Site logo

The prettiest villages in the Cotswolds

Steeped in history, the Cotswolds have witnessed the rise and fall of empires, the whispers of ancient tales, and the footsteps of legendary figures. From its humble origins as a prosperous wool trade hub to its present-day status as a picturesque escape, every cobblestone street and honey-coloured cottage holds echoes of a bygone era. It’s well known across the UK that you can find the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds’ rolling hills, verdant meadows, and picturesque villages create a postcard-perfect landscape that seems plucked from the pages of a storybook. Stroll along winding footpaths, breathe in the fragrant air perfumed by wildflowers, and lose yourself in the idyllic countryside that has inspired poets, artists, and dreamers for centuries.

Famous residents have also sought solace and inspiration in the Cotswolds’ embrace. It has been the cherished retreat of writers, actors, and artists who sought refuge from the clamour of the outside world. Their legacy lingers in the quaint villages, where thatched-roof cottages stand in harmony with ancient churches and charming market squares.

Situated within easy reach of London, the Cotswolds offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you embark on a leisurely drive through the winding country lanes or embark on a leisurely walk along the Cotswold Way, you’ll discover a region that embraces you with its timeless beauty and rich heritage.

So, venture forth and immerse yourself in the Cotswolds’ gentle embrace. Uncover hidden gems tucked away in its picturesque villages, savour the warmth of the locals’ hospitality, and let the Cotswolds weave its magic, transporting you to a simpler, more serene world.

To help you navigate your way around this most enchanting corner of England, we’ve listed the 10 prettiest villages to visit in the Cotswolds.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Burford
Burford, North Cotswolds

Burford

Often referred to as the gateway to the Cotswolds, Burford is a historic village famed for is notable role in the 17th century wool trade.  Burford’s origins can be traced back to the medieval period when it thrived as a bustling market town. Its strategic location on the River Windrush made it a hub of commerce and trade, attracting merchants and craftsmen from near and far.

Today, Burford draws in visitors to wander its ancient streets, boutique shops and coffee houses, and take in the rather magnificent views from the top of the town’s main street.

How to get to Burford by car:

Burford is located about 30 minutes west of Oxford on the A40.  It is incredibly easy to access by car and there are numerous car parks to choose from.

How to get to Burford by train:

Burford’s closest railway station is Kingham (served by GWR) and it is about a 20 minutes journey by taxi. 

How to get to Burford by bus:

Burford is served by both Stagecoach and Pulham Coaches with services from Stow on the Wold, Cirencester, Witney and Oxford.

Tours to Burford: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Burford as one of the destinations.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

A wooden bridge crossing a stream in the village of Bibury in the Cotswolds
Bibury and Arlington row (in the background)

Bibury

Possibly the most photographed destination in Gloucestershire, Bibury is home to Arlington Row, a collection of cottages that once served as a monastic wool store when they were originally built in 1380. 

Today the cottages are owned by the National Trust and let out to long term tenants and as holiday cottages for the village of Bibury, but you are able to walk amongst the houses and see for yourself why they are such a popular spot to visit. 

How to get to Bibury by car: 

Bibury is located on the A4425, about 10 miles south of Burford and 10 miles north of Cirencester.  There are several designated parking spots in the village but I would advise getting there early, as spaces fill up quicky, especially in the summer.

How to get to Bibury by train:

The closest railway station is Kemble (around 14 miles away) and a taxi to Bibury is likely to cost between £25-30. 

How to get to Bibury by bus:

If you are planning to come to Bibury by bus, your best starting point is Cirencester or Bourton on the Water (take the 855 service run by Pulham Coaches).

Tours to Bibury: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Bibury as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Find your next great day out in Monty’s Guide

A crystal clear stream running with a willow tree overhanging the water
The stream running through Bourton on the Water

Bourton on the Water

Close on Bibury’s heels for the most photographed spot is Bourton on the Water.  Located between Burford and Stow on the Wold, Bourton is a charming village famed for its crystal-clear stream running through the middle and quaint shops, pubs and cafes. 

Whilst in Bourton you can also visit the Cotswolds Motor Museum, The Model Village and Birdland – three great attractions that are sure to be a hit with the family.

How to get to Bourton on the Water by car:

Bourton is best approach via the A429 (once a Roman road called the Fosse Way) and there are three large car parks in the village to choose from.

How to get to Bourton on the Water by train: 

Bourton on the Water’s closest railway stations are Kingham and Moreton-in-Marsh, both on the direct line to London.  Expect to pay between £25-35 for a taxi journey. 

How to get to Bourton on the Water by bus:

Bourton is also the home to Pulham Coaches, who operate frequent services between Stow on the Wold, Burford and Cirencester.

Tours to Bourton on the Water: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Bourton on the Water as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Broadway
Broadway

Broadway

Set on the western edge of the Cotswolds as the hills rise eastward, Broadway is a quintessential Cotswolds village with immaculate architecture and glorious golden stone houses at every turn. 

It is also the starting station for the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway that runs all the way to Cheltenham, so you can certainly expect to spend a whole day based around Broadway, especially if you venture to the top of Fish Hill, where you can visit Broadway Tower and experience expansive views across the Cotswolds and Vale of Evesham, stretching out to the Malvern and Shropshire Hills.

How to get to Broadway by car: 

Broadway is located just off the A44 which runs between Evesham and Stow on the Wold.  As with most popular spots in the Cotswolds, there is plenty of parking to go around.

How to get to Broadway by train: 

The closest railway station is Evesham and is on a direct line to London & Oxford.  A taxi from Evesham is typically around £15-20 each way. 

How to get to Broadway by bus: 

Buses between Broadway and Evesham typically run each day but it’s worth checking before you leave to ensure that the times work for you.

Tours to Broadway: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Broadway as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Castle Coombe
Castle Coombe

Castle Coombe

No list of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds would be complete without including Castle Coombe.  Set at the southern edge of the Cotswolds, Castle Coombe is famed for its historic buildings, incredible pubs and wonderful hotels.

My top tip if you’re looking to get a quintessential photograph of the village is head out very early in the morning, as this place gets busy.

How to get to Castle Coombe by car: 

Castle Coombe is easily accessed from the M4 motorway (use junction 17 if travelling from London, Swindon and the east, and junction 18 if travelling from Wales, Bristol and the west).  There are a number of car parks in the village but they do get extremely busy, so it’s certainly worth heading out before the crowds arrive.

How to get to Castle Coombe by train: 

The closest railway station is Chippenham, with direct trains to London.  A taxi from Chippenham to Castle Coombe is likely to cost between £15-£25. 

How to get to Castle Coombe by bus: 

If travelling from Bath, take the X79.  If travelling from Chippenham, take the 95 or 95A service to Castle Coombe.

Tours to Castle Coombe: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Castle Coombe as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden, North Cotswolds

Chipping Campden

Once a wealthy medieval wool town, Chipping Campden thrived on the patronage of merchants and traders who visited to do their business. 

Today their former opulence is still evident throughout the town, with wonderful architecture and charming thatched cottages everywhere you look.

As a popular destination for visitors, Chipping Campden has a wonderful array of shops, coffee houses and hotels, as well as some fascinating buildings which are still standing 600 years after they were originally built.

How to get to Chipping Campden by car: 

Chipping Campden is located towards the very top of the Cotswolds and just a short drive from the A44 or A429.  There is some limited free parking in the town centre, but you need to keep an eye out as spaces get taken quickly.

How to get to Chipping Campden by train: 

You can get to Chipping Campden from either Evesham or Moreton in Marsh railway station, with taxis costing in the region of £20-£35 depending on which station you leave from (Moreton in Marsh station is closer than Evesham station).

How to get to Chipping Campden by bus: 

Despite its rural location, Chipping Campden is well served by buses from Stratford Upon Avon, Cheltenham and Moreton in Marsh.

Tours to Chipping Campden: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Chipping Campden as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Snowshill
Snowshill

Snowshill

Nestled on the side of a hill, the tiny village of Snowshill is one of the prettiest in the Cotswolds.   

Whether it be to explore the quaint thatched cottages, find the filming locations that appeared in Bridget Jones Diary or visit Snowshill Manor (owned by the National Trust), Snowshill should certainly be at the top of your list of places to visit.

How to get to Snowshill by car: 

Due to its rural location, the easiest way to get to Snowshill is by car.  There is parking around the edge of the village and at Snowshill Manor, but spaces are extremely limited.

How to get to Snowshill by train: 

The closest railway station to Snowshill is Evesham (on a direct line to London).  A taxi is likely to set you back around £20-£30.

How to get to Snowshill by bus: 

There are no direct bus services to Snowshill and the nearest stop to the village is in Broadway, which is an energetic walk of approximately 2.5 miles (mainly uphill…).

Tours to Snowshill: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Snowshill as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Stanton in the Cotswolds
Stanton

Stanton

Just down the road from Snowshill lies the quiet village of Stanton, and a village that is often accidently missed by visitors to the Cotswolds, despite its stunning beauty. 

If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat away from the crowds but with the views and architecture that make the Cotswolds so distinctive, Stanton is your place.

How to get to Stanton by car: 

Just a short drive from Broadway, Stanton is easily accessible by car but be prepared to drive down small country roads to get to the village.  Parking is limited but there is a public car park next to Stanton Village Club.

How to get to Stanton by train: 

The closest railway station to Stanton is Evesham (on a direct line to London).  A taxis is likely to set you back around £20-£30.

How to get to Stanton by bus: 

A limited service (the 606 operated by Pulham Coaches) runs between Cheltenham (a large town with direct rail connections to London) and Chipping Campden.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Stow on the Wold
Stow on the Wold

Stow on the Wold

The hilltop market town of Stow-on-the-Wold was once the site of an Iron Age fort, but things are considerably more peaceful here these days.

In the centre of town, you’ll find a number of galleries, boutique shops and antique showrooms packed with treasures, while the region’s rolling hills offer a stunning 360 vista of the surrounding landscape.

How to get to Stow on the Wold by car: 

With the Fosse Way / A429 running through Stow on the Wold, getting to the town could not be easier.  There is ample free parking in the town centre and a public carpark, too.

How to get to Stow on the Wold by train: 

The two closest stations are Kingham and Moreton in Marsh, although you’ll find it easier to get a taxi from Moreton in Marsh to Stow on the Wold than from Kingham.  Expect to pay between £15-£20 for a taxi fare.

How to get to Stow on the Wold by bus: 

There are a number of buses which call at Stow on the Wold from Bourton on the Water, Cirencester, Burford, Moreton in Marsh and Stratford.

Tours to Stow on the Wold: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include Stow on the Wold as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

Light coloured stone houses in the village of Lower Slaughter
Lower Slaughter

The Slaughters

A term used to group the villages of Lower and Upper Slaugher together, The Slaughers are  two quintessentially English villages that are linked by the River Eye.

Despite their names sounding rather morbid, the term ‘slaugher’ stems from the Old English name for a wet land or muddy place ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’.  Today, things are a little drier but if you plan walking between the villages on the Wardens Way, you may want to take some sturdy boots just in case…

How to get to The Slaughters by car: 

Lower Slaughter is less than a mile off the A429, and Upper Slaughter about the same distance again.  There is free (albeit limited) parking in both villages. 

How to get to The Slaughters by train: 

The two closest stations are Kingham and Moreton in Marsh, although you’ll find it easier to get a taxi from Moreton in Marsh than from Kingham.  Expect to pay between £15-£20 for a taxi fare.

How to get to The Slaughters by bus: 

I did a fair bit of research on this and I couldn’t find any services which call at Lower or Upper Slaughter, but there are a number of services operated by Pulhams Coaches which run along the A429 and stop at the junction leading to Lower Slaughter (mainly the 801 and 803), which is just a 10 minute walk into the village.

Tours to The Slaughters: 

There are a number of tours departing from Oxford and London which include The Slaughters as one of the destinations on route.  You can find more information on tours of the Cotswolds on our trips and tours page here.

So, that’s pretty much a wrap and I could easily run another dozen articles on the plethora of equally pretty villages in the Cotswolds.  You may have noticed that most of the villages fall into the ‘North Cotswolds’ (use the A40 road as the dividing line between the North and South Cotswolds), but the South certainly has tonnes that are worth exploring too (note to self, this had better be the focus of a subsequent journal entry…). 

In short, the Cotswolds has no shortage of attractive villages and you can expect most of them to be complemented with exceedingly good pubs, restaurants, hotels and cafes… a genuine delighted for the senses!  Be sure to take your camera (and an empty stomach).

About the author

Having worked across the heritage and tourism sector for over 10 years, Monty Beaumont is an expert when it comes to discovering new places to visit and great days out for the whole family. 

He has previously worked for the National Trust as a General Manager in Cornwall, coordinated the complex operations of running a castle in Devon and the mastered the intricacies of providing exceptional hospitality and service at some of the finest historic houses in the UK. 

As part of his vision and drive for Monty’s Guide, Monty travels across the country to find new places to visit and explore, and sharing his finding on montysguide.com, which is used by 1,000s of people each week to find their next great day out.

His experience and knowledge of the historic and cultural sector gives him a unique insight into the elements that make tourism and learning so important in our quest to understanding more about our heritage.

Monty currently lives in the North Cotswolds and is continually amazed by how the landscape continues to change throughout each season.

Share post

You may also like

Related Posts

  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment