What to Pack for a Trip to the Cotswolds?

Packing for the Cotswolds is always exciting – as no two trips are the same.

There is something new to discover every time.

This area is located to the east of Cheltenham and north of Swindon, and covers rolling hills, picturesque villages, and historical houses. Whether you stay in a hotel created from a former stately home, or a quaint B&B (maybe with a pub next door), you can spend days exploring the beautiful scenery and history.

This ‘what to pack for the Cotswolds?’ guide is part of a series of pages here which follow the same format.

Below are some of the travel highlights to look out for, especially if it is your first time in the Cotswolds.

After that are five essential items you need to pack, which are perfect for this holiday.

What to pack for a trip to the Cotswolds?

Packing for the Cotswolds: Highlights

Most holiday spots have four or five must-see highlights, with the Cotswolds, there are many more. I have been ruthless in cutting down this list – though still managed to find seven highlights that were simply too good to leave out. I’ll add a note to visit to Cheltenham. While not strictly the Cotswolds (it is considered a gateway city), the history and restaurants (especially the Daffodil) are worth a look.

#1 – Bourton-on-the-Water:

I’m not really sure about the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ tag, though Bourton is certainly beautiful. The river with low bridges has wide grassed areas each side, ideal for a picnic. There is model village, and a park with interesting birds. Avoid the school holidays, as Bourton-on-the-Water gets jam-packed.

#2 – Stow-on-the-Wold:

This small town is bigger and livelier than Bourton and is ‘charming’ through and through. Expect boutiques, antique shops, and locally run cafes – all with the distinctive stone buildings using local stone. The perfect place to stop in a local pub on a summer’s day.

#3 – Sudeley Castle:

To me this is more of a giant, extended stately home than an old-style castle. That said, it will certainly take your breath away, with perfect gardens and enough to see to make it a full day location. They hold events, and you can even book your wedding there. Do reserve your spot at busy times – as it can sell out well in advance.

Studeley Castle Cotswolds

#4 – Painswick – Queen of the Cotswolds:

At the southern end of the Cotswolds lies Painswick, known as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds.’ Despite some confusion with parking, this turned out to be well worth a visit. It is less touristy than the northern villages and felt more like a working town – albeit one with stunning views, buildings, and manicured gardens with exotic trees around a park.

#5 – Hike the Cotswold Way:

There is a trail that goes all the way through the Cotswolds, which is popular for hikers during the warmer months. While there are stops overnight, a multiday trek is not for most people. I do recommend at least a section of it. This will give you stunning views of the countryside, with unexplored villages an added bonus depending on which section you choose.

#6 – Bibury – Quintessentially Cotswolds:

I can’t think of any other view that is quintessentially Cotswolds in the same way the stone cottages at Bibury are. It is (almost) enough to make me sign up for Instagram. Expect to wait your turn, though you’ll be taken back in time by the views.

#7: Broadway:

There are two reasons that Broadway is known as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds.’ First, the town is beautiful, packed with historic stone buildings, restaurants, and local shops. Second is the tower, which is a 200-year-old folly, with breathtaking views over the Cotswolds countryside. You can find out about the history of the tower when you visit, and perhaps contribute a donation for its preservation.

Villages in the Cotswolds

What to Pack for the Cotswolds?

#1 – Comfortable Walking Shoes: Even if you take your car, exploring the Cotswolds will involve a lot of walking. This can be through the countryside, or withing the towns and villages. Bring your most comfortable walking shoes – and avoid tired feet or even blisters.

#2 – 20 Pence Pieces: You’ll be out and about all day and may get caught short. While the Cotswolds has plenty of public toilets – they all needed a 20p piece to enter. As someone that does not carry much cash, finding one was a big ask. On a positive note, you get super-clean toilets for your money.

#3 – A Brolly and Sunscreen: You never know when the rain will come, or when you’ll have a day of blazing hot sunshine. My advice is to cover both possibilities, with an umbrella and sunscreen. Include a light jacket in the summer, as it can get cool at night.

#4 – Space in Your Luggage: With so many gift shops with truly unique items, antique shops and locally run boutiques – your chances of going home with souvenirs is high. That little extra space in your suitcase will pay off big time when you find those perfect reminders.

#5 – A Great Camera: There are not many places in England with as many wonderful views as the Cotswolds. If you have a separate high-quality camera, it needs to be packed. Pictures of the villages, castles, country views and individual cottages will be providing wonderful memories for years to come.



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