Find out more about the Cotswolds, one of the most beautiful areas in England, and start planning your next trip.
The Cotswolds is an area of gentle hills lying between the enticing cities of Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, and Oxford. It’s quintessential England, with pretty villages of honey-coloured stone, manor houses, charming churches, dry-stone walls and country pubs.
Culture & heritage
The Cotswolds owe much to the superior quality of their medieval sheep. Wealth from wool established the great “wool” churches and created the landscape with its dry-stone walls to enclose the animals. The area includes a variety of other notable architecture, including black and white medieval buildings at Tewkesbury and elegant Regency houses in Cheltenham.
From traditional antique shops at Stow-on-the-Wold and Tetbury to contemporary crafts in Cirencester, you’ll find a whole range of great local shops. There is also fashionable clothes and gift shopping in Regency Cheltenham, high quality items at Prince Charles’s Highgrove shop in Tetbury, and food shopping, including delicious local fare at Daylesford Organic Farmshop.
The Cotswolds has one of the most enchanting natural settings in Britain. Visit leafy gardens, both large and small, two arboretums, National Trust properties, and some small but lovely museums. Of national importance are the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, Gloucester Cathedral, the Westonbirt Arboretum and Hidcote Manor Garden.
The Cotswolds is horseriding heaven, with the National Hunt Festival (including the Gold Cup) taking over for a week in March, plus more horse-related events at Gatcombe and Badminton. There are also well regarded cricket festivals at Gloucester and Cheltenham, and, of course, the “cherry and whites” – Rugby at Gloucester.
Food & drink
Gloucestershire has a large section of excellent pubs, from smart gastropubs to traditional inns. Many serve a great choice of wines as well as local beers. You’ll also find farmers’ markets, delis, farm shops and prize-winning cheese producers all selling the freshest local produce.
Music & nightlife
From festivals of folk, classical music and Jazz, to summer opera and concerts in the open air, there’s music playing all year long throughout the Cotswolds. There’s also the prestigious classical music celebration, the Three Choirs Festival every three years.
To make your trip to the Cotswolds easier and avoid the queues, you can buy your train tickets, tickets to attractions, travel passes online.
Top daytime must-do's
- Enjoy lush gardens, like Hidcote Manor or Kiftsgate Court.
- Walk the Cotswold Way, a National Trail which runs between Chipping Campden and Bath.
- Learn about the Arts and Crafts Movement at Kelmscott Manor and Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum.
- Visit Gloucester Cathedral or Tewkesbury Abbey for imposing religious architecture.
- Watch wildlife at the Cotswold Farm Park or the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Top night-time must-do's
- Catch a play at the historic Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham (a Frank Matcham designed building).
- Enjoy a summer show at Longborough Festival Opera or a concert at Westonbirt Arboretum.
- Stay out for the lively Festival of Literature or Jazz.
- In winter, spend a bewitching candlelit evening at Berkeley Castle or Blenheim Palace.
- Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a great country pub.
Browse Visit Britain’s Cotswolds travel guide for videos, facts, discounts and tips.