The beautiful Cotswolds area is one of our favorites. With its small villages of thatch-roofed stone cottages, rolling meadows, grazing sheep and stately manor homes, it looks like what England is supposed to look like.
Bordered roughly by Oxford to the southeast, Bath to the southwest, Stratford-upon-Avon to the north and Gloucester to the west, the Cotswolds have an atmosphere unchanged since medieval times—except, that is, by large numbers of tourists.
At least two days are needed to visit its charming hamlets: Upper and Lower Slaughter, Stanton, Stanway, Stow-on-the-Wold, Northleach, Burford and Painswick are among our favorites.
We suggest renting a car and staying in bed-and-breakfasts or inns along the way. Sights to see include Snowshill Manor (south of Broadway), Hidcote Manor Gardens (north of Chipping Campden), Sudeley Castle (Winchcombe), Sezincote (west of Moreton-in-Marsh), Owlpen Manor (south of Stroud) and St. Mary's Church (Fairford). Broadway is known for antiques stores and lots of tourists.
Cheltenham, a former spa town, retains its fine Regency and Greek Revival buildings. The town of Cirencester has an immense, richly carved parish church and a notable Roman museum. Just to its north, you'll find the Chedworth ruins of a Roman villa.
If you're up for some outdoor activity, take to the 100-mi/160-km Cotswold Way, a well-traveled footpath (or at least a portion of it). Or find the source of the Thames, just north of the village of Kemble. Lots of other, shorter walking trails are dotted across the region.
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