Visiting the Castle Combe Cotswold in England should be at the top of your bucket list! If you love quaint cobblestone houses or romantic fairytale villages, then the Cotswolds is for you! The Cotswolds is in the central-southwest part of England, about 2.5 hours from London. Making it the perfect day or weekend trip outside the city!
While there are many different villages within the Cotswolds, the fairytale medieval village of Castle Combe Cotswold is known to be the prettiest. Most of the houses were build centuries ago [in the 17th-century], leaving many modern structures and technologies completely out of site. You have probably seen the iconic bridge view leading into the village of Castle Combe, even if you didn’t know where it was!
History of the Cotswolds
If you’re anything like us, you might wonder about the history of such a beautifully preserved medieval village. During medieval times it was known to have some of the best wool because it’s rolling green hills and Cotswolds Lion sheep! According to the Cotswolds Heritage, “Cotswolds comes from the name of an Anglo-Saxon chieftain named Cod in the 12th century that owned high land or “wold”- hence “Cod’s wold” and eventually became “Cotswold”.”
Getting to Castle Combe Cotswold
Castle Combe Village is relatively accessible, even if you don’t have a car! You can get there by rail, bus, car, or even plane. We use Google Maps to help find the best route for our needs. You can filter by car, train, bus, and plane.
By Rail – The Cotswolds is a central location in the British Rail network. There are main line trains to the Cotswolds from London, the Midlands and the North and the South West of England. According to the Cotswolds Tourism Board, below are the regular train routes into the area:
– London Paddington and Cheltenham via Swindon, Kemble, Stroud, Stonehouse and Gloucester
– London Paddington and Moreton in Marsh
– Cardiff and Cheltenham via Gloucester
– Birmingham and Bristol via Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Dursley
For the most update to date information and pricing, check out the National Rail website here.
By Bus – The National Express has bus routes all throughout England. If you’re coming from London, the bus route you’ll want to take to get to Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds starts at Victoria Coach Station. Around Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, the main bus stations are at Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. The local bus service, RailBus connects many of the local villages and train stations.
By Car – The Cotswolds has easy access to M4, M5 and M40 making getting there by car from London, Birmingham, and beyond quite easy. Once in the Castle Combe, there are a few places to street park and parking lots to park in during your visit.
By Plane – If you’re not coming from a major city in England, you can fly directly into the Birmingham or Bristol airport. Both airports are around 1 to 1.5 hours drive from the Cotswolds. The largest airport in the area is of course in London, London Heathrow Airport.
Personally, we’d recommend driving a personal car so you have the most flexibility to explore all over the Cotswolds!
Pro Tip! Download the Cotswolds area on Google Maps so that it’s available offline. That way you can navigate the area even without data or wifi.
Best Time to Visit Castle Combe
The best time of year to visit Castle Combe Cotswold depends on what you are looking for weather wise and crowds! The busy season is June to August, when the summer days are long and tend to be more filled with sunshine. There are lots of activities and daylight for more time to do things! We visited in the fall [early November] and I have to admit is was so magical I can’t imagine visiting during another time of year! The crowds were super minimal. It was a little more cloudy/rain and chilly sweater weather but that’s quintessential England!
While one day might be enough to explore Castle Combe, we’d recommend staying at least one night. Early mornings are the most peaceful and least crowded. If you have time, you should extend to a long weekend. There are so many other incredible villages in the Cotswolds to explore like Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden, or Stanton.
Things to do in Castle Combe
While the Castle Combe Cotswolds is quaint, it’s filled with things to do! You could spend anywhere from an hour to an entire day exploring the village. All depends on the pace you want to explore at!
Walk around the Village
Walking around the beautiful village will truly transport you back in time. It’s quite a small village and shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes in total. If you stop in shops and to take photos along the way, you could spend closer to 1 to 2 hours exploring! You need to make sure you stop to take a postcard like photo on the bridge that crosses over River Bybrook. If you are looking for a peaceful, uncrowded experience, visit in the early morning before the tourists start to arrive!
Grab lunch at The Little Picnic Shop
As you’re walking down the main street, you’ll notice some of the houses are actually shops! The Little Picnic Shop is a great place to stop and pick up a picnic lunch. This is a great way to slow down and enjoy all the charm Castle Combe has to offer! Plus, who doesn’t love an adorable picnic in the countryside of England?!
Explore the Manor House
The Manor House is one of the most beautiful sites in Castle Combe. It was built in the 14th-century to be the residence of the famous Sir John Oldcastle. But it’s now a luxury, boutique hotel called the Manor House Hotel. Even if you aren’t saying at the hotel, you can walk around the Manor and beautiful gardens. If you are visiting just for the day but want to experience it’s beauty on the inside, you can enjoy an afternoon tea at the Manor House! You can book a table here for lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner.
Visit St. Andrew’s Church
St. Andrew’s Church was built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 19th century after structural issues. The beautiful church spires tower over the village from almost any viewpoint beckoning you to come visit! During its open hours you can go inside the church to explore and they welcome any donations from visitors. The church still holds services on the first and third Sunday of every month at 11am!
Fun Fact: you may recognize this church from the movie War Horse, it was filmed here!
Stop by the Market Cross
The Market Cross was built in the 14th century when the privilege to hold a weekly market in Castle Combe was granted by the king. It used to be a meeting place in the village where people would tie up their horses, get water, and sell their goods.