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A WONDERFUL COTSWOLDS ITINERARY FOR A FAIRY-TALE WEEKEND AWAY

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The image shows Castle Combe in the Cotswolds
The image shows Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds.

There are so many awe-inspiring places across the UK, yet none seem as magical as the Cotswolds. From fairy-tale villages built from stone that scatter across the rolling hills to country mansions fit for a king and queen, the Cotswolds is a quintessentially English location that will surely steal a piece of your heart – as long as you follow this Cotswolds itinerary, anyway!

Having previously lived on the edge of the Cotswolds in Stratford-Upon-Avon for many years, the Cotswolds were always within arms reach and became a place that I visited almost every weekend.

The image shows houses in the Cotswolds.

There is nothing better than driving around the Cotswolds country lanes on a summer’s day and scouting out the best places for coffee and cake!

In this 3-day Cotswolds itinerary, you’ll discover the best towns and villages to visit, as well as the best things to do nearby and some recommended places to stay.

Table of Contents

What to know before visiting the Cotswolds

How to get to the Cotswold and travel around

A network of country lanes sprawl across the fields of the Cotswolds to connect the tiny towns and villages together, meaning it’s not particularly well-equipped with great transport links.

As such, the best way to reach the Cotswolds and travel around is by car.

If you need to rent a car, then the best platform to do so is Rentalcars.com.

They’re my go-to reputable platform as they combine all of the best deals on the market to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

You’ll also want to make sure that you book a car in advance to avoid ridiculously high on-the-spot prices – particularly if you’re coming from an airport where the prices are through the roof on the day.

Exploring The Cotswolds without a car

If you can’t or don’t want to drive, then don’t panic, you can still visit the Cotswolds.

You can either take a bus, or a train.

The latter is usually quicker, but more expensive.

There are a handful of train stations here, with the main station being Moreton-in-Marsh.

If you’re coming from a larger city, this will almost certainly be the station which you arrive at.

The major booking platform in the UK for booking trains is trainline.com.

Whichever way you choose to travel, once you arrive, you’ll be able to use the local buses to get around.

Check the timetable: Cotswolds buses

Cotswolds from London or Oxford

Alternatively, if you’re visiting the Cotswolds from London or Oxford and you don’t want to organise your own transport, there are a lot of day tours which you can join.

Below are some of the best tours available.

Best time of year to visit the Cotswolds

The best time of year to visit the Cotswolds is considered to be from June to August, however it really depends on what you enjoy doing.

I personally think the Cotswolds have something to offer all year round.

In summer, there are a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy and in winter, there is no place more magical than the Cotswolds.

As such, I have tailored the below itinerary to suit a variety of different climates, which makes it the perfect Cotswolds itinerary all year round.

Cotswolds itinerary day 1 (Friday)

Before we jump in, I just wanted to tell you about SafetyWing – they’ve been my go-to travel insurance company since I started travelling full-time because they’re ridiculously affordable (around 80% cheaper than my previous insurance and they offer basically the same thing).

I won’t say too much more, but here’s the link if you want to check them out: SafetyWing

Base Location: Broadway

The image shows Broadway highstreet in the Cotswolds.

Broadway sits on the northern edge of the Cotswolds and is an excellent hub for exploring most of what’s on offer in the north.

Not only is the location great, but there is a fantastic atmosphere too; from day-time street entertainers to festive fates, there’s always something going on to draw people in.

Things to do on Day 1 of your Cotswolds itinerary

Discover the pic views from Dovers Hill

The image shows a dog on Dovers Hill.
The image shows sheep on Dovers Hill.

Broadway is roughly 10 minutes away from another popular town in the Cotswolds – Chipping Campden, where Dovers Hill is situated.

Offering panoramic views over the Cotswolds, Dovers Hill is a fantastic place to go for a morning walk.

If you don’t want to embark on an early morning hike, then you can drive to the top of Dovers Hill and park at the National Trust car park, before finding a bench to relax and absorb the breathtaking views over the Cotswolds.

Alternatively, if you want to explore Chipping Campden high street too, then we recommend parking for free down the road of the Parish Church of Saint Catherine, before joining the Cotswolds Way to reach Dovers Hill.

Overall, it is roughly 3km there and back.

Broadway to Dovers Hill: 9 minutes

Read more: Best Cotswolds walks

Meander through the aromatic field at Cotswolds Lavender Farm

The image shows a girl in the Lavender Farm.
The image shows a girl and a dog in the Lavender Farm.

The tiny village of Snowshill is flooded with visitors every year between June and August when lavender blooms – all thanks to Cotswolds Lavender Farm – a family-run business that opens its farmland gates to the public.

Here you will be able to stroll up and down the tram lines in the lavender fields which have views over Broadway and beyond, as well as pop into the distillery to learn all there is to know about lavender farming.

The ever-increasing popularity to witness the sea of purple has also led to some creative souvenirs available for visitors to take home a little patch of the aromatic lavender fields in the Cotswolds.

Broadway to Cotswolds Lavender Farm: 8 minutes

Bad weather alternative: If the weather isn’t great or you’re visiting the Cotswolds in winter then Snowshill Manor is nearby and it is a great place to explore instead.

Explore Stanton village and stop for a drink at the Mount Inn

Although a small village, Stanton is one of the most picturesque villages in the northern Cotswolds and is a lovely little place to explore on foot, before heading to the Mount Inn pub – a true hidden gem in the Cotswolds with spectacular views over the villages and countryside.

The image shows Stanton village at sun set as part of this Cotswolds itinerary.

In addition, you’ll find walks such as the Stanton, Stanway, and Snowshill Circular beginning from the centre of the village – a 10km route that starts off with a steep incline towards Snowshill, before flattening out for the remainder of the walk.

If you wish to do this walk as well as visit the pub, then I’d suggest doing the route in reverse so that you pass the Mount Inn on your return to Stanton.

Route map: Stanton, Snowshill and Standway Circular

Tip: As you approach Stanton, you’ll see the free village club car park on your right, which, if you’re lucky, you’ll manage to bag a spot in. However, if the free car park is full up, then head further towards the village and park up on the roadside.

Broadway to Stanton: 7 minutes

Engorge in yummy treats at the Pudding Club at the Three Ways House Hotel

The Pudding Club at The Three Ways House Hotel is situated in Mickleton – yet another sweet, yellow-stoned village in the Cotswolds that we will all just keep adding to the list of lovely places we want to retire to in the Cotswolds.

Now, you’re probably thinking that the Pudding Club is some sort of desert parlour – which it is, but it’s also not.

Let me explain.

The Pudding Club is an entirely unique experience.

In summary, you turn up, you have a light main, and you do a lot of spoon banging and cheering, before eventually consuming your body weight in sugar.

It’s great.

Be sure to check availbility ahead of your trip and ask whether there are any special events happening as occasionally they combine the evening with a murder mystery night, or something equally as fun.

Broadway to Mickleton: 13 minutes

Marvel at the sunset from the top of Broadway Tower hilltop

Visiting Broadways Tower at sunset is one of the best, and most importantly free, things to do in the Cotswolds.

On a hot summer’s evening, heading up to Broadway Tower to watch the sunset is a popular thing to do, with many taking a picnic blanket and perching along the hilltop to admire the views over Broadway and beyond as the blazing orange sun sinks behind the Malvern Hills.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch sight of deer in the field below – some of which have some huge antlers!

Tip: If Broadway Tower is busy and you’d rather watch the sunset in a secluded space, yet still enjoy the same views, then head through the gate to the right of the tower. and you’ll find a path that leads directly through the fields and into Broadway.

A few minutes along the track and you’ll discover a couple of benches – the perfect seat with a peaceful view!

Broadway to Broadway Tower: 7 minutes

Wander through the grounds of Sudley Castle in Winchcombe

The image shows Sudeley Castle from above.

Sudeley Castle is home to Lady Ashcombe and is located in the historic town of Winchcombe.

Inside the gates, the immaculate grounds of Sudeley Castle sit on 1200 acres of land and are riddled with trails that wind around pristine gardens, towards secret ruins, and even through a pheasantry.

Once you’ve finished exploring the grounds, we recommend heading into the castle to explore the number of exhibition rooms – some of which are still used occasionally by Lady Ashcombe and her family today.

Broadway to Sudeley Castle: 17 minutes

Jump on board the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Train

The image shows a steam train in the Cotswolds.
Source: Flickr

Providing a great sense of nostalgia, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Train takes you back to the 1900s with perfectly suited decor and staff dressed for the century.

The journey is more of an experience day than a means of getting from A to B, with stunning views over the rolling hills as you meander through the Cotswolds towns and villages.

The railway line runs from Broadway to Cheltenham, with stops at Toddington, Hayles Abbey Holt, and Winchcombe.

The price will depend on how far along the railway line you want to go, however, we thoroughly recommend heading all the way to Cheltenham – a large town that feels more like a city.

If I had to describe Cheltenham, it would be a cross between Bath and Leaming Spa, and is the perfect place to explore for a few hours before hopping back on the train to Broadway.

Tip: You may want to consider combining this experience with your visit to Sudeley Castle, as the train stops at Winchcombe.

Broadway town to the railway station: 3 minutes

Where to stay in Broadway

The image shows a house in the Cotswolds

Additionally, there are plenty of campsites in the Cotswolds – particularly around towns like Broadway which sit in the north.

Cotswolds itinerary day 2 (Saturday)

Base location: Stow-on-the-Wold

The image showsa house in Stow-on-the-Wold
The image shows a pub in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Stow-on-the-wold is a characterful and lively town in the Cotswolds that’s swamped with history.

It’s home to some hidden gems, as well as some fantastic places to eat.

It’s also in a central location, making it the perfect base for day 2 exploring the Cotswolds.

Things to do on day 2 of your Cotswold itinerary

Grab a scrumptious breakfast at Daylesford Farm Shop

The image shows Daylesford farm shop.
source: Daylesford

Daylesford Farm Shop is a dreamy spot for breakfast; the decor is divine and the locally sourced and sustainable produce is top-notch – from the moment you arrive, the whole experience is luxurious.

After a wholesome breakfast, be sure to head to the farm shop to check out all of the incredible food, sweet treats, and homeware available – it’s one of those places that is so incredible that you just want to buy EVERYTHING.

Stow-on-the-Wold to Daylesford Farm Shop: 9 minutes

Taste tantelisingly great ice cream in Lower Slaughter

The image shows Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds.
The image shows Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds.

Lower slaughter is a toy-like village in the Cotswolds; its whimsical houses sit beside the River Eye, which many dip their toes in on a hot summer’s day.

At the end of the river, you’ll spot a water mill – if you cross the nearby bridge and follow the pathway around the corner, you’ll discover The Old Mill Museum.

This is the perfect place to pick up some insanely good ice cream before walking around the village or relaxing by the river.

Alternatively, there is a lovely walk called Bourton and The Slaughters Circular from the nearby Bourton-on-the-Water, which leads through Upper and Lower Slaughter.

Route map: The Slaughters Circular

Stow-on-the-Wold to Lower Slaughter: 6 minutes

Roam the streets of Bourton-on-the-Water

The image shows Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a place that should be on everyone’s Cotswolds itinerary.

Although it’s a small riverside village, it’s filled with lots of cutesy cafes and brilliant bakeries.

What’s more, is that the river Windrush runs straight through the village and is renowned for its shallow waters, making it a popular spot to splash your feet on a summer’s day.

Additionally, Bourton-on-the-Water is also home to The Cotswolds Motoring Museum, Birdland, and The Model Village, so you could easily spend a whole afternoon exploring this lively riverside village in the Cotswolds.

Tip: Head to Bakery on the Water for some insane artisan bakes!

Stow-on-the-Wold to Bourton-on-the-Water: 10 minutes

Devour an award-winning dinner at The Wild Rabbit

The image shows a pub in the Cotswolds.

The Wild Rabbit in Kingham is, without a doubt, one of the best places to go for dinner in the Cotswolds.

The food is cooked to perfection and the interior certainly rivals that of the luxurious Daylesford Farm Shop.

The roast dinner is always a firm favourite and is certainly one of the best we’ve tasted in a long time, with an immaculate presentation to match too!

As a side note, you can also stay at the Wild Rabbit in Kingham if you’re considering staying in a more remote area of the Cotswolds.

Tip: On a cold winter’s day, make sure you pre-book and ask for a table near the fireplace.

Stow-on-the-Wold to The Kingham Plough: 12 minutes

Undercover the enchanting door between the trees at St Edwards Church

The image shows an enchanting door in Stow-on-the-Wold.

One of Stow-on-the-Wolds secret spots is the tree-lined door that leads into St Edwards Church – it honestly looks like something out of Narnia or Harry Potter.

By following the pathway through the Churchyard, you’ll soon discover the mystical-looking entrance – a short and sweet thing to in Stow-on-the-Wold, but interesting nonetheless and a great little picture spot of a hidden gem in the Cotswolds!

Where to stay in Stow-on-the-Wold

The image shows houses in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Cotswolds itinerary day 3 (Sunday)

Base location: Burford

The image shows houses in Burford.
The image shows houses in Burford.

Burford is a lively town that’s situated on the western edge of the Cotswolds, not too far away from Oxford. The high street is perched on a hillside and filled with antique shops, book stores, and dozens of independent places to eat – it’s the perfect base for day 3 of a weekend break in the Cotswolds.

Tip: If you’re visiting the Cotswolds in winter, then make sure you stroll along the high street in the evening as the Christmas lights are something special. We also recommend checking out the Christmas market if you have time.

Things to do on day 3 of your Cotswolds itinerary

Tuck in at Jeremey Clarksons Diddly Squat Farm Shop

The image shows milk from Diddly Squat Farm Shop in the Cotswolds.
The image shows honey from Diddly Squat Farm Shop in the Cotswolds.

Jeremey Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop in Chipping Norton is a fairly new attraction on the map that has gained popularity following his TV show: Clarkson’s Farm – which I have to say, is thoroughly entertaining.

You’ll quickly notice that this is a stripped-back and authentic farm shop – it’s not made to look ‘instagrammable’ from the outside, yet his no-frills products seem to have stormed social media; his milk, for example, is labelled as cow juice and honey as bee juice.

He also has some humourous gifts that are very frank and literal too, but I’ll leave that as a surprise discovery for your visit.

From freshly baked bread to doughnuts to die for, Diddly Squat Farm Shop is a great place to go for breakfast in the Cotswolds before your final day of adventures!

Burford to Diddly Squat Farm Shop: 15 minutes

Stroll along Arlington Row in Bibury

The image shows Arlington Row in Bibury.

There is no denying that Arlington Row in Bibury is one of the most picturesque places to visit in the Cotswolds – even the filmmakers of Stardust and Bridget Jones Diary thought so. It features yet another string of toy-like houses cascading up a hill beside a riverbed – it truly is the leading example of what the Cotswolds looks like.

However, Bibury is a very small and sleepy village, with very little reason to visit other than to snap a picture of Arlington Row.

As such, we would recommend combining a trip to Bibury with a pub lunch or a countryside walk that leads to Arlington Row – or both!

A great walk that leads to Arlington Row and finishes at a fantastic pub called The New Inn is the Coln Saint Aldwyn and Bibury Circular.

It’s an easy 10km loop that leads across rolling hills, alongside rivers, and through a number of charming villages, before finishing at The New Inn.

Route map: Coln Saint Aldwyn and Bibury Circular

Burford to Arlington Row/Coln Saint Aldwyns: 20 minutes

Enjoy a deliscious afternoon tea at Burford House

The image shows a cafe in Burford.

When visiting such a quintessentially English part of the world, it only feels right to include a quintessentially English activity too – and what’s more quintessentially English than afternoon tea?

Ok, that’s enough of the quintessentially English for now.

Anyway, I digress – Burford is a great location for afternoon tea as it’s filled with an ever-growing selection of independent bakeries, cafes, and restaurants.

While most head straight to Huffkins – once a traditional family-run bakery that has now expanded to a chain across the Cotswolds following success, there are many other equally as great places to get afternoon tea that are less crowded – no disrespect to Huffkins, as we are loyal customers of theirs, but we also like to scout out some hidden gems that deserve some of the limelight, too.

Our top recommendation would be Burford House – a half Cotswolds stone and half Tudor style restaurant at the top of the high street, with beautiful tartan decor and a courtyard garden filled with wisteria.

The afternoon tea here is very generous – normally you’d get miniature cakes, however, at Burford House you get full-sized pieces of cake which is a lot of bang for your buck compared to most other places – you’ll almost certainly have to take a box of excess food home!

Go wild swimming in Minster Lovell and explore the nearby ancient ruins

The image shows 3 people swimming in the river.
Wild swimming
The image shows a church.

What better way to finish off your Cotswolds itinerary than with a wild swim in Minster Lovell?

This is the perfect spot for a nice refreshing dip on a summer’s day and it’s never too crowded either.

You’ll find shallow waters to paddle around in, as well as deeper waters for the more experienced swimmer.

Or, if you’re not sold on wild swimming, you could always pick up a rubber ring or dingy boat to float around in.

Tip: While you’re there, be sure to also explore the Minster Lovell Church and it’s ruins too!

Burford to Minster Lovell: 20 minutes

Where to stay in Burford

The image shows Burford street.

Before you reach the end of the guide, don’t forget to grab your SafetyWing travel insurance that I mentioned at the start of the guide.

I use them on every trip because they’re around 80% cheaper than what I was paying previously whilst still offering more than enough coverage!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON OUR COTSWOLDS ITINERARY

We hope you enjoyed reading through our Cotswolds itinerary – it sure made us feel lucky to live so close to one of the best places to visit in England!

If you found our Cotswolds itinerary useful then let us know in the comments below, and if you have any further questions we will be happy to answer them!

Have a great trip!

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