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The Cotswolds According to Me - Towns and Villages

Pauline Kenny

Google Map of the Cotswolds

In the United Kingdom the term "city" is not used to describe large towns the way we use the term in the US (read more here). My inclination was to list cities, towns and villages in the Cotswolds, but this does not work since what I consider "cities" might not be cities!! So, instead, I am going to divide up the towns into large, medium and small with the following definitions:

  • Large Town: More like a city than a town. A central downtown area with lots of shops, maybe even a department store and surrounding large residential areas. Supermarkets and larger chain stores either downtown or on the outskirts. Population 20,000 or more. Example, Cirencester - a good sized town with a downtown shopping area that is several blocks long. Large Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets on the ring road (highway that goes around the town).
  • Town: A market town with several shops, pubs, tea rooms, and restaurants, but it still has a small town feel. Population probably less than 5000. Example, Stow-on-the-Wold - a market town with a lively central shopping area with food shops, newsagent, pubs, tearooms, restaurants.
  • Village: A small village with one shop or pub, possibly none. Example, Windrush - a cute village of 100 houses or so clustered around a church and village green, but with no shops, pubs or restaurants.

We have visited many, but not all of the towns and villages in the Cotswolds. These are my notes for each place. I have website resources for these towns on the Cotswolds Resources page.

Notes about Town Names/Street Names

In the Cotswolds there are many pairs of towns. For example, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter. They are referred to as "The Slaughters". A few others are "The Barringtons (Little Barrington and Great Barrington), the Rissingtons (Little Rissington and Great Rissington).

"High Street" is usually the name of the main shopping street in a town and this name is used to refer to the main shopping area, as in "I am going to the High Street to pick up some chips."

Parking/Public Restrooms

All towns and large towns have free or "Pay and Display" parking lots located conveniently near the shopping areas. Look for the "P" signs. Most towns also have Public Toilets, either at the parking lot or on the High Street.

Tourist Office

Most towns have a Tourist Office where you can get good local information. We always drop into the Tourist Office first to get information for the town. Some may have local walking books for sale (inexpensive self-published guides).

Library

Most towns have a public library where you can use computers to access the Internet. This is usually high speed (called "broadband") and free. Some libraries allow you to phone to book a time; some also have "walk in" terminals that you can use for a short time. Libraries are not always open every day of the week.

Map of Towns

Click to see a Google Map of the Cotswolds showing the towns and villages

Large Towns

These are the three larger towns in, or very close to, the Cotswolds. They have large supermarkets and a High Street area with many shops and restaurants.

Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a good sized town, upscale and lively, with a large downtown shopping area and many restaurants. Like Bath, this is a Regency town with a natural springs. Cheltenham is not as beautiful as Bath and is not a big tourist destination, but it is a good day trip from the Cotswolds. You could also base yourself in Cheltenham and explore the Cotswolds from there. I read various population numbers for the town, but some include the surrounding area. I would guess the town population is about 50,000. This is the largest town in the Cotswolds, although technically it is not part of the Cotswolds.

The Pittville Pump Room, set in a large gardens in the north part of Cheltenham, is where people came in the 1700s and 1800s to "take the waters". Like at the Bath Pump Room, you can still drink the spa waters. We attended a concert there in 2004. Cheltenham also has a Royal Crescent (just off the Promenade), but it does not compare to the one in Bath.

Cheltenham is the place to go in the Cotswolds if you need some "city things" - big book shop, department stores, a variety of restaurants. It is fun to spend an afternoon walking around the downtown. Shops are in the center of town on the High Street and the Promenade. Remember, as with all the cities and towns here, everything closes up at 6pm and Saturday is a popular shopping day.

There is a Marks and Spenser (large department store with grocery and prepared foods section). The Cavendish House, off the Promenade, is an interesting department store (one guidebook calls it a "Harrods-style" department store, but that may be an exaggeration). There are two indoor malls, both are in the main outdoor shopping area: the Beechwood Center and Regent Arcade. There is a large natural foods store. The best Waitrose in the Cotswolds is just west of the main shopping area and other supermarkets are in the same area (off Gloucester Road, near the train station).

There is more to do in Cheltenham than shopping. Pittville Park, in the northern part of town, has two lakes and a gardens area. The Pittville Pump Room is in the park. Visit the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum in the downtown area. There are many Cheltenham Festivals held throughout the year.

Parking: You can easily drive into the city center. There are several parking lots just a few blocks from the shopping area.

Cheltenham is the Bermuda Triangle of the Cotswolds (for drivers)

You frequently end up driving through Cheltenham when traveling in the Cotswolds because the main roads go right through the city center. One year we stayed in Winchcombe, just 10 minutes north of Cheltenham, so we were constantly driving through it, but it was only near the end of our month there that I felt like I knew my way around. The roads are confusing, even worse when parts are under construction as they were during our visit. If you have a GPS, use it. Get a good map for Cheltenham. Navigate following town signs to get through the town and remember to look for the town signs in odd places. The sign for Winchcombe and Broadway was almost hidden at the turnoff which we frequently missed.

Cirencester

Cirencester, called the "Capital of the Cotswolds", is smaller than Cheltenham but more beautiful. This was the site of an ancient Roman settlement, Corinium, Roman Britain's second largest city (three Roman Roads intersect here).

The town is small, probably population 20,000, and is nice to walk around. The central downtown area consists of several blocks of shops and restaurants. They have a good large bookstore and an interesting specialty deli (near the Abbey). Walk the neighborhoods behind the Abbey to see the old village streets. Don't miss Cirencester Park, a few blocks from the Abbey at the end of Cicily Hill. This is a huge, lovely park with a long gently uphill walkway lined with huge Chestnut trees. From the top you have beautiful views to the countryside. See Roman artifacts in the Corinium Museum.

The supermarkets are outside the downtown center, on the main roads. It is a short walk from the town center to the Waitrose at the roundabout on the main highway.

Parking: The main roads go around Cirencester in a series of roundabouts, but it is easy to get into the center and the parking is well marked.

Cirencester Park, looking towards Cirencester

Cirencester Park, looking towards Cirencester

Stroud

Stroud is the "odd man out" in the Cotswolds; more of a working town, less of a tourist attraction. Personally I love Stroud, but that may be for reasons that do not interest everyone. It is a bit of a "new age" or "hippy" center; a good vegetarian restaurant, a good natural foods store, fair trade shop, book stores. But it is also a bit more downscale than the rest of the Cotswolds (which comes as a relief sometimes).

Stroud is situated on the slopes of a river valley (five river valleys meet here). Some of the villages outside of Stroud are perched up on the hills and commons above the river. It was the center of the Cotswolds cloth industry in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The High Street is a large pedestrian mall. The main highway passes below the central downtown area. The Waitrose is at the first roundabout when coming from the east. The other supermarkets are in the southern part of town. Stroud has a good weekly farmer's market, just off the High Street in the Cornhill Market Place, on the first and third Saturday of the month. Only locally grown produce is sold.

The train station is a few blocks from the High Street. From here you can get trains to London.

In most parts of the Cotswolds, the roads are easy driving - not much traffic, slow drivers - but I find the area around Stroud to be just a bit more intense driving. The roads can be fast moving and it feels like the other cars on the road are driving purposefully, instead of just taking a scenic countryside drive.

Parking: Public parking lots are well marked. Try for the large parking lots on the west side of town. From there you can walk up to the High Street.

Towns

These are the main market towns in the Cotswolds. They each have several pubs, restaurants, tea rooms, and shops. They all have interesting churches and historic buildings. Check your "Cotswolds Insight Compact Guide" or other detailed guide for Cotswolds towns for details for each place or visit the Tourist Office on arrival.

If possible, these are the perfect places to be based, but no matter where you are in the Cotswolds, you will be near one of these towns. All of these towns will be full of tourists, especially on weekends and in the summer, and most are "tour bus destinations" (Stow-on-the-Wold is the main tour bus destination). These are not large towns. They probably have populations around 1,000.

I put a star beside my favorites of these towns; those are the ones that I recommend you visit. If you are near any of the others, it will be worth stopping to explore the town.

Burford*

Burford, considered the "Gateway to the Cotswolds", lies on the eastern edge. If you are driving into the Cotswolds from Oxford, this is a good first stop. The town is built on a hill that goes down from the A40 highway to the River Windrush. The main street is about six blocks long and is lined with interesting old buildings, some from as early as the 15th century. It is worth the time to walk slowly down the street to look at the variety of historic buildings; this town looks very different from the other Cotswolds towns. From the top of the town there are lovely views out to the surrounding countryside. At the bottom of town is an old, one lane medieval bridge over the river, still used as the main road.

Church has a Norman tower and 15th century spire. See the Almshouses near the church and weaver's cottages by the river. Burford was a popular coaching stop, but when the railways came in the mid 19th century, it was not longer a busy town.

The main road runs through town, but it is slow moving and not that busy. The sidewalks are wide and the road is wide, with parking along both sides. There is a pedestrian controlled traffic light in the center of town, so you can cross the street easily. There are a few pretty streets off the main street. The best is the one that goes to the church and then to the parking lot, where you can see the river.

There are several good pubs (three are listed in "Forty Classic Cotswolds Pubs") and Huffkins is a good tea room in an old building on the High Street. The nearest supermarket is 10 minutes away in Witney (Waitrose), but there are some good small foodshops in Burford.

You can do a nice walk from Burford out along the River Windrush to the villages of Swinbrook and Asthall. See the Villages section for more information.

Parking: There is parking on the main street and in a large parking lot (free) east of the main street near the bottom of the hill (signed, right turn when going down from the A40). This is the only town of these market towns with a large free parking lot. Public toilets are in the parking lot and on the High Street, near the road to the parking lot.

High Street in Burford

High Street in Burford

Chipping Campden*

Chipping Campden, on the northern edge of the Cotswolds, is the favorite Cotswolds town for many travelers. I like this town too. It is located well off the main highways, so is less of a tour bus destination than Stow (but I have seen a tour bus driving down the main street), and does not have much traffic on the High Street.

There are several historically significant buildings on the High Street, including the Market Hall (1624). The church is spectacular. It is at the end of the High Street (on another street), at the edge of town, bordering on the countryside. When we were there in 2004, there were people in the church to answer any questions. The church has a 15th century tower and medieval embroideries inside. See the almshouses (1612) near the church.

There are no large supermarkets here but there are several good bakeries, delis, butchers, and fruit and vegetable shops, so you can do all your grocery shopping in town. There are many good pubs and restaurants. We have eaten a few time at Huxleys, a small restaurant on the High Street. The tea rooms look good, but we have not tried any (yet).

One interesting shop is Robert Welch, a cutlery shop with excellent locally designed and produced stainless steel cutlery. BUT buy it in the US not at this shop. I was able to purchase the exact pattern I wanted from cooking.com for a quarter of the cost at the shop. (Not all patterns and combinations are available in the US.)

Parking: There is parking on the High Street (which is quite long) and in a small parking lot near the Market Hall (Pay and Display). I am pretty sure there is a large parking lot near the High Street, but I don't remember where. There are public restrooms on Sheep Street, half a block from the High Street.

Chipping Norton

Chipping Norton is called the "Gateway to the Cotswolds" (as is Burford) and is on the north-eastern edge. We have not spent much time in this town, but stopped there on our recent trip and we loved it! This is not a tour bus destination and felt more like a "real town". Lots of shops, restaurants and pubs. There is a tea room on the main shopping street, but it had just closed when we got there, so we had tea at the pub (while waiting for excellent take-out Chinese food from Chef's Cottage).

The town reminded me of Winchcombe where we spent a month in 2004. The town is not geared towards tourism, but is still a charming town and would be a good place to be based in or near. There is a row of almshouses (1640) near the church. The Rollright Stones (stone circle and standing stones) are nearby.

Parking: There is a parking lot in the center of town, near all the shops.

Lechlade

Lechlade, in the south-eastern corner, is not officially in the Cotswolds AONB, which starts just outside of town, but it feels like a Cotswolds town. The town is only a few blocks long and is not as upscale in look as other Cotswolds towns, but this area is well worth a visit. The nearby villages of Southrop and Eastleach Martin/Eastleach Turville, on the River Leach, are beautiful and have many historic buildings (and two good pubs).

South of Lechlade, the Thames Canal meets the start of the River Thames. East of Lechlade is the village of Kelmscott, where you can tour Kelmscott Manor, the house the William Morris lived in (founder of the Arts & Crafts movement in the late 1800s). We visited this house in 2000 and thought it was a worthwhile visit. The house is very interesting and you can see many of his designs. The gift shop is great. And the house is beautifully situated beside the River Thames.

Parking: There is a large public lot on the northern edge of town (free) and parking in the center of town by the church (where the road does a 90 degree turn).

Moreton-in-Marsh

Moreton-in-Marsh is a five minute drive north of Stow-on-the-Wold. It is not as beautiful as Stow. The main part of town is along the highway, but this is not a busy road. Moreton does not get as many tour buses as Stow, but it is also busy with tourists. Lots of shops, restaurants and pubs. There is a good tea room, Tilley's, on the main road.

Parking: There is parking in a small lot off the High Street (free).

Nailsworth

Nailsworth is an odd town, located in a valley with the fast moving A46 that goes from Stroud to Bath running through the center of town. Part of the shopping area is on quieter streets, off the main road. Nailsworth is not a tourist center. This part of the Cotswolds, south of Stroud, is not as well touristed as the rest of the Cotswolds.

There are a few good restaurants here. One that we like is The Mad Hatters; we have had two excellent dinners there.

Parking: There is free public parking in the center of town, off the A46 If I remember right, public toilets are near the small Tesco, beside the river, on the main shopping street.

Stow-on-the-Wold*

I consider Stow-on-the-Wold to be the center of the Cotswolds. From here, you can get to all the other towns in 30 minutes (except for Stroud and the southern Cotswolds).

Stow is on top of a hill, with lovely views out to the countryside from some of the streets. It is close to many beautiful villages, so you can do some beautiful drives from here. Stow is located off the main highway.

There is a central Market Square, lined with 17th and 18th century buildings; shops, pubs, tea rooms. The square is very large, with parking in the middle. St. Edward's Hall (1878) is in the center of the Market Square. The church is just off the square and has medieval origins, but was restored in the 17th century.

There are a few other main streets in this downtown area, with more pubs, restaurants and shops. Stow has several good pubs (three are listed in "Forty Classic Cotswolds Pubs") and several tea rooms (we tried three different ones and liked each of them). There is a good deli (Hamptons), just off the main square. There are lots of streets to explore in Stow; streets with shops and residential streets. There are some nice walks in this area.

Parking: Park in the main square, which is large and has a lot of parking (first two hours are free), or just outside the center in a large lot near the Tesco (signed), or at the eastern edge of town (Pay & Display). Public toilets are on the western edge of the central square and in the parking lot east of town.

Tetbury

Tetbury is a quiet town in the southern most part of the Cotswolds. This town is not very touristed, but is popular for its antique stores. These are spread over several streets in the center of town. There are a couple of tea rooms and several pubs and restaurants.

In the center of Tetbury is the Market House (1655). The last time we were there, an antiques market was being held there. You can sit outside the Snooty Fox Hotel and watch the Market House. The famous Chipping Steps, a row of old weavers cottages that slope down a hill, are just a couple of blocks off the main square.

Tetbury is near the Westonbirt National Arboretum and Prince Charles' Highgrove Estate (so you may see Royalty in town!). The Badminton Horse Trials are held near here in May.

Parking: Parking on the streets or in a parking lot on the western edge of town (free). Public restrooms at the parking lot.

Winchcombe*

We spent a month in Winchcombe in 2004 and loved the town. It is just north of Cheltenham and not far from Broadway (10 minutes drive from each). People say that Winchcombe is still a "working" town. It is not full of upscale shops for tourists, but has the shops you need if you live there. Plus it has three excellent tea rooms and The Wesley House, the best restaurant in the area (IMO).

The long main street runs for many blocks and is lined with interesting old row houses. These are residential on the outskirts and shops and restaurants in the center. The town has all the shops you need: hardware, kitchen supplies, chemist, specialty food shop (cheeses, organic pasta and grains), small market with fruits and vegetables, newsagent, tourist office.

The main street is the B4632 that runs from Cheltenham to Broadway. In the center of town, at the Tourist Office, the B4078 runs north, towards Greet. This street also has many shops and restaurants. All the businesses are on these two streets, a few blocks in all directions from the Tourist Office.

The church, in the center of town, is very interesting. There are several walking trails right from the town. The Cotswolds Way long distance path passes through the town. Sudley Castle is just outside the town, as is Hailes Abbey.

Parking: Parking in a small lot off the High Street, across from the Church, or in a larger lot that you get to from the north end of town, but which is located conveniently close to the main street (signed), by the library. Public restrooms on the High Street, across from the church.

Villages

These are small villages, some with no shops, some with a pub or one small shop. Some of them may have a small parking area, especially if popular hikes start from the village. Usually you will find parking on the streets.

These villages can all start to look the same after you have seen a few, so you don't need to visit all of them. I have only listed here the villages that we visited and thought were particularly interesting. Visit the ones close to where you are based, or that you pass near on day trips. Many of these villages are the start of walks/hikes, so if you are doing a walking vacation, you end up visiting many of them.

Adlestrop

Adlestrop is a small village in a beautiful area just east of Stow-on-the-Wold. Jane Austen used to visit her uncle who was the pastor here. You can see the church and the nearby house (Adlestrop House was the rectory) where she would have stayed. Good hikes from the town to many of the nearby villages. Visit the upscale Daylesford Organic Farm nearby.

There was a famous pre-war poem written by Edward Thomas, about taking the train to Adlestrop. The train station is gone, but they kept the station sign and a bench. The full text of the poem is on a plaque on the bench.

Yes. I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
- Edward Thomas, Adlestrop -

Asthall

Asthall is a charming small village on the banks of the River Windrush, near Burford. There is a recommended pub on the river, but it was being renovated when we went there in May 2006. The Mitford sisters were raised in Asthall Manor and are buried in the nearby Swinbrook churchyard. Nancy Mitford is well known for her novels "The Pursuit of Love" (1945) and "Love in a Cold Climate" (1949). There is a walking trail along the river to Burford. This is a nice way to experience this river.

Bibury

Two villages side by side, Bibury and Arlington, on the River Coln in the countryside east of Cirencester. William Morris described Bibury as "the most beautiful village in the Cotswolds", consequently these villages are popular tourist destinations. See the Arlington Row (National Trust), weaver's cottages along the river. There is a good church. Good walks from here. The tea rooms at the Arlington Mill, on the main road, are supposed to be very good (we used to go to another tea room, but it has closed).

Blockley

Beautiful village near Chipping Campden. Not much here (pub, small tea room), but stop by to see the houses and the church if nearby. In the early 19th century ther were several silk mills here. Good walks from here.

Bourton-on-the-Water

This gets my award for the most touristy town in the Cotswolds. Huge tour bus parking lot, endless trinket shops, many tea rooms. BUT this is the best town to see the River Windrush - it runs along the main street - and the tea rooms are good. Give in to the tourist impulse and stop for a visit.

Broadway

Beautiful village, perhaps too beautiful as it seems to be more about tourists and less about the people who live there. The village is off the main road and has one long, wide street (broad-way) with houses and businesses. Lots of shops, restaurants, good tea rooms. I like the Landmark shop on the High Street with outdoor clothing and equipment; a good place to get things if the weather turns colder or wetter than expected. Tissanes is our favorite tea room here. We had an excellent dinner at Russell's of Broadway. Good walks from Broadway to nearby villages and the Broadway Tower. Snowshill is nearby.

Eastleach Martin

Eastleach Martin and Eastleach Turville sit on opposite sides of the River Leach. We discovered these beautiful villages when we went there to do a walk. Both villages have good churches. There is a good pub, The Victoria Inn, in Eastleach Turville. These are quiet villages that do not get many tourists. Most people probably come here like we did, to do the walk.

Ford

Ford is a small village with a good pub, The Plough Inn. The drive from Stow to Ford and then to Stanway is my favorite Cotswolds drive. The best way to visit Ford is to do this drive to explore a number of good villages. See details for the drive on the Cotswolds Activities page.

Ilmington

A pretty village, north of Chipping Campden, with a good pub, The Howard Arms. Beautiful open countryside in this area.

Lower Slaughter

Upper and Lower Slaughter are two small villages (referred to as "The Slaughters"), a mile apart, on River Eye. Lower Slaughter is easier to drive to and is popular with tourists. You can get a good tea at hotel in Lower Slaughter, with a cozy indoor room for bad weather and a large outdoor deck for good weather. The river runs right through the village. The village houses are beautiful. It is a one mile walk along the river from Lower Slaughter to Upper Slaughter.

Minchinhampton

Minchinhampton (called "Minch" by its friends) is a beautiful village at the edge of Minchinhampton Commons (590 acres owned by the National Trust) on a hill above Stroud. It is an interesting drive to the town as you go up out of the valley to the open commons at the top of the hill , then you find the village of Minch clustered on the edge of the commons. It has very narrow lanes, beautiful old buildings and a 17th century Market House in the center of town. There is a good tea room here, The Kitchen. Also a couple of pubs, restaurants, a few shops. If you are in this area, this is a pretty village and area to explore. There are Iron Age Bulwarks on the commons.

I can't quite describe why this village feels so different to me than many of the Cotswolds villages. We spent a week here in May 2005. Part of it is that no main road goes through the village, it is all very narrow lanes into the center of the village. Also, the feeling on the commons is like being on a small moor, a bit wild, and then you have this perfectly preserved village with narrow lanes and old row houses. The only think that I don't like about Minch, is the golf course on the commons and the way the roads cut through the commons. You would think this would be a perfect walking area, but it isn't because you are dodging golf balls and traffic up there. I am sure if I was there for longer, I would find the perfect areas for walking. And the location of Minch, sitting on top of the wold above the Stroud valley, above Nailsworth, not far from Cirencester, is almost perfect. Photos of Minchinhampton

Minster Lovell

Someone gave Minster Lovell the "prettiest village in the Cotswolds" award, so we went to have a look, and to do a hike.  It is a cute village, but it did not seem any nicer than dozens of others. It sits east of Burford (technically outside of the Cotswolds) on the River Windrush. The village is only a few blocks and is perfectly preserved. Visit the ruins of the 15th century Minster Lovell Manor which sits on the river.

Painswick

Painswick is a beautiful village, located on a spur between two picturesque valleys outside of Stroud. Unfortunately, the main road passes through the village. The road narrows to one lane in the middle of the village and traffic is controlled by lights, so this slows the traffic down, but it still affects the village and makes it feel like you are dodging cars. The best thing to see in this village is the church yard with it clipped Yew trees, many planted in 1792.

We spent a month just outside Painswick in May 2000 and loved this area. There used to be a great tea rooms in Painswick, but the last time we checked, it was gone. Do not have tea at the hotel - we did this when we found the tea room was gone and it was dreadful! One small food shop, a few other shops. There used to be a good Woodmakers shop, but I think it has moved. Good walks from here (Cotswolds Way).

It is worth stopping to see the church yard. Parking in a public lot on the south side of town. Toilets in the parking lot.

Sapperton

A small, perfect village, well off the main road between Cirencester and Stroud. It has a very good pub - The Bell - where we have had several good lunches. Sapperton has a good church and pretty buildings. If you are interested in old canals, the Thames and Severn Canal runs under the village in the Sapperton Tunnel, 2.1 miles long. It was the longest tunnel in England when it was constructed in 1789. There is no towpath in the tunnel, so you cannot walk through. You can walk on a footpath to Daneway to see the end of the tunnel (or you can drive). This canal is not in use, but there is talk of restoring it. Good walks from here continue along the canal.

I only realized this while writing this page, but Sapperton is at the end of Cirencester Park and it looks like you could walk from Sapperton to the center of Cirencester via the Cirencester Park! We will try this next time.

Stanway

Small village off the road between Winchcombe and Broadway, home of Stanway House, a Jacobean manor (not always open). Visit the four pretty villages in a row - Stanway, Stanton, Laverton, Buckland. There is a good walk from here to Buckland or up to Snowshill. The drive from Stanway to Ford and on to Stow-on-the-Wold is very beautiful.

Uley

Small village in the southern Cotswolds, near Owlpen Manor (not open every day). Beautiful countryside and good walking in this area. Not very touristed.

Other Nearby Destinations

When visiting larger towns, remember that Saturday is the traditional shopping day and the towns are likely to be crowded with shoppers then. Most shops will be closed on Sundays. As in most England towns, shops close early - around 6pm.

Bath

Bath is a spectacular city just south of the Cotswolds. It is a good place to spend a few nights on arrival in England (we take a car service from the airport to Bath when we arrive, spend a few nights there, then pickup a rental car and head to the Cotswolds). It is also a good day trip from the Cotswolds. Read my travel notes for Bath.

Parking: Traffic into Bath can be thick, but just follow the public parking signs. There are several large parking lots (Pay & Display) near the city center.

Tewkesbury

This large town is just past the north western edge of the Cotswolds. It is not that beautiful of a town, but is worth visiting to see the Tewkesbury Abbey, a former Benedictine Abbey Church. Most parts of the Abbey date from the 12th Century; other parts from the 13th and 14th centuries. We were there late afternoon before an evening service and heard the organist and choir practicing; the music was beautiful. The organ is from the 1600s. (Choral services Sunday and Choral Evensong Monday to Thursday (6pm) during term. Lunchtime recitals July to September on Tuesdays - check website for information.)

Across from the Abbey is the Abbey Tea Rooms, one of our favorite tea rooms in the area. We had an excellent afternoon tea here one time (with very good scones) and a good Sunday lunch another time (they have a vegetarian version!). It is run by a family and is in a beautiful ancient building.

The High Street is somewhat ugly, but has a large supermarket (Tesco, I think) and all the shops you need. Walk the streets near the Abbey and look for the narrow passageways between buildings.

Parking: I remember a large public parking lot just off the High Street.

Oxford

The city of Oxford is east of the Cotswolds, on the A40. You could do a day trip from a base in the Cotswolds or spend a few nights there on arrival, then pickup a rental car and drive to your base in the Cotswolds.

Parking: Follow signs to the public parking lots.

Gloucester

The city of Gloucester is west of the Cotswolds, near Cheltenham. In all our time in the Cotswolds, we have never been to Gloucester. Parts of it are supposed to be "ugly and modern" but I think it would be worth a visit just to see the cathedral and the Waterways museum.

Stratford upon Avon

The tourist destination of Stratford upon Avon is just north of the Cotswolds. We have not been there since 1988 but, from what I read, it is a major tourist destination, so will be full of tour buses. It is probably worth it to see the birthplace of Shakespeare.

Bristol

This is the largest city in this area. The airport, south of town, is an EasyJet hub with flights direct from Bristol to many European locations. You can fly on Continental direct from New York City to Bristol. We have never been into Bristol, but from what I hear and read, it has a lively downtown waterfront area.

See Cotswolds: A Guide to Local Shopping, Parking and Public Loos for more detailed information.

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