As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s no surprise the Cotswolds is one of the best road trip destinations in the UK. From chocolate-box villages filled with thatched cottages to rolling green hills dotted with grazing sheep, a Cotswolds road trip is guaranteed to have you reaching for your camera.

It stretches across six counties, and without a doubt, the best way to explore it is by car. Ready to get inspired? Read on for our complete guide to the best places to visit on a Cotswolds road trip.

1. Wander around the town of Winchcombe

The tiny market town of Winchcombe captures the charm of the Cotswolds. It’s nestled in a picturesque valley and features winding lanes lined with half-timbered houses and thatch-roof cottages. They once housed tailors, apothecaries and blacksmith’s shops. Though today you’ll see cute cafes, antique stores and clothing boutiques in the centuries-old buildings.

For walkers, Winchcombe is a gateway to the famous Cotswold Way. The long-distance trail passes through Winchcombe, which makes the town a great base for bite-sized day hikes.

2. Walk in the footsteps of queens at Sudeley Castle

Winchcombe is a stone’s throw from Sudeley Castle, an ancient stronghold with a history dating back more than a millennium. Catherine Parr, the widow of Henry VIII and former Queen of England, was laid to rest in beautiful St Mary’s Church in the castle grounds. The castle is impressive, but the gardens steal the spotlight. Discover 10 different zones, including the enchanting Queens’ Garden filled with pastel-coloured roses.

3. Climb Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower soars over the Cotswolds and commands spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. It’s a must-visit stop on any Cotswolds road trip. The Gothic-inspired folly was built in the 1700s but boasts all the grandeur of a bygone era.

Famous British textile designer William Morris summered here in the 1800s. The onsite museum features exhibits on his life, legacy and role in the Arts and Crafts movement. Hold onto your hat on the viewing deck – it can get incredibly windy!

4. Dine at The Fleece

Housed in a National Trust-owned building, The Fleece is one of the top-rated restaurants in the Cotswolds. Find it in the bustling market town of Cirencester, a fantastic destination for any Cotswolds road trip. Whether you’re craving a hearty brunch made with farm-fresh ingredients or a chef-driven supper, The Fleece puts an elegant spin on pub classics. Pair your meal with locally brewed ales and ciders, made just down the road.

5. Bibury

From postcards to Instagram feeds, Bibury is a photographer’s dream. The entire village is beautiful but it’s Arlington Row that captures hearts. Built from Cotswolds stone, this row of 14th-century cottages lined with colourful flowers is picture perfect. The cottages appear in blockbuster films like Stardust, not to mention the pages of British passports! No wonder it’s one of the most visited destinations listed on Cotswolds road trip guides.

Arrive early to beat the crowds and snap the perfect photo of the adorable stone cottages. No joke, coachloads of tourists literally arrive in droves. Take your time strolling around the village before heading to a tearoom for scones, jam and looseleaf tea. Wind up a day of sightseeing with dinner at a local pub. This is a great place to try Bibury trout, famous for its delicate flavour. The fish are bred at the local trout farm and mature in pools filled with crystalline, spring-sourced water.

6. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Travelling with kids? Pencil in a stop at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. The park is home to animals from around the world, including giraffes, rhinos, lemurs, monkeys and flamingos. This isn’t your regular zoo. It’s set in the grounds of a Victorian estate and anchored by a magnificent manor house.

7. Sate your appetite in the Cotswolds

Fertile farmland dominates the Cotswolds, so it’s no surprise the area is a foodie paradise. From farm-to-table cafes to fine-dining restaurants, you’ll find dining options for every occasion. There are even a handful of Michelin stars for special occasions!

Products like Single Gloucester cheese are world famous and have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, meaning they can’t be made anywhere else in the world! On a Cotswolds road trip, you can also try famous products like washed-rind Stinking Bishop cheese and grass-fed Cotswolds beef. A generous slather of Tewkesbury mustard never goes stray in a classic sandwich, ideally made with bread from the much-loved Hobbs House Bakery.

8. Sip your way through the Cotswolds

Stop by the Cotswolds Distillery in Shipston-on-Stour to try craft gin and single malt whiskey made in the heart of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Beer lovers swoon over the Gloucestershire Ale Trail, which takes in some of the top small-batch breweries in the Cotswolds. Of course, if you plan to drink, be sure to assign a designated driver for your Cotswolds road trip.

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