An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty spanning 800 square miles, it’s no wonder the Cotswolds attracts 20 million visitors every year, who come to experience the quintessential beauty of rural England.
In celebration of English Tourism Week, which runs from Saturday 18 April to Saturday 25 April 2020, SoGlos is celebrating all the Cotswolds has to offer, giving you even more reasons to hop in the car and visit this truly stunning region.
1. Picture-perfect villages
Visitors to the Cotswolds are spoilt for choice with attractive towns and villages just waiting to be explored. Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the Venice of the Cotswolds because of the River Windrush which runs through its centre, is a must-see on any Cotswold itinerary.
Other note-worthy places include the town of Burford, famed for its pretty houses and abundance of antique shops; the market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, which is brimming with tea rooms; Winchcombe, a great base for walkers; and Broadway, home to 18th-century folly Broadway Tower. Find inspiration with our round up of 14 picture-perfect Cotswold destinations.
2. Quintessential tea rooms
If ever there was a place to enjoy a cream tea, it’s the Cotswolds, which is home to plenty of pretty spots to indulge in sumptuous scones and endless pots of steaming hot tea, often served in pretty vintage china.
Visit any of the Cotswold towns and villages and you’ll come across everything from quintessential tea rooms to luxury hotels serving full blown afternoon teas. For delicious inspiration, check out our round up of 14 of the best Cotswold tea rooms.
3. Historic attractions
Home to stunning historic attractions spanning splendid castles and impressive stately homes, history buffs of all ages have plenty to keep them entertained on a visit to the Cotswolds.
Soak up the majestic Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, a beautiful 15th century stately home with royal connections; see flamboyant follies at Painswick Rococo Garden or visit some of the many National Trust properties including Snowshill Manor, which celebrates the life of Charles Paget Wade, and the 17th century Lodge Park.
4. Beautiful walking routes
The Cotswold Way, a 100-mile route that stretches from Chipping Campden down to Bath, is paradise for walkers wanting to soak up the beauty of the region on two feet, with some sections also suitable for cyclists and horses.
Choose to tackle small stretches at a time before enjoying a pub lunch, or plan a walking holiday that takes in the whole route and includes accommodation stops along the way. Discover some of the best Cotswold pub walks that are perfect for refuelling with a pint.
5. Glorious gardens
With an array of glorious gardens providing horticultural inspiration for green-fingered enthusiasts, there are certainly plenty of places to appreciate nature when visiting the Cotswolds, including the internationally renowned Hidcote Manor Garden near Chipping Campden.
Don’t miss imaginative topiary at Bourton House Garden near Moreton-in-Marsh, see impressive trees at Batsford Arboretum, and enjoy a sensory experience at Cotswold Lavender during the summer months.
6. Dream properties
From cute cottages and sprawling barn conversions, to elegant town houses and Instagram-worthy front doors, prepare to fall hard for dreamy properties when visiting the Cotswolds – trust us, you’ll be stalking Rightmove before you know it!
Expect to see golden-coloured Cotswold stone galore, with the beautiful Jurassic limestone characteristic of properties across the region. Head to Bibury to snap a picture of the charming Arlington Row, or visit the market town of Chipping Campden to see fine examples of building craftsmanship.
7. Family-friendly destinations
The Cotswolds has something for all ages but is particularly perfect for families visiting the region thanks to its bumper crop of family-friendly attractions and days out.
Children will love getting friendly with fluffy animals at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, seeing the rhinos at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, or running about among the towering trees at Westonbirt Arboretum.
8. Memorable drives
One of the best ways to appreciate all the Cotswolds had to offer is by getting behind the wheel to explore the windy country roads, rolling countryside, and discover more off-the-beaten track destinations along the way.
In the north Cotswolds, the drive from Chipping Norton to Moreton-in-Marsh is particularly scenic, and you can include a stop at National Trust property, Chastleton House. In the south Cotswolds, head from Northleach to Cirencester before hopping back in the car to go to Rodborough Common, where you can sample a scoop or two of Winstones ice-cream.
9. Country pubs
Whether you’re looking for a cosy open fire to warm up with a pint of real ale, or a beautiful garden to enjoy an alfresco Pimm’s, the Cotswolds is home to plenty of country pubs that are worth scheduling a scenic stop in your itinerary.
The Maytime Inn near Burford has a delightful garden and serves up a mean Sunday roast, while The Porch House is England’s oldest inn, styled with modern contemporary decor, but with a history dating back to the 10th century.
10. Delicious local produce
If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation or want something foodie to take home with you, there’s nothing nicer than filling your basket with delicious Cotswold food and drink from the range of farm shops throughout the region.
Don’t miss visiting Cotswold Cheese Company, which has shops in Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, and Upton Smokery where you can stock up on smoked meat and fish, while the farmers' markets also offer plenty of delicious produce.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, check out our Cotswold accommodation round up, featuring everything from luxurious hotels and country B&Bs, to cosy cottages and glamping sites.