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Favorite COTSWOLDS town visits between Bath and Stratford Upon Avon?

My husband and I hired a driver to pick us up in Bath and take us through the Costswolds for a day, ending up in Stratford Upon Avon. He has a suggested list of places to go. These include: Castle Combe, Cirencester, Bibury, Buford, Bourton on the water, The slaughters, Stow upon wold, Chipping Norton, Snowshill, Broadway, SUA.

I know from reading Rick Steves that he recommends Chipping Camden and other towns. We prefer less touristy if possible. I was hoping I could get a few favorite recommendations from this forum plus a yay or nay on some of our driver’s ideas. Thanks in advance! You are always helpful!

Posted by
33329 posts

I don't know from touristy - I just know the area that I grew up in and continue to regularly visit although none of the family is still there except for those 6 feet under (or a couple of feet under).

The list appeals to me but despite my parents having lived for a while in Chipping Norton I don't think I'd have it on my list. I wonder what your driver wants to show you there. Maybe Long Compton nearby, my mother's favourite hill? hmm. do tell.

If you don't want touristy I don't know why Bibury is on the list - but it is beautiful and can be done quickly.

If you want to go off the main path, you can divert through the beautiful little village of Guiting Power, and if lucky catch an over or two of village cricket. It isn't far off your route.

Posted by
8873 posts

Sudley Castle and nearby Winchcombe. A pint and a meal at the Plaisterers Arms.

Posted by
1180 posts

Cirencester is one of the least touristy places on the list as it’s a real town with people living in it. It is not a pretty and quaint as some of the other places but is a typical old market town with a wide high street now given over to car parking. Bibury and Bourton are basically Cotswolds theme parks.

Posted by
7906 posts

We stayed in Chipping Campden and loved it.

We enjoyed many places, but especially Cirencester and Stratford Upon Avon.

Posted by
7 posts

It is a big area for one day! I can second the recommendation of Sudley Castle (I'd allow at least 2 hours there). My husband enjoyed the Gloucershire-Warwickshire Railway ride in steam locomotives, which goes through many of the beautiful Cotswold towns (without being stuck on the motorways and looking through car windows all day). might break up your car ride with a train ride and get your driver to meet you in Broadway? Bourton-on-the-Water is cute in a very touristy way--gift shops and ice-cream hawkers (and coach buses) abound, but it was nice to stroll along the water. I rode horseback in and near Upper and Lower Slaughter, and these were quiet, charming and definitely nice for strolling through. Much closer to Bath, we found Bradford-on-Avon very nice, too.

Posted by
180 posts

We really liked Lacock, Bourton on the Water and Stow on the Wold.

Posted by
2483 posts

I also liked Lacock. Castle Combe also. my friend and I were staying at the Air Force base at Fairford - he was retired army. We just went out for a drive, ‘got lost’ and eventually stumbled on Bibury. Wow! Definately go there. Doesn’t take long, but very scenic. Northleach was an important ‘wool’ town

Posted by
33 posts

Hi! We did something similar and hired a driver back in May from Bath...
Bibury was gorgeous--we brought a loaf of bread and fed some swans and saw the trout. Worth seeing!
Bourton on the water was more crowded but still lovely to see
We had lunch at The Lamb Inn in Buford and had some of the best sandwiches/food of the entire trip! Highly recommend. Then we walked to a really cool church I think Church of St. John the Baptist if you're interested in that.
Castle Combe was beautiful and we stopped into the nearby hotel The Manor House which was super beautiful. This area we heard does get crowded but we went on a Monday and there was hardly anyone there.
It was nice walking down the Main Street in Stow in the Wold and going into some of the shops there, but probably less memorable? The Doors of Durin is there but I think it's a Lord of the Rings reference--and we aren't huge LOTR fans...
Lower Slaughter was pretty but not a whole lot to see unless we missed something... also might have it confused with Upper Slaughter
We went to Tetbury but I forgot to see if we could go to where they filmed Poldark! But we did visit HM's shop.

There were a lot of people in some villages but it never felt too touristy

Posted by
1624 posts

I don't know what a real town with people means: they are all real towns/villages, and people live in them. Many of them of full of tourists, and for good reason.

If you really want non-touristy: Bradford-on-Avon (close by), Painswick and Tewkesbury, though it's been 20 years since we were there. A day can be spent in Stratford itself, especially if you want to catch a play.

Posted by
1180 posts

I guess some people do have homes in Bibury but it’s ridiculously expensive to buy anything there and I expect many of the people with houses there also have a home elsewhere, eg London. That’s the case for a lot of the Cotswolds. Alternatively people who live there commute to London, Bristol or Bath for work.

These are not little working villages like people may imagine. The money there (and the Cotswolds reeks of money) is coming into the area from elsewhere.

Posted by
380 posts

Based on our trips to the area, our favorite town to visit and stay is Stow in the Wold, however, I do want to add a mention to Broadway, which is lovely. Chipping Camden is fine, but didn’t quite grab us compared to Stow and Broadway.