If you’re looking for a way to escape modern-day living even if only for a weekend, the Cotswold region of south-central England is a perfect choice. Known for its fairytale-like villages and market towns, gorgeous nature, and gently rolling hills, the Cotswolds offer beauty, peace, and nature in abundance. From honey-colored stone cottages to amazing gastropubs and incredible scenery, there’s so much to enjoy and soak up in the Cotswolds. Your biggest dilemma will be deciding what to fit into your long weekend getaway.
Here are some of the best places to visit during a stay in the Cotswolds.
Broadway — The Jewel of the Cotswolds
Within two hours of central London lies the so-called “Jewel of the Cotswolds” — Broadway. It’s a fairly large village at the foot of Fish Hill and is a great place to serve as a base for exploring the surrounding countryside. You’ll enjoy walking the chestnut trees-lined High Street and admiring the picturesque cottages made of the honey-colored stones, which define this area, and the amazing Broadway Tower.
Broadway is also a great base if you want to go on a hiking tour along the famous Cotswold Way, which passes through the village. The Way stretches from Chipping Campden to Bath, but you can enjoy the local Broadway path for a couple of hours if you don’t feel like walking the entire Way.
Bibury — The Most Beautiful Village in England
It’s no wonder William Morris called this picturesque village “the most beautiful village in England.” This pretty village (in photo up top) on the banks of the River Coln lives up to the title. One of the most photographed streets in the Cotswolds has to be the iconic Arlington Row, lined with old weavers’ cottages. If they seem familiar, that’s probably because they “starred” in “Bridget Jones Diary.”
Pass the cottages and go upstream to the famous Bibury Trout Farm. The fishery helps keep the local rivers and streams alive with native trout, and you can also try your hand at catching your dinner yourself.
Cirencester — The Capital of the Cotswolds
Just a short drive from Bibury lies the town often referred to as the Capital of the Cotswolds. If you’re a history nerd, you’ll fall in love with this place that features historic houses and architectural beauties from across several centuries. The town is so old it’s mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086.
Although it’s the unofficial capital of this charming region, it’s not a popular tourist destination, the other charming villages of the Cotswolds attract more visitors, but that just makes this beautiful town a perfect place to explore. Cirencester used to be a famous for its wool trade (like the neighboring Bibury). Today, you can stroll through the farmer’s market, enjoy antique shops, local pubs, and local handicrafts.
Bourton on the Water — The Venice of the Cotswolds
Sitting on the River Windrush, you can find the “Venice of the Cotswolds.” Bourton on the Water got this moniker because of its quaint bridges over the Windrush make it one of the most beautiful places in the region. One of the best things to is take a gentle stroll down the high street and listen to the soft murmur of the water while admiring the scenery.
Since the village is a bit larger than the surrounding ones, it has several museums you can check out. Most notably, the Cotswold Motoring Museum is worth a visit, especially if you’re a car enthusiast. You may also venture into the Dragonfly Maze and get lost.
The Slaughters — Twin Villages With a Menacing Name
Although the name of these two villages sounds sinister, it actually doesn’t derive from the menancing word you may in mind. The name comes from “slough,” the Old English word meaning “muddy place” (thanks to the river nearby).
Upper Slaughter is the less touristy small village of the two villages, but is still worth the visit. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported in time strolling past the Cotsworld stone honey-colored cottages.
Lower Slaughter on the little River Eye will enchant you with its fairytale look. Visit the Old Mill, which has existed for a millennium and is now a museum and cafe.
Bath — The Golden City
Bath, which got its name from the famous Roman Baths, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been impressing visitors for two millennia. Its long history is balanced with interesting architecture and historic sites creating a wonderful place for a full day trip. You can visit the original Roman Baths in the city center, and as of recently, you can also bathe there as the old Romans did. Don’t worry, thoughy, the experience is modernized to suit today’s visitors’ expectations.
Other Bath attractions include museums and galleries, independent shops and eateries, as well as lively street entertainment. You can even take a balloon tour over the city. Or you may want to opt for a short walk across the Pulteney Bridge on the Avon or the Georgian-style Royal Crescent.
Castle Combe — The Place Where Movies Come Alive
This beautiful village actually doesn’t have a castle — the one after which it was named is long gone. However, the spirit remains. In fact, no new buildings have been added to this medieval town since the 1600s. That quintessential Medieval England vibe is what made Castle Combe a beloved movie location. Some of the movies filmed here include the original Dr. Doolittle and Spielberg’s War Horse.
Movie enthusiasts will love it, but it’s one of the prettiest villages or others reasons, too. The yellow-stone houses lining the narrow streets are characteristic of the Cotswold area. Check out the 13th-century St Andrew’s Church clock, said to be the oldest working clock in the entire country.
Enjoy a Memorable Trip to the Place Outside of Time
The Cotswolds area is a great weekend getaway for a stress-free vacation in nature. You can lose yourself in gorgeous historic buildings, wander the village lanes, and explore farmers’ markets.
While we’ve suggested a few of the most fascinating places in the Cotswolds, you can mix and match your itinerary to fit your personal preferences. If you have a hard time choosing the places to visit, don’t worry about it — you’re sure to love every village, town, and city you stumble upon!
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Guest Author Bio: Anna Krizova loves getting out hiking during the weekend and has completed a few long multi-day hikes including twice on the Camino de Santiago for four weeks and then a Camino route in France for two weeks. She’s also hiked up Ben Nevis and over Ireland, and spent three weeks hiking in the Canadian Rockies (the latter her favorite). She started the Camino Adventures site to write about all things hiking.
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