewhouse is also located in Cirencester and is one of the most charming bed and breakfast places you will ever stay in. It is actually a townhouse from the 17th century, with a beautiful garden and very cosy and comfortable rooms. The hosts are also very kind and welcoming, plus the b&b is located right in the town centre, so you just have to step outside and start exploring.
Redesdale Arms Hotel
High St, Moreton in Marsh, GL56 0AW, United Kingdom
Located in Moreton-in-Marsh, known also as the Gateway to the Cotswolds, Redesdale Arms Hotel settled in a coaching house from the 17th century. Yes, it’s another small piece of British history, with large and comfortable rooms and a breakfast included. Not only that, but it’s right in the heart of the town, and its restaurant serves fantastic dishes made from local game and vegetables. You can’t go wrong with this one!
Should you decide to make Cotswolds your base for more than just a day, you will have a plethora of great day trips at your disposal. There are many castles to see and cities to explore, so choose carefully!
If you’re a fan of all things medieval and historical, Sudeley Castle is a great option. Located just a short distance from the medieval town of Winchcombe, Sudeley Castle is as grand as they come. Looking more like a manor house than an actual castle, it’s somewhere you could easily spend an entire day thanks to its many gardens and wide-reaching grounds.
We already mentioned Bath, but the city is very much worthy of a whole-day trip. Britain has a strong history that stretches back millennia, and no place is a better example of this than Bath’s famous Roman Baths. While you may no longer be able to bathe as the Romans did, the architectural heritage is evident. With a distinct Georgian influence from centuries later, the city is a visual spectacle.
Don’t give up on a trip to London from the Cotswolds! There are plenty of trains that can get you there in an hour and a half or two if you don’t or can’t drive to the city. So, if you haven’t been to the British capital, this is your chance. London as a city really needs no introduction, with world-famous sights such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and much, much more. Get a slightly earlier start and enjoy a wonderful day!
- The Cotswolds is a big area, and it can take several hours to get from one end to the other, which is why having access to a car is essential. You can get a car at either your landing airport or from within the city, depending on what’s easier for you.
- While the main attractions are significant reasons to visit, visiting the smaller towns is a great way to get a real taste of the Cotswolds. All you need to do is drive or walk in any direction, and you’ll be sure to meet people along the way, making for a memorable trip.
- If you feel up for it, there are many trails linking various villages in the region. A stroll through the Cotswolds like that can be an amazing experience. Perfect if you’re staying more than one day here.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.