Limestone villages, food markets, rolling hills and old churches–the Cotswolds have long been described as “quintessentially English.” Honey-colored houses add significant antiquated charm to the region, and it is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Buses and train connections within the area are infrequent, so we recommend booking a car with GPS–and at the very least 3 nights’ accommodation in one of the many beautiful towns and villages.
There seems to be no end of towns to visit, from vibrant Broadway to lovely Chipping Campden; wander the farming markets in Stroud or take a drive to Tetbury and its monastery and antique shops. Stanton remains little changed in the past 300 years, and Malmesbury is famous as the first capital of England as well as the site of the country’s oldest hotel–the Old Bell, which dates back to 1220.
The Cotswolds is a quiet, modest destination, with numerous walking trails, cycle paths, and villages to explore. The Cotswold Way is a trail that stretches 100 miles south from Chipping Campden. Grab a bite of meat pie or soup at one of the many pubs at lunchtime. The Cotswolds’ affluent history, connected with the textile industry, gave birth to the historic churches and manors that dot the countryside.
Visit the Tewkesbury Heritage Centre, a restored 17th century millinery shop that now showcases the region’s local history and architecture heritage, from the Wars of the Roses to present day. If you’re traveling with your kids, Cotswold Wildlife Park is a great attraction, a mix of landscaped gardens and wild animals like lemurs, penguins and rhinos, to name a few. At the Cotswold Falconry you can view owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, and other large birds of prey.
Lending a bit of urban flavor are the cities of Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford. The former is famous as Shakespeare’s birthplace–be sure to catch a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford’s status as a university town attracts students and literary-buffs, who can spend afternoons tracing the footsteps of alumni CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.
Festivals are abound in the Cotswolds, especially in the summer, so keep a look out and you may just catch one. May is the month festivities really seem to jump off, with the Olimpick Games and Badminton Horse Trials. In June and July, try the Kemble Air Show or the World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival in Malmesbury.
Ever popular and with limited accommodation, it’s best to book a place beforehand with your travel agent. Give us a call at 503-224-0180.