With close proximity to several major centres in the south of England, these Cotswold weekend breaks are the perfect getaway. Here are 5 weekend itineraries for the Cotswolds that each sample a different side to this beautiful area.
There’s a wealth to explore in the 800 square miles that make up the Cotswolds.
From beautiful stone villages with honey-hued manor houses to remnants of Roman history and the visible impact of the prosperous wool trade.
With its close proximity to several major centres in the south of England, these Cotswolds weekend break are perfect for discovering some country charm. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed getaway or a languid stay; a fire-side relax or a pampering spa treatment, there’s a weekend break in the Cotswolds that’s perfect for every traveller.
Discover rolling landscapes and sheep-strewn hills, historic stately homes and picturesque villages, fine-dining Michelin-stared restaurants or local hearty pubs.
We’ve put together 5 Cotswold weekend breaks with all the details you need to start booking your next escape. For more ideas in the country, read our guide to the best UK weekend breaks.
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1 – BROADWAY & THE COTSWOLDS WAY
Best Cotswold weekend break for great country walks and a thriving art scene
With some of the best hiking in the area along the Cotswolds Way, this is a great weekend itinerary to enjoy the great outdoors. But with a base in Broadway, you can also wander art galleries, shop for antiques and visit one of the most impressive castles in the country.
FRIDAY / CHECK-IN
To ease into this Cotswolds weekend break, check into your accommodation and breathe in the fresh country air. Choose from the relaxed yet friendly home-style comforts at the Guiting Power Guest House; the modern comforts of the Fish Hotel in Broadway or the grandeur and pampering of the Buckland Manor.
If you’re looking for a country pub to start the weekend in the traditional Cotswolds way, the Crown & Trumpet Inn in Broadway is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere, well-priced pub-grub and wide selection of local beers.
SATURDAY / HIKING
Waking up refreshed, spend Saturday enjoying the country scenery on a long hike. The Cotswolds Way – a 102-mile trail that follows the escarpment – zig zags through the area, creating a number of great options. Hike from Broadway up to the nearby Broadway Tower or try the excellent pub-to-pub trail through beautiful countryside on the Stanton to Snowshill hike. All the details are in our hiking in the Cotswolds article.
For a refined take on a classic Cotswolds pub, try the Ebrington Arms for dinner. Their French-inspired dishes are crafted to perfection and their Yubby Ale is the perfect accompaniment.
SUNDAY / CASTLES & GARDENS
Energise by yesterday’s hiking, head over to Sudeley Castle to roam the immaculate gardens of the 15th-century grand residence. Then head to Broadway and stroll along the wide grass-fringed high street to grab a bite for lunch – we’d recommend Lygon Wine Bar.
After lunch, drive to the charming Chipping Camden for a stroll down the honey-stoned high street before making your way to Hidcote Manor to explore one of the finest private gardens in the country.
2 – BATH & CASTLE COMBE
Best Cotswold weekend for ancient history and immaculate villages
For more of a city-inspired weekend break in the Cotswolds, this itinerary is based around Bath – one of our favourite cities in the country and one of our favourite things to do in the Cotswolds. Explore the Roman history of the centre and scour laneways searching for cool independents shops. Venture out of the city to discover Castle Combe, a quaint village that is perfect to explore on a UK road trip.
FRIDAY / CHECK-IN
To enjoy the range of bars and a great restaurant scene, book your accommodation in Bath. The pampering decadence of the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa always lives up to its reputation. But, if you prefer evening languid strolls in the countryside then the Kings Arms in Didmarton is a lovely cosy pub. The Manor House in Castle Combe is an all-class establishment.
You’re spoilt for choice on dinner ideas if you stay in Bath, and the restaurant at the King’s Arms in Didmarton is top-notch. However, if you are staying in Castle Combe, The Castle Inn is a great local pub for a weekend-starting pint.
SATURDAY / BATH
Spend Saturday wandering the stone-dominated architecture of Bath. Start at the Roman Baths and get up to speed on ancient washing rituals with their excellent audio guide. Admire the incredible Bath Abbey before grabbing an excellent coffee at the nearby Mokoko.
Stroll over the 18th century Pulteney Bridge with the shops crammed on top and the Assembly Rooms for a taste of the Georgian good life. Continue the Georgian theme with dinner at the Circus Restaurant.
For more information read our guide to spending one day in Bath.
SUNDAY / CASTLE COMBE
Today, drive to Castle Combe to explore one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. With green forested hills in the background, quaint cottages in the foreground, and a babbling brook in between, it takes little imagination to see why this gorgeous village has featured in many blockbuster movies. Have lunch at the Castle Inn overlooking the market square, then drive to the village of Lacock.
Managed by the National Trust, what Lacock lacks in authenticity it makes up for in the pristine condition of its houses. On the edge of town, the magnificent Abbey with its quirky country-style spaces is an ideal place to visit on this Cotswolds break. While here, explore the many Lacock Harry Potter locations.
3 – CLASSIC COTSWOLD VILLAGES
Best weekend break in the Cotswolds for immersing in quintessential English charm
It doesn’t get much more Cotswolds than this weekend. Stroll picturesque country streets lined with craft coffee and artisan bakeries before exploring two of the most iconic villages in the Cotswolds. Stay fuelled up with organic farm produce, local beer and the regions best gin – many of our favourite things to do in the Cotswolds.
FRIDAY / CHECK-IN
For a weekend indulging in the modern style of the Cotswolds, check-in at the Old Stocks Inn. Located in Stow-on-the-Wold, this family-run guesthouse has all the right details for a lovely stay. Alternatively, plump for the Kingham Plough, a smartly dressed pub with great food; or the Wild Rabbit, a Michelin-starred restaurant with relaxed on-trend accommodation.
Stow-on-the-Wold will have plenty of options to tempt you into a Friday night pint. However, if you’re staying in Kingham, dinner at the Plough is a great way to ease yourself into the Cotswolds life.
SATURDAY / VILLAGE HOPPING
Complete with trendy cafes, quaint tea rooms and old-time ice cream stands, spend the morning getting acquainted with Bourton-on-the-Water. Although over-zealously referred to as the Venice of the Cotswolds, the canal running down the high street is a picturesque spot to stroll along. All the details are in our days out in the Cotswolds article.
Drive to Upper Slaughter and have High Tea at the Lords of the Manor for lunch, then spend the afternoon strolling through Upper and Lower Slaughter, surely the finest villages in the Cotswolds. For dinner head to one of our favourite pubs, the King’s Head in Bledington. Ask to sit near the bar.
SUNDAY / BRUNCH & BOOZE
Start Sunday the right way with a delicious and healthy brunch at Daylesford Organic. After brunch, stroll around their extensively stocked farm shop before heading over to the Cotswolds Distillery in the village of Stourton. They have a wide selection of gins and whiskeys with tours running three times a day. Just a few miles further east, the family-run Hook Norton Brewery has tours twice a day of their Victorian brewery. Finish a foodie day dining in the charming Kings Head in Bledington.
4 – OXFORD & BLENHEIM
Best short break in the Cotswolds for honey-hued architectural splendour and a grand stately home
Any time of year, the historic colleges of Oxford are an enchantment. Whether it’s the honeyed glow of summer or the crisp frosting of winter, it is a beautiful place. Nearby, the grandeur of Blenheim Palace – one of England’s finest stately homes – combine to make this a Cotswolds break full of British impressiveness.
FRIDAY / CHECK-IN
Balance the majesty of Oxford and the grandeur of Blenheim with a stay at the Falkland Arms in Great Tew – one of the most atmospheric, rustic old pubs in Britain. Alternatively, the Old Parsonage has a chic country house feel right near the centre of Oxford, and The Galaxie is a friendly family-run guesthouse.
While there’s no shortage of great pubs in Oxford, such as the historic Turf Tavern, for a real taste of the Cotswolds, start your weekend with a pint at the thoroughly atmospheric Falkland Arms in Great Tew.
SATURDAY / BLENHEIM GRANDEUR
Spend Saturday exploring the impressive Blenheim Palace, the childhood home of Winston Churchill. The opulence inside the palace and the immaculate formal gardens surrounding it, make the entry fee well worth it. There are a few options for lunch including the high-end Orangerie or the kid-friendly pizza café.
End the day at the atmospheric Falkland Arms in Great Tew. Join the cravat-wearing locals for a traditional ale, a box of snuff and some tall tales by the fire.
SUNDAY / DREAMING SPIRES
Spend Sunday inspecting the colleges and wandering the atmospheric streets of one of the most famous university towns in the world. All the details are in our Oxford day trip article including our advice for how to construct the day to ensure you see as much as possible.
5 – CIRENCESTER & AROUND
Best Cotswolds weekend break for the wool-spun history of the area and idyllic river-side ruins
The prosperity of the Cotswolds is based in the wool industry of the 17th century, the story of which is woven through the fabric of the area. This Cotswolds break explores ancient history in Cirencester, the remnant of the weaver’s trade in Bibury and medieval history in Minster Lovell.
FRIDAY / CHECK-IN
Start the weekend with dinner in Northleach at The Wheatsheaf Inn, an excellent country pub. If travelling further afield is too much effort after those decadent country puddings, head upstairs to luxuriate in the rooms complete with fluffy bathrobes. Otherwise, the Bay Tree Hotel in Burford oozes traditional English charm while the Swan Inn at Minster Lovell is a well-equipped country hotel in a tiny atmospheric village which serves fine pub food.
Our pick for this weekend would be to stay at the Wheatsheaf Inn, which is a beautiful, stylish pub with excellent food. Enjoy a pint by the fire when you arrive to get those weekend vibes underway.
SATURDAY / HISTORIC COTSWOLDS
This morning, take-in the picture-postcard view of the Cotswolds at Bibury. In the 17th century, a monastic wool store was converted into a row of cottages for weavers. Today, Arlington Row is possibly one of the most visited and photographed spots in the Cotswolds.
In the afternoon make your way to Cirencester, the capital of the Cotswolds, to browse the independent shops and the Corinium Museum, which will take you on a journey through Cotswolds history from prehistoric times to the modern day.
SUNDAY / RIVER LAZING
Start today with an excellent coffee and fresh pastry from Lynwood Café in Burford. Then stroll the high street which cascades down the hill to collect some supplies for an afternoon picnic. Once stocked up, drive to Minster Lovell, a tiny charming village set along the banks of the River Windrush. The ruins of the 15th-century manor house are thoroughly atmospheric and a great spot for a picnic and a dose of wild swimming.
BEST TIME FOR A COTSWOLD WEEKEND BREAK
The versatility of these Cotswolds weekends mean they can be done throughout the year.
In summer, enjoy a walk in the Cotswolds over undulating landscapes dotted with sheep as the sun lights up the fields. Timeless villages similarly come alive when bathed in English sunshine. However, summer is the busiest time of year, so accommodation will be more expensive and some of the villages will be bursting with tourists.
Few other areas in the country display rusty autumn colours quite like the Cotswolds, when a stroll on a crisp day is food for the soul. In winter, be captivated by the pretty stone villages frosted in snow as you curl up in front of an open fire with a glass of red in a country pub.
But its spring when these Cotswolds breaks are ideal. The gardens are at the most beautiful; the hiking trails are full of blossom and wild garlic, and the villages are still quiet and relaxed before the summer rush.
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HOW TO GET AROUND THE COTSWOLDS
The Cotswolds is a rural area of England and while buses and trains do connect some of the villages and towns they are not that regular and many don’t run on weekends. The easiest, and by far the most convenient way to see enjoy these Cotswolds breaks is on a classic British road trip. This way, you can collect tiny villages on the way to stately homes and not miss anything in between.
VISITING THE COTSWOLDS BY CAR
The best way to visit these beautiful Cotswolds villages and enjoy the scenery that surrounds them is by car. With your own wheels, you could easily visit several villages in a day, without waiting for public transport. If you need to hire a car for the trip, we recommend rentalcars.com.
MORE READING FOR THE COTSWOLDS
The Cotswolds is the one area of England we’ve visited the most. There are few hiking trails we haven’t walked or villages we haven’t explored. We’ve spent long afternoons inside cosy pubs, worked our way through local ales, compared the best Sunday roasts and sampled local bakeries. Here’s some more Cotswolds reading.
Explore the best of the Cotswolds on these six circular walks
Aristocrat to artisan – the best things to do in Bath in one day
Best things to do in the Cotswolds to inspire your next getaway
10 great ideas for days out in the Cotswolds
Where to stay in the Cotswolds – Best areas & hotels
Oxford day trip – An Itinerary for 1 day in Oxford
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