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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 06 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

The rolling hills and picturesque villages of the Cotswolds are dotted with historic manor houses, castles and estates – and these, in turn, come with some of the most glorious gardens in the country.

Landscapes designed by Capability Brown and William Kent sit alongside contemporary, recently-restored gardens; vast National Trust-owned estates roll out around small, privately-owned gardens that have been a lifetimes work. The affluence of the Cotswolds means that most of the gardens are pristinely kept, and most offer interesting guided tours explaining the garden’s history and current gardening techniques.

Some are dedicated to aesthetics, some to specific species, but there’s also a significant number advocating and showcasing leading thinking on home-grown produce.

Recommended itineraries by our writers that include this experience

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Most gardens are easy to do independently, but there are plenty of local companies offering day (or longer) escorted tours to some of the best-known gardens. Public transport is, however, limited and many gardens often lie some distance from stops. Self-driving is your best bet.

When to do it

The Cotswolds gets packed in late spring and summer – if you want to visit gardens then (when they are admittedly at their most beautiful), go on a week-day or first thing in the morning.

Autumn days, when the foliage blazes and the air is crisp and cool, can be wonderful and less crowded, if you’re not concerned with seeing summer blooms.

A beautiful garden overgrown with shrubs in front of Hidcote Manor House

Hidcote Manor Garden

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

This National Trust property is one of the best known and most influential Arts & Crafts gardens in Britain, with its linked ‘rooms’ of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous border.

Best for ages: 18+ | £10

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Highgrove Gardens

Tetbury, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

A beautiful, organic and sustainable garden, Highgrove is also the private home of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Best for ages: 14+ | £2,950

A pathway leading up to a red gazebo in a garden

Painswick Rococo Garden

Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

Dotted with follies, quirky buildings, colourful borders and unusual shrubs and plants, Painswick dates back to 1799, and is the UK’s only complete surviving rococo garden.

Best for ages: 18+ | £10

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People on the cooking course collecting vegetables from the garden

Raymond Blanc Gardening School

Great Milton, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Providing much of the home-grown produce for the chef’s world-famous cooking school are 11 enchanting gardens and orchards. These interactive day courses in the gardens offer advice, ideas and inspiration for growing your own produce, from the best in the business.

Best for ages: 16+ | £150 | 1 day

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Barnsley House

Cirencester, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

A charming 17th-century manor house hotel, with a lovely spa, three restaurants and glorious gardens.

Official star rating:

The Manor House

Castle Combe, Wiltshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A romantic country house retreat set in historic Castle Combe, one of England’s most medieval villages.

Official star rating:

Wild Rabbit

Kingham, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Picture perfect, eco-friendly luxurious village inn, set in the prettiest part of the Cotswolds.

Official star rating:

Cowley Manor & Spa

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)

Multi-award-winning luxury but family-friendly hotel and exceptional spa set in 55-acre gardens, ideally located for exploring the beautiful Cotswolds.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, United Kingdom (UK)

One of England’s most beautiful regions – a patchwork landscape of idyllic countryside, postcard-perfect villages and cosy historic boutique hotels.

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