The Cotswolds is known for its rolling hills, old churches, stone cottages and winding streets. Without any doubt, this area is home to some of the most charming and picturesque villages in the UK.
The location of the Cotswolds, in south-central England, make it an ideal destination for a weekend break in the UK.
We have visited the Cotswold area a few times; a couple of times we stayed in the area while on another occasion we had a short stop at a couple of villages during our road trip from London to Lake District. That is how we came up with the list of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds to help you plan your visit.
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You can also read: Unique Places to Stay in the Cotswolds
Castle Combe is not only the prettiest village in the Cotswolds, but it is widely known as the most picturesque village in England. Strolling through the village is like stepping back in time. No new houses were built here after the 1600s. If you fancy staying in a stone cottage, you can check the Stable Cottage.
This fairytale village is located just over 10 miles north of Bath and 100 miles away from London. This means that you can even have a day trip from London or Bath to Castle Combe if you don’t have enough time to explore other parts of the Cotswolds.
If you are driving, you can park your car outside the village at the top of the hill, and walk down to the village.
Snowshill is a small Cotswolds village in Gloucestershire. As you can guess by its name, this village sits on top of a hill above the villages of Broadway, Buckland, and Laverton. When it snows in the area, you can see it here first.
This tiny charming village is famous for its elegant sixteenth-century manor house which is owned and managed by the National Trust. You can visit the house inside, but I recommend you purchase the ticket in advance. You can check the price and opening hours here.
The best way to get to Snowshill is to drive, but if driving is not an option you can take a train from Moreton-in-Marsh.
It is no surprise why William Morris (834-96) described Bibury as “the most beautiful village in England”. This charming village with its honey-coloured stone cottages is a perfect example of typical Cotswold villages. When I first visited Bibury, I felt like I stepped into a movie set, probably because It's also a popular filming location, and Bridget Jones' Diary and Stardust were filmed here.
Bibury is just a short drive from Cirencester and a 2-hour drive from London. The best way to visit Bibury is by driving or joining a tour (check the availability here). If you plan to drive, keep in mind that there is a limited amount of free parking available on the side of the road. Usually, you can find parking quite easily, but this is not the case during the high season. This means you have to wait a bit to find a vacant space.
Bourton-on-the-Water, a popular village, is often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” because of its low bridges across the River Windrush. This charming village is a great destination for all seasons, but if you want to witness an unusual event, you can go there on August Bank Holiday Monday. On this particular day, locals play a game of traditional football on the river.
Many Cotswolds visitors choose Bourton-on-the-Water as their base since it has plenty of things to do to offer. If you are looking for a unique experience, you can stay in the 16th-Century Cotswold Stone Cottage (check the availability here) and if you are looking for a romantic break, you can stay in this secluded stone cottage with its own parking, check the prices here.
Chipping Campden is one of the most popular and one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. This charming village was at the centre of England’s wool industry during the Medieval era. Walking through the main street lined with classic Cotswold-stone cottages and shops is a delight. This small town is known as a market town and you can find the 17th-Century Market Hall on the high street.
With easy road access, Chipping Campden is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a short break. There is plenty of accommodation in the town and nearby. For a romantic retreat, you can book this cosy cottage in the village and if you are a family of four, you can stay in the Enchanting cottage at the heart of Chipping Campden, check the availability here.
Stow-on-the-Wold is a lovely old market town, and the highest one in the Cotswolds, offering exceptional views over the beautiful rolling hills. If you like shopping, you must have a stop here. All shops here are unique with immense character.
Probably one of the main attractions here is the ancient door flanked by yew trees behind the St Edward's Church building. It is widely believed that R. R. Tolkien was inspired by this door when he wrote the Lord of the Rings.
We have visited Stow-on-the-Wold on a Cotswold tour from London and this town was our stop for a tea break. There are cosy tea rooms and restaurants around the main square and the high street.
Here you can find different types of accommodations. If you want to be in the centre of the town you can stay at the traditional Cotswold stone cottage (check the prices and availability here). And if you are looking for a bigger place with more character, you can stay at The Crook cottage (check the availability here).
Broadway, a large village and civil parish, lies in the northwest of the Cotswolds in the county of Worcestershire. It is also often known as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds”.
The village was initially built around St. Eadburgha's Church. Gradually the current High Street expanded northwards to its present location. Horse chestnut trees and honey-coloured stone cottages line the main street. Here you can find independent shops, art galleries and great eateries.
If you plan to stay a night in Broadway, you can stay at The Lygon Arms Hotel on the high street, where Oliver Cromwell spent a night before the Battle of Worcester. Check the availability here. If you are looking to have your own place, you can stay in the Thatched Cottage.
Just a five-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water, lies one of the most picture-perfect places in Cotswolds, the tranquil village of Lower Slaughter. Here is an ideal destination for a romantic retreat and to get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities.
Walking or cycling on Copse Hill Road is a must-do since it has been voted as the most romantic street in the UK on Google Street View. You can visit the Old Mill at the western end of the village and stroll along the river to Upper Slaughter.
A scenic walking path along the Little Eye stream from Lower Slaughter takes to the lesser-visited Cotswolds village of Upper Slaughter. This village is also known as a “Double Thankful Village” because all of their armed forces survived in both World War I and II.
Upper Slaughter remained unchanged for more than a century since there hasn’t been any new building construction since 1906. When in the village, you can have lunch at Lords Of The Manor, a 17th-century hotel, or even book a room in this hotel for a unique and luxury stay. You can check the availability here.
Without any doubt, Stanton is outstandingly one of the most beautiful villages in the whole Cotswolds area, located on the edge of the Cotswolds Hills. It is famous for its honey-coloured limestone cottages and historical churches.
Stanton hasn’t changed much in the last 300 years and it offers what you expect from a typical Cotswolds village. Here you can’t find any sign of commercialisation or any restaurants, except for The Mount pub at the end of the village with amazing views. The pub is a perfect place to have a drink and watch the sunset.
Technically a little town rather than a village, beautiful Burford is located on the very edge of the Cotswolds. It’s on the way if you are driving to the Cotswolds from Oxford or London. This small medieval town on the River Windrush is known as one of the most idyllic places in Europe, attracting visitors for its beauty and history. If you fancy antique shopping, the high street in Burford is your place. In this charming street, you can also find cafes, historic pubs and many independent local shops.
When in Burford, make sure to check out the Church of St John, dating back to 1175.
Less than a 30-minute drive from Bath and 50 minutes from Stonehenge sits Lacock, a medieval village, owned and managed by the National Trust. This charming village has been a film location for many popular movies and tv series like Pride & Prejudice, Downton Abbey and Harry Potter.
While Lacock is just outside the Cotswolds area, this lovely civil parish with its quaint traditional stone cottages still deserves to be included in the list of prettiest villages in Cotswolds. We actually visited Lacock for the first time on a group tour around the Cotswolds.One of the best ways to visit the village is to join the Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath and Lacock day tour. This tour gives you the opportunity to visit four of the main historic attractions in the UK. You can book the tour here.