Nestled in the heart of England, the Cotswolds is a region of rolling hills, historic landmarks and villages that seem to have leapt straight out of a fairy tale.
The honey-coloured limestone buildings and timber-framed houses afford a window into a bygone era, where time seems to move at its own leisurely pace.
From bustling market towns to tranquil hamlets, each village in the Cotswolds tells a unique story, waiting to be discovered by curious travellers.
In this guide, we embark on a journey through some of the most picturesque and enchanting villages of the Cotswolds, offering insights about their history and attractions.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a serene escape, the Cotswolds promises an experience that lingers long after the journey ends.
First on our list of the best villages in the Cotswolds is Bibury.
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Bibury, often hailed as one of the most picturesque Cotswolds villages, is a quintessential English village that has captured the hearts of many travellers.
As mentioned in many a Cotswolds travel guide, Bibury is a must-visit, with its iconic Arlington Row cottages serving as a backdrop for countless photographs.
The cottages, originally built in the 14th century as a monastic wool store and later converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century, are a testament to the village’s rich history.
The Bibury Trout Farm, one of the oldest in the country, offers a delightful experience for families and fishing enthusiasts.
The village’s charm is further accentuated by the meandering River Coln, which flows through it, offering scenic spots perfect for picnics and relaxation – One of the best Cotswolds villages in terms of history and beauty.
Address – Arlington Row, Bibury, Cirencester GL7 5NJ
Often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”, Bourton-on-the-Water is a top Cotswolds destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historic charm.
The village is renowned for its series of elegant bridges that cross the tranquil River Windrush.
These bridges, combined with traditional stone houses, create a serene atmosphere that attracts visitors year-round.
The Cotswolds countryside attractions here include the Model Village, a replica of the village itself, and the Cotswold Motoring Museum, which offers a nostalgic journey through the history of transportation.
With its riverside walks, quaint shops, and delightful cafes, Bourton-on-the-Water is a must-visit place in the Cotswolds for those seeking both relaxation and adventure.
Address – High Street, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham GL54 2AN
Stow-on-the-Wold, one of the historic Cotswolds towns, stands as a testament to the region’s rich past.
Located at a crossroads on a 700-foot high hill, this market town boasts a large central square surrounded by ancient inns, boutique shops, and antique dealers.
As a key player in the wool trade during the medieval era, the town’s history is deeply intertwined with the prosperity of the Cotswolds. The St Edward’s Church, with its ornate door flanked by ancient yew trees, is a popular attraction.
For those compiling their Cotswolds travel guide, Stow-on-the-Wold offers a blend of history, shopping, and gastronomy, making it one of the top Cotswolds destinations.
Address – Market Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham GL54 1AF
Burford, with its sloping high street leading down to the River Windrush, is a gem among the picturesque Cotswolds villages.
The town’s medieval architecture, combined with its array of boutique shops, cafes, and historic inns, offers a delightful experience for visitors.
As one of the historic Cotswolds towns, Burford’s St John the Baptist Church stands as a magnificent example of church architecture, with its intricate spire and beautiful stained glass windows.
The town’s history as a hub for wool trading is evident in its grand merchant houses. For those seeking a mix of history, shopping, and scenic beauty, Burford is a must-visit place in the Cotswolds.
High Street, Burford, Witney OX18 4QA
Castle Combe, often used as a filming location for its unspoiled beauty, is a village that seems frozen in time. Nestled in a wooded valley, this village is a staple in any Cotswolds travel guide.
The iconic Manor House Hotel, with its sprawling gardens, offers a luxurious retreat for visitors.
The village’s historic market cross, the 14th-century St Andrew’s Church, and the picturesque bridge over the Bybrook River are among the top Cotswolds countryside attractions.
Castle Combe’s charm is further enhanced by its traditional stone cottages, making it one of the most sought-after picturesque Cotswolds villages for photographers and history enthusiasts alike.
Address – The Street, Castle Combe, Chippenham SN14 7HU
Chipping Campden, a historic wool merchant’s town, is a beacon of Cotswold charm and elegance.
As a central figure in the Cotswolds travel guide, this town is renowned for its beautifully preserved limestone buildings and its broad, enchanting high street.
The iconic Market Hall, built in the 17th century, stands as a testament to the town’s prosperous past in the wool trade.
The town is also home to the annual Chipping Campden Music Festival, attracting lovers of classical music from all over.
For those seeking historic Cotswolds towns with a blend of culture, history, and scenic beauty, Chipping Campden is a top Cotswolds destination.
High Street, Chipping Campden, GL55 6AT
Moreton-in-Marsh, an old market town, is a harmonious blend of history and modernity.
As one of the key stops in the Cotswolds, the town boasts a broad high street lined with elegant 18th-century inns and houses.
The town’s weekly market has been a staple for over 500 years, offering a range of local produce and crafts.
The Moreton-in-Marsh Show, held annually, is one of the largest one-day agricultural shows in the UK, making it a must-visit place in the Cotswolds for those visiting in early September.
Address – High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0AZ
Known as the “Queen of the Cotswolds”, Painswick is a village that exudes regal charm.
Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, this village is renowned for its Rococo Garden, a unique 18th-century garden that’s among the top Cotswolds countryside attractions.
The village is also famous for its 99 yew trees, which, according to legend, the devil won’t allow to grow to a hundred.
With its narrow streets lined with historic limestone houses and its rich tapestry of history, Painswick is a picturesque Cotswolds village that offers a serene and enriching experience.
Address – New Street, Painswick, Stroud, GL6 6UT
Lacock is a village that seems to have leapt straight out of a history book. Much of this village, including the historic Lacock Abbey, is owned by the National Trust, ensuring its preservation for future generations.
Lacock has been the backdrop for numerous film and TV productions, including scenes from “Harry Potter”.
The village’s timber-framed houses, traditional inns, and the 13th-century St Cyriac’s Church make it one of the top Cotswolds destinations for those seeking a journey back in time.
Address – Church Street, Lacock, Chippenham, SN15 2LB
Snowshill, a quaint village set against the backdrop of the Cotswold escarpment, is a haven for history and nature lovers alike.
The village is renowned for Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property that houses an eclectic collection of artefacts gathered by its former owner, Charles Wade.
This picturesque Cotswolds village, with its traditional stone cottages and the 19th-century St Barnabas Church, offers a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
For those compiling their Cotswolds travel guide, Snowshill is a must-visit place in the Cotswolds, offering a blend of history, art, and scenic beauty.
Address – Snowshill Village, Broadway, WR12 7JU
Tetbury, a historic wool town, stands as a testament to the Cotswolds’ rich heritage.
Tetbury is renowned for its 17th-century Market House, an architectural marvel that dominates the town’s centre.
The town is a hub for antique enthusiasts, boasting numerous antique shops that attract collectors from all over the world.
The nearby Westonbirt Arboretum, with its vast collection of trees and shrubs, is one of those must-visit Cotswolds countryside attractions, especially during the autumn months when the leaves turn a myriad of colours.
With its cobbled streets, historic buildings, and vibrant cultural scene, Tetbury is a top Cotswolds destination that offers a blend of history, shopping, and natural beauty.
Address – Market House, Market Place, Tetbury, GL8 8DA
Nestled in a scenic valley, Winchcombe is a town steeped in history and charm.
Winchcombe is home to Sudeley Castle, the final resting place of Queen Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII.
The castle, with its beautiful gardens and exhibitions, is one of the must-visit places in the Cotswolds.
The town itself boasts a rich tapestry of history, from its days as a key wool trading centre to its historic streets lined with timber-framed buildings and traditional inns.
The nearby Belas Knap, a neolithic long barrow, adds to the town’s historic allure, making Winchcombe a blend of ancient history and modern-day charm.
Address – North Street, Winchcombe, Cheltenham, GL54 5LJ
Blockley, a serene and picturesque village, is a hidden gem in the Cotswolds. Unlike many other Cotswolds villages that were built on the wool trade, Blockley’s prosperity came from silk mills, remnants of which can still be seen today.
As a unique feature in the Cotswolds travel guide, Blockley offers a series of peaceful pathways, cascading streams, and ancient buildings that echo its rich past.
The village church, St. Peter and St. Paul, with its beautiful stained glass windows and historic graveyard, is a tranquil spot for reflection.
For those seeking a quieter, less-trodden path in their exploration of the top Cotswolds destinations, Blockley offers a unique and serene experience.
Address – Bell Bank, Blockley, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9BB
Broadway, often referred to as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds“, is a village that exudes elegance and charm.
Broadway is renowned for its wide main street lined with horse chestnut trees, historic inns, and honey-coloured limestone buildings.
The Broadway Tower, perched on a hilltop, offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
The village’s rich history as a centre for arts and crafts is evident in its numerous galleries and artisan shops. With its blend of history, culture, and scenic beauty, Broadway stands out as a must-visit place in the Cotswolds.
Address – High Street, Broadway, WR12 7DP
Cirencester, often dubbed the “Capital of the Cotswolds”, is a town that boasts a rich Roman history
Cirencester is home to the Corinium Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of Roman artefacts in the UK.
The town’s Market Place, with its historic buildings and vibrant market stalls, is a hub of activity.
The Church of St. John the Baptist, with its impressive facade and intricate interiors, stands as a testament to the town’s medieval past.
With its parks, ancient alleyways, and a blend of history and modernity, Cirencester is a top Cotswolds destination that offers a comprehensive experience for travellers.
Address – Market Place, Cirencester, GL7 2NX
Fairford, located on the banks of the River Coln, is a town that blends natural beauty with historic charm.
A key highlight in the Cotswolds travel guide, Fairford is renowned for the Church of St. Mary, which boasts the most complete set of medieval stained glass windows in the country.
The annual Fairford Air Show, showcasing a range of aircraft and aerial displays, attracts aviation enthusiasts from all over.
The town’s serene pathways along the river and its traditional limestone buildings make it one of the picturesque Cotswolds villages that offer both relaxation and a rich tapestry of history.
Address – High Street, Fairford, GL7 4AF
Guiting Power, a hidden treasure in the heart of the Cotswolds, is a village that epitomizes rustic charm.
As a Cotswolds gem, this village is a haven for those seeking tranquillity and untouched beauty.
The village greens, surrounded by traditional limestone cottages, provide a picturesque setting that has inspired many artists and photographers.
The local bakery and post office add to the village’s old-world charm.
For those keen on Cotswolds explorations, Guiting Power offers scenic walking trails that meander through woodlands and open fields, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Address – Guiting Power, Cheltenham, GL54 5TX
Kingham, often cited as one of England’s most beautiful villages, is a blend of historic allure and modern sophistication.
Kingham’s spacious village green, flanked by elegant stone and thatch houses, paints a picture of timeless beauty.
The village’s gastronomic scene, with award-winning pubs and restaurants, has made it a Cotswolds culinary destination.
The nearby Daylesford Organic Farm is a hub for organic produce and artisanal products, attracting food enthusiasts from far and wide.
With its harmonious blend of history, architecture, and gastronomy, Kingham stands out as a must-visit in any Cotswolds itinerary.
Address – West Street, Kingham, Chipping Norton, OX7 6YQ
Minchinhampton, perched on a hilltop, offers panoramic views of the surrounding Cotswold valleys.
As a Cotswolds scenic spot, this ancient market town is renowned for Minchinhampton Common, a vast expanse of grassland that turns into a riot of colours with wildflowers in spring.
Managed by the National Trust, the common is also home to freely roaming cattle, adding to its rustic charm.
The town’s historic market house and narrow streets lined with traditional buildings make it a Cotswolds heritage site worth exploring.
For those keen on delving into the region’s history and natural beauty, Minchinhampton offers an enriching experience.
Address – High Street, Minchinhampton, Stroud, GL6 9BN
Nailsworth, nestled in a wooded valley, is a vibrant town known for its independent spirit.
As a Cotswolds cultural hub, Nailsworth boasts a plethora of artisan shops, boutiques, and cafes.
The town’s monthly farmers’ market is a Cotswolds foodie attraction, offering a range of local produce and gourmet delights.
The nearby Ruskin Mill, with its arts and crafts exhibitions, adds to the town’s cultural allure.
With its blend of natural beauty, shopping, and arts, Nailsworth is a top destination for those seeking a unique Cotswolds experience.
Address – Old Market, Nailsworth, Stroud, GL6 0DU
Naunton, with the tranquil River Windrush flowing through it, is a village that exudes serene beauty.
As a Cotswolds tranquil spot, Naunton’s ancient dovecote and historic church are reflective of its rich past.
The village’s stone bridges and traditional cottages make it a Cotswolds photography favourite.
For those keen on exploring the region’s natural beauty, Naunton offers walking trails that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and those seeking peace and relaxation.
Address – Naunton, Cheltenham, GL54 3AS
Northleach, with its cobbled streets and historic market square, is a town that transports visitors back in time.
As a Cotswolds historic centre, Northleach is renowned for the Church of St Peter and St Paul, an architectural marvel with intricate stone carvings and beautiful stained glass windows.
The town’s Old Prison, now a museum, offers insights into the region’s history and the evolution of its penal system.
With its blend of history, architecture, and culture, Northleach stands out as a Cotswolds heritage gem that offers a comprehensive and enriching experience.
Address – Market Place, Northleach, Cheltenham, GL54 3EG
Oddington, a village steeped in history, is a testament to the timeless beauty of the Cotswolds and is Cotswolds heritage enclave.
Oddington is renowned for its two distinct parts: Upper and Lower Oddington.
The St. Nicholas Church, with its medieval wall paintings, is a significant Cotswolds historical attraction.
The village’s tranquil pathways, lined with traditional limestone cottages, offer a serene escape for those seeking a Cotswolds retreat.
With its rich tapestry of history and its idyllic setting, Oddington is a destination that captivates both history enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Address – Oddington, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0XH
Stanton, often described as one of the most beautiful and untouched villages in the Cotswolds, is a haven of tranquillity and a Cotswolds scenic gem,
Stanton’s honey-coloured stone houses, draped in wisteria and ivy, paint a picture of idyllic English countryside life.
The Mount Inn, perched on a hill, offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys, making it a favourite viewpoint for tourists.
The village’s cricket ground, with its traditional pavilion, adds to its quintessential English charm. For those seeking a genuine and unspoiled Cotswolds experience, Stanton stands out as a must-visit.
Address – Stanton, Broadway, WR12 7NE
Stanway, nestled at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment, is a village that exudes historic charm.
Stanway is renowned for the Stanway House, a Jacobean manor house with its impressive gatehouse and beautiful gardens.
The Stanway Fountain, the tallest gravity fountain in the world, is a Cotswolds water feature that attracts visitors from all corners.
The village’s traditional stone houses and the St. Peter’s Church, with its beautiful stained glass windows, add to its historic allure.
Address – Stanway, Cheltenham, GL54 5PQ
Woodstock, on the outskirts of the ancient Blenheim Palace estate, is a town that boasts a rich royal history.
As a Cotswolds royal town, Woodstock’s streets are lined with historic inns, boutiques, and eateries.
The Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is a Cotswolds architectural marvel that offers vast gardens, intricate interiors, and a wealth of history.
With its blend of royal history, shopping, and culture, Woodstock is a top destination for a varied and enriching experience.
Address – High Street, Woodstock, OX20 1SX
Last but not least on our list of the best villages in the Cotswolds is Wotton-under-Edge in the southern part of the Cotswolds. It’s a town that blends history with vibrant community life.
This Cotswolds market town, boasts a variety of shops, cafes, and historic buildings.
The Wotton Electric Picture House, one of the oldest cinemas in the country, while the town’s walking trails, offer views of the Severn Vale that make it a favourite among nature enthusiasts.
The nearby Newark Park, a Tudor hunting lodge turned family home, adds to the town’s historic attractions.
For those seeking a mix of history, community life, and scenic beauty, Wotton-under-Edge offers a should be part of any Cotswolds exploration.
Address – Long Street, Wotton-under-Edge, GL12 7BT
Mickleton, located at the northern edge of the Cotswolds, is a village that beautifully blends history with natural beauty.
Offering a lovely Cotswolds gateway, Mickleton offers stunning views of the Meon Hill and is a stone’s throw away from the famous Shakespearean town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The village is renowned for its historic churches, including St. Lawrence’s Church, which boasts intricate woodwork and beautiful stained glass windows.
The nearby Hidcote Manor Garden, a Cotswolds gardening masterpiece, is a testament to the region’s horticultural heritage and attracts gardening enthusiasts from all over.
With its scenic beauty, historic landmarks, and proximity to other attractions, Mickleton stands out as a must-visit in any Cotswolds itinerary.
Address – Chapel Lane, Mickleton, Chipping Campden, GL55 6SA
Ebrington, tucked away in the rolling landscapes of the Cotswolds, is a true Cotswolds gem, that’s renowned for its picturesque streets lined with traditional thatched and limestone cottages.
The village’s heart is its square, where the ancient yew tree stands as a testament to centuries gone by.
The Ebrington Arms, a historic pub, is famed not just in the Cotswolds but across England for its traditional ales and warm hospitality.
The annual village fete and the beautiful St. Eadburgha’s Church further add to Ebrington’s allure.
For those seeking a blend of history, community spirit, and scenic beauty, Ebrington offers a perfect Cotswolds retreat.
Address – May Lane, Ebrington, Chipping Campden, GL55 6NH
The Slaughters (Upper and Lower Slaughter)
Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, the enchanting twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter weave a spell of timeless beauty and tranquillity.
One of the most intruging Cotswolds travel highlights, these villages are emblematic of the region’s idyllic charm.
The River Eye meanders gracefully through both villages, with quaint footbridges connecting its banks, offering serene spots for reflection.
Lower Slaughter is renowned for its unspoiled limestone houses, the historic watermill, and the picturesque ford that runs through the village centre. The Old Mill Museum, with its original water wheel, offers a glimpse into the village’s rich past.
Upper Slaughter, just a mile upstream, is equally captivating. It’s a quieter hamlet, known for its historic manor house and the beautiful St. Peter’s Church.
The village is linked to its twin by a charming footpath known as the Warden’s Way, making it a favourite Cotswolds walking trail for many.
The name “Slaughter” is derived from the Old English word “Slohtre”, meaning a muddy place, but there’s nothing muddy about the reputation of these villages.
They’re often cited as the epitome of Cotswold charm. For those seeking a genuine and peaceful Cotswolds experience, the Slaughters promise a journey into the very soul of the region.
Address – The Slaughters, Cheltenham, GL54 2HS, UK