3 day itinerary for the charming Cotswolds
It seems like a lifetime ago, but back when I lived in London one of my last trips was a short road trip through the Cotswolds. If you’re not familiar with the Cotswolds: it’s a hilly and green area full of cute houses which look like they walked straight out of a romantic English novel. So get out your cuppa, bake some scones and put on the Downton Abbey soundtrack, because these are the cutest villages, most beautiful castles and the best itinerary in the Cotswolds.
Driving from London
For this trip Mr. took our old, creaky car from the Netherlands onto the boat to England. Once he got there he picked me up in a London suburb, and after a quick McDonalds stop (very important!) we drove to our first stop in the Cotswolds, which was about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive. Make sure to avoid the M4 as much as possible: it can get quite busy.
The first stop of the trip is in the south of the Cotswolds, and it will be one of the cutest stops of your trip. Castle Combe is ADORABLE. It has to be said. The village literally consists of three streets, so there’s not a lot going on, but you can definitely take some beautiful photos, have a little bite in the sun (at one of the two pubs) and wander around a bit. They often shoot movies in Castle Combe, like Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.
We stayed in the ‘capital’ of the Cotswolds: Stroud, in this super cute Airbnb with amazing breakfast and huge garden. We didn’t do a lot in Stroud because most nights we got back late, but we did visit the Stroud Brewery. It’s a small, local brewery where you can enjoy tasty beers and delicious wood fire pizzas surrounded by locals. Super fun!
One of the best things about England – if you ask me – is that it’s littered with castles. Obviously England has seen its share of royals the past hundreds of years, and that meant the country was constantly caught in the middle of wars and battles between powerful families. Sudeley Castle is just incredible. It has a wonderful castle garden (with a peacock!!!) and a very interesting history that was explained and exhibited throughout the whole castle. The 15th century castle is also where a true queen is buried: Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII (surviving him was quite the achievement anyway).
Broadway is one of the most popular villages in the already quite popular Cotswolds. We could hardly find a parking spot. The village is adorable with all sorts of nice shops and restaurants, but on a summers weekend we thought it was a bit too busy and decided to carry on. We did make a quick stop at the Broadway Tower, but to be fair the best thing about it was that I encountered a little bulldog puppy of only a few weeks old. SO CUTE.
Snowshill is barely a dot on the map, because there’s only five streets, but it’s really -you guessed it- cute and pretty being located on top of a hill. I found the village to be nice and quiet. One of the things I love about the Cotswolds is that there’s not a lot you have to do. Just wandering around and sitting down for a cuppa or a beer is fine too. Close to Snowshill there are some lavender fields, but make sure you’re visiting in the right season.
If you’re feeling more like visiting a huge palace like Versailles, I’m sure you’ll love Blenheim Palace. This huge castle (with even more ridiculously large gardens surrounding it) is the birth place of none other than Winston Churchill. We were there when there was a gigantic event going on (a triatlon!) so unfortunately that ruined the magic of the castle a little bit, but on the inside it was beautiful, and it was very interesting to learn more about its history.
This is definitely one of the most touristic villages of the Cotswolds, and especially on a summer day it gets very busy here (finding a parking spot is quite hard). But I have to admit: it’s definitely a cute village. There’s lots of terraces, cute shops and a really nice centre. We had some pizza while sitting in the sun and watching dogs and kids play in the river.
Voted the most beautiful village in England, and with a reason! The whole village is cute, but if you take the bridge and cross the river, you’ll feel like you’re walking straight into Hobbiton (where the Hobbits live in Lord of the Rings). At least that’s how I felt. Anyway: it’s extremely adorable nonetheless. Too bad there are tourbusses of tourists everywhere (I’d go crazy if I would live in one of those houses), but apart from that it’s quite a small and relaxed place to be. We loved sitting along the water, eating an ice cream, before we had to return back home.
Going back to London
And then the fun was over! Driving back took a bit longer than our way here, because it’s quite busy on Sundays during peak hours.
We also visited a few other places in the Cotswolds but I found them to be a bit mehhh, so I haven’t mentioned them :). So there you have it: a curated itinerary for you. Ofcourse you can tweak & add tot he itinerary if you want. I hope my planning will help you when you’re going to visit the Cotswolds! Enjoy!
Do you have tips for nice villages or places you simply can’t miss in the Cotswolds?