Cotswolds AONB tourist information

Cotswolds, Gloucestershire

Visit Cotswolds

The Cotswolds falls in the region to the west of Oxford, with Gloucester and Stroud to the west, Stratford-Upon-Avon to the north and Cirencester to the south. One of the designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be found in England, the region covers 787 square miles of countryside, largely in the English counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

It is a particularly attractive part of England, with numerous small villages and manor houses built in the local trademark yellow 'Cotswold stone' against a backdrop of woodlands and small scale agriculture in fields separated by traditional dry stone walls. The Cotswolds also has the distinction of being the largest designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' in England (first listed in 1966, the area has subsequently been expanded twice).

Although most of the Cotswolds towns and villages have their roots in an earlier period, many of them developed significantly with the growth in the wool trade in the 17th and 18th centuries - much of the 'local-stone' architecture that you will admire during your visit dates from that period of wealth

Although some of the more popular villages attract a rather large number of tourists, there are many others to discover that are slightly off the beaten track and manage to escape the madding crowds, where you can discover 'traditional England' in peace and tranquility. The larger towns such as Bath and Cheltenham also have a great deal to interest the visitor, and no visit would be complete without venturing to the north of the region to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare's house.

Cotswold villages and towns

Note: Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath and Oxford are not within the boundaries of the National Park, but are typically visited during a stay in the region.

Royal Crescent in Bath

Large Cotswolds Towns

Bath - listed UNESCO world heritage site:  Bath is at the far south-east of the Cotwolds and is an impressive town with important Roman baths and many fine Georgian townhouses. It is also a lively university town, and has many theatres, museums etc.

Cheltenham - an important local town with a very well preserved town centre containing many impressive townhouses and well placed to explore the southern Cotswolds

Gloucester - with a well-known Norman cathedral and a popular riverfront area

Stroud - a regional market and shopping town

Tewkesbury - pretty traditional town with numerous medieval buildings in the centre

Witney - regional shopping centre for western Oxfordshire

Smaller towns
  • Burford - attractive town on the River Windrush
  • Chipping Campden - small, very pretty market town
  • Chipping Norton - another active market town
  • Cirencester - town with Roman amphitheatre
  • Fairford - best known for the renowned military airshows at RAF Fairford - the 'Royal International Air Tattoo
  • Lechlade - pretty riverside town
  • Malmesbury - hilltop abbey town with rivers on both sides
  • Moreton in Marsh - small traditional Cotswold town
  • Northleach - quiet town with an impressive church
  • Stow-on-the-Wold - market town
  • Stratford-upon-Avon - birthplace of Shakespeare
  • Tetbury - traditional Cotswold town, near Westonbirt Arboretum
  • Winchcombe - town near to Sudeley Castle
  • Woodstock - home to Blenheim Palace
A selection of pretty Cotswolds villages

Bibury / Biddestone / Bourton-on-the-Water / Broad Campden / Broadway / Castle Combe / Coln St. Aldwyns / Duntisbourne (Duntisbourne Abbots, Duntisbourne Leer, Middle Duntisbourne and Duntisbourne Rouse) / Great Tew and Little Tew / Lacock / Owlpen / Painswick / Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter / Shipston-on-Stour / Snowshill / Stanton / Stanway / Wotton-under-Edge

Street in Chipping CampdenWalk down Broadway, Worcestershire

Important Cotswold Buildings and Monuments

  • Beverston Castle
  • Blenheim Palace
  • Calcot Manor
  • Chavenage House
  • Chedworth Roman Villa
  • Cirencester Abbey
  • Hailes Abbey
  • Malmesbury Abbey
  • Owlpen Manor
  • Sudeley Castle
  • Tetbury Market House
  • Warwick Castle

Other Cotswolds attractions

  • Cotswold Wildlife Park
  • Hidcote Manor Garden
  • Westonbirt Arboretum

Map of Cotswolds and places nearby

Cotswolds places to visit