The Cotswolds attract huge amounts visitors every year. The sleepy and unspoiled villages just don’t compare to anywhere else. I’ve spent many a road trip there. I’d go as far as saying it’s my favourite place to photograph. With so many photographs, it makes sense to compile a guide. Here are some of the best villages in the Cotswolds, accompanied by my Morris Minor when possible!
Tips before you go
- Visit out of tourist season if you can, or during a weekday.
- Head out as early as you can if you’d like to avoid crowds.
- Respect people’s property. It sounds silly, but people occasionally climb into gardens and trespass.
If you’re a UK resident, you might recognise Arlington Row. It’s probably featured on the front inside sleeve of your passport. This row of stone cottages dates back to 1380 and was originally used to store wool, following which it housed local weavers. Today the cottages are under the care of the National Trust. It’s no surprise it’s become one of the most photographed locations in the Cotswolds.
If you have time to stop for tea, the William Morris Tea Room serves cakes, coffees and light lunches. You can also try a trout dish in the Bibury Trout Farm. The Swan Hotel also serves food, and in my experience is a bit more peaceful.
It’s worth noting that it can be very difficult to park in Bibury during peak times.
Due to the busy road running through the centre, Burford isn’t my number one favourite destination in the Cotswolds. But it can’t be denied that the buildings are impressive. There are a number of interesting facades – from Tudor to Georgian and beyond. In many of these buildings you’ll find independent shops and vintage markets. This for me is the selling point of Burford (no pun intended). I love antique and second-hand shopping, and Burford is an awesome place for this.
You’ll find Broadway in the North of the Cotswolds. The village itself is picturesque, albeit there are a lot of cars. The reason I included Broadway in this list is Broadway Tower, a viewpoint built in the 18th century. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the red deer around the tower. It’s a pretty magical spot and a great place to photograph.
Castle Combe is my absolute favourite place in the world. It’s beautiful in every season, and has been regarded as ‘the prettiest village in England’. You’ll find it in the Southern Cotswolds. If you’re going to visit one village in the Cotswolds, let it be Castle Combe. You won’t be disappointed.
If you want to stop for a hearty Sunday roast or a pub lunch, there are a few pubs in the village. As usual these can get busy at peak times and you might want to consider booking on weekends. If you want to treat yourself, the Bybrook Restaurant at the Manor House Hotel has a super fancy and well-regarded restaurant. The building is pretty impressive too.
Check out my Castle Combe blog post for more photos.
Lower Slaughter is a lot quieter than the previously mentioned villages. Given how busy places like Castle Combe can become, a quiet village might feel very welcome in your itinerary.
The name ‘slaughter’ isn’t as brutal as you might think. It simply means ‘wet land’ or ‘muddy place’. You’ll find a mill, museum and cafe at one end of the village. At the other end you’ll find The Slaughters Manor House Hotel, which is a great place for fine dining and afternoon tea.
There you have it – five of the best towns and villages in the Cotswolds. Find me on Instagram to follow more adventures!
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