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What to Do in Castle Combe in the Cotswolds: England’s Prettiest Village

What to Do in Castle Combe in the Cotswolds: England’s Prettiest Village

If you are heading to the Cotswolds, this practical visitor guide covers how to get to Castle Combe, what to see in Castle Combe, places to stay and where to eat and drink. It’s everything you need to help you plan a visit to the prettiest village in England.

Castle Combe is one of those places that looks like a film set because surely nowhere real could be this cute, but guess what? It is real and is one of the most popular villages in the Cotswolds!

Often named the prettiest village in England and the Cotswolds, it oozes the quintessential chocolate box vibe for which the English countryside is famous.

Nestled in a lush green valley in the Cotswolds, honey-bricked terraced cottages line the main thoroughfare, with tiny windows and old wooden doors adding to the magic. A babbling brook runs through the village under the famous stone bridge, the focal point of many iconic Cotswold photo shots.

Of course, there’s the obligatory village pub, manor house hotel, and tea shops. Still, apart from them, there’s not much else to see or do in Castle Combe apart from soaking up the fairytale atmosphere that makes this Cotswold village such a tourist hotspot and one not to be missed.

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Is Castle Combe worth visiting?

If you want to visit a traditional English village and enjoy a pint in the pub, afternoon tea in the manor house, or simply immerse yourself in an enchanting setting, Castle Combe is worth visiting.

Castle Combe has little to do, but it is still one of the best places in the Cotswolds to visit as it is so unique. It is also a great jumping-off point to discover nearby villages and Cotswold hiking trails.

And if you feel you have seen the village somewhere before, you may well have done. It has been a film location for Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse, the original Doctor Dolittle film, and Wolf Man and Stardust.

A view of the honey-coloured cottages along the main street

Where is Castle Combe?

Castle Combe is a famous Cotswolds village in Wiltshire, a county in the south of England.

The Cotswolds are one of the best places to explore in the UK and can be reached by car from London in 2 hours (on a good run) or from Bath in 30 minutes.

If travelling by train, Chippenham is the nearest train station. From there the number 35 bus will take you to the village. (check the bus timetable as only a few run per day).

Is there any parking in Castle Combe?

I will play devil’s advocate and say it depends on when you arrive.

If, like us, it’s in the early evening when the crowds have gone, you may be able to park at the side of the hill leading to the entrance to the village. If it’s any other time, you must have luck on your side, as this is a hectic place despite its tiny size and parking spaces are like gold dust.

There is a large pay-and-display car park at the top of the hill; however, it is a long walk down to the village, and going back is a bit of a killer unless you are fit (unlike me!).

Car Park Address: Dunns Lane in Upper Castle Combe Wiltshire SN14 7HH.

The Manor House Hotel allows day visitors to park in their car park if using their facilities, i.e. having a drink in the bar or afternoon tea or staying as a guest.

Is there still a castle in Castle Combe?

Sadly, there is no castle nowadays, but in the 12th century, one sat just outside the village. It was called ‘Castell of Cumbe’ but was abandoned in the 14th century, and now there is nothing left to see.

Places to stay in Castle Combe

There are only a few rental properties in Castle Combe, so they get booked quickly. If you plan to stay in the village, booking your accommodation well in advance is wise.

The Manor House

view of Manor House Hotel from the gardens
Manor House Hotel

A 12th-century Norman castle once stood to the north of the village, giving it the name it has today.

The 14th-century Manor House was built in the village after the castle’s destruction. It was to be a home for the lords of the manor. The most famous resident was Sir John Fastolf, the inspiration behind the character Falstaff in the Shakespearean play Henry IV.

The Manor House Hotel is one of the only hotels in the area and offers premier accommodation in Castle Combe, with hotel rooms and several charming cottages to rent. The hotel also has a golf course.

We weren’t staying at this Castle Combe hotel; however, I would if I were celebrating a special event.

Instead, we went in for coffee and to have a look at the interior; it was lovely. We also wandered around the terraced gardens before returning to the village, past the hotel’s cottages.

Check availability and pricing for the Manor House Hotel on Booking.com

Row of honey coloured brick cottages in Castle Coombe
Manor House Cottages – Dogs welcome

The Castle Inn

Dating to the 12th century, this pub is at the heart of village life, much as it has been over the centuries.

Book in at the Castle Inn and enjoy tastefully decorated rooms, with one featuring a four-poster bed.

Castle Inn also has a great restaurant, which attracts locals and visitors.

Check availability and pricing for the Castle Inn on Booking.com

Manor Inn public house in Castle Combe
Castle Inn rooms for rent, pub and restaurant

The Old Museum

A historic property brought up to modern standards with one bedroom and private parking is the Old Museum.

Cosy autumnal tones inside the cottage are in keeping with the surrounding landscape, and a charming front room with a TV and free wifi will keep you occupied after a day of Cotswold sightseeing.

Check availability and pricing for the Old Museum on Booking.com

Brick cottage with white shutters and a black door in Castle Coombe
The Old Museum rental property in Castle Combe

The Old Courthouse

If you want to experience country life for a few days, the Old Courthouse is a fabulous property full of charm.

Three bedrooms and bathrooms with an optional hot tub make this a gem of a Cotswold cottage. Oozing with history, the owners have tastefully decorated it in keeping with its heritage.

Book a stay in this luxury Cotswold cottage and have the village and the natural beauty surrounding it to yourself once the crowds have gone home.

Check availability and pricing for the Old Courthouse on Booking.com

The Old Courthouse rental property in Castle Combe

The White Hart Ford

A short way from Castle Combe, in Ford, is the White Hart, a public house with rooms in an adjacent stable block. (Do not confuse this with the White Hart in the village).

I stayed here and found it to be comfortable and value for money. Cosy rooms with ensuite shower rooms make it the perfect place to stay if nowhere is available in Castle Combe village.

The pub also serves great evening meals and a wholesome breakfast to set you up for the day.

Check availability and pricing for the White Hart on Booking.com

Places to Eat and Drink in Castle Combe

The Old Stables Coffee Shop is in the estate yard and serves drinks, cakes, breakfasts, lunches, afternoon tea and ice cream.

If you plan to walk around this delightful Cotswolds area and want to take food with you, picking up a picnic from The Little Picnic Shop is the answer. Pre-order your picnic to have it ready to pick up when you get to the village.

If there is a group of you, you can book to enjoy the Little Picnic Shop’s afternoon tea in the Old Rectory pop-up tea room. A booking is required.

Bybrook at Manor House is a fine dining restaurant with a Michelin star. It serves a 6-course seasonal tasting menu, light bites, and delicious afternoon teas.

The Castle Inn is an award-winning gastropub in the heart of Castle Combe. They serve locally brewed beers and traditional pub grub with a twist.

The 14th-century White Hart is the oldest pub in the village and serves traditional English pub grub. The only caveat is that it has terrible reviews on Tripadvisor, so I will leave it to you to decide whether you want to try this establishment. I avoided it like the plague!

For something unique in Castle Combe, stop by Ellen’s cottage (by the market cross), take a cake and leave your money in the honesty box.

If you fancy a drink, you can knock on the door, and one will be made for you. This lovely tradition of honesty box sales dates back centuries and adds to the village’s welcoming vibe.

View of Castle combe market cross and main street

Charming things to see in Castle Combe Cotswolds village

Visiting Castle Combe is all about taking in the picturesque cottages and lush surroundings of one of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Castle Combe cottages

You will soon be oohing and ahhing at the cute cottages on the main street. Many are hundreds of years old and are listed as ancient monuments.

In fact, nothing new has been built here since the 17th century, so you could say it’s like travelling back in time when you visit.

Charming front doors, some dressed in bunting, others with fairy lights and lanterns, all add to the magical feel that Castle Combe is known for.

Honey-coloured Cotswold stone cottages give this idyllic village a warm, homely feeling and look especially magical at dusk when the setting sun gives the stone a beautiful golden hue.

two wooden doors on cottages in Castle Combe

St Andrew’s Church

If you have been following my adventures on Where Angie Wanders, you will know that I can never pass a church without having a look, and St Andrew’s is no exception.

St Andrew’s graveyard dates back to the 13th century, as do parts of the church. Look for the faceless clock – allegedly one of the oldest working clocks still in use.

I love looking at headstones, especially ancient ones; however, much of the engraving has worn off over the centuries. It’s still a peaceful place to wander around.

Route directions for a circular 7 km Castle Combe walk known as Nigel Vile’s Walk start at the church.

The Old Stone Bridge

The Bybrook Bridge is the most photographed spot in Castle Combe for a good reason; it is picture-perfect and a popular Instagram hotspot!

Take a postcard shot looking back up the main street and capture the bridge, babbling brook and Water Lane weaver’s cottages or take the obligatory photo sitting on the bridge with the cottages behind you.

bridge and river lined with honey coloured cottages in Castle Combe
Angie by the bridge in Castle Combe
The old stone bridge is a popular spot for photographs in Castle Combe

Castle Combe walk

Continue past Bybrook Bridge, and you will come to another small bridge with three arches. Along here, you will also find the public toilets at Castle Combe. 

This is also part of the 6 km Castle Combe walk, which starts in the car park at the top of the village and weaves down The Street, across fields and back to the village via Nettleton Mill.

The Street

While there are two more small streets in Castle Combe, one being the entrance into the village and one taking you to the Manor House Hotel, the main thoroughfare is the one leading from the market cross to the old stone bridge, called The Street.

This whimsical-looking street sums up the village in one image.

Lined with butterscotch-coloured stone cottages, trailing with English roses and old tiled roofs, it’s what visitors come to see.

main street in Castle Combe leading from river to square

Market Square

Like any English village, the market square has always been at the centre of village life.

The 14th-century market cross sits below a covered stone roof, where medieval traders would have gathered.

Castle Combe markets now take place in the village hall and sell homemade foods and crafts.

Castle Combe village square

Cotswold towns and villages to visit near Castle Combe

It will only take an hour or so to look around Castle Combe, leaving time to explore other places in the Cotswolds.

Castle Combe Circuit is a 5-minute drive away, and track days at the Castle Combe racing circuit will appeal to motoring enthusiasts.

Picturesque Lacock, featured in Harry Potter films, is 7 miles away, and the historic market town of Chippenham is 5 miles away.

And, of course, the magnificent city of Bath is a mere 10 miles away. All locations are fabulous places to visit to enjoy the best of England.

Nearby sites of historical importance include Stonehenge, Avebury, and the Wiltshire White Horses.

Angie’s final thoughts on Castle Combe

Castle Combe is a lovely place to visit and worth adding to a Cotswolds day trip itinerary. It is a glimpse of what a traditional Cotswold village looks like and is the perfect location to take beautiful photographs.

I spent around two hours in the late afternoon in the village. That included having coffee at the Manor House Hotel, walking to the stone bridge and taking many photographs.

It was quiet when I visited on a Sunday (4 pm), but I know from others that it is overflowing with tourists in the day, so get there in the early morning or late afternoon if you want to experience it without the crowds.

Please Pin for Future Travel to England

Clarice

Thursday 27th of July 2023

Wow! This place is indeed very charming like it was straight out of a postcard. It's exciting to know that the locations in films are actually real places that we can visit.

It would be nice to visit and stay at the Manor House Hotel. Such a unique experience and we're skipping the Castle Inn because of the terrible reviews.

We will also make sure to visit Lacock. I am a huge Potterhead and I would love to bring my Gryffindor robes and wands and simply enjoy a Harry Potter weekend.

Maria Veloso

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

I appreciate and thank you for the wonderful practical guide you provided for the most charming village in the Cotswolds, Castle Combe. Your detailed insights into the must-see places have been invaluable. I was in awe of the beauty and tranquility that St. Andrew's Church radiated. Oh, and The Manor House! Words cannot express how lovely this location is.

Ami

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Those cottages are so so pretty. I have been eyeing Cotswolds villages for a while but unfortunately on my last trip to UK, could not make it. And when I do get back, I am marking this place for a visit. I loved the lore behind the name - pity though that the castle does not exist. The manor house does seem like a great place to stay - with its little history and picturesque settings.

Joanna

Monday 24th of July 2023

I have been to the Cotswolds several times, but every time I focused on the north part and never made it to Castle Combe. Hopefully one day soon, as it looks very pretty and picturesque. I recognise those beautiful cottages that are so popular in the Cotswolds . You can never get enough of photographing them. The market square looks so pretty. It would make me think I was in a movie, back in the medieval times.

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Hi Joanna, It is indeed a beautiful village to visit and very popular with UK and international visitors due to its fairytale appeal.

lisa

Monday 24th of July 2023

What a pretty village and so English too! I have never been to Castle Combe but it is somewhere I'd love to visit. All of the accommodation you listed sounds great but I think I'm in love with the Castle Inn. It's really like an old fairytale or something from Charles Dickens time. The old stone bridge is iconic and I didn't know its name before reading this.