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Last updated: 19 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Few places in the British Isles evoke a quintessential sense of England like the Cotswolds. The region spans five counties, with rolling hills and clusters of stone cottages that form picturesque villages and small towns.

It’s weekend break heaven, with luxurious, cosy hotels, gastropubs and a lattice of walking routes crossing the wooded valleys and steep escarpments. There are urban pleasures too – the region is flanked by some of Britain’s most iconic, beautiful towns, including Oxford, Bath, Stratford and Cheltenham.


The Cotswolds sprawls across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire, covering nearly 800sq miles. Visit Broadway Tower, the Cotswold’s highest point, for views over up to 16 counties.

Bath and Cheltenham are at the far western end of the region, with Oxford at the East, while Cirencester and Evesham are the southern/northern tips.

The pretty towns of Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-the-Marsh lie at the centre of the region, with Chipping Campden perhaps the most iconic and beautiful Cotswold town.

Travel advice

When to go

The summer months – and particularly the school holidays of July and August – sees the Cotswolds throng with tourists.

Far better to visit if you can in September or October, when the villages are quieter and the countryside is ablaze with autumn colour. Equally beautiful are the spring months of April and May, when the fields are alive with daffodils and new-born lambs.

Getting there and away

Bath, Cheltenham and Oxford all have excellent train connections from London. Heathrow Airport is just over an hour’s drive from the Cotswolds; Bristol airport around the same.

The Oxford Tube is an hourly bus service from London Victoria to Oxford, from where connecting buses and trains go to various towns in the Cotswolds area. Around two hours’ drive from London.

Getting around

The Cotswolds is a large area so to explore it properly it’s best to have a car – although in summer the single-lane country roads are horribly busy. The only train stations in the Cotswolds are at Moreton-in-Marsh, Stroud and Stonehouse, with links to London and Birmingham.

Cycling is an excellent way to discover the Cotswolds; there are miles of bridleways and cycle paths that offer the chance to escape the busy roads.

Where to stay

North of the A40 is where most of the major tourist honeypots are – Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway and Moreton-in-the-Marsh, while the southern Cotswolds are quieter and less visited.

Not all Cotswold villages are overrun with tourists; Blockley is a hidden gem with pretty houses and a great village shop for picnic supplies.

Excellent walking (and fishing) is to be found in the Windrush Valley, home to the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, while for long-distance hiking, Chipping Campden, Broadway and Winchcombe are all on the way

First timers looking for the quintessential Cotswolds experience should stay in Broadway or Chipping Camden, while those after a more tranquil, crowd-free break should stay south, in Tetbury or Bibury.

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