In this post, we want to share our 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds.
If you are looking for an escape to the country, the Cotswolds is the perfect destination. With rolling hills, quaint villages, and honey-coloured cottages the Cotswolds boasts one of the prettiest areas of countryside in the UK.
Stretching across 6 counties, the Cotswolds covers a vast area. So it is important to plan to ensure you make the most of your time. As travel bloggers, we spent a lot of time planning our trip. We wanted to ensure we had the perfect 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds and are happy to share.
We have grouped our days out by proximity to each other, trying to add variety to the week. Obviously, you can swap the days around to suit your tastes. We haven’t included places to eat, as the Cotswolds is full of traditional pubs, tea rooms and fine dining.
So, to find out what we got up to, read on for our perfect family-friendly 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds.
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Know before you go
Where are the Cotswolds?
The Cotswolds is a region in central-southwest England, often known as the Heart of England. It is a range of hills, which stretches across 6 counties, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and Bath and northeast Somerset, in the Heart of England.
How many days do you need for a visit to the Cotswolds?
The Cotswolds is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway in the countryside. We don’t live too far away, so have been for several weekend and 3-day breaks.
However, as the Cotswolds covers such a vast region, plan for longer if you really want to explore. To fully appreciate the Cotswolds, you need to spend between 5 and 7 days in the area. This will allow time for incredible hikes, picture-perfect villages, and plenty of traditional pubs.
When is the best time to visit the Cotswolds?
You can visit the Cotswolds at any time of the year, but our favourite season is spring. From early April you can enjoy blossom, birthing lambs, and fewer crowds. Plus it’s a perfect temperature for hiking. We went at Easter and were lucky enough to have blue skies and sunshine. However, it can also rain a lot in April.
To be honest, you should expect some rain whatever the season (this is England after all!), so pack a waterproof. It is worth investing in a good quality one, such as this North Face waterproof which I took.
For longer days with sun, go in the summer (July-August), but do be prepared for crowds and higher prices. For fantastic colours, go in autumn (September-October).
Accommodation in the Cotswolds
You’ll find plenty of choice of accommodation in the Cotswolds to suit all budgets. We booked a self-catering cottage in Chipping Camden, which is an ideal location for exploring the region.
You can find a good choice of self-catering cottages and guest houses on Booking.com.
How to get to the Cotswolds
Its central position makes the Cotswolds easily accessible from the rest of the UK. The most convenient way to travel is by car, as it has excellent road links to the M4, M5, and M40.
However, if you want to use public transport you can reach the Cotswolds by train from London in 2 hours. Regular trains run from London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh in the north of the Cotswolds.
Getting around in the Cotswolds
Once you’re there, the easiest way to get around the Cotswolds is by car. For those using public transport, there is a bus service, but the timetable is restricted Plus, the buses generally only go to the main towns and villages.
Our perfect 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds
Hopefully we have helped with some basic information for your trip planning. So, without further delay, read on for our family-friendly 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds.
Day 1 in the Cotswolds: Chipping Campden & Dover Hill
Our 5-day Cotswold itinerary starts in the market town of Chipping Camden in the North of the Cotswolds. It took us 2 hours to drive from Surrey, giving us plenty of time to explore on arrival.
We picked Chipping Camden for its location, but I instantly fell in love with it. Once an affluent trading post, it is still an elegant town, with some amazing buildings. We stayed in a cosy mew-style cottage, just behind the High Street. It was so close, we could pop in to town as often as we liked (which was every day!)
Chipping Campden is a popular destination for visitors. It has several independent shops and tea houses, but more importantly it’s the starting point of the Cotswold Way.
Popular with walkers, the long-distance Cotswold Way runs for 102 miles from Chipping Camden to Bath. It follows the Cotswold escarpment through some fantastic countryside, passing pretty villages, ancient churches and historic houses.
We didn’t want the challenge of the full walk, but did try the first section, which took us from Chipping Camden to the top of Dover’s Hill.
Day 2 in the Cotswolds: Broadway & Snowshill
Start day 2 of your 5-day Cotswold itinerary with a visit to Broadway in Worcestershire.
Known as “the Jewel of the Cotswolds,” Broadway was once a popular coach stop for travellers going between Wales and London. This idyllic village has retained its original charm and still has many historic buildings in its long High Street.
One of the best things to do in Broadway is walk up to the iconic folly, Broadway Tower. The tower is set within 200-acres of parkland and is the second highest point in the Cotswolds. It offers the perfect viewpoint for admiring the surrounding countryside.
You can go up and back, but we took a longer walk via 11th century St Eadburgha’s Church. Click here to find out more about our circular walk to Broadway Tower.
Afterwards, stop for a drink at the National Trust café by the tower or return to the High Street. Here you can choose from several cosy cafés or one of the charming, traditional pubs.
In the afternoon, head to the idyllic village of Snowshill. This chocolate-box village is so unspoilt, it looks like time has stood still. You may recognise it from the film, Bridget Jones’ Diary.
One of the highlights of a visit to Snowshill is Snowshill Manor & Gardens, a 16th century house previously owned by eccentric Charles Wade. As well as the Arts and Crafts Garden, you can see Wade’s eclectic collection of treasures inside the house.
Other things to do near Snowshill
If you are visiting Snowshill in the summer, leave time for a visit to the Cotswold Lavender Farm. Open from mid-June the stunning purple lavender fields stretch for 70 acres across the Cotswold landscape.
Day 3 in the Cotswolds: Stow-on-the-Wold & the Slaughters
Day 3 of our Cotswold itinerary starts with a visit to the highest town in the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold. Centred around the ancient cross, Stow-on-the-Wold is a bustling market town with an array of tearooms, shops, and galleries.
The most unusual attraction at Stow-on-the Wold is a church door. In fact, no visit to Stow-on-the Wold is complete without a photo stop at St Edward’s Church. Look for the wooden door flanked by ancient yews. It looks like something straight from a fantasy film.
After the church, we did a circular walk from Stow-on-the-Wold, before returning for lunch.
Upper & Lower Slaughter
In the afternoon, head to the Slaughters. The Slaughters comprise of twin villages, Upper and Lower Slaughter. Don’t be fooled by the sinister names, they are two of the most picture-perfect villages in the Cotswolds.
We started in Upper Slaughter and followed the Warden’s Way across a few fields to Lower Slaughter. The walk only takes about 20 minutes. Upon arrival, stop for drinks in the café by the Old Mill or head to the 17th century country inn, The Slaughters.
Accommodation in the Slaughters
On a previous 3-day visit to the Cotswolds, we stayed in a delightful cottage in Upper Slaughter. There are several beautiful honey-coloured cottages you can rent. If you want more luxurious accommodation, try the sumptuous Lords of the Manor or The Slaughters Manor House in Lower Slaughter.
Day 4 in the Cotswolds: Bourton-on-the-Water & Batsford
Day 4 of our 5-day Cotswold itinerary is all about exploring Bourton-on-the-Water.
One of the most delightful villages in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water, is another of the Cotswold’s picture-postcard destinations. It spans the River Windrush, which can be crossed via the pretty stone bridges, which just add to its charm. It has earned the name “Venice of the Cotswolds,” though the resemblance is questionable.
However, without doubt Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the best places to take children in the Cotswolds. It has the charm of other Cotswold villages, but the bonus of many more family attractions.
Take your pick from the Motoring Museum, Dragonfly Maze, Birdland or just have a picnic by the river. And of course, no visit to Bourton would be complete without a visit to the model village. This replica model even has a model of the model village.
Bourton-on-the Water does get busy in high season, so go early if you want to avoid the crowds.
In the afternoon, make your way to Batsford where you can visit the Arboretum and Falconry.
Spread over 56 acres, Batsford Arboretum provides a beautiful outdoor space, with plenty of areas for kids to explore. It is home to one of the UK’s largest private tree collections and showcases a unique selection of trees and shrubs from around the world.
If you have time , you could make a quick stop at the village of Blockley, which is just 3 miles up the road. Although it is only a small village, it has two pubs and a village store. It rose to fame as one of the filming locations for the tv series, Father Brown.
Day 5 in the Cotswolds: Bibury & Burford
On you final day in the Cotswolds, head to the quaint village of Bibury in Gloucestershire.
Here you can visit Arlington Row, one of the most photographed streets in the Cotswolds. This picturesque street in Bibury is home to a row of 14th century weavers’ cottages. These pretty homes gained fame as the picture inside the cover of the British passport.
It’s best to go early to avoid the flocks of people wanting a shot of the historic homes.
Finally, we headed to the Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford. As well as over 260 animals, this park has landscaped gardens, a playground, a zoo, and a train. It’s a fun place to take kids, or to go without!
Other family-friendly things to do in the Cotswolds
Of course, even with 5 days you are not going to see everywhere in the Cotswolds. We focused most of our days out in the north Cotswolds visiting the smaller towns and villages. However, you could swap one of these days for a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon or Bath.
If you enjoy spending time on the water, the Cotswold Water Park is an enormous wetlands area of over 180 lakes. It’s ideal if you want to try out water activities, such as paddleboarding, canoeing, swimming, and wakeboarding. It’s also a wonderful destination if you enjoy walking, cycling, and nature.
If you’re heading to the Cotswolds with younger children, I highly recommend a visit to the Cotswold Farm Park. Children will love the array of farmyard animals, the play equipment, and tractor rides. For history lovers, you may also want to include Sudeley Castle or Sezincote House in your itinerary.
Travel Guides for the Cotswolds
If you are looking for more information for your visit to the Cotswolds, the Rough Guide to the Cotswolds and Stratford-upon-Avon is a useful guide. Another good option is the Lonely Planet guide to Oxford and the Cotswolds.
We hope this helps you plan your own itinerary for the Cotswolds? We would love to hear your questions or comments below.
For other guides to the Cotswolds, you may also like:
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I haven’t seen this section before, inspiring to go visit sometime.
There’s so much to see in this area – I’m sure you’d love it!