The Cotswolds is a fantastic place to explore this spring as lockdown restrictions begin to ease – with its historic market towns, quaint high streets and nearby attractions that make the most of its famously beautiful countryside.
As non-essential shops, pub gardens and some attractions are able to open from Monday 12 April 2021, SoGlos handpicks nine charming Cotswold towns and villages to visit safely this spring – providing the opportunity to support local businesses and boost the local economy too.
1. Visit Cirencester
Known as the capital of the Cotswolds, the picturesque market town of Cirencester is brimming with independent shops and chain retailers, including the Bishop Walks shopping centre, ready to welcome shoppers back from Monday 12 April 2021.
Indoor markets at the Corn Hall can also return from Monday 12 April 2021, including the famous Cirencester Antiques and Collectibles Market; with non-essential traders welcomed back to the outdoor markets.
Meanwhile, the grand Cirencester Park surrounding the Bathurst Estate is perfect for spending time outdoors, while the open-air Cirencester Amphitheatre gives visitors the chance to explore the town’s Roman history while its popular Corinium Museum is closed.
2. Visit Tetbury
A gateway to the southern Cotswolds, Tetbury has heaps of history, a thriving independent shopping scene and even royal connections – with Prince Charles’s family residence, Highgrove House, less than two miles from the pretty market town.
From fashion boutiques to home interiors and gift shops, there are a range of independent stores along its four main streets. The Garde I listed hub of the town, Market House, sees stallholders gather every Wednesday and Saturday to sell fresh produce and more.
Plus, the famous Westonbirt Arborteum is on the outskirts of the town, offering acres of open space and woodland for families and nature-lovers to explore.
3. Visit Northleach
Northleach is a small town full of quintessential Cotswold charm, nestled just off the A40 between Cheltenham and Oxford. Fans of BBC’s This Country will recognise it as Kerry and Kurtan’s stomping ground, with much of the series filmed in and around the town.
It’s also home to a former prison built in 1792, which now boasts a lovely café called The Old Prison – offering alfresco dining from Monday 12 April 2021. And nearby, Far Peak Camping has pitches for caravans and motorhomes, as well as glamping domes, for self-catered holidays from Monday 12 April 2021.
4. Visit Moreton-in-Marsh
Moreton-in-Marsh is one of the northern Cotswolds’ largest market towns, with its large open-air market bringing hundreds of traders to the high street every Tuesday.
Shoppers can find everything from local produce to unique gifts, with a number of stylish stores to browse, too. Plus, fans of The Lord of the Rings will love raising a glass in The Bell Inn, believed to be J.R.R. Tolkein’s inspiration for Middle Earth’s famous pub, The Prancing Pony.
Just over a mile away, Batsford Arboretum boasts 56 acres of colourful parkland, with lots of stunning scenery and outdoor space to explore; while Cotswold Falconry Centre promises a fun family day out.
5. Visit Chipping Campden
With over 250 Listed buildings, Chipping Campden is a jewel in the northern Cotswolds’ crown, promising a picture-perfect day out.
From admiring the 17th century Market Hall to browsing the various antique shops, artisan workshops and independent food stores, there’s lots for visitors to discover as they amble the streets of this quaint Cotswold town.
Nearby, visitors can explore the intricately designed gardens of Hidcote, while keen walkers can find one end of the famous Cotswold Way, a 102-mile footpath that connects the town to Bath, located near the war memorial.
6. Visit Stow-on-the-Wold
The highest of the Cotswolds towns, Stow-on-the-Wold is a picturesque market town that’s bursting with history – home to ancient buildings and England’s oldest inn, The Porch House, which dates back to 947AD!
The historic Market Square is a must visit, surrounded by quintessential Cotswold stone buildings, independent shops and plenty of cafés to grab a takeaway coffee from.
A short stroll away from the bustling centre, The Sheep on Sheep Street is opening its newly refurbished beer garden on Friday 16 April 2021, with a delicious menu of summer pizzas to enjoy.
7. Visit Fairford
Fairford is a former coaching town in the Cotswold hills, perhaps best known for its airforce base, which hosts the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Sitting on the River Coln and the eastern edge of Cotswold Water Park, it’s ideally located for walkers and fishermen, with several watering holes – including The Railway Inn, which is opening up its sun terrace from Monday 12 April 2021.
Exploring the town, visitors can admire the medieval stained glass at St Mary’s Church; pick up local produce at the traditional market, which visits the town on Wednesdays; or enjoy a takeaway coffee from the local Lynwood & Co Café.
8. Visit Lechlade
Sat on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, Lechlade is the highest navigable point on the River Thames. Surrounded by the lakes of Cotswold Water Park, it’s a hot spot for river sports and water-based activities.
The high street has lots to offer, too, from antique shops to art galleries and even a year-round Christmas shop. For thirsty visitors, The Riverside is a fantastic local pub set on the Thames which plans to reopen its picturesque beer garden on Monday 12 April 2021.
Visitors to the historic town can also enjoy local circular walks, all starting in Lechlade Market Square, with leaflets available from the library and post office.
9. Visit South Cerney
A small Cotswold village, South Cerney lies within the Cotswold Water Park, making it perfectly placed for adventurers looking to explore the vast lake system.
While lakes and surrounding countryside is arguably the biggest attraction for visitors, South Cerney is a lovely place to explore for a peaceful day out, with quaint Cotswold stone buildings to see. There are also a few pubs, with The Old George Inn opening its brand-new beer garden on Monday 12 April 2021.