Cotswolds visitors guide

Make your visit to the Cotswolds all the more memorable with SoGlos’s definitive guide to where to stay, eat, shop and what’s on in this idyllic Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Introduction to the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is a range of hills in the south west of England which is scattered with historic towns and quaint villages across the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also extending to parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and famed for the honey-coloured limestone that features everywhere from its idyllic buildings to the drystone walls across the fields, the Cotswolds is a popular destination with tourists looking for that quintessentially British experience.

Having inspired some of England’s finest composers, writers and artists in times gone by, the Cotswolds not only offers charming countryside in which to while away an afternoon but also a wealth of attractions spanning magnificent castles, ancient churches, glorious gardens and plenty of hidden gems to stay, shop and eat at, and above all, a friendly and warm welcome at one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in England.

Some of the Cotswolds’ prettiest towns within the Gloucestershire county borders include Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, Cirencester, Fairford, Lechlade, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Tetbury.

Also see SoGlos’s Gloucestershire visitors guide, Cheltenham visitors guide, Gloucester visitors guide, Forest of Dean visitors guide and Tewkesbury visitors guide

Where to stay in the Cotswolds

Being made up of scores of towns and villages, the Cotswolds is home to a plethora of places for the weary traveller to lay down their head and provide the perfect base to explore the surrounding countryside – ranging from charming cottages and campsites to friendly farmhouses and five-star luxury hotels.

If you’re looking to treat yourself on your Cotswold break, make a beeline for The Kings Head Hotel, a super stylish boutique bolthole in Cirencester, or opt for De Vere Cotswold Water Park, which is surrounded by lakes and woodland offering a truly peaceful setting.

See SoGlos’s dedicated venue listings for bed and breakfasts, budget hotels, camping, caravanning, farm stays, mid-range hotels, self catering and luxury hotels in the Cotswolds.

And don’t miss SoGlos’s Gloucestershire hotel reviews for a critic’s insight into Cotswolds accommodation.

Things to do in the Cotswolds

While the Cotswolds is a dream destination for fresh air junkies and nature-lovers alike, there’s more than meets the eye to this stretch of the country, taking in historical and cultural attractions, places to keep the little ones entertained and even keep the adrenaline pumping for thrill-seeking tourists too.

One of the most beautiful natural attractions in the Cotswolds is Westonbirt Arboretum which has 15,000 tress waiting to be discovered, while Cirencester's Corinium Museum boasts the country’s largest collection of Romano-British antiquities.

Discover where to while away your time in the Cotswolds, with SoGlos’s dedicated venue listings for attractions, art galleries, gardens, museums, wildlife centres, sport and outdoor pursuits and live music venues.

Eating out in the Cotswolds

Eating out in the Cotswolds

Once visitors to the Cotswolds have worked up a healthy appetite rambling through the countryside and soaking up the glorious sights, there’s more than enough eating establishments scattered to satisfy any craving – with cosy inns, traditional tea rooms and a host of acclaimed restaurants serving everything from modern British to Japanese cuisine.

For those looking for dinner with a view, Wyck Hill House Hotel near Stow-on-the-Wold offers elegant surroundings to enjoy a meal in the AA 2 Rosette Award restaurant which overlooks the vast estate, while The Maytime near Burford makes a delightful lunch or dinner spot, with its impressive garden perfect for alfresco dining.

To get those tastebuds tingling, check out SoGlos’s dedicated venue listings for Cotswolds restaurants, as well as the more specific British restaurants, Mediterranean restaurants, Indian restaurants and cafes and tea rooms in the Cotswolds.

Shopping in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds’ towns and villages are renowned for an array of antique shops, bustling open-air markets and quirky boutiques that offer one-of-a-kind items savvy shoppers dream of.

The most notable shopping area in the Cotswolds would have to be the ‘capital’ of Cirencester, which in addition to a handful of chain stores, boasts an abundance of independents that line streets of The Woolmarket, Corn Hall and Arcade, selling everything from arts, crafts and antiques to locally-sourced meat and veg, artisan breads and craft ales. There’s also a weekly fashion and garden bazaar, and antique and craft fairs that attract hordes of shoppers and collectors alike.

The centres of Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh also play host to plenty of hidden gems and independent stores, while art enthusiasts are advised to head to Tetbury, Stow-on-the-Wold and Winchcombe, where a diverse mix of antique shops and art galleries will undoubtedly keep them occupied for hours on end.

Events in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is home to some of the finest and most bizarre festivals and events in the south west which take place throughout the year across various towns. Here are some of SoGlos’s annual highlights:

Colesbourne Gardens Snowdrops in February
Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games in June
Bledington Music Festival in June
Tetbury Woolsack Races in June
Royal International Air Tattoo in July
Bourton Football in the River in August
Bibury Duck Race in December

Sport in the Cotswolds

The obvious activity of choice in the Cotswolds would have to be walking, rambling or cycling the thousands of miles of footpaths and bridleways that run throughout, giving visitors the chance to soak up the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at their own leisure.

If golf is your sport of choice there are two 18-hole courses to choose from including Cirencester Golf Club which boasts stunning views of the Cotswolds, while South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre, near Cirencester, offers canoeing, kayaking, sailing and more for children and adults of all abilities.

The area is also rich with outdoor country pursuits such as clay pigeon shooting, golf, horse riding and watersports.

Getting around in the Cotswolds

Depending on which town or village you are staying in, the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel around the immediate area is on foot, with shops, attractions, pubs and restaurants just an amble away from each other.

However, if you are planning to do more of a tour of the Cotswolds, while there are bus routes between towns daily, these are few and far between, so it’s recommended to either use the local taxi services or hire a car – giving you the freedom to roam as early or as late as you wish.

For those wanting to take in the sights from the comfort of a train carriage, there are two stations, located at Kemble, near Cirencester, and Moreton-in-Marsh, which also offer bus links to Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Watwer, Northleach, Cirencester and Tetbury.

Map of the Cotswolds

See SoGlos’s Google-powered Gloucestershire Interactive Map to explore the Cotswolds in incredible detail – including everything from accommodation and restaurants, to attractions, art galleries and much more.

© SoGlos
Friday 30 June 2017

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