When I think of the English countryside, my mind goes to the Cotswolds. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is so deserving of its designation it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s real. But I’ve traveled here enough to know it is, and in doing so I’ve discovered some particularly lovely places. Today I want to share some of my favorites with you, so read on for A Lady in London’s 13 pretty Cotswolds villages.
Prettiest Cotswolds Villages
It’s hard to make a list about the prettiest Cotswolds villages because there are so many to choose from. In fact, the entire area is gorgeous. From rolling hills to towns and cities like Bath and Cirencester, this part of England is packed with beauty. But since I’ve set myself the challenge of choosing the best, here they are.
Painswick might just be the loveliest Cotswolds village. With its stone buildings, giant topiary trees, and my favorite hotel in the Cotstwolds, this little gem is packed with beauty. I love walking through the streets to soak up the details and meander through the churchyard, not to mention venture further afield to explore the surrounding countryside.
2. Castle Combe
Nestled in Wiltshire in the southern Cotswolds, Castle Combe has a picture-perfect high street, adorable side streets, and shops with teapot signs overhead. It contains everything I love about an English village, and being here feels like stepping into a fairy tale.
3. Chipping Campden
I spent a weekend in the Cotswolds a couple years ago and stayed in Chipping Campden. I loved the historic high street with its Cotswold stone buildings, its churchyard, and its connections to the Arts and Crafts movement. Everything about this village is lovely.
4. Upper Slaughter
I visited the Slaughters on my very first trip to the Cotswolds. These neighboring villages are some of the most picturesque in the area, and Upper Slaughter won me over with its beautiful stone cottages and abundance of flowers. If there was ever an idyllic village in the English countryside, this is it.
5. Lower Slaughter
Next door, Lower Slaughter is equally lovely. With the bucolic River Eye running through the middle of the village and a historic mill turning in the water, visiting feels like being transported back in time. As with Upper Slaughter, there are beautiful cottages here that always tempt me to move in.
Home to what might be the most photographed street in the Cotswolds, Bibury sits on the banks of the River Coln and is straight out of a fantasy. Picturesque Arlington Row is lined with 17th-century weavers’ cottages and attracts visitors from all over the world. William Morris called Bibury ‘the most beautiful village in England’, and he might just be right.
Kingham is a dream for lovers of houses and gardens. From topiary hedges to Cotswold stone cottages, this village is pretty in every direction. When I visited I loved taking walks in the area to soak up the fields and flowers. Kingham is easily accessible by train from London, so it’s a great place to go if you want to visit the Cotswolds without a car.
I’ve been to Burford a number of times, and I always adore its high street. With lots of boutiques, cafes, and historic pubs, it’s a great place to wander and window shop. There are lots of pretty houses in the area, too, and it’s always fun to wander down the lanes.
As the name suggests, Bourton-on-the-Water straddles a stream. There’s an abundance of footbridges and green spaces along the banks of the River Windrush, making it lovely from any angle. Bourton-on-the-Water is also home to several small museums housing collections containing everything from birds to cars and model villages.
In Worcestershire, Broadway is another of the prettiest Cotswolds villages. It has a lovely high street with shops and museums, an abundance of restaurants and cafes, and historic hotels from the 1300s that have hosted the likes of Oliver Cromwell. The nearby folly, Broadway Tower, is an unmissable highlight of visiting.
Not far from Broadway, Bretforton is another Cotswolds gem. This little village has thatched-roof cottages, historic churches, and half-timbered pubs dating back to the 15th century. I love walking around the narrow streets here and soaking up all their little details.
Another pint-size village that deserves a place on my list is Slad. I walked here from Painswick once and was rewarded with a lovely lunch at the Woolpack Inn. Across the street is the churchyard where Laurie Lee—local literary legend and author of Cider with Rosie, a memoir of his childhood in the Cotswolds—is buried.
A short drive from Slad, Sapperton is another of the best Cotswolds villages. Full of pretty houses, a great local pub, and Arts and Crafts movement architecture—some of the most famous architect-designers of the movement lived here and are buried in the churchyard—Sapperton ticks all my boxes for a lovely country village.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list and that you’ve found some inspiration to visit this part of the UK. If my experience is anything to go by, you’ll want to keep going back until you’ve seen all these Cotswolds villages and more.
New here? Join thousands of others and subscribe to the A Lady in London blog via email or Bloglovin’.