Your guide to the best villages in the Cotswolds

It’s well worth visiting Bicester Village for our stunning collection of restaurants and boutiques, but on our doorstep is the Cotswolds – a region of England synonymous with charm and history. It’s designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

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6 Cotswolds villages worth visiting

The Cotswold countryside is a patchwork of fields, farms, meadows and forests just waiting to be explored. Rivers and canals intersect its green landscape and run through the quaint villages, which themselves are stuffed with honey-coloured limestone houses and cosy thatched cottages. There’s so much to explore, from well-trodden paths through the most scenic parts of the Cotswolds, to the finest restaurants and pubs.

Consider this your need-to-know guide to the best of the villages in the Cotswolds – the ones that you definitely don’t want to miss during your visit to the area.



An hour’s drive from Bicester Village
You may not have ever heard of it, but you’ve most likely seen it; Bibury and its world-famous Arlington Row of cottages has been featured in films (most notably Stardust) and appeared alongside Ben Nevis and the White Cliffs of Dover in UK passports.

It’s everything you would expect from a traditional English village; a history dating back to the Iron Age, traditional pubs, independent stores, cafés and picture-perfect Cotswold stone. It’s as pretty as a postcard and an idyllic place to spend an afternoon.

If the village’s quaint aesthetic isn’t enough to impress on its own, its location means you’re also in the heart of the Cotswolds - your gateway to many wonderful countryside walks.



An hour’s drive from Bicester Village
Blockley is a Cotswold village that you might be familiar with under another name: the fictional village of Kembleford, made famous by the British comedy-drama, *Father Brown*. It’s also one with much historic significance; during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Blockley was a centre for the silk industry, with the mills using water from the brook which runs through this village.

Why not make this your lunch stop? The village is home to The Great Western Arms, which is well worth visiting to sample the highly-rated fish and chips. Or, it’s worth taking a pit-stop at nearby Blockley Café after exploring the village – expect the best local produce expertly showcased through the café’s seasonal menu.



An hour’s drive from Bicester Village
A village as perfectly descriptive as its pictures, Bourton-on-the-Water, with the river Windrush snaking through its centre and charming cottages lining its banks, is an essential visit for your list.

Home to an array of attractions, most notable the Cotswolds Motor Museum. With its impressive collection of classic cars and motoring memorabilia, visitors can also find Brum, the cheeky yellow Austin 7 from the eponymous BBC show.

It’s also home to the only grade II listed model village in the country, which is much more impressive than its size will lead you to believe. It’s an accurate, one-ninth-scale model of the village made of real local stone – there’s even a model village within the model village!

If its museums and model villages don’t quite pique your interest, surely a stroll along its riverside with an ice cream or coffee from one of the local cafés is sure to delight.


Castle Combe

A 1 hour and 20-minute drive from Bicester Village
A scene we’ve long come to associate with the Cotswolds: a river gently flowing under the bridge, where the plants on the riverbanks dip into the water and the church spire is just visible above the honey-hued stone cottages. This is Castle Combe, a village that transports you back in time.

A village as replete with history than any other in the Cotswolds, careful effort has been made to preserve its character. As such, no new houses have been built in Castle Combe since the 1600s which has made it a popular choice for film and TV productions, and you’ve likely seen it in Downton Abbey and Poirot.



A 1 hour and 10-minute drive from Bicester Village
The village of Stanton is one of the lesser known treasures of the Cotswolds, making it the perfect place to unwind. It’s off the beaten track, down a winding lane that leads from nearby Stanway to the village. There are no shops and no guesthouses, no busloads of tourists and no kitsch tea rooms - it's a true hidden gem.

One pub serves the village, The Mount, which, if you visit, should start with a pint of the locally brewed Donnington Ale and follow with a seat overlooking its spectacular views of the Malvern Hills.

Close to many great hiking paths, Stanton is a popular pit stop for walkers. A particular highlight for those visiting in the spring is the Blossom Trail, tucked down in the Evesham Valley. It's worth getting some sturdy footwear and weatherproof outdoor wear before setting off on an adventure.


Upper and Lower Slaughter

An hour’s drive from Bicester Village
These are two villages in the Cotswolds that are easily overlooked, compared to their popular neighbour, Bourton-on-the-Water (just two miles to the south), but the Slaughters are just as picturesque as any other Cotswolds village. Their names; Upper and Lower Slaughter comes from the Old English "slothre" meaning "muddy place", and while that might not sound like your holiday ideal, we can assure you that you won’t get stuck in the mud.

In Lower Slaughter, you can visit The Old Mill Museum – a water mill on the banks of the River Eye, which has an adorable craft shop. Then walk along the Warden’s Way, up to Upper Slaughter to tour the picturesque Manor.

Plan your visit

Discover new arrivals at more than 150 boutiques, world-class dining and five-star services for a seamless day out. We offer free parking spaces for guests travelling by car. Guests can also travel easily by train – all just under an hour from London.

Travelling around the Cotswolds

However, and whenever you choose to visit the Cotswolds, your trip will – and rightly should – include travelling to the villages we’ve mentioned. Touring by car is a quick and easy way to travel along the areas winding country lanes. If you don’t have your own vehicle, it’s easy to hire one in the major towns or cities on the outskirts of the Cotswolds. Many villages are also serviced by public transport, and you can purchase a Cotswolds Discoverer One Day Pass for £10.50 which allows you unlimited travel on many trains and buses.

To make the most of your time in the area, read our guide to Oxford, which neighbours the beautiful Cotswold countryside. Alternatively, you can browse our other regional guides here.

Best of the region

Want to explore? We've chosen our favourite attractions and things to do in beautiful Oxford and the surrounding areas – from storied colleges, museums and libraries to regal parklands and wild meadows.

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