How to Plan Your Cotswolds Holidays
Thu 1 February 2024
The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Cotswolds Holidays
Where Are the Cotswolds?The Cotswolds, with its rolling hills and postcard-perfect countryside, is nestled in the heart of south-central England. Easily accessible from major cities like London, Birmingham, Bristol, and even Scottish destinations through airports like Edinburgh and Glasgow, it spans across six charming counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Somerset. With its central location, it's no wonder the Cotswolds is a top choice for a serene and rejuvenating staycation, whether you're journeying from the bustling cities of England or the enchanting landscapes of Scotland.
What Are the Cotswolds Famous For?The Cotswolds is renowned for its natural beauty, historic charm, and picturesque landscapes. Here, you'll find honey-coloured stone cottages, quaint villages, and lush green hills. You might even recognise the Cotswolds as the backdrop of films and TV shows like Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey and even Bridget Jones's Diary. Additionally, a place as captivating as the Cotswolds hasn't gone unnoticed by celebrities. Some, like Kate Moss and Kate Winslet, have not only visited but also chosen to have homes in the Cotswolds, enjoying the region's serene and secluded charm.
Where to Stay in the CotswoldsThe Cotswolds is dotted with an array of charming villages, each with its unique character and appeal. Lower Slaughter, Bibury and Stanton are just a few of the prettiest Cotswolds villages that make the Cotswolds the stuff of postcards. But if you're looking for a base to explore as much of the Cotswolds as possible, Cheltenham emerges as a standout choice for many Cotswolds explorers.It's strategically located, serving as a central hub for most of the routes around the Cotswolds. So, if you're keen on exploring the region extensively, Cheltenham is your go-to base. Alternatively, if your travel plans lean towards the northern Cotswolds, the Stratford area is a great option. particularly if you plan on heading north to Warwickshire and on to the charming towns of Leamington Spa and Coventry. So, when it comes to deciding where to lay your head in the Cotswolds, it all boils down to your preferences and the kind of experience you seek. Whether you opt for the convenience of Cheltenham's central location or the allure of the northern Cotswolds, rest assured that your chosen base will be the perfect launching pad for your Cotswolds escapades.
What to Do in the CotswoldsOn your Cotswolds holidays, you'll be spoiled by all the things to do nearby. Whether you're seeking a digital detox, cultural trip or chance to learn more about the history of this incredible region, the following Cotswolds activities can cater to your travel wants and needs:
- Embrace the Great Outdoors: Nature enthusiasts will find their haven in the Cotswolds. Embark on an exhilarating journey along the famous Cotswold Way, a long-distance walking trail that meanders through landscapes of breathtaking beauty. If you prefer a more leisurely exploration, rent a bike and pedal through the undulating countryside, where every turn reveals a new panorama of picturesque vistas. Birdwatchers will find joy in the diverse avian life that graces the region, and what better way to soak up the Cotswolds' tranquility than with a scenic picnic amidst its rolling hills?
- Explore Cotswold Villages: While you're out and about, make a point to visit the charming town of Stroud, a slightly off-the-beaten-path gem. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of its farmer's market on a Saturday morning and explore the treasures found in the park's museum. For families with young adventurers, a visit to Stroud to explore the barge-filled shoreline can feel like an exciting pirate quest. Stroud provides a refreshing alternative to some of the more touristy destinations.
- Cultural Delights: Delve into the cultural treasures that dot the Cotswolds landscape. Traverse the elegant riverside beauty of Bourton-on-the-Water, immerse yourself in the quintessential market town atmosphere of Stow-on-the-Wold, and uncover the historical riches of Cirencester. For an even more enchanting experience, make your way to the idyllic villages known as the Slaughters, where time seems to stand still, and each quaint lane is a delightful journey into history.
- Historic Exploration: Begin your journey by stepping back in time at the Cotswolds' historic sites. Wander through the grandeur of Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, where opulence and architectural brilliance merge seamlessly. Explore the romantic allure of Sudeley Castle, steeped in royal history, and don't miss the opportunity to soak in the Roman legacy at the Roman Baths in Bath. These remarkable landmarks provide glimpses into the region's rich and storied past. Gloucester Grandeur (Culture Continued): Don't forget to set aside time for a visit to Gloucester, where you can admire the architectural marvel of Gloucester Cathedral and delve into the history of the Gloucester Docks.
- The Forest of Dean's Natural Beauty: Just a short journey from the Cotswolds lies the enchanting Forest of Dean, a natural haven less touched by tourism. Explore Symonds Yat with its beautiful walks and riverside pub, and don't miss the mystical allure of Puzzlewood, known for its Star Wars filming locations. For those seeking art in nature, the Sculpture Trail at Beechenhurst is a must-visit.
Where to Eat and Drink in the CotswoldsOn your Cotswolds holidays, you're going to want to sample the local delicacies and luckily the Cotswolds boasts an array of delicious food and drink options, from traditional pubs serving hearty pub grub to upscale restaurants offering gourmet cuisine. Our top choices include:
- The Woolpack Inn: This traditional Cotswolds pubs near Stroud is perfect for a pint in the summer thanks to the leafy terrace.
- The Victoria Inn: Find The Victoria Inn near Eastleach during the winter and cosy up to the fireplace as you munch down on heart-warming pub grub.
- The Bell Inn: run by acclaimed chefs Tom Noest and Peter Creed, is a cherished Cotswold pub known for its exceptional cuisine, extensive drink selection, and cozy atmosphere, even inspiring a miniature version at Soho Farmhouse by Soho House founder Nick Jones.