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5 of the Most Beautiful Towns in the Cotswolds, England

by Aoife O’Riordan

Nov 7, 2023

© Danielal | Dreamstime.com


We’ve all seen photos or videos of picturesque, sandstone villages in the English countryside. Time seems to stand still in the Cotswolds, and while the region teems with little villages (often with fun names), if you’re short on time in the country but want to make the most of a trip to the Cotswolds, Cycling for Softies, a specialist in European holidays, analyzed all Cotswolds villages to find which towns are a can’t-miss this season and beyond.

Here are five Cotswolds towns and villages beckoning you to explore its charming streets, pubs, restaurants, inns, churches and more:

Chipping campden

Chipping Campden © David knibbs | Dreamstime.com

Chipping Campden

This small town is the epitome of the Cotswolds region, with a terraced high street dating back to around the 14th century and homes built in that signature Cotswolds stone lining the roads. Come winter, the town debuts its Christmas market, taking place on the first Saturday in December yearly. Stalls of local artisans and craftspeople invites visitors and locals to discover festive decorations and goodies on offer. Year-round highlights of the town include St. James’ Church, which features medieval details and grand monuments. You’ll find historic inns and hotels here, as well as restaurants and pubs serving classic roasts.

Stow-on-the-Wold © Beataaldridge | Dreamstime.com


Located more than 2,600 feet above sea level, Stow-on-the-Wold sits on a hilltop overlooking the countryside. Loved by both historians and adventurers, this medieval village sits at the junction of six historic roads, including Fosse Way, built by the Romans. In the center of town, expect old English pubs with cozy fireplaces and flagstone floors, perfect for a winter escape. Come winter, the Christmas Tree Festival at St. Edward’s church welcomes all in early December. Dates are yet to be confirmed, but expect beautifully decorated trees and a special celebration service on the final day. Of course, one of the most iconic sites in the town is the door to St. Edward’s Church, flanked by two ancient yew trees that seem to have embedded themselves into the structure of the church. In summer, head into one of several ice cream shops, like Roly’s Fudge Pantry, to taste unique flavors before walking the streets in the sunshine.

Lower Slaughter

Lower Slaughter © Chun Ju Wu | Dreamstime.com

Upper and Lower Slaughter

Connected by River Eye, these lesser-known villages are as historic as they are pretty. Recorded in the Domesday Book in the 12th century, both towns hold many great sites. Lower Slaughter features a mill appearing as if it emerged from a fairytale, its water wheel spinning in the river. The village was recently featured in the 2020 adaptation of Emma. Upstream is the Upper Slaughter, known as one of a few Thankful Villages because it lost no men in World War I. The town also lost no men in World War II. Don’t forget to visit St. Peter’s Church, dating back to the 12th century, the Old School House and Eyford House, said to have been where John Milton was inspired to write his epic poem “Paradise Lost.”

Wotton-under-Edge © Sue Martin | Dreamstime.com


Largely situated in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this town features some thriving high streets featuring charming tea shops, independent gift stores and more. The town offers many views of Severn Valley which, in winter, is covered in a blanket of snow. In winter, the town hosts Christmas Under the Edge, this year on Dec. 2, where Morris dancing, carol singing and even an appearance from Santa is expected.

Bourton-on-the-Water © Jenifoto406 | Dreamstime.com


One of the Cotswolds’ most popular towns, Bourton-on-the-Water teems with local shops and cafés. The town is the perfect pre-Christmas destination thanks to its Victorian Christmas Shop, on the town’s high street, where Christmas decorations and gifts await. A visit to town isn’t complete without stopping in at The Hawkstone Arms, the town’s own brewery which uses sustainable production methods and makes the most of locally grown grains, hops and apples to make the finest ciders and beers in the region.






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