Visit the Cotswolds for a slice of quintessential rural life

Known for its chocolate-box villages, acres of undulating hills, and cosy country pubs, the Cotswolds is one of the most picturesque places in the UK, and is a popular spot for solo, family or romantic holidays in the countryside.

There's so much to explore nestled among the Cotswolds' meadows, hills, farms, and rivers. There are around 800 square miles of unspoilt countryside to explore in this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but it's not just the natural landscapes that draws visitors here.

The cutesy villages built with the famous honey-hued Cotswold stone have an appeal of their own, with fascinating histories waiting to be discovered. There are several historic country homes with spectacular gardens to be found here too.

As the Cotswolds cover five counties - Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire - you can imagine how many elegant tea rooms, country pubs, hilly walks and quirky gift shops there are to visit.

Whether you're looking for country charm, relaxation, or a chance to discover some of England's finest gardens, here's why you should visit the Cotswolds.

Postcard-perfect villages

The Cotswolds are home to some of the prettiest villages in the UK, which you'll find dotted between the miles of rolling green meadows. These are quintessential English villages, with honey-hued cottages lining cobbled streets and stone bridges over trickling streams. There's Broadway, known as the 'Jewel of the Cotswolds' for its grand horse chestnut trees and the lovely market town of Chipping Campden, with its old inns, shops and independent restaurants.

Stay in Bourton-on-the-Water for this five-day short break - with a three-day watercolour workshop in the company of expert art tutor Alison Carr. Your base will be the Grade II-listed Harrington House.

Charming Cheltenham

As well as its tiny, sleepy villages, the Cotswolds is also home to larger towns. Cheltenham, a beautiful Regency spa town famous for horse racing, is one of them. You'll find plenty to do here - it's dubbed the cultural capital of The Cotswolds for a reason. Its convenient location - with direct rail connections from many major cities - makes it a great base for exploring the wider area.

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Glorious gardens

The Cotswolds are dotted with a whole host of delightful gardens - some found tucked away behind honey-hued cottages and some spanning acres of manicured land in the grounds of grand stately homes. We offer several garden trips throughout the year - not just in the Cotswolds, but further afield. Some of our favourite quintessential English country gardens in the Cotswolds include Sezincote House, Batsford Arboretum and Painswick Rococo Gardens. Keep an eye out for future tours that introduce you to some of the region's finest spots.

Stately homes

It's no surprise that the many royals and aristocrats have chosen to call the Cotswolds home throughout history. King Charles chose Highgrove in Gloucestershire as his private country residence and has now passed it on to Prince William after ascending to the throne. You can visit Highgrove House, where you'll get a tour of the magnificent gardens cultivated by the King.

There are also trips to several other stately homes and castles, including Cerne House, Rodmarton Manor, Kiftsgate Court, and Sezincote House. Or visit Eastleach House, a spectacular Grade II listed country house with magnificent manicured gardens, along with other beauty spots.

Explore English rural life

Farming has always been a crucial part of Cotswolds life, with approximately 86% of all land within the region dedicated to agriculture. Farms in the Cotswolds come in all shapes and sizes, from dairy farms to specialist cattle and sheep farms. Many invite visitors to explore, like the wonderful Cotswolds Farm Park. Managed by owner and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, this lovely farm was founded in 1971 by Adam's father to help protect rare breeds of farm animals.