You might have heard of the ‘Cotswolds’ when it comes to holidays in the UK. The Cotswolds indicates a region in south central England that has the Cotswolds hills. Its landscape is so beautiful that it is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). As the map below shows it spans across 6 counties in England: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
If you were keen to see the cute, little countryside in England and encountered the Cotswolds, what you need to do now is to decide where in the Cotswolds. Although I haven’t managed to visit every place, I would like to introduce some of those I have been to. Hopefully the following list tempts you to pick destinations of the Cotswolds!
P.S. I am going to continuously add when I get to visit more of them – stay tuned!
The Cotswolds is made up of lots of places of different sizes – villages, towns, and cities (cities by medieval standards!) – this means some are tourist-friendly as to the proximity and a lot of to-do’s, but some of the others can also be quite small and tranquil, where local residents’ routine is exposed closer to you (i.e. be more aware that tourists could disturb their everyday). I note that next to each place’s name so that you can plan your itinerary accordingly!
Gloucester still maintains quite a lot of the medieval look of England and I have a very unique memory about this city. You might notice a dramatic difference between day and night – in the evening it can feel rather desolate, while the next morning you see a big food market at the square with lots of people grocery-shopping. I felt I was teleported to a completely new city! :p
I recommend the 11th century Gloucester Cathedral and the 15th century New Inn to visit. The New Inn is a fortified inn, which is actually really rare, even in England. Though reviews about the inn were mixed, my personal experience was great. Even if you don’t sleep there, at least you will be able to imagine how it would have been stopping by a pub to fill your tummy during the long journey crossing the medieval country.
I visited Tewkesbury to see its annual medieval festival after staying in Gloucester. Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is held every summer and this year it is scheduled as the 8th – 9th July. The festival participants reenact the Battle of Tewkesbury which broke out on 4th May 1471 during the War of the Roses (the inspiration behind Game of Thrones). If you match your dates to visit with the festival period, you will see a big group of re-enactors in medieval costumes! It will be quite a unique experience to face them and traditional buildings on a street. 🙂
Cheltenham is known as a Regency spa town. If you are planning to use public transportation to visit the Cotswolds, you are likely to pass Cheltenham. I also visited here on the way to a small village nearby and had a quick look before getting on a connecting bus. Despite a short transfer I could still feel the vibe of the town, and not surprisingly a variety of cultural and sports events are held here!
Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the very first places I went to in the Cotswolds, which was already 4+ years ago… :'( Without a car, you can visit here by taking a bus from Cirencester. It was quite a hot day for a British summer’s day, which explains everyone having a picnic and dipping their feet in water… like a picturesque ‘peaceful summer day’.
This may be one of the most famous Cotswolds villages and there is a reason for that! Some residents put a sign on their front garden asking for privacy which should tell you something. As a visitor it was really lovely to appreciate the houses of Cotswolds Stone and the surrounding nature, but wasn’t quite sure how much the local people manage to appreciate it. A thoughtful, quiet browsing is needed for everyone. 🙂
Lower Slaughter [VILLAGE]
Lower Slaughter has the tiny River of Eye that flows for 7.6km between Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, as you can guess from the village name. A late afternoon visit brought me an imagination for the real countryside life in this part of the country. Like Bibury, as it is a small village I tried not to disturb the residents’ peaceful afternoon. You might find this village similar to Bourton-on-the-Water because of the houses and the stream in between.
The home of the University of Oxford! Oxford, where the colleges spread over the city, is also a part of the Cotswolds. As a beloved travel destination in England, you can easily go by train and bus.
We stopped here in Burford while driving from England to Wales to have a short break and munch something. We enjoyed browsing lots of small local stores selling decorative items and farm shops. Most of all, though, was the scotch eggs from a farm shop which had won the Best Scotch Egg Prize. Their flavour was amazing let alone them being made with free-range eggs and pork.
As the name says, Bath is well known for its Roman baths. The city contains so many other gems, such as the Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge to name a couple. It is possible to do a day trip from London, though it would be much nicer to go sightseeing for a few days. Like Oxford, it is also easily accessible without a car. 🙂
The Cotswolds, as shown in the above photos in common, has a characteristic of light brown-coloured stone houses. If you can only make a short visit, choose just one or two places with the most inspiring photo or which fit your overall plan the best. I ended up visiting different places by planning multiple trips for myself, friends and parents respectively and trying to select somewhere new to me. 🙂
Happy trip then!