Painswich is a small village in the heart of the Cotswolds that’s best known for its “chocolate box” appearance with quaint stone cottages and rolling countryside. There are plenty of things to do in Painswick to keep visitors busy from exploring the village to nearby walks, pubs, and museums.
Painswick is just a few miles from the Gloucestershire market town of Stroud where friends of mine live. I’ve explored much of this part of the country and Painswick is one of my favorite small villages thanks to its gorgeous looks, nearby hiking trails, and abundance of local pubs.
There are also plenty of places to visit near Painswich such as other Cotswolds towns and villages, historic buildings, nature parks, and more. One thing’s for sure, if you’re planning on visiting the Cotswolds, don’t miss out on this charming, sleepy village that’s still very much as it was hundreds of years ago.
Best Things To Do in Painswick, Cotswolds
Below, you’ll find a wide selection of places to visit in Painswick from sculpted gardens to hidden museums, rustic pubs, and some of the finest nature to be found in England. The village is one of my favorite places in the Cotswolds and with so many things to see in Painswick, it’s somewhere I’ll continue to explore.
1. Explore the Village
Painswick is known as the Queen of the Cotswolds thanks to its well-preserved honey-colored houses nestled in some of the most beautiful countryside in England. This quintessential, sleepy English village has barely changed in centuries and sees fewer tourists than more commonly visited places like Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold.
Walk along charming New Street which is home to some of the oldest buildings in England, including one of the oldest bowling greens in the country. Pop into one of the pubs or cafes like Handmade in Painswick or The Oak for refreshments after browsing second-hand stores and boutique shops.
The picturesque village is one of my favorite places to wander through and take in the serene Cotswold surroundings. If you’re wondering what to do in Painswick, then the best place to start is with a walk around the village. Just don’t forget your camera.
2. Visit the Rococo Garden
One of the best things to do in Painswick is to visit the stunning Rococo Garden. Rococo is a Baroque-style, ornamental garden that was popular in England in the 18th and 19th Centuries. This is one of the top Painswick attractions and is a must-visit for anyone coming to the village.
The garden was designed in the 1740s for the owner of the nearby Painswick House and has been delighting visitors ever since. The Rococo Garden is open from 10 am until 5 pm from Wednesday to Sunday ( and open every day during school holidays). An adult ticket costs £11.50 and children £4.90.
This is a wonderful place to visit no matter the time of year, but in spring and summer, the place comes alive with color. There are regular events held here from kid’s workshops to talks, dog shows, Shakespeare plays, and more. Check the website to see what’s going on during your visit.
Address: Gloucester Road, Gloucestershire, GL6 6TH. Click here for directions.
3. Cotswold Discovery Trail Self-Guided Tour
This self-guided Cotswold Discovery Tour is a great way to get a feel for the area at your own pace. You’ll be supplied with a fold-out map that contains a couple of different trails for you to explore over the course of a few days. These maps contain lots of useful information to help you get the most out of the region.
You’ll also be supplied with a series of clues and questions to help you learn about the history of the places you pass by. You can choose from a range of starting points including Painswick, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Stroud, and others.
This is definitely one of the most fun things to do around Painswick and is something a little different. Click here to book.
4. Take a Trip to the Old Ebworth Centre
The Old Ebworth Centre is a base for National Trust workers who look after the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty This large rural estate includes an old farmhouse with stone cottages, stables, outbuildings, and mile upon mile of stunning countryside views.
There’s a pleasant two to three-hour circular walk through the Gloucestershire countryside (that’s also suitable for dogs). If you want to get out there and discover some stunning Cotswold scenery, then this is one of the top things to do near Painswick, and is a great day out for the whole family.
Address: The Camp, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 7ES. Click here for directions.
5. See the Painswick Beacon
The Painswick Beacon marks the site of an iron age hill fort on the edge of the village. Although there’s not much to see in terms of archaeology, the beacon sits at almost 1,000 feet above sea level so offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside including the Malvern Hills and Forest of Dean.
There’s an easy 2.25-mile (3.6 km) circular walk that passes through woodland and follows part of the Cotswold Way. This is one of my favorite walks in the area and is a great way to get out into some gorgeous countryside (dogs are welcome too).
Address: Painswick, Gloucestershire, GL6 6SZ. Click here for directions.
6. See St Mary’s Church
The Parish Church of St Mary is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in the area and there’s been a church on this site since Saxon times around 1,000 years ago. This beautiful church along with its spire that dates back to 1632 can be seen from miles around.
Inside the church, you can marvel at the biblical scenes depicting everything from birds and animals to local people. The most impressive aspect of St Mary’s is the beautiful churchyard with 17th and 18th-century tombs and 99 yew trees (it’s said that if a 100th is planted the devil will destroy it).
The church and grounds are free to visit and are open year-round from 9 am until 6 pm every day.
Address: 3 New Street, Gloucestershire, GL6 6XH. Click here for directions.
7. Marvel at the Old Stocks
One of the more unusual things to see in Painswick is the set of stocks that dates back to around 1840. If you fell foul of the law in 19th Century Painswick then you were liable to be locked in the stocks for the whole village to see (rotten vegetables cost extra).
The stocks are located just in front of St Mary’s Church, which is another of the must-see attractions in Painswick in itself for its brilliant architecture and huge, yew-lined churchyard. This tranquil space away from the main road is definitely one of the top attractions in Painswick.
Address: 6 St Mary’s Street, Gloucestershire, GL6 6QD. Click here for directions.
8. Visit the Museum of Arts and Crafts
This quirky museum in the heart of Painswick houses the Ashton Beer Collection (no, not a collection of ales unfortunately, though you can find that at the pub). The collection consists of arts, crafts, and furniture with the centerpiece being a beautiful stained glass window by pre-Raphelita artist, Edward Burne-Jones.
The museum is located in an old church (the Christchurch) and contains pieces from prominent artists and designers. This is one of the best free things to do in Painswick for those interested in local history and the arts, but bear in mind that it’s only open from 2 pm to 5:30 pm on Saturdays when planning your visit.
Address: Christ Church, Gloucestershire, GL6 6QN. Click here for directions.
9. Have a Pint in The Royal Oak
For such a small village there are happily quite a few decent pubs to try out, and The Royal Oak has to be my favorite thanks to its rustic charm and cozy feel. This is a proper British pub with an open fire, a warm welcome, and a dog (and people)-friendly atmosphere; it’s a great place to relax after a long walk at any time of the year.
The Oak has an excellent selection of real ales (craft beers), local ciders, and imported drinks. It offers a mouthwatering menu of tasty treats from venison streaks to caramelized beetroot and onion tarte, as well as light bites, baguettes, and more for lunch. Popping in for a drink or two is one of the best things to do in Painswick at night.
Address: St Mary’s Street, Gloucestershire, GL6 6QG. Click here for directions.
10. Trench Hill
The stunning gardens at Trench Hill, just a few miles from Painswick, contain a rose garden, wildflower meadows, vegetable plots, woodland walks, wooden sculptures, and a children’s play area. The gardens are set within the rolling hills of the Cotswolds and there are lots of hiking and walking routes nearby including the Cotswolds Commons and Beechwoods National Nature Reserve.
Trench Hill is a pleasant walk from the center of the village and you can tie it in with nearby attractions such as the Painswick Beacon and Old Ebworth Centre, rounding off with a pint at the Butchers Arms.
Address: Painswick, Gloucestershire, GL6 6TZ. Click here for directions.
11. Hike the Cotswolds Way
The incredibly scenic Cotswolds Way is a 102-mile (164 km) hiking trail that goes through the heart of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The route starts in the picturesque village of Chipping Campden and finishes in the historic Roman city of Bath.
The Cotswolds Way passes right through Painswick enabling you to get out onto the trail for a short walk, or for hardcore hikers like myself, attempt the trek from Painswick to Dursley. This 18-mile (29.31 km) section takes between 8 and 9 hours to complete and passes through some of the most scenic landscapes in the country.
To return, you’ll need to take the 65 bus to Stroud and then change for the 228 bus. Dursley is a pleasant town well worth spending a few hours getting to know and has some excellent pubs including The New Inn.
12. Barnwood Park and Arboretum
The Barnwood Park and Arboretum is a pleasant parkland with gardens, woodland walking paths, a wildlife pond, and a selection of beautiful old trees from giant Redwoods to Black Mulberry, Turkey Oak, and Beech. The park once surrounded Barnwood House which was an old manor house before being converted into a hospital, and then demolished in 2001.
Barnwood is open year-round and is free to enter; it makes a great day out in the beautiful Cotswold countryside. It’s just a 15-minute drive from Painswick or you can walk the 6 miles (9.7 km) if you’re feeling fit!
Address: Church Lane, Barnwood, Gloucestershire, GL4 3JB. Click here for directions.
13. Take a Day Trip to Bath
The historic city of Bath is just 34 miles (54 km) from Painswick and is the perfect choice for a day trip as it takes just over an hour to get there by car. There are lots of excellent things to do in Bath from exploring the well-preserved Roman baths to being pampered for a spa day or admiring the stunning Georgian architecture.
One of the best ways to get a feel for Bath is to take a tour like this fun 90-minute walking tour which includes tickets to the Roman baths and takes in some of the city’s top landmarks such as Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, and the Royal Crescent. Click here to find out more.
It’s around an hour’s drive from Painswick to Bath along the A46 or you can take one of the hourly trains from Stroud (via Swindon) which takes just over an hour. Visiting Bath is definitely one of the best things to do near Painswick if you’re looking for day trip inspiration.
14. Visit the Village of Slad
The village of Slad is one of my favorite places to visit near Painswick as its the birthplace of one of my favorite authors (Laurie Lee) who grew up in the village and is buried in the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Church. Opposite the church is The Woolpack Inn which is a great place for a spot of lunch and panoramic views across the valley.
There are lots of pleasant walks around the village and the scenery here is utterly spectacular. Lee wrote about this part of the Cotswolds in his first book Cider with Rosie (which you can pick up in the Stroud Bookshop) – it’s well worth a read. It’s easy to get to Slad by taking Bus 228 which goes between Stroud and Painswick via Slad.
15. See the Market Town of Stroud
The quaint market town of Stroud is just a few miles from Painswick (I have friends that live here so I’m a frequent visitor). There’s plenty to do from browsing the weekly farmers’ markets to sampling the local beers and ciders at the Stroud Brewery, exploring the picturesque high street, and visiting the Museum in the Park.
Exploring this charming town is one of the best things to do near Painswick, and makes for a great day trip as there are lots of wonderful pubs and restaurants in the town. The Clothiers Arms is well worth a visit and serves up hearty pub fayre for very reasonable prices (mains cost around £12).
Stroud is easy to reach via bus 228 which takes just 8 minutes. If you want to get a little exercise while taking in this stunning part of the Cotswolds you can walk the 3.6 miles (5.8 km ) to Stroud in just over an hour, and return by bus (perfect if you fancy a few pints in the pub).
Quick Travel Itineraries For Painswick
Below, you’ll find a couple of travel itineraries for sightseeing in Painswick to help you get the most out of your visit. They include all the top tourist attractions in Painswick and some of the best day trips from the village.
1 Day in Painswick Itinerary
With just one day to spend in the village, visit the charming Rococo Garden and get lost in the maze, go for a woodland walk, or enjoy a cream tea in the cafe. Explore the charming village with its Cotswold stone houses, take a look inside St Mary’s Church, and be sure to see the old tombs and yew trees in the churchyard. Don’t forget to visit the town stocks.
Pop into The Painswick for lunch or afternoon tea before taking a walk up to the Painswick Beacon for panoramic views of the Gloucestershire countryside. Finish off the day in The Oak for a hearty meal of classic pub fayre washed down with a few pints of local ale or cider.
2-3 Days in Painswick Itinerary
With a few days to spend in the village, follow the above itinerary for your first day. On subsequent days get out into the countryside which is one of the best things to do in Painswick for families and those with dogs. There are lots of options for walks and hikes from short ambles around the village to the more adventurous Cotswold Way.
Explore more of the pubs and restaurants such as The Oak, The Falcon Inn, and St Michael’s Bistro. Although small, you certainly won’t go hungry or thirsty in Painswick – it’s one of my favorite places to go and eat when I’m in nearby Stroud.
1 Week in Painswick Itinerary
With a week in Painswick follow the above itineraries for your first few days and add in day trips to nearby attractions and places of interest. Take the bus to the charming village of Slad to see the grave of author Laurie Lee and have a pint in The Woolpack.
Continue on to the market town of Stroud and enjoy walking along the canal and visiting museums, second-hand shops, and the excellent Stroud Brewery for a night of good food, locally made beers, ciders, and live music.
Add in a tour of the Cotswolds to see the picture-perfect villages of Bourton-on-the-Water, Bibury, and Stow-on-the-Wold.
Where to Stay in Painswick
These are a few of the best accommodation options in Painswick for tourists:
St Michael’s Bistro – Best for First-Time Visitors
The charming St Michael’s Bistro is a bed and breakfast, and restaurant, in the heart of the village and is the perfect place to stay for first-time visitors. Choose from a range of quirky rooms from Rococo to Art Deco and Bohemian, each with its own unique design. All rooms come with TV and streaming services, a fridge, and an en-suite bathroom. Click here for more info.
Court House Manor – Best for Couples
The Court House Manor is a luxury, five-star bed and breakfast and is one of the best places to stay for couples thanks to its romantic location. The property is set within a gorgeous 16th Century country estate on the outskirts of the village. The deluxe rooms come with everything you need for a comfortable stay including an en-suite bathroom, TV, and kettle. Click here to book.
The Star Inn – Best for Families
The excellent Star Inn is located between Painswick and Stroud and has a range of family suites sleeping up to four people. Rooms come with a private bathroom and shower, flatscreen TV, and complimentary toiletries. There’s an onsite bar and free parking for guests, and the accommodation is great value for money. Click here to find out more.
Best Restaurants in Painswick
Below, you’ll find some of the best places to eat in and around Painswick:
St Michael’s Bistro: This excellent little restaurant and bed and breakfast in the heart of the village is the place to come for some of the best, locally sourced food in the area. It’s also great for those who don’t eat meat as there are some great vegetarian options on the menu (the goat’s cheese, spinach, and onion parcels are fab). Click here for directions.
The Painswick: If you’re looking for a little fine dining in the village then head along to this cozy restaurant that was awarded Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year 2023. You can sample everything from Sunday lunch or an evening meal to afternoon tea. The menu features local dishes like Cotswold lamb and venison, plus an extensive vegetarian range. Click here for directions.
The Falcon Inn: This beautiful old pub inside a Georgian townhouse is made of the trademark, honey-colored Cotswold Stone. It’s one of the top pubs in the village and is a great place to eat. The kitchen serves up pub classics like beer-battered fish and chips as well as more original dishes like aubergine (eggplant) katsu curry and pea and mint ravioli. Click here for directions.
The Royal Oak: The rustic Royal Oak is a cozy 16th Century pub in the heart of the village and is my favorite place for a meal and a few drinks. The menu boasts traditional pub dishes from burgers and pies to salads, all-day breakfasts, sandwiches, and more for very reasonable prices. There’s a small patio outside for al-fresco dining. Click here for directions.
Karibu Vegan Bar and Kitchen: If you’re looking for a little more choice than the usual pub fayre, then it’s just a five-minute drive into Stroud where you can feast on vegan-friendly delights at the Karibu Bar and Kitchen. From their delicious smoky, red pepper goulash to plant-based burgers and Thai curries, this is one of my favorite places to eat. Click here for directions.
Getting to Painswick
The nearest international airport to Painswick is Bristol which is an hour’s drive away. You’ll need a car as there aren’t any direct transport links from the airport to the village.
I usually drive to Painswick from London as it’s an easy three-hour drive along the M4 and A419. There are also multiple hourly trains from London Paddington to nearby Stroud and the journey takes around 90 minutes. You can then just hop on the 288 bus for 10 minutes to Painswick.
Visiting all the tourist attractions in Painswick can be done on foot as it’s a tiny village, however, to get the most out of your trip hiring a car is best so you can explore more of the stunning Cotswold countryside in the vicinity.
Things To Do in Painswick: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Painswick:
Painswick is known for its 18th Century Rococo Garden, town stocks, and picturesque honey-colored houses. It’s considered the Queen of the Cotswolds thanks to the picture-perfect village and countryside views. It’s also famed for some of the best coffee in the Cotswolds.
Spring through to fall is the best time to visit Painswick if you want to take advantage of the warmer weather for long walks and enjoy al-fresco dining and the beer gardens of country pubs. That being said, the village looks gorgeous in winter with a blanket of snow, and many of the local inns have open fires to warm up in front of.
Painswick is definitely worth visiting for its gorgeous, Cotswold Stone buildings, picturesque Rococo Garden, and beautiful countryside perfect for short walks or longer hikes.
As it’s a small village, you can see all the top sights in a couple of days. If you wish to explore the rest of the Cotswolds, which you really should, then a week is perfect as you can add in some day trips and lengthier hikes. I usually spend around four days here when visiting.
Like most rural villages in England, Painswick is a very safe place for tourists. Violent crime is almost unheard of and the village is safer than inner-city areas. Take the same precautions you would traveling to anywhere unknown; keep an eye on valuables and lock doors.
The most popular thing to do in Painswick is to visit the 18th Century Rococo Garden. Other popular places to see in Painswick include the old stocks, St Mary’s Church and grounds, and the Painswick Beacon.
As the village is located in the heart of the rural Cotswolds there are plenty of opportunities to try local dishes from locally farmed meats to cheeses, craft beers, and ciders. St Micheal’s Bistro is one of the best places to try the local fayre.
Now you know what to see in Painswick as well as some of the top nearby attractions. This charming village really is worth your time as it’s one of the best-preserved traditional Cotswold villages that remains a little under the radar (so go now before the secret’s out). Find out for yourself why it’s known as the Queen of the Cotswolds.
Wander around the historic Rococo gardens, walk up the Painswick Beacon for incredible views across the valleys of the Cotswolds, and walk amongst the yew trees and ancient tombs of St Mary’s Church. Pop into one of the many pubs in the village for refreshment, and explore nearby places of interest such as Slad and Stroud.