The Cotswolds boast the most picturesque villages and the most charming cottages. The region prospered thanks to the wool trade in the Middle Ages and most Cotswold villages date back to then. Located north of Bath and Bristol, the South Cotswolds offer the ideal escape to British quintessence and beautiful countryside.
For the perfect day trip or weekend away, I would recommend visiting the following 6 prettiest villages in the South Cotswolds. With their maze of quaint streets and plethora of honey-coloured stone cottages, these picture-perfect villages are the best places to visit in the Cotswolds and a delight to explore.
1. Castle Combe
Castle Combe is said to be the prettiest village in England. I wouldn’t make such a bold claim, but it definitely is one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds. Comprising a few charming streets and lanes, this Cotswold village is painted in honey-coloured hues and offers chocolate-box perfection.
Along the high street, Castle Combe features rows and rows of quaint cottages, a remarkable 14th century market cross, a medieval water pump, the 13th century church of St Andrews and a peaceful stream that completes the picture-perfect scene. Find out more with the Castle Combe guide.
The market town of Malmesbury is filled with Cotswold charm and features striking medieval architecture, picturesque cottages, delightful independent shops and cafés, and beautiful country views. One of the top Cotswold towns to visit, Malmesbury is the oldest borough in England and the perfect base to explore the Cotswolds further.
Alongside the quaint streets and cottages, one of the highlights of Malmesbury is the Norman abbey. The 12th century abbey has lost its great spire and tower, but boasts stunning arches and a honey-combed ceiling. Another key attraction is the 13th century market cross which is located at the top of the high street. Explore the market town with the Malmesbury guide.
3. Badminton & Little Badminton
Renowned for the grand Badminton Estate and the annual Badminton Horse Trials, the Cotswold village of Badminton boasts an impressive collection of chocolate-box cottages. From almshouses to thatched cottages, farmhouses and country cottages painted yellow, dwellings in the village date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and form a picture-perfect scene. Badminton is one of the prettiest villages to visit in the Cotswolds.
Part of Badminton, the hamlet of Little Badminton features even more splendid Cotswold cottages. Built around the village green, Little Badminton houses the vestiges of a sunken medieval village, a remarkable medieval dovecote and an unsual church. You can explore the picturesque villages of Badminton and Little Badminton, the delightful Badminton Park and the rolling Cotswold countryside with the Badminton walk guide.
Nested in an enchanting wooded valley to the north of Dursley, the chocolate-box village of Uley comprises one main street, one quaint shop, one charming pub and rows upon rows of charming cottages in the honey-coloured Cotswold stone. Uley is an otherworldly, quaint village and one of best villages to explore in the South Cotswolds.
Uley also boasts a remarkable hill fort which offers a lovely walk. With spectacular views of the enchanting valley, the picturesque village, the Cotswold hills, the Bristol Channel and South Wales, the Uley & Uley Bury walk will take your breath away. Check out the Uley & Uley Bury walk guide.
Nympsfield is another timeless, picturesque village to explore in the South Cotswolds. Located to the south of Stroud, the quaint village is nested in the heart of the Cotswold countryside and comprises two streets with a plethora of charming golden stone cottages. Unsurprisingly, the hub of the village is found near the pub and the school.
While visiting Nympsfield, you should also explore Woodchester Park. Located outside the village, the landscape park features a striking Victorian manor, shimmering lakes and a quaint boathouse, and offers an enchanting woodland walk. Coaley Peak is another top attraction near Nympsfield. Located along the Cotswold escarpment, Coaley Peak enjoys breathtaking views of the Cotswold Hills, the Severn Vale, the Brecon Beacons and Wales.
One of the best market towns in the South Cotswolds, Tetbury boasts striking town houses in the dark gold Cotswold stone as well as beautiful quaint cottages. The heart of the town is located along the high street and around the 17th century market house on Long Street. There, you’ll find a choice of independent shops, cafés and antiques.
You should take the time to explore the back streets of Tetbury, such as Gumstoll Hill, the Chipping Steps and streets near the market house. There, you’ll discover quaint honey-coloured cottages which contrast with the darker and more austere town houses along the high street. On the way to or from Tetbury, you should also stop at the hamlet of Beverston which offers picture-perfect rows of charming cottages.
Explore the Cotswolds further
The North Cotswolds feature an even more gorgeous collection of picturesque villages and quaint cottages. From Stanton to Lower Slaughter and Chipping Campden, the North Cotswolds offer the quintessence of the Cotswold soul. Check out the North Cotswold villages guide.