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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.

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Day 1:

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.

Castle Combe

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.

Stroud

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!

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Day 2:

Sudeley Castle

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

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.

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Snowshill

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.

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Day 3:

Blenheim

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.

Bourton-on-the-water

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.

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Bibury

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?

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10 comments

  1. stephanie

    The Cotswolds look lovely :)
    x

    Reply

  2. Ann

    I wonder if you toured Snowshill Manor–to me, one of our most interesting spots (out of many) during two weeks in England. Also loved Sudeley Castle. Thanks for reviving great memories with your post!

    Reply

  3. Sheila

    Upper and Lower Slaughter are my two favourite Cotswold’s towns. I haven’t visited them all but on my first trip I was awed by Bibury but on the second trip I felt the Slaughter towns surpassed it. I can’t recall which was which but they are very close to each, one was much smaller but like you stepped into a fairytale story.

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      I should go back to see those then. It’s so gorgeous isn’t it :)

      Reply

  4. The best day trips from London

    […] (Read about my trip to Cotswolds here!) […]

    Reply

  5. adriane

    Do u stay in shroud and travel up north on a daily basis ?

    Reply

    1. adriane

      other than shroud where do you recommend to stay to explore cotswold ?

      Reply

    2. Explorista

      I did stay in Stroud and travel up daily! I wouldn’t really have any other recommendation. I recently found out about the Wood Norton outside of Worcester which seems like a great option if you’d like to stay further up north :).

      Reply

  6. Laura

    Ahhh wow it is weird to see stuff on travel blogs of where I live – all those photos just look like normal countryside villages to me, I definitely don’t appreciate it as much as I should! The section on Stroud particularly made me chuckle – I worked there for 3.5 years and it’s funny to see it being described as the capital of anything xD When I was a teenager I used to get the bus into Stroud to go to the cinema and do shopping… If you go again, time your visit for a weekend so you can check out the farmers’ market there, it’s one of the best in the region. Berkeley Castle is another good one, and Cheltenham has some lovely regency architecture. Glad you enjoyed visiting my little corner of the world!

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Haha well it kind of is the main city of the Cotswolds isn’t it? I can understand how it’s normal for you, it’s the same with me and The Netherlands. But isn’t it great to see your home through someone elses eyes :)? Always makes me appreciate it again!

      Reply

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