Places to visit in the Cotswolds – a guide to the towns and villages

A regularly updated guide to towns and villages to visit in the Cotswolds – currently featuring 38 different locations. Some of the places are on the edges of the official Cotswolds area but all are worth a trip. Each one has at least one corresponding poster design too – click the images to take a look at them.

Avening Church

Avening

Avening is a village that lies between the popular locations of Tetbury and Nailsworth but is worth a visit in its own right. Formerly home to a few cloth mills, it has a Norman chuch and a couple of pubs and it's a particularly good spot for walkers to explore the valley's beautiful scenery. 

Bibury Arlington Row

Bibury

Bibury is one of the quintessential Cotswold villages. The view of the cottages at Arlington Row (see image on the left) is one of the most famous in the region and the shallow River Coln with its ducks is lovely for an amble along too. However the camera-armed tourists flock here by the busload so it's worth avoiding weekends and peak season. It also doesn't take long to see the sights here.

Bourton on the Water

Bourton on the Water

Another very popular location for tourists, which also has a shallow river running through the heart of it. There are lots of little family-friendly attractions to see in Bourton including the miniature village, miniature railway, Motor Museum, Birdland, and the Dragonfly Maze. It’s also got many good options for places to get a tea or an ice cream.

Bradford-on-Avon

Bradford-on-Avon

Sitting just outside Bath and on the edge of the Cotswolds, the River Avon is at the heart of Bradford-on-Avon, and it is crossed by a few picturesque bridges. The town was home to a thriving textile industry in the 17th and 18th centuries, with as many as 30 woollen mills sitting next to the river at the peak (the last one closed in 1905). The Kennet and Avon canal also runs past the town and the paths are well worth an explore by foot or bike, taking you on to Bath or Devizes.

Broadway Tower

Broadway and Broadway Tower

The village of Broadway sits in Worcestershire at the North of the Cotswolds, and picturesque wide boulevard main street has plenty of little shops, cafes, and tea rooms. Overlooking the village on the second-highest hill in the Cotswolds is Broadway Tower, which is worth a visit for the elegant tower itself and the country park that surrounds it.

Burford

Burford

On the edge of Oxfordshire, the centre of Burford sits on a hill and the high street is filled with interesting independent shops and pubs to explore. Sitting by the River Windrush is the grand St John the Baptist church, which boasts some beautiful architecture and is worth a look around.

Castle Combe Village

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is a highly picturesque old village in North Wiltshire that crops up in TV and film (most famously Spielberg's War Horse). There’s not a great amount to it but there are cracking views whichever way you look and you can do a few nice walks into the countryside around. Unsurprisingly somewhere this attractive pulls in the tourist numbers at peak season.

Chalford Golden Valley

Chalford

A little bit off the beaten track in the Cotswolds, Chalford sits in what’s known as the Golden Valley near Stroud. The steep hills in this richly tree-lined area provide some challenging walks with great views.

Chipping Campden Market

Chipping Campden

Whilst it is in Gloucestershire, Chipping Campden is close to Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire and acts as a gateway to the North of the Cotswolds. It is full of great old listed buildings and has a very picturesque high street. It has long been a home for craftspeople and in the early 20th Century it was a centre for the Arts and Craft movement, and home to the Guild of Handicraft.

Chipping Norton Town Hall

Chipping Norton

In West Oxfordshire, Chipping Norton is another of the market towns built on the wool trade that the Cotswolds do so well. It features several old and medieval buildings in the town centre that are home to independent shops and eateries. Along the high street is the grand town hall from the mid-19th Century and not far out of town is Bliss Mill with its impressive chimney column.

Cirencester Church and Marketplace

Cirencester

Known as the capital of the Cotswolds and probably the largest town that sits squarely within the region. These days Cirencester is full of interesting independent shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s also has a revitalised market place with markets on at least three days of the week, including weekend food and craft markets (where you can occasionally find the Cotswold Poster Co stall!). Cirencester Park is good for a long walk and possibly to watch some polo.

Corsham Town Hall

Corsham

Corsham is in Wiltshire, right on the edge of the Cotswolds, not far from Chippenham and Bath. It grew up around the wool industry and the quarrying of Bath Stone (a lighter limestone than Cotswold Stone). This stone is literally the building blocks of much of the town and the lovely historic high street and town centre. The stately home of Corsham Court is famed locally for its peacocks which wander about the streets and has some glorious parkland to explore.

Cricklade North Meadow

Cricklade

Sitting outside of the Cotswolds and just north of Swindon, Cricklade is a small town with some great countryside nearby. In particular is the North Meadow National Nature Reserve, which for a few weeks every Spring is home to flowers you won’t find anywhere else.

Crudwell Village

Crudwell

Crudwell is a village with an active community, who organise annual events like their 24 hour bike ride and Strawberry Fayre. It is also home to a couple of places that have fantastic food and drink, in the form of the Potting Shed pub (shown in the poster) and the Rectory Hotel.

Dursley Market Hall Church

Dursley

Dursley itself is home to plenty of independent shops and cafes but it is popular for its location, sitting in a wooded valley on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment. This means it is a great base to do walks from and close to many great views across the surrounding landscape. It even hosts an annual walking festival.

Fairford Mill

Fairford

A small but growing town with a nice little high street and a grand church, featuring some of the best-preserved medieval stained glass windows in England. The River Coln winds around and through the town and forms a great place to have a walk along, including past livestock and the old mill pond. There is a US airbase at Fairford, which is home to the annual Air Tattoo event, the best place to get your fix of military aircraft.

GWSR Stanway Viaduct

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is a heritage railway that runs along the old Honeybourne Line between Cheltenham Racecourse and the village of Broadway and is operated wholly by volunteers. Riding in the old carriages pulled by a vintage steam or diesel engine makes for a fantastic day out and is a great way to get a view of the landscape of the Cotswold hills.

Lacock Village Wiltshire

Lacock

We're stepping outside of the Cotswolds to the south here but the village of Lacock is well worth a visit. It is owned by the National Trust and is a beautifully unspoiled with much of it looking the same as it did in the 18th Century, including many traditional stone cottages and half timber buildings. As a result it is very popular with TV producers for period dramas and it pops up in the Harry Potter films too.

Lechlade

Lechlade

Sitting on the edge of Gloucestershire and a few miles north of Swindon, Lechlade is named after the river Leach but is more famous for being the most Westerly navigable town on the Thames. As a result the town is popular for its boating and river-based activities, from novelty pedal boats to canoeing and fishing.

Lower Slaughter

Lower Slaughter

Lower Slaughter is a small village not far from Stow-on-the-Wold with most of the buildings dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. The old water mill, that once milled flour, sits on the shallow River Eye and has now been restored as a small museum and tea room – the only real tourist attraction. Otherwise there are several bridges that cross the river and allow you to explore this picturesque village.

Malmesbury Town

Malmesbury

Malmesbury is a small town packed with historic significance, including being the home of the first king of England. The part-ruined Abbey is still a grand building that sits at the heart of the town. The centre sits on a hill and is surrounded on all sides by the River Avon, which is well worth a walk around when the weather is good. The Abbey House Gardens are a magical experience to explore in summer. Oh and it's home to Cotswold Poster Co!

Minchinhamptom Common

Minchinhampton

A sleepy and picturesque village with some lovely old Cotswold stone buildings. It’s probably most famous for the Common that sits on the plateau above the surrounding valleys (see our design to the left). This land features free-roaming cows, a golf course, and plenty of space for people to walk or run around whilst taking in the views.

Moreton-in-Marsh

Moreton-in-Marsh

Moreton-in-Marsh came to prominence in the thirteenth century as a market town and there still is a busy weekly market today with about 200 stalls attracting many visitors and tourists. There are many 17th and 18th Century buildings lining the High Street. Standing in the centre is the grand Redesdale Hall, which was built in 1887 and now often hosts craft and antiques fairs.

Nailsworth Clock Tower

Nailsworth

A small town that sits at the end of one of the Stroud Valleys. Nailsworth manages a decent number of interesting shops and restaurants for a small place. Climb one of the steep hills to reach Minchinhampton and go the other way to find the world’s first vegan football club, Forest Green Rovers.

Northleach Church

Northleach

The large village of Northleach is in the heart of the Cotswolds and is home to the church of SS Peter and Paul. It was almost entirely built around the year 1400 in a Gothic style with wealth from the local wool trade. The village has more recently been brought to national fame, as the location for the TV series This Country.

Painswick Church

Painswick

Painswick is right in the Cotswold hills, between Stroud and Gloucester. The centre of the town is dominated by the tall grade 1 listed St Mary's church, originating from the 11th Century. It is famed for its 100 yew trees that fill the grounds and graveyard around the church, which are about 300 years old.

Rodborough Common

Rodborough Common

Moving a bit along from Minchinhampton Common is another common of Rodborough. It boasts more dramatic views, similar to Selsley (see below) and is great for catching the evening light. It has lots of fun hollows to explore and is also home to a grand-looking fort at the top. 

Selsley Common View

Selsley Common

One of a few great pieces of common land in the area, it is a SSSI for its grassland and rare flora. The main reason to visit is for the spectacular views across the Stroud valleys and out across the river Severn to Wales. The exposed position means it is almost always windy and a great place to fly a kite – not to mention a good place to let kids run off steam more generally!

Sherston

Sherston

Sitting near Malmesbury in the north of Wiltshire, the village of Sherston has a history dating back to being an Anglo Saxon settlement. The church of the Holy Cross dates from the 13th Century although the tower was rebuilt in the early 1700s. A battle was fought in the area in 1016, where local hero John Rattlebone helped defeat the Danish King Canute, despite being mortally wounded. He's now primarily celebrated in the form of The Rattlebone Inn pub.

Somerford Keynes Church

Somerford Keynes

Somerford Keynes is a small and quiet village. However it does sit in the middle of the Cotswold Water Park lakes and in particular near the main leisure lake and beach, as well as Neigh Bridge (popular for fishing). You can also find the Elemental Sculpture Park and a small Norman church with a lot of history.

South Cerney

South Cerney

South Cerney is a large village just a few miles south of Cirencester, and probably best known for the many nearby lakes that make up the Cotswold Water Park. The River Churn cuts through the middle of the village and there's a good amount of entertainment in the form of three pubs to visit.

Stonehouse Church

Stonehouse

Stonehouse is a small town that extends out to the West of Stroud towards Gloucester. There isn’t a lot to see for the tourist but you it’s worth heading for the historic St Cyrs church to walk along the canal, and exploring the surrounding countryside.

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow is another one of the Cotswolds' market towns built on the back of the sheep farming and wool trade in the area. This heritage is visible through the large market square, with the market cross shown in the poster. Also shown in the background is the grade 1 listed St Edward's church, a popular one to visit for the yew trees that wrap around the door on the north side.

Stroud Canal Bridge

Stroud

A lively town sitting at the heart of five valleys, which still display the signs of an industrial past with several converted old mills in the area. Another part of this history is the old Stroudwater canal, which has gradually been revived over the years. The town has lots of interesting retailers and every Saturday there’s a popular farmer’s market that features some great local food and drink. For more entertainment there's the Subscription Rooms theatre space and the big Stratford Park with its museum in the middle.

Tetbury Town and Church

Tetbury

Tetbury is a popular little Cotswold town probably best known for its many antiques/interiors shops and association with Prince Charles (there’s a Highgrove shop if you want a piece of that royal brand). There are plenty of picturesque buildings to spot, from the cottages along the steep Chipping Steps to the unmissable yellow Market House in the centre. Every May they have the traditional Woolsack Race that involves brave men and women lugging heavy bags up the steep Gumstool Hill.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt

The village itself is a small one but it is a place most famous for the Arboretum, which boasts hundreds of rare trees – some impressively tall and many that you won’t find elsewhere in the country. There’s a play area and tons of exploring to be done for kids, with activities on during school holidays. The newer half features a sky walkway to get a view of things from above, as well as plenty of space for folk to walk their dogs.

Winchcombe

Winchcombe

Winchcombe is a vibrant little medieval market town that sits on the Cotswold Way between Cheltenham and Broadway. It can be visited in a day out on the GWSR train line and in the surrounding countryside you can find attractions like the epic Sudely Castle and the ruins of Hailes Abbey.

Wotton-under-Edge

Wotton-under-Edge

The town of Wotton-under-Edge lies along the Cotswold Way, not far from Dursley and the Tyndale Monument. It's a great base from which to hike and cycle the hills of the area and the high street is full of interesting little independent shops.