Renowned for its chocolate-box villages and rolling countryside, the Cotswolds exude quintessential rural beauty and are brimming with popular attractions, remaining one of the country’s most popular destinations.
Aside from the tourist hot spots, the Area of Outstanding Beauty is home to plenty of lesser-known attractions, from glorious gardens to historical stately homes lying right on your doorstep.
Offering a slice of local history and stunning hillside scenery, Chedworth Roman Villa lies in a pretty Cotswold valley, providing a great destination for pretty walks, picnics with a view, and some discovering fun.
Visitors can browse fascinating artefacts in the museum, see echoes of the past at the Nymphaeum water shrine, join guided tours, or just relax and soak up the beautiful sights.
A picture-perfect beauty spot in the heart of the Cotswolds, The Garden at Miserden boasts panoramic countryside views, blankets of colour from spring through to autumn, and lovely features including a centuries-old mulberry tree and an impressive topiary yew walk.
Designed in the 17th century and set on a glorious 850-acre estate, the hidden gem retains a wonderful sense of peace and tranquillity, and has been hailed as ‘one of the top 10 most romantic gardens in the world.’
3. Hailes Abbey
Set in the midst of rolling countryside, the ruins of Hailes Abbey near Winchcombe are sure to delight naturalists and history buffs, who can appreciate the serene Cotswold setting and enjoy a glimpse into 13th-century monastic life.
Whether you want to enjoy an audio tour, explore the museum, wander around the striking ruins and imagine how the medieval monks lived, or settle down and enjoy a picnic, the attraction offers something for everyone.
The house of the doctor whose vaccination work changed the world and saved countless lives, Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden allows visitors to see Jenner’s studio, discover his wider interests such as fossil hunting and ballooning, and see the Temple of Vaccinia.
What’s more, there’s the chance to head outside and take a stroll through the gardens which surround the characterful grade II-listed 18th century building, the Chantry, making for an insightful and enjoyable visit.
An award-winning three-acre garden located at Bourton-on-the-Hill, Bourton House Garden is set against a beautiful 18th-century manor house, featuring imaginative topiary, water features, and an abundance of plants.
Visitors also have the chance to embark on a walk in the garden’s seven-acre field which visits groups of specimen trees, and enjoy delicious homemade sweet treats too.
6. Lodge Park
A peaceful Cotswold estate just outside of Cheltenham, Lodge Park is part of the Sherborne Estate, offering an area rich in diverse wildlife with stunning landscapes and rolling parkland.
England’s only surviving 17th-century grandstand, the historic gem promises a memorable visit within a unique and natural setting.
A completely unique Cotswold attraction, 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace Sezincote is home to waterfalls, grottoes, canals and temples which conjure images of the magnificent Taj Mahal.
From the spring-fed pools and curving orangery, to the small pavilion and water garden, the destination is a gem just waiting to be discovered.
For quaint Cotswold charm within a picture-perfect village, The Old Mill at Lower Slaughter can’t be beaten, with an award-winning gift and craft shop, handmade organic ice-cream parlour, and riverside tearoom which offers beautiful views.
Visitors can relax on the alfresco terrace and soak up the country views, listen to jazz music as they browse for unique gifts, or step back in time in the Old Mill, whilst taking the opportunity to explore the chocolate-box village too.
The Cotswold retreat that inspired poet William Morris, Kelmscott Manor offers an unspoilt attraction with a serene setting, with visitors able to expect the same beauty and seclusion that influenced William’s ideas on conservation.
Venture inside the house to see an impressive collection of Morris’ possessions and works, while the glorious gardens promise a treat for the eyes, and the tearoom offers a space to relax and enjoy some delicious refreshments.
10. Chavenage House
Situated near Tetbury, Chavenage House is a beautiful Cotswold house that has been used for the filming of hit television show, Poldark, offering features that have barely been changed for 400 years, set within pretty, peaceful gardens.
Boasting period features and a wealth of history including the chance to see the tapestry-lined rooms that Oliver Cromwell and his second-in-command, General Ireton, stayed in during the Civil War, the Elizabethan stately home is a historical haven in the Cotswolds.
11. Cirencester Park
A wonderful open space located on The Bathurst Estate, Cirencester Park welcomes walkers, picnickers, and dogs in certain areas, with a picturesque avenue leading through the surrounding greenery.
Offering a gateway between the town of Cirencester and the surrounding countryside, the natural attraction covers 3,000 acres, with its grand entrance and polo ground, the oldest in the UK, showcasing its unique qualities.
By Kathryn Godfrey