A Magical Weekend in the Cotswolds: How to Spend 2 Fun Days!

A house with a garden and a lake in front of it

A source of inspiration for many artists, a royal place of residence, and a fairytale home for the locals, the Cotswolds region is one of those places that you’ll never forget visiting! For those planning a weekend getaway there, I’ve got something really cool in store for you!

In this post, I’ll help you find the best way to spend your weekend in the Cotswolds (basically 2 days in the Cotswolds)! I’ve done so much research that I could probably pass any test with questions about this location, but for now, I’m happy I can give you the most beautiful villages, fun attractions to see, plus some information on where to stay and more tips!

I’ve organized the post by days so you can easily follow along!

NOTE: this is a Cotswolds driving itinerary, but it could work for people who don’t own a car too! For both days, I included towns that have public transport connections. However, some of the destinations in this guide can only be reached by car.

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Don’t worry if you can’t make it through the whole post, just have a look below, and you’ll find the main things to book in advance:

Here are the best hotels: Lords of the Manor (luxury), New Inn at Coln (mid-range), St. Michaels Bistro (budget)

And here’s a graphic map, for you to see how exciting this trip is going to be!

Cotswolds map with all the things to do in the area

Day 1

Ready to start your weekend break in the Cotswolds? For the 1st day, I decided to add a couple of attractions (not too many though) and some villages which you can just explore! They’re fairly close to one another, so traveling time shouldn’t take too long!

Here’s how you can spend your first day in the Cotswolds, plus a little gift for everyone, a map that will help you visualize all the locations:

1. Explore the gardens at Hidcote Manor

A garden with a gate leading to a house.

If you love spending time in nature, admiring exotic trees, walking across the green meadows, and seeing a super hip campsite, then Hidcote Manor has to be included on your Cotswolds itinerary!

This Arts and Crafts garden is a great starting point, as it will get you accustomed to the natural beauty that you’re about to experience in the next 2 days in the Cotswolds while exploring the quaint villages and cobbled streets!

Often praised for having one of England’s most unique gardens, Hidcote Manor is set just outside of Chipping Campden (another historic town that you could visit if you’ve got the time), and it also offers lodging for anyone who wants to spend the night there! You can check the prices and options on their website.

PRICE: US$16 per person for entry

2. Call for Rapunzel at Broadway Tower

A stone tower sits on top of a grassy hill.

Once you’ve explored the rolling hills at Hidcote Manor and maybe stopped in Chipping Campden, a beautiful village with so much history, you can start making your way to Broadway Tower, a really cool attraction set right outside of Broadway, just a 16 min drive away from Hidcote Manor.

Before you head to see the tower, definitely stop in the city and explore the high street, which has numerous independent shops, cafés where you can enjoy afternoon tea and some antique shops, too!

Once your bellies and souvenir bags are full, you can go visit the famous Broadway Tower which was built in the 1700s and has since been used as the countryside retreat of William Morris but also as the site of a nuclear bunker. Wow!

Broadway Tower is the highest point in the Cotswolds, and you can see the Malvern Hills from here, lots of counties, and even Wales on a good day!

I feel like it looks a bit like Rapunzel’s castle (let me know in the comments if you feel the same), and while here, you can explore the Tower Museum, the Nuclear Bunker, and the Shepherds Hut.

Of course, you can also explore the grounds (they have e-bikes that you can rent if you’re not a big fan of walking), and if you want, stop for some afternoon tea at the café!

PRICE: from US$15 to US$44 depending on the activity

3. Grab lunch in Moreton-in-Marsh

The bell inn building

This quaint village is the perfect place to stop and grab a quick pub lunch, located 7 miles (c. 10 km) east of Broadway Tower!

I know an amazing place where you could stop for a meal, but I’d keep it light if I were you as there is a fabulous restaurant that you could stop at on your way to the next destination (keep reading to find out all about it in the sections below)!

This one is called the Bell Inn (with rooms to stay the night), and it apparently served as the inspiration for the Prancing Pony, the pub in Middle Earth, from Lord of the Rings!

This tiny village is also famous for its market, which dates back to Saxon times and takes place every Tuesday (definitely check it out if you can)! It’ll be a great way to mingle with the locals and sample some local cheeses and other sustainable produce!

Moreton-in-Marsh is also popular with tourists for its public transport connections. Here you’ll find one of the few train stations in the Cotswolds, so if you’re not thinking of renting a car, you could look for a place to stay here!

By the way, we’ve got a whole post with the best luxury hotels in the Cotswolds, where you’ll find some of the dreamiest accommodations!

4. Learn about the medieval wool trade in Burford

A row of stone houses on a street.

Now that you’ve recharged your batteries, I’m sure you’re ready to explore another small village in the Cotswolds.

Popular since its medieval wool trading days, Burford is set on the banks of River Windrush, and it’s by far one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds!

Spend your time exploring the High Street, which has lots of shops, antique wares, cozy pubs where you can stop for a pint, cafés where you can enjoy some afternoon tea and lots of historical buildings that I’m sure you’ll fall in love with!

One place that you shouldn’t miss out on while you’re here is Reavley Chemist, England’s oldest pharmacy! That sounds so cool!

TIP: Buford is located just a 30 min drive away from Moreton-in-Marsh, but what I’d recommend when leaving Moreton-in-Marsh is taking the route that goes through Kingham so you can stop at The Wild Rabbit, a famous Michelin-starred restaurant, that I mentioned in the section above! The Wild Rabbit is super popular with tourists, and it looks so amazing!

5. Visit the iconic Blenheim Palace

A large mansion with a fountain in front of it.

There are so many villages and attractions to see in the Cotswolds! I’ve made sure to add some of the best ones in this post, but if you’re spending more time or you’re a quick visitor, then check out our post with the best things to do in the Cotswolds, where you’ll find many more charming villages and places!

Back to our Cotswolds itinerary! Now that you have left Burford, you can head over to one of the most beautiful sites in the region! Set just a 20 min drive away from Buford, in Woodstock, Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is one of those places you’d expect to see in a British period drama movie!

It doesn’t surprise me at all that many famous movies like Harry Potter, James Bond, Transformers, and Mission Impossible were shot here!

Blenheim Palace is widely known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Wow, now that’s something that you don’t get to visit very often!

While here, you can explore the extensive gardens, see some of the 300 rooms that usually hold different exhibitions, and stop by the gift shop if you want something to remind you of Blenheim Palace.

6. End your day with a visit to Castle Combe

row of stone houses by a bridge

Woohoo! You made it to the end of your 1st day in the Cotswolds! Congrats!

I’ve decided to add this as your last destination as it is a bit further away from all the first places. So as you leave Blenheim Palace, you’ll have to drive around 1.5 hours to reach what I think is one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds!

Castle Combe is that picture-perfect place that you see on postcards!

Just like Blenheim Palace, it was featured in lots of Motion Pictures like Doctor Thorne, Doctor Dolittle, Robin Hood, Stardust, War Horse, and Poirot!

I think it’s a great place to end your first day in the Cotswolds as you can just spend your time exploring the lanes, admiring the numerous stone houses, and taking lots of pictures!

If you’ve still got a few hours left here or even just 1h, you can visit the town’s attractions like St. Andrew’s Church!

Day 2

Hope you’ve got plenty of sleep because a whole new day of exploring the villages in Cotswolds is waiting for you! Today I’ve also prepared a mix of castles, mysterious sites, and more gorgeous tiny villages for you to explore!

Here’s your Cotswolds itinerary for the 2nd day, plus a map that will help you visualize all the places that you can visit:

1. Visit St. Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold

door of a church surrounded by tall trees

There’s no better place to start your perfect weekend in the Cotswolds than Stow-on-the-Wold!

This gorgeous village is so picturesque and filled with small cozy shops, tea rooms, and beautiful stone houses!

Once you arrive, you can stop at In The Mood Tearoom, a lovely 1940s-inspired place where you can grab a cup of coffee, tea, and some scones, starting your day in the British way! You can also check out Porch House, which apparently is the oldest pub in the world!

Then you can just walk along the streets and slowly make your way to St. Andrew’s Church, an incredible place that all Lord of the Rings fans will fall in love with!

Once there, check the side of the church, where you’ll find a very mystical door where 2 oak trees have completely blended in and look as if they’re a part of the Church!

Apparently, this door was J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for the Doors of Durin in the book!

If you manage to leave that spot (it has such a special allure), then head over to Market Square, where you’ll find more tearooms, antique shops, and boutique stores.

2. Admire the gardens at Sudeley Castle

A garden with roses and a castle in the background.

If you love history and culture then this weekend’s break in the Cotswolds will probably feel like such a present from the universe!

Here you can just walk on the high street or get a glance at the rolling hills and feel like you’ve time-traveled!

But as you know, I always love to put a cherry on top of the cake of attractions, and that’s why I included Sudeley Castle in your Cotswolds itinerary!

Set just a 20 min drive from Stow-on-the-Wold, this beautiful private residence was once the home of kings and queens! Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Charles I were just some royals who called Sudeley Castle their home!

The castle itself is pretty spectacular. It was renovated after suffering great damage during the English Civil War) but it’s the 10 gardens that made me fall in love with this attraction! All look so beautiful and abundant in roses, medicinal herbs, and other plants.

Of course, you definitely need to explore the castle’s rooms as well, as there are so many exhibitions and unique antiques!

PRICE: US$23 per person

3. See Britain’s most romantic street in Lower Slaughter

street with houses by a river with a stone bridge in the foreground

Let’s get moving and see our 3rd attraction for the day! Just a 20 min drive away from Sudeley Castle, Lower Slaughter represents perfectly the quintessence of the Cotswolds!

Maybe you didn’t get that from the name, which in Old English would mean a muddy or boggy place, but I feel that this takes from its unique character!

As you walk on the banks of River Eye and explore the town (maybe even stop at a craft shop), you can make your way to Copse Hill Road, which is considered to be the country’s most romantic street!

And to be honest, there really is a romantic element attached to it! I don’t know if it’s the typical Cotswolds architecture, the narrow alleyways, or all the cozy shops and restaurants, but you’ll find such a unique atmosphere!

From there, you can just walk along the road until you reach the Old Mill Museum (also known as Lower Slaughter Museum), where you can stop for coffee or tea at the café on-site after visiting the museum!

If you’ve got the time, before hitting the road to the next location, you can also visit Upper Slaughter! These twin towns are just 5 min away from each other and have a similar atmosphere, although Upper and Lower Slaughter are unique in their own ways!

4. Stop for a pint in Bourton-on-the-Water

A group of people sitting on a bench near a canal.

Hop back in the car and drive just for 5 min to reach the beautiful village of Bourton-on-the-Water!

Often called the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” it has numerous rivers running through it and stone bridges. This town is one of the most popular ones in the region, so you may stumble across lots of tourists here!

I know that one of you will have to drive, but if you want to get a real taste of Bourton-on-the-Water, you definitely need to stop by the Cotswold Brewing Company (also known as the Hawkstone Brewery) and go for a tasting tour or buy some local ales to enjoy at home!

But if that’s not really your scene, there are other things to see in the town! If you head to the high street, you’ll find plenty of tea rooms, shops, and fun attractions like the Cotswold Motoring Museum, which has such a beautiful collection of vintage cars, and the Model Village, which is basically a mini-replica of the town!

5. Snap a pic of Arlington Row in Bibury

row of stone houses with lots of greenery and flowers

We’re ending your final day in the Cotswolds region with a beautiful sleepy village that’s located near Bourton-on-the-Water, just a 20 min drive away!

I definitely agree with the late artist William Morris who said Bibury is the most beautiful village in England!

Just like its brother and sister towns in the Cotswolds, Bibury has made a cameo in movies like Stardust and Bridget Jones’ Diary! And we can’t be surprised since it looks so magical!

If you’ve managed to save time today, then definitely explore all the walking routes, stop by all the lime-stone houses, which were initially built as a monastic wool store, and pause for a moment to take all the beauty in!

After that, you can head to the most famous attraction in Bibury, Arlington Row! A gorgeous lane lined up with 17th-century cottages, which is the perfect spot to mark the ending of your 2 days in the Cotswolds!

Or, if you prefer to celebrate by winning and dining, head over to The Swan Hotel, which has a fabulous restaurant!

Where to stay in the Cotswolds

Since most tourists hire a car to explore the region, you can spend the night wherever you want! You can also use trains and buses, but you won’t be able to reach all the sites as some are off-the-beaten-path.

Anyways, below, you’ll find a hotel for each price range! These are some of the best places to stay in the region but definitely have a look at our post with luxury hotels in the Cotswolds to find more fabulous options!

collage of 3 images with: a bedroom, couches in front of a fireplace and outdoor tables and chairs
  • Luxury: Lords of the Manor – feel like a duke or duchess in this gorgeous manor house that’s set in Upper Slaughter! Set in a 17th-century building, this hotel has such an elegant design, a vast parkland that you can explore, an award-winning restaurant, and a car park with free spots!
  • Mid-RangeNew Inn at Coln – you’ll love this amazing place in Coln Saint Aldwyn! The accommodation has a garden, lovely rooms with ancient oak beams, a restaurant where you can indulge in traditional pub food, and free parking!
  • Budget: St. Michaels Bistro – if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable where you can spend a few days and not pay a fortune, then check out this hotel in Painswick, which has such unique rooms (each one with a special design), a restaurant and a bar! 

Important things you should know about the Cotswolds

A street lined with thatched cottages in the cotswolds.

There’s a lot of information in this post, and I definitely recommend re-reading everything a few times and checking if you can change something or adjust to make your trip there as pleasant as possible!

But I didn’t want to finish this perfect Cotswolds itinerary without giving you some tips and information that I’m sure will help when booking your tickets, hotels, etc. which, by the way, I recommend doing super early as this region is super popular!

So here are some of the main things to consider:

  • Best way to explore the region is by renting a car, as many of these attractions and towns are not accessible by train or other forms of public transport.
  • Finding a car park is not so hard, I recommend looking on this website before planning a trip to see which are the nearest car parks to the towns you want to visit.
  • There are no Ubers in the region, only a few taxis, and you can talk to the hotel staff to point you to the right one in the town.
🤩 Best attraction:St. Edward’s Church
🚌 Top tour:Bike Tour of the Cotswolds
🏨 Best hotel:Lords of the Manor
🌞 When to visit:early summer

FAQs about your weekend in the Cotswolds

A row of stone cottages in the cotswolds.

📅 How many days should I spend in Cotswold?

It really depends on how many things you want to visit, but 2 to 4 days should be enough to explore the main towns and see some of the most important attractions!

🏡 How can I spend 2 days in Cotswolds, UK?

On your 1st day, you can visit places like Broadway Tower, Moreton-in-Marsh town, and Blenheim Palace! Then on your 2nd day, you can explore Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Bibury!

🖼️ What is the most picturesque town in Cotswold?

I feel like Bibury is one of the most picturesque towns in the Cotswolds, but I also like Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Castle Combe.

🤔 What is the best time of year to visit the Cotswolds?

I’d recommend visiting in the autumn months (September, October, and early November) or early summer (May, June, July)!

Conclusion

street with houses by a river at sunset

I hope that this post helped you plan your weekend in the Cotswolds! I’ve split the article by days so that you can easily follow along and made sure to add lots of information on where to stay, plus more tips!

Sorry if I’ve bombarded you with so much info but trust me, you’ll need it all when you start booking tickets and tours!

We all know that the Cotswolds region spans over a large area, but that doesn’t mean all the cool places won’t sell fast! So secure your tickets, hotels, and tours early!

Enjoy your time off touring historical castles and lush gardens and visiting farmers’ markets and artisanal shops! As always, I’m still around for questions (you only need to comment below)!

Safe travels,

Victoria


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collage of 2 images with stone houses and St Edward's Church entrance

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tower on a lush green field

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