An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds represent the Platonic ideal of quaint, rural England, from their thatched-roof cottages and rolling, green hills to their heritage tearooms and charming villages. Happily, they’re also within day-trip distance of locales such as London and Oxford. Here’s how to plan the perfect 1-day visit.
Stratford-upon-Avon is considered a gateway to the Cotswolds, and no tour of the region would be complete without stopping to follow in the Bard’s footsteps. Though this town is small of scale, it’s famed the world over as the birthplace and former residence of William Shakespeare. During your stint in town, you can visit Shakespeare’s former abode, drop by Anne Hathaway’s cottage, explore a museum dedicated to the playwright, and admire the several theaters in town.
After your literary-minded excursion, venture into the heart of the Cotswolds, and visit a charming market town. Famed for the heritage architecture lining its High Street, its centuries-old market hall, and its picturesque country church, Chipping Campden is considered one of the Cotswolds’ unmissable highlights. Alternatively, nearby Stow-on-the-Wold mingles history and scenery. It’s the loftiest of the Cotswolds’ towns and dates to the Norman period. While in town, enjoy a restorative bite at a traditional pub or pretty tearoom.
End your day out in the Cotswolds on a memorable note when you visit what is often described as the region’s loveliest village (quite the compliment, given the area’s general surfeit of beauty). Picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water is often described as “the Venice of the Cotswolds,” as it is bisected by the River Windrush. Arrive in time to watch the sun go down over the scenery, and traverse the many stone bridges that cross the river. Before returning to London, Oxford, or other area hubs—or your Cotswolds hotel—venture into one of Bourton-on-the-Water’s well-rated restaurants for an indulgent meal.