I hadn’t heard of the Cotswolds before moving to England over a month ago. However, when I was flicking through an English guide book trying to put together a list of places and things I wanted to see this year, the Cotswolds was the first thing that caught my eye. I said to myself that my first trip around the country would be a roadtrip covering this area in the heart of England, which I have just returned from. I thought I had an idea of just how beautiful part of England was from having looked at so many pictures over the last month, but turns out there is just no preparing yourself for the overwhelming untouched beauty of the Cotswolds. What also caught me by surprise was finding myself falling in love not with the classic Cotswolds towns (Broadway, Chipping Camden, Stow on the Wold), but with the small surrounding villages. That’s why I’ve put together this short list of what in my opinion are the five most beautiful Cotswold villages. Although be forewarned: once you get off the beaten path, there is no turning back!
Bibury was famously referred to by the English designer William Morris as the most beautiful village in England, and I think he may have been right. Visiting Bibury feels like stepping into some kind of medieval age Disneyland. Although there isn’t much to do in this small village other than walking around, it is a very popular spot, so try and get there early if you don’t want to be pushing your way through others.
Although I would technically classify Burford as a small town more than a village, it has somehow managed to retain that small-village feel to it, unlike some of the other towns in the Cotswolds. Its most attractive feature lies in its long and steep main street, lined with beautiful old houses, not one of which feels out of place. Make sure to walk all the way to the top of the street and take in the amazing views over the whole town.
3. The Duntisbournes
The Duntisbournes isn’t just one village but a succession of three tiny ones: Middle Duntisbourne, Duntisbourne Leer and Duntisbourne Abbots, each one cuter than the other. They are nothing more than groups of cottages hidden away in a valley, but it is precisely in that where the attraction lies. As off-the-beaten path as it gets!
4. Lower Slaughter
Close to the popular Bourton on the Water (but slightly less crowded) you can find Lower Slaughter another quaint small Cotswold village based around a small river. Much like the other villages, there is not much to do other than walk around and daydream of which house you’d live in if you ever won the lotto. Don’t miss the old mill hidden away at the very back of the village.
Located close to Broadway are three small villages worth visiting: Buckland, Laverton and Stanton. The one that stands out the most however, is definitely Stanton. You will find some of the most beautiful and opulent cottages in the whole of the Cotswolds here, as well as some very expensive and classy cars.
Have you visited some of the Cotswolds villages? Which ones are your favorites?