The rolling hills and chocolate-box villages of the Cotswolds make it one of the most beautiful areas of Britain. Spanning 800 square miles of southwest and central England, it’s possible to spend weeks exploring the area. If you’re on a tight schedule you can still experience the best of the Cotswolds with our 3-day itinerary below.
Start your trip in the pretty market town of Burford, also known as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’. Situated on the River Windrush, the town has all the ingredients for the perfect English village: cute stone cottages, an elegant medieval church and beautiful surrounding countryside.
One of Burford’s many gems is St John the Baptist Church, built between 1160 -1475. Inside you’ll find pre-Christian carvings, an impressive marble tomb and a memorial to Henry VIII’s barber!
Head to the sloping high street and you’ll discover ample antique and one-off shops, including the Oxford Brush Company which only sells, you’ve guessed it, brushes! Take time to also explore the alleyways and side streets leading off the high street.
If you’re feeling peckish, pick up a baguette at Honeycott’s Shake & Snack or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Huffkins bakery. For something more substantial get a hearty pub meal at one of the many village inns. Some of our favourites include Cotswold Arms, The Royal Oak and The Angel at Burford.
Walk off your lunch with a stroll down to the River Windrush at the bottom of the high street. Its showpiece is a three-arched bridge built in the 15th century. Make the most of the riverside with a circular river walk from Burford to neighbouring Witney.
For history buffs, the Tolsey Museum is the place to go to know more about the town’s history. While the museum is small, there’s plenty to keep you busy for an hour or two.
Venture to The Windmill on the outskirts of town and enjoy locally sourced meals in a former farmhouse setting. If you want to stick to the town centre, tickle your taste buds at Spice Lounge Indian restaurant.
There are plenty of places to stay in Burford. Treat yourself to a night at The Bay Tree hotel. The flagstone floors, exposed beams and open fireplaces all add to the hotel’s country charm. A few doors down is The Lamb Inn, a dog-friendly country inn with great views of the surrounding countryside.
Getting here: Burford is 19 miles west of Oxford. Catch the 853 bus going towards Cheltenham from outside the Taylor Institution Library. The journey is roughly one hour.
For your second day in the Cotswolds, head to Bourton-on-the Water, one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. The Windrush flows through the town earning it the nickname ‘Little Venice’. While you could spend a whole day wandering around the village, there’s plenty of activities to do.
Petrol heads will enjoy the Cotswold Motor Museum an impressive collection of vintage cars from makers including Alldays & Onions, MG, Morris and Triumph. For more family-friendly fun, visit Birdland - with nine acres of gardens and woodland, it's home to more than 500 birds.
Have lunch at Bakery on the Water where you’ll be greeted with the aroma of freshly baked bread and cakes. If the weather is good, ask for ‘a picnic lunch to go’ so you can enjoy your meal al fresco.
Off the beaten track, but well worth a visit, is the Cotswolds Brewing Company which makes lager using German techniques. CBC also make gin if lager isn’t your tipple. Book your tour in advance as spaces fill up quickly.
Less than 2 km from Bourton is the award-winning Slaughters Manor House, a fine dining modern British restaurant. The dishes here are made using regionally sourced and foraged ingredients, so expect to pay a little bit more for your meal. For more budget friendly options, try the Mousetrap Inn, a cosy pub serving traditional pub fare.
Escape the crowds and spend the night at The Lansdowne guesthouse at the quieter end of the village. With bright and fresh rooms, this family-run accommodation feels like a home away from home. Another great place to lay your head for the night is the Dial House Hotel, located in a 16th century building, one of the oldest in the village.
Getting here from Burford: Take the Pulhams Coach from Church Lane. There’s only one bus a day so check the bus timetable before you travel. The journey is approximately 30 minutes.
Be prepared to be swept off your feet by the beauty of Broadway. The village has remained the same for centuries attracting many artists including Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent and William Morris.
Where better to start your day than at the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery? Housed in a 17th century coaching inn, the museum tells the history of Broadway and contains an eclectic collection of paintings, furniture and porcelain. Fans of the Arts and Crafts movement should also visit the Gordon Russell Design Museum a tribute to the British furniture designer and pioneer.
Next up is a short walk to Broadway Tower to soak up beautiful views of the Cotswolds. Climb to the top and on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with a view spanning 16 counties. If you want to rest your legs, catch the heritage steam train from Broadway station and enjoy spectacular views of nearby villages.
On your last night in the Cotswolds go all in and treat yourself to some luxury with a night at Foxhill Manor. Set on a 400-acre woodland estate, this hotel offers a personal service to cater to your every need. If your budget won’t stretch that far, The Lodge offers style and comfort at a reasonable price.
Getting here from Bourton-on-the-Water: Catch the 801 bus from High Street to Moreton-in-Marsh station. Then catch the 1 bus to Broadway. The journey takes roughly one hour and 40 minutes. Please check the timetable before you travel.