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Cotswolds: Day Trips and Tours from London

Nestled in the heart of England, the Cotswolds is an idyllic region renowned for its picturesque villages and rolling hills. With plenty of charm and a taste of history, the Cotswolds gives an insight into the traditional British countryside lifestyle.

It's easy to take a day trip to the Cotswolds from London, in order to explore some of its chocolate box villages, such as Stow-on-the-Wold. Or, if you’re craving nature, take a hike through one of the area’s many scenic landscapes.

You will find below everything you need to know about the Cotswolds, one of the best destinations for a day trip from London.

How to get to the Cotswolds from London?

The Cotswolds is an area of outstanding beauty that covers six counties and spans over 2,000 square kilometers. It is situated approximately 160 kilometers outside of London.

From London to the Cotswolds by car

To make the 2.5-hour journey to the Cotswolds from London by car, you'll travel west out of the capital city along the M40. You'll turn off at the Swindon exit and travel along the A40, which leads you directly to the Cotswolds.

From London to the Cotswolds by public transport

You can take a direct train from London to any of the main towns that straddle the Cotswolds, including Cheltenham, Stroud and Gloucester. The train journey takes between one and 1.5 hours depending on your destination. From there, you'll be able to take a local bus to the countryside villages.

Guided tour to the Cotswolds from London

Cotswolds day trips meet at a variety of destinations across London, the most popular of which is Victoria Coach Station. They last between 10 and 11 hours in total and begin between 8:30 AM and 9:30 AM.

What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to the Cotswolds from London?

Cotswolds day tours transport you from London in a coach or minibus, depending on the excursion you choose. You'll meet at a well-known location in the city and drive towards the Cotswolds, through the English countryside.

Many day trips will visit the city of Oxford en route, to view its world-renowned university. Others stop at the gateway town of Burford, which sits on the outskirts of the Cotswolds.

Some tours will take a scenic drive through the Cotswold on their way to other destinations, such as Stratford-upon-Avon. However, the focus of many Cotswolds excursions is the villages themselves, and you may hop between several of the most stunning townships throughout the day.

These include Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-World. You'll return to London between 7 PM and 8 PM after a day of respite from the city.

What kinds of tours are available to go to the Cotswolds?

There are several types of Cotswolds day tours available. You should choose one based on whether you wish to see additional sights or not.

Small-group tour to the Cotswolds from London

This Cotswolds day trip starts with a visit to the gateway town of Burford. You’ll then continue to three of the most picturesque villages in the area — Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-World.

Over the course of the day, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing stroll along the river Coln and shop for homemade goods at a bustling market.

Small-group tour to the Cotswolds plus Bath and Stonehenge from London

This day tour takes a spectacular drive through the Cotswolds, stopping at the legendary village of Castle Combe, which appears in several Hollywood movies. You'll then travel to the fascinating city of Bath where you'll choose between exploring the city with your guide or alone. You'll also visit the prehistoric World Heritage site of Stonehenge.

Day trip to the Cotswolds plus Blenheim Palace from London

Explore the birthplace of Winston Churchill — one of the most iconic wartime leaders in the world — on a Cotswolds day trip that visits Blenheim Palace. You'll also see several casting locations of the series "Downton Abbey" as you discover the village of Brampton, including two of its traditional pubs.

Day tour to the Cotswolds plus Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle from London

This tour drives through the striking villages of the Cotswolds on an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon, the medieval Warwick Castle and the esteemed city of Oxford.

How much does a tour to the Cotswolds from London cost?

For a small-group tour, you'll pay between £80 and £130. Cotswolds day trips on the higher end of this range tend to include lunch.

If you wish to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stonehenge and the historic town of Bath, you can expect to pay approximately £110.

Day tours to the Cotswolds that make a stop at Blenheim Palace cost slightly less, at around £70 per person.

Finally, you'll pay between £60 and £110 for a tour that fits Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle into its itinerary.

What will you see and do on a Cotswolds day trip from London?

Stow-on-the-World

Snuggled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-World is often referred to as the "prettiest village in England." It is full of the thatched roofs and chocolate box buildings that the Cotswolds is famed for, and was founded in the 11th century.

If you head to the town's main square, you'll find a bustling area full of boutiques and antique shops. In the 12th century, the square was used as a trading place for up to 20,000 sheep. A bi-weekly market is still held in this spot and sells a range of homemade products, from decadent fudge to fragrant soap.

Bampton

The town of Bampton dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period and has long been known for its traditional Morris dancing. In more recent times, Bampton has become famous as the setting for the popular TV series “Downton Abbey.”

Many of the exterior shots for the show were filmed in and around the town, and several of the historic buildings were used as locations. These include St Mary’s Church, which served as the setting for many of the wedding scenes, as well as the Dog and Duck pub.

Rollright Stones walk

There are numerous hiking paths to choose from in the Cotswolds, that vary dramatically in length, including The Rollright Stones walk. The hike covers 16 kilometers and starts in the market town of Chipping Norton.

You'll walk to the village of Salford and out over the panoramic countryside. The main highlight of the walk is the Rollright Stones, which are a collection of megalithic boulders, including a stone circle and burial chamber.

Continuing on your walking tour, you'll reach the village of Over Norton, where you can stop for a well-deserved pint or return to your starting point.

When is the best time to visit the Cotswolds?

A jaunt to the Cotswolds is charming at any time of year. During the spring and summer months, you'll find the weather to be the most reliable and you’ll be able to see the flower fields in bloom. Alternatively, there are few ways to enjoy the crisp chill of winter more than with a brisk walk through the English countryside.

Are there any tours to the Cotswolds from other cities in England?

Yes, there are tours departing from other cities in England:

Travel tips

  • Cotswolds day tours usually include a fair amount of walking. Be prepared for this by wearing comfortable clothing and shoes.
  • Visit the Cotswolds between April and August to witness its famous lavender fields in bloom.
  • Enjoy a traditional English pint at the Porch House in Stow-on-the-World — Britain's oldest pub.
  • There is an abundance of independent boutiques and independent shops throughout the Cotswolds. Support the village vendors by purchasing local goods.