We reveal our top 10 list of the best Cotswold villages and towns to visit, and why.
From the quaintest, prettiest locations to the beautiful bustling high streets – read on to discover more.
Wondering why this gorgeous village looks familiar? We thought so! Bampton became Downton Village during the filming of the critically acclaimed TV show, Downton Abbey. Revisit your most-loved Downton moments with a stroll down Church View to St Mary’s Church, home to some of Downton Abbey’s most dramatic scenes! You can also view a selection of Downton memorabilia at the Bampton Community Archive.
Not to worry if you’re not the biggest Downton fan, Bampton is also home to some great pubs and cafes. Looking for a perfectly cooked beef Sunday roast with huge Yorkshire puddings, then The Plough Inn is the answer, as you can spend your Sunday cosied up by the log fire with a glass of red. If you fancy a lighter bite, then head to Bampton Garden Plants Cafe, perfect for coffee and cake.
Burford is a hotspot for shopping, cafes and some excellent pubs. Our favourite being The Angel at Burford, where you can enjoy some mouth watering gastro-pub food served all day. You must order the blade of beef, and if you enjoy a freshly pulled pint, the Hooky ale is the one to go for. The pubs surrounding Burford are also not to be missed, including the Maytime Inn, which has a gorgeous garden so you can soak up the sun in the Summer months.
Hoping for a fun-filled family day out? Head to the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens to get up close and personal with lions, tigers and bears, oh my!
3. Chipping Norton
Chipping Norton has a buzzing, lively, high street lined with independent shops and every third Saturday of the month, you’ll also find a Farmer’s Market where you can pick up quality local produce to cook up a storm from the comfort of your holiday cottage in the Cotswolds. If you don’t fancy cooking (we don’t blame you, you’re on holiday after all!), why not try The Boxing Hare? A quaint country pub with great food and stunning views of the Cotswold countryside.
Chipping Norton provides fun for all the family with many local attractions, including Heythrop Zoological Gardens, Fairytale Farm and The Lido – the perfect place to cool off during the Summer months! Plan your stay around one of Chipping Norton’s annual events, such as the Chipping Norton Lit Festival, and make the most of the activities on offer to keep the kids entertained whilst on holiday.
The perfect place to shop till you drop! Cirencester has a great shopping area where you can find high street names as well as independent retailers. There’s plenty of things to see and do, the kid’s favourite tends to be Cotswold Country Park & Beach, as it’s home to a giant inflatable water park, high ropes course and BBQ pits, so that you can spend the whole day soaking up the fun!
If that sounds like your idea of hell on your relaxing Cotswold holiday, then visit the Corinium museum or Elemental Sculpture Park for something more low-key. If you took the plunge and visited the kid’s haven, reward yourself with a delicious, hearty dinner and freshly pulled pint at The Masons Arms and they will welcome you with open arms.
This gorgeous village is just what you signed up for if you’re looking for a picture-perfect spot. We recommend a stroll along the River Coln with an award-winning cup of coffee and cake from Lynwood & Co. Don’t forget to pick up one of their sourdough loaves to enjoy during your stay. There’s also a delightful family-run Italian, Colosseo Ristorante, we hear their Carpaccio pizza is to die for!
If you’re looking for a family activity, plan your stay around the Fairford Festival in June where you can enjoy live music and appearances from top writers. You could even put your pooch to the test in their Dog Show! Alternatively, do you have a need for speed? Embrace the fast and the furious at Gwynnespeed Rally School which is open all year round for all you adrenaline junkies out there
With stunning views of the Cotswold countryside, Faringdon is a picturesque, historic market town. It’s 100ft tall Folly Tower is the area’s most famous landmark and you can explore it in all its glory with the 8km Farringdon circular walk, famous for its breath-taking views of the rolling Cotswolds hills. If this sounds a bit too far, you can follow the last bit of the route which features a sculpture trail in the woods, perfect for children.
Visit the National Trust site, Buscot Park, an 18th century house, home to enchanting gardens and the Faringdon art collection. Just around the corner from Buscot Park, you’ll find Buscot Weir, which is known by the locals as a great place for open water swimming. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, try Faringdon Coffee House, great for a light bite and also amazing Lebanese food… their sharing plate with grilled aubergine, chicken wings and vine leaves is absolutely divine!
Voted England’s Favourite Village in 2006, Kingham is a beautiful, cosmopolitan village filled with chocolate box houses. A hotspot for visiting Londoners, as they can’t get enough of the independent boutiques, particularly Daylesford Farmshop! Famous for local, organic produce, homeware and cookery classes.
You can also book in for some well-deserved relaxation time at the Bamford Wellness Spa, just next door to Daylesford. Kingham is also home to The Big Feastival, hosted on August Bank Holiday, where you can watch artists such as Rag’N’Bone man perform and tuck into street food from the best chefs around!
This small, pretty Cotswolds village is not to be underestimated, as every Summer the village becomes a hub of activity for Longborough Festival Opera. Hosting beautiful classical performances in their intimate opera house with 500 seats and Big Top tent.
Kickstart the evening with a round of drinks at The Coach and Horses. If you’re looking for all-year-round activities, you can travel slightly further afield to visit Sezincote House, an old Indian palace in the heart of the Cotswolds (yes, you did read that correctly).
The ivy-clad buildings of Stow-on-the-Wold make it one of the most beautiful market towns in the Cotswolds. This pretty town is famous for its antique shops and has a lively Market Square lined with independent boutiques. If you’re a history buff, take a look at the ancient cross in the centre of the square or explore other areas of local history by heading down to St Edward’s Church for amazing architecture.
There are many great places to eat and drink. Why not visit England’s oldest inn, also known as The Porch House founded in 947AD, for a freshly pulled pint by a cosy open fire? We love Alexiou’s restaurant and The Old Butchers in Stow for the most delicious seafood.
10. The Oddingtons & The Wychwoods
This collection of peaceful, beautiful, traditional Cotswold villages includes Upper & Lower Oddington, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Milton-under-Wychwood and Ascott-under-Wychwood. The Fox is a great pub located in Oddington, popular with visiting foodies and wine lovers. Oddington is also a stone’s throw away from our favourite Daylesford Farm Shop!
The Wychwoods have their fair share of delightful country pubs too, including The Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood and The Milton Hare at Milton-under-Wychwood, The Hare even offers a Champagne Happy Hour at 5pm on a Friday and regular live music (what’s not to love?!). Unwind by the open fire following a beautiful walk in Wychwood forest.