I have always loved the movie The Holiday. Have you seen it? It’s on repeat at our house throughout Christmas. 😉 The idea of spending the holidays in a cozy little thatched roof cottage in the Cotswolds is so appealing! On a recent trip to Italy we found flights that made it cheaper to stop in London first. Knowing we had just two nights in town, I saw my chance to spend some time wandering through the beautiful villages like Broadway United Kingdom and I took it! The Cotswolds are a VERY popular place to visit, especially during the height of the summer tourist season. A dear friend of mine had spent a few years living not far from the Cotswolds and so she had a great list of Cotswolds Villages to visit and we were excited to set out when we arrived at Heathrow. Jet-lagged…but excited! 🙂 I wanted to make sure I had the chance to take lots of pictures, so finding the cutest Cotswolds villages to visit without crowds was high on my priority list.
The afternoon of our arrival we barely made it to our hotel outside of Oxford we were so tired! We rested up and were all ready to explore the next morning. The Cotswolds Villages are located about 2 hours northwest from London. This makes visiting the Cotswolds an easy day trip from London. There are several tour companies that provide organized tours out to the picturesque villages, but we usually prefer to drive our own vehicle because it gives us the freedom and flexibility to see what we want, when we want. Driving on the wrong side of the road however, can be a bit of an adventure…especially when you are tired! 😉
The villages on our list to visit were Burton on the Water, Burford, Stratford Upon Avon, Stow on the Wold, and Chipping Campden. All of the Cotswold Villages are relatively close to each other, which makes visiting several of them very possible in a day trip. Other villages, like Broadway United Kingdom, were not on our radar until we were actually there, driving around.
We started our day heading for Burton on the Water. We drove a route that took us through Burford on the way there.
While beautiful, we knew instantly upon arriving in Burton on the Water that it wasn’t going to be our favorite stop of the day. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even end up stopping. We drove through twice looking for parking, but there was none to be found, and after seeing the tour buses unloading and hoards of people and shops crawling with tourists, we kept on moving and headed for Stow on the Wold. I think that Burton on the Water would be a beautiful place to visit, just maybe at quieter time of year.
We continued on to Stow on the Wold. It was much quieter and so lovely! The parking was easy to access just a bit down the main road through town in a pay lot, and the shops and restaurants weren’t teeming with people.
This little village is SO cute! We drove through some of the residential streets and areas surrounding Stow on the Wold, but in my experience it seems that the real thing you are visiting when you visit each of the Cotswold villages is their high street.
The small downtown shopping street full of restaurants and cute little boutiques. Its a gathering place for the neighbors and a fun place to get a little slice of life in England outside of London.
This little shop was so yummy! Definitely pick up some Cotswolds cheese on your visit!
It was in Stow on the Wold that our day of sightseeing in the Cotswolds took a little bit of a fun turn. I stopped into the cutest little shop, Sam Wilson Studio, and started chatting with the sales clerk. She was a darling girl that had grown up in the region and she had lots of opinions about what we should see while we were in town, and tops on her list was Broadway United Kingdom.
She already knew what I liked, because I loved her shop, so she quick to recommend several other villages that she thought we needed to add to our list. She gave us an itinerary for things to see and do and even a fun spot to have lunch.
This is one of my favorite parts of traveling. I love to meet locals and get off the beaten path a bit.
BROADWAY UNITED KINGDOM
After our fun visit to Stow on the Wold we hopped in the car and headed to Broadway United Kingdom. We were ready for lunch and she had recommended a cute little spot there. On the way we stopped at the Broadway Tower.
Perched atop the second highest point in the Cotswolds it was built in 1798 and has an interesting history. The tower is a tourist attraction and the centre of a country park with various exhibitions open to the public for a fee, it has a gift shop and restaurant as well.
We arrived in Broadway United Kingdom around lunchtime and headed to the Broadway Deli for a snack so we could sight see a bit before we had our actual lunch. Broadway is SO cute! I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but it is a darling little town, and it was not crowded at all.
Public parking was easy and inexpensive, with nice, clean public restrooms in the parking lot. (I always like to make a note of nice public restrooms when we are traveling!) We wandered around town for close to three hours, including a great lunch at Russells Fish and Chips. Russell’s has a fancier restaurant with it’s main entrance right on the high street, but around the side of the building i this great fish and chips spot. It was SO yummy!
We found some darling shops there too. From what I can tell, this cute Cotswold Village is not on the radar of tons of tourists…I don’t think Rick Steves has mentioned it, if that helps. 😉
I am anxious to head back to Broadway United Kingdom in the near future and spend a few days at the beautiful Lygon Arms Hotel. It is simply gorgeous. The grounds are amazing and the decor inside is stunning.
They even have a wall of wellies for you to borrow if the weather is soggy. SO cute!! If you are thinking about visiting the Cotswolds and looking for a beautiful place to stay, I would highly recommend The Lygon Arms!
After our time in Broadway we hopped back in the car and headed to another spot our friend from Stow on the Wold mentioned, the lavender fields in Snowshill. Wow!! Snowshill is only about 2 miles from Broadway United Kingdom. A quick stop if you want it to be, if you’d like to stay longer, there is a shop and tearoom to visit at the farm.
What a breathtaking sight! Rolling hills of bright purple is pretty incredible! The lavender fields are in bloom from early June through about late July when they start to harvest the crop. If you get a chance to at least drive by, it is pretty spectacular and smells amazing!
We ended our day in the cutest Cotswold villages to visit without crowds in a very crowded Stratford Upon Avon. While technically not a Cotswold Village, it is considered the gateway to the Cotswolds. It is also the birthplace of Shakespeare and since Ashley has been studying Shakespeare, we wanted to make sure we at least stopped by.
If you are a big Shakespeare fan then you will definitely want to visit Stratford Upon Avon. It is a larger city, so not quite as quaint as traditional Cotswold villages, but still a fun stop to see all of the nods to Shakespeare.
I hope you are excited to visit the Cotswolds! I wish we had had a chance to get to Chipping Campden. That was one spot on both our list and our cute friend from Stow on the Wold’s list. It is where she lived and couldn’t say enough wonderful things about it. I suspect it might be a more crowded village though. If you have been, or have other recommendations of Cotswold villages we need to visit on our next trip, I want to know about them! Please let me know in the comments! 🙂
If you’re heading to other places in Europe, here are some more posts you don’t want to miss! You can check out our entire Europe Travel Gallery to see all of our posts and helpful info.
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