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Top 5 Must-Visit Locations in the Cotswolds

Steve Slater

Covering almost 800 square miles across Gloucester, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, the Cotswolds has an overwhelming amount of beauty on offer. It is a sprawling area of rolling hills, golden stone houses, and quaint British villages that will sweep any visitor off their feet. And let’s not forget the cosy countryside pubs and unique gift and antique shops! It is the quintessential example of English charm. We’ve created a beginner’s guide to the must-see locations in the Cotswolds, guaranteeing a perfect family day out.


Bibury

Described as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ by William Morris, Bibury really does appear to be straight out of a fairytale. Its most picturesque area, Arlington Row, overlooks the river at the centre of the village and has a line of flower-covered, honey-stone weaver’s cottages leading up to a tiny little hill that wouldn’t look out of place in the Shire from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings series. Just nine miles from Cotswold base Burford, it truly is a must-see stop off on any tour with dreamlike scenery, tea rooms and pretty walks over bridges, beside the river and past tiny cottages. Remember to bring your camera because you’ll want to photograph everything!

Bibury cottages

Bibury. Photo Credit: Karen Roe


Bourton-On-The-Water

Located in a small valley, Bourton-On-The-Water truly is just as idyllic as it sounds. The River Windrush runs through this charming little town, which boasts both pretty scenery and plenty of activities to keep a day trip interesting. Sites of interest include Birdland, with a huge variety of exotic birds and even a group of penguins; the model village depicting a Victorian Bourton; and an impressive model railway exhibition that will undoubtedly keep the whole family entertained all day long. It’s even the home of the Cotswold perfumery, just in case you wanted to take the scent of the Cotswolds home with you!

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water. Photo Credit: Karen Roe


Cirencester

The second largest town in England in Roman Times, Cirencester looks a little different these days. It has an extensive Roman history due to its significance as a centre of Roman trade (second only to London), all of which you can explore with the selection of artefacts and mosaics on display in the award-winning Corinium Museum. Otherwise, Cirencester is your typical, pretty Cotswold town, with a market square, some delicious restaurants, plenty of green spaces including the Abbey Grounds and Cirencester Park. Wile away summer days in the wealth of cute tearooms and peruse the independent shops for extra special gifts.

Cirencester town square

Cirencester


Burford

This southern gateway to the Cotswolds is just a 30-minute drive from Oxford. Burford is a lively little market town with an extensive wool trading history. The main street is packed with gift shops, bookshops and antique shops, and if you’re interested in architecture make sure to visit the gothic 12th century St John The Baptist Church. The Tanfield Tomb lavishly commemorates the Exchequer to Elizabeth I Lord Tanfield, who lived in the area. Ideal for kids and animal lovers alike, this spot is just a short drive away from the brilliant Cotswold Wildlife Park with a diverse array of animals—including giraffes, wolves and red pandas—for you to visit.

Burford

Burford. Photo Credit: Harry Lawford.


Castle Combe

Head to the Wiltshire end of the Cotswold to experience what many call the prettiest village in England – Castle Combe. It’s so picturesque that it’s been used as a filming location for Stardust, Steven Spielberg’s Warhorse and The Wolf Man. Above the village is the site of the castle (now sadly just a few remnants), whilst the houses below are the quintessential honey-coloured stone houses of the Cotswolds. Take a visit to the 13th century St Andrew’s Church to see a faceless clock – widely believed to be one of the oldest working clocks in the country – as well as the Norman statue of a soldier who fought in the crusades.

Castle Combe

Castle Combe. Photo Credit: Anthony Stewart Vardy.

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