The Cotswolds is an area of the country that I have been wanting to visit for a very long time. It’s beauty is renowned. This year we finally got around to having a week there to explore and it truly didn’t disappoint. The honey toned buildings, lining charmingly picturesque streets lived up to all the photographs I had seen of them over the years.
It is hardly any surprise that the Cotswolds attract millions of tourists every year. If you are looking for one of the most beautiful parts of the UK then it has surely got to be on that list. Having said that, you would do well to plan your visit out of peak season. Visit away from school holidays and if possible – visit midweek, as it does get busy! Here I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.
Bibury is probably the most beautiful of all the Cotswold villages on this list. When you hear the saying ‘picture postcard’ it surely had to be made with Bibury in mind. It is such a renowned beauty that the famous Arlington Row is even on the British passport. The picturesque row of cottages were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. Only later were they converted into cottages for weavers. They are now in the care of the National Trust and are private homes so you do need to respect the owners privacy (which with the amount of tourists this place gets I think people often forget). If you fancy a stay here yourself, you can rent cottage number 9.
As pretty as this village is, it wasn’t my absolute favourite purely down to the number of people. It would have been nice to have been able to enjoy it in the peace and tranquillity with which you can imagine for a small country place like this.
The village itself is very small and parking is difficult. Particularly with the coach loads of tourists that arrive by the hour. I would highly advise getting here early! Or early evening in the summer months.
As a contrast to Bibury is the town of Chipping Campden. This is probably the least touristy of all the Cotswolds villages and my personal favourite. This old wool merchants town has a wonderful high street running through the centre, laden with quirky shops and restaurants all housed in the characteristic honey toned buildings you expect of the Cotswolds. And if you wander further from the high street you will be rewarded with fantastic thatched cottages.
Broadway is situated furthest north and I often find it isn’t mentioned as often as some of the other places on this list. I find this a shame. It is certainly worthy of being on a list of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds. In fact, Broadway’s beauty attracted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Edward Elgar and Claude Monet to mention but a few. Built up around the main high street, it is laden with fabulous independent shops, tearooms and places to stop for a bite to eat. Broadway Tower stands overlooking the town and if you fancy a walk up there you are rewarded with fantastic views for miles around!
Lower Slaughter is full of charm and tranquillity. This quaint village is built around a stream that runs through through the centre of the village. Here, you will often find children frolicking in the peaceful waters. An ideal place to spend a quiet afternoon.
Built on the cross-roads where several major roads meet along the old Roman Fosse Way, Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the largest of the Cotswolds villages. It made it’s money from the wool trade and is famous for its annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at a time. You can wander the old market square, lined with cafes, tearooms, restaurants, traditional pubs, shops and of course the old stocks which are still on display.
As the name suggests, Bourton-On-The-Water is another village built around the river that flows through through its centre. This picturesque town is immensely popular with tourists so this is definitely one to visit early on in the day or later on in the afternoon. If you catch it on a quiet day then it is a lovely place for a slow amble along the waterfront, perhaps stopping for a picnic at the side if the weather is right. Follow the backstreets and there are some pretty cottages and cafes to stop for a drink. There is also the miniature museum which has a grade listed replica of the entire village!
Often referred to as the gateway to the Cotswolds, Burford is built up around its high street and is undeniably full of character and very beautiful. Lined with Georgian and Tudor facades, there is plenty a photo opportunity. I have to admit though, this is probably my least favourite place on this list. However, I can’t deny that it is stunning and certainly one that needs to be visited.
Stanton won’t appear on many lists of where to visit in the Cotswolds. As such it has barely a single tourist wandering its perfect honeycomb dappled streets. This unspoilt 17th century village is a short drive from Broadway and it feels as though nothing has changed here in the past couple hundred years. I love the lack of the modern day. No signs, no shops, just a small pub at the end of the road offering fantastic views. I couldn’t recommend this place enough. It gives a proper glimpse into what a Cotswolds village would have been like in days gone by.
If you are planning a visit to the Cotswolds then I hope you find this list useful. And please tag #whatstacydid in your photos, I would love to see them 🙂 Another area well worth considering is the North Yorkshire coast. There are some gorgeous fishing villages to visit! You can find a quick guide here.
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