Thatched-roof cottages, rolling green hills, stone buildings and farmlands evoke the ultimate vision of quintessential English countryside. And often, it’s the villages found in the stunning Cotswolds that evoke these thoughts and inspire travellers to visit England.

If you’re not sure where you should go, then this quick list of the five best and prettiest villages in the Cotswolds should help you make a start on exploring this part of England…

5 of the best (and prettiest) villages in the Cotswolds

Here’s a useful map so you can find the best villages in the Cotswolds:

1. Bourton-on-the-Water

Cherry blossoms at Bourton-on-the-Water

Often nicknamed “Venice of the Cotswolds”, Bourton-on-the-Water is the perfect introduction to this list of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. Built around a winding, lazy river, this little village offers lots of cafes and independent shops to investigate. If you’re keen on doing more than just drinking tea, eating scones and shopping though, then there’s also a Model Village and Cotswold Motoring Museum here, which are both worth seeing.

Best things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water

  • The Model Village: Bourton-on-the-Water in miniature
  • Cotswold Motoring Museum: Vintage cars and antique toy cars
  • The Dragonfly Maze: Traditional hedge maze
  • Mary’s Rest Tea Room & Cafe: Come here for the perfect afternoon tea
  • Bourton-on-the-Water High Street: Lots of boutiques and independent shops to mooch around in
  • Riverside Walk: Simply follow the winding river… maybe even bring a picnic with you!

2. Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold

One of the larger villages found in the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold is a picture perfect place to explore. There’s an abundance of independent shops here, most beginning with ‘The Cotswold’ such as The Cotswold Frock Shop and The Cotswold Company. There’s often quite a few festivals and events happening here throughout the summer months too!

Best things to do in Stow-on-the-Wold

  • St Edward’s Church: An old church flanked by huge yew trees – whether nature and history combine
  • Stow-on-the-Wold High Street: Lots more boutiques and independent shops to explore
  • The Village Stocks: A step back in history as you stumble upon some traditional stocks where they kept petty criminals and allowed local townspeople to throw rotten fruit and vegetables at them (or worse)

3. Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden

There are lots of walking trails throughout the Cotswolds, but the most popular: The Cotswold Way starts right here in Chipping Campden. This is a very small market town, but it has a delightful selection of restaurants to eat at. Plus, lots of the homes and shops here make for perfect Instagram photos – especially if you can also capture an old fashioned car in front of them as well! It’s almost like taking a walk back into history, which is the perfect way to spend any trip in the UK.

Best things to do in Chipping Campden

  • The Cotswold Way Walk: This popular walking trail starts in Chipping Campden, and is well worth doing!
  • Chipping Campden High Street: You can probably spot a theme emerging with all of these boutiques and independent shops you should be exploring
  • Badgers Hall: The best place in town to have tea, cake and even a full afternoon tea

4. Castle Combe

Castle Combe

Often home to lots of period dramas and other filming locations, Castle Combe really is the epitome of the Cotswolds and beautiful English countryside. There are ample walking trails around here, traditional English pubs and row upon row of picture perfect cottages!

Best things to do in Castle Combe

  • Walk around the village: See if you can spot which movies and TV programs these traditional Cotswolds houses have been in
  • St Andrew’s Church: Dates back to the 13th Century
  • Castle Combe Circuit: Love cars? Love racing cars? You can either race your own car around this track, borrow some rally cars or just watch the adrenaline junkies from afar
  • Castle Combe and By Brook Walk: Just under 6 miles of countryside walks through woodlands, fields and along rivers, before ending back in the Castle Combe village

5. Lacock

Lacock Abbey

Lacock is also home to lots of filming locations, with Harry Potter being its most famous partnership. There’s Lacock Abbey, some of which was used as Hogwarts in some of the Harry Potter movies, as well as the whole village which has been used in things like Downton Abbey and The White Princess. You didn’t hear it from me, but it’s also rumoured that Lacock Abbey could also play its part within the Fantastic Beasts saga too! And to be fair, once you stroll around the Abbey and village, it’s easy to see why they would be used so much in filming!

Best things to do in Lacock

  • Lacock Abbey: Where Harry Potter was filmed – see if you can spot any features you recognise
  • Walk around the village: See if you can spot which films and TV shows have been filmed here
  • Sign of the Angel: A traditional English pub that serves delicious roast dinners

So this is just five of the best villages in the Cotswolds, but there’s loads more to see! Why not embark on a “treasure hunt” in the Cotswolds or get involved with even more excellent walking trails?

See the five best (and prettiest) Cotswold villages in video form…


Over to you now – where else should travellers head to in the Cotswolds? And which of these beautiful villages is first on your list? Let me know in the comments…

Are you looking for more beautiful villages? Find out why Tintagel in Cornwall should also be on your UK bucket list >>

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The Prettiest Villages in the Cotswolds

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