The Cotswolds are one of the most magical and romantic places I’ve visited, especially in England. The region is actually 6 counties grouped together and seriously each one is cuter than the next. I had seen a picture of Arlington Row many years ago when Ben and I first started talking. When I booked my first trip to England I decided I must see this picturesque area. I’m so glad I did.
If you’ve ever read Jane Eyre or Emily Bronte you know what it’s like to dream about the classic English country side. The imagery is simple yet beautiful. The lush, rolling hills you read about in classic novels are exactly as you dream they would be in real life. Even the doors were small and quaint!
The best part about the whole trip was being able to walk around and explore the different cities. I promise you’ll be taking picture after picture of the medieval looking villages. They almost look as if they’ve been stopped in time. Yet amazingly, people still live here! The villages were as lively as I’m sure they were back in the olden days.
With so many beautiful places to explore in this area you could easily see everything within a long weekend. If you like the slower pace of life though, I would strongly suggest staying for longer.
The Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and best known for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill. In fact there was a garden instated in memory of him; The Churchill Memorial Garden. Blenheim Palace is an easy drive to get to in the Cotswolds if you have a car. I’m not too sure how you would get there otherwise unless you booked a designated tour.
Originally built in the early 1700s, this impressive building has been very well kept over the years. The grounds are large and very impressive. You can pay money to go into the building if you wish but walking around the area and the building is impressive in itself.
If you look on the official Blenheim Palace website you’ll find suggested walks that you can do around the grounds. Our favourite was the Queens Pool walk. This takes you around the large pond outside the front of the building and you can get some amazing views of the palace.
One of my favourite places in the Cotswolds was Bourton-on-the-water. The little town seemed to have been built along a tiny river which now flows through the town. The shops on either side are incredibly quaint and make for wonderful spots to walk through. There are five little bridges dotted throughout this town which make for perfect spots for photos.
The buildings don’t look like much has changed from the days they were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of them still have straw roofs which you would never see in North America. While we didn’t get a chance to get to it, apparently there is a really cute miniature village in Bourton-on-the-water. Now that I know that, I definitely need to book a trip back!
If you’re looking for a ‘night out’ (if there ever was such a thing in the Cotswolds) than Chipping Campden is where you would want to be. The high street is located along a hill. From the top you can get quite a beautiful view of the little village below and the rolling hills beyond. Apparently Chipping Campden was one of the biggest and most important wool towns throughout Europe at one point.
My favourite thing to do here was walking around the grounds of St. James Church. Built 500 years ago, the church is perched a bit away from the main strip. I encourage you to make your way around the property. Even the graveyard is something exquisite.
In terms of towns in Cotswolds, Chipping Campden is one of the biggest and a great area to stay in overnight. I loved walking in and out of the cute shops. Word to the wise though, these homes weren’t made for tall people so you may have to duck more times than you’d probably like.
Moreton-in-Marsh is a quaint market town built in the 18th century. Many visitors will choose to travel to this little town on Tuesdays when they hold their weekly market. Despite being so small, the market holds up to 200 stalls!
In fact, it’s rumoured that J.R.R Tolkein had ties to Moreton-in-Marsh. So much so, there’s even a society dedicated to him in the small town. They’ve done their work in making connections between The Lord of the Rings and several key pillars in the town (ie; The Bell Inn and the Four Shire Stone).
Bibury is the most well-known area of the Cotswolds because it’s where Arlington Row is located and for being the captial of the Cotswolds. Actually, this landmark is what sparked my desire to visit the Cotswolds in the first place. I swear you’ve never seen anything cuter than these little houses lined up together along a small hill. It can get really touristy here so make sure to visit earlier on in the day than later. I also would encourage you to walk around the area a bit. There are some really beautiful homes located around the area.
The Ellenborough Hotel is also located right nearby. I didn’t stay there or go inside but this hotel is absolutely gorgeous. I swear, if I had all the money in the world I would definitely have gotten married there. The hotel is dated back to the 15th century and oozes old British charm. If you plan on visiting, walk around and ride the swing! It’s the most beautifully romantic thing ever!
One of the things I wish we had have done was biking through the Cotswolds. There are lots of places to rent bikes from but because they are small shops you should make sure to check the hours, and availability before going. It’s best though that you drive around the areas because they are rather large. We typically rent our cars through Hotwire because they have the cheapest rates and biggest selection.
We happened to stay just outside the Cotswolds in a little town called Witney. It was pretty easy to get everywhere but a bit out of the way. If I were to go back anytime soon (and trust me we plan on it), than I’d like to stay a lot more central. No matter where you choose to stay in the Cotswolds though, the hotels are as cute as the city.