Travels and Tourism

Village Hopping in the Cotswolds | A Charming Way to Experience the Cotswolds

Village Hopping in the Cotswolds

Is there anywhere more quintessentially English than the Cotswolds? Miles glorious countryside are scattered with perfectly preserved villages and winding country lanes often marked out with iconic Cotswold stone walls.

We recommend starting in Chipping Campden, towards the north of the Cotswolds, before heading south, hopping from village to village as you take in picturesque cottages, medieval churches and all manner of local curiosities on your way to the historic city of Bath.

The region is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and promises close encounters with wildlife and a host of birdwatching opportunities at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. If you’d prefer a more action-packed escape, paddleboarding, kayaking and archery are all available at the Cotswold Water Park.

Cotswolds road trip stop offs

As well as having one of the UK’s prettiest high streets, Broadway is also home to Broadway Tower, from the top of which you can see a staggering 16 counties.

Top tip: In normal circumstances, the Cotswolds plays host to a number of diverse festivals every year, so check ahead and try to coincide your trip with whichever floats your boat, from beer and cider festivals to country shows.

Distance and ideal duration: 70 miles, 3-4 days.

Did you know? The stunning Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, was apparently earmarked by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to become his home after invading Britain.

Beauty, adventure, culture – the Cotswolds has it all. Famous for its lush rolling pastures, pretty stone villages and rambling rivers, this rural belle has graced countless books, artworks and TV shows – but does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. From the willow-shaded banks of the River Thames, and Blenheim Palace’s lavish décor, to the honey-coloured cottages of Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden and Burford – it’s all just as idyllic as you imagine.

The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966, an accolade it more than lives up to – but this landscape isn’t just for admiring. There are ancient castles to explore, wild lakes to kayak, local wines to taste, and endless trails to hike, cycle and ride.

Totalling nearly 800 square miles (2,000 square km), the region spans six west-central counties, yet is just 90 minutes from London. With so much to see, do and discover, here’s how to plan your trip.

Getting to the Cotswolds from London

There is very limited public transport in the Cotswold region. For practical purposes most visitors will need a car or arrive on a tour bus.

Trains from London’s Paddington Station venture into the Cotswolds. The only line that goes through the heart of the Cotswolds runs from Oxford through the Cotswolds to Hereford and Worcester. Moreton in the Marsh being the main station about a 90 minute journey.

Also from Paddington you can take an alternative line to Gloucester stopping at Kemble Station, just south of Cirencester. There are bus links to Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold, Bourton on the Water, Northleach, Cirencester and Tetbury from outside the station.

The bus network within the Cotswolds is limited and if used as the basis of your visit will be main factor framing what you see and do.

The region is ringed by a triangle of motorways. From London the most common approach would along the M40 and entering the region from the east.

From London a favourite approach would be up the M40 to Oxford from London, perhaps entering the Cotswold region at somewhere like Burford.

Understanding Hop-On-Hop-Off Buses

Hop-on-hop-off buses have transformed the way tourists explore popular destinations. These flexible transportation options allow travelers to customize their itineraries and make the most of their time. With the ability to hop on and off at various stops, passengers have the freedom to explore at their own pace and immerse themselves in the attractions that interest them. Hop-on-hop-off buses offer convenience, efficiency, and a range of services, including multiple routes, ticket validity for a specified period, and complimentary extras like guided tours. They integrate technology to provide real-time tracking and digital maps for a seamless experience. These buses have become an integral part of the tourist experience, offering a comfortable and informative way to discover the highlights of a city.

Transportation in the Cotswolds

Transportation options within the Cotswolds provide visitors with convenient and reliable means to explore this picturesque region. From public buses to trains and taxis, there are several modes of transportation available, each with its own benefits and limitations.

Public Buses: Connecting the Cotswolds

Public buses play a vital role in connecting the various towns and villages within the Cotswolds. They offer an affordable and accessible option for both locals and tourists. With regular schedules and designated routes, buses provide a convenient way to travel between different points of interest. The Cotswolds is well-served by a network of bus services that cater to popular tourist destinations, ensuring easy access to attractions and landmarks. Travelers can enjoy the scenic beauty of the countryside while reaching their desired destinations comfortably.

Trains: Efficient and Scenic Journeys

The Cotswolds is also served by a railway network, offering efficient transportation options for visitors. Train travel provides a quick and convenient way to reach the region, with direct connections to major cities like London, Oxford, and Birmingham. Once in the Cotswolds, trains offer a scenic and relaxing mode of transportation, allowing travelers to admire the idyllic countryside views. Train stations are strategically located within the region, providing easy access to popular towns and villages. However, it is important to note that train services may be less frequent compared to buses, and some smaller villages may not have direct train connections.

Taxis: Personalized and Flexible

For those seeking personalized and flexible transportation, taxis are readily available in the Cotswolds. Taxis provide a convenient door-to-door service, allowing travelers to reach their desired destinations directly and efficiently. They are particularly useful for shorter journeys or when visiting remote areas with limited public transportation options. Taxis offer the convenience of traveling at any time, making them ideal for exploring the Cotswolds according to one’s own schedule. However, it’s important to keep in mind that taxi fares may be relatively higher compared to other modes of transportation, especially for longer distances.

Benefits and Considerations

Each mode of transportation in the Cotswolds offers its own set of benefits and considerations:

  • Flexibility: Public buses and taxis provide the flexibility to travel to various destinations within the region, while trains offer efficient connections to nearby cities and towns.
  • Affordability: Public buses are generally the most affordable option for budget-conscious travelers, while train fares may vary depending on the distance and class of travel. Taxis tend to be more expensive but offer convenience and personalized service.
  • Scenic Views: Train travel in the Cotswolds offers picturesque views of the rolling hills, charming villages, and lush countryside, providing a unique and enjoyable journey.
  • Accessibility: Public buses and taxis are accessible to most travelers, including those with mobility challenges. Train stations are equipped with facilities to accommodate passengers with disabilities, although it’s advisable to check accessibility options in advance.
  • Availability: Public buses typically operate on fixed schedules, while train services have designated timetables. Taxis offer on-demand service, but it’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Whether you prefer the convenience of public buses, the scenic train journeys, or the personalized service of taxis, the transportation options in the Cotswolds ensure that visitors can explore the region comfortably and efficiently. Choose the mode of transportation that best suits your itinerary, budget, and travel preferences to make the most of your experience in this enchanting part of England.

Why take a day trip from London to the Cotswolds?

Stroll through pristine wilderness

As one of the largest protected landscapes in the UK, the Cotswolds has a wealth of meadows, hills, and forested landscapes. Breathe in the fresh country air as you wander boundlessly through the tranquil greenery. In spring and early summer, you will find large swathes of land carpeted in colorful wildflowers such as bluebells, violets, and nightshade.

Admire the architecture

It’s fascinating to note that Cotswold itself has its own characteristic architectural style that has been popularized as the ‘storybook style’. You will find old-fashioned chimneys and steep roofs that are reminiscent of the Tudor Revival house style. You will find monuments such as baths, towers, and cathedrals from all eras ranging from the early Bronze age and the Roman era to the Renaissance period.

Shop at small market towns

There are several hamlets that are filled to the brim with local produce. You will also find moderately populated towns that feature excellent shopping centers. This region is particularly well-known for its woolen garments and Cotswold cheeses.

Enjoy an amazing journey from London to Cotswolds by rail

The English countryside is truly a sight to behold on your way from London Marylebone Station to Banbury in the Cotswolds. The train takes a scenic route through stations like Cheltenham, Gloucester, and Kingham. All of these stations are within the designated ‘Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

Best Day Trips from London to the Cotswolds
Guided Tour from London to the Cotswolds

Avoid the hassle of planning your own day trip from London to the Cotswolds from scratch with a convenient guided tour. Led by an expert tour guide and accompanied by a cozy tour group, you’re bound to have a great time learning and sightseeing. The tour is inclusive of your admission tickets, transportation charges, and more. This is the most efficient use of your time: you’ll see the most without having to worry about the travel logistics.

  • Set off on a comprehensive day tour of some cherished attractions and soak up the charm of England with an English-speaking guide.
  • Board a comfortable coach from the designated meeting point and head towards Cotswolds.
  • Your expert tour guide will feed you with factual information and intriguing stories throughout the tour.
  • Embark upon a walking tour of Oxford next, home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
  • Visit Shakes’peare’s Birthplace in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, enter the Wander Warwick Castle explore the University Church of St Mary the Virgin by upgrading your tickets.

3 Must-visit attractions of the Cotswolds

With countless postcard perfect villages, an array of manor houses, acres of clipped gardens by trickling water and myriad walking trails, seeing all that Cotswolds has to offer might take a good decade or so. Apart from strolling the painting perfect villages, here are a couple of things you could do while in Cotswolds.

Cotswolds Wildlife Park


Set in a sprawling setting of parkland and stunning gardens , the Cotswolds Wildlife Park is home to over 260 different animal species in 160 acres. Stroll on the wild side at this family friendly destination and witness giraffes, asiatic lions, lemurs, zebras, rhinos, penguins, crocodiles, meerkats amongst the many animals here.

Ticket Price : Adult: £17.50; Children: £12
Timings : 10 AM – 4 PM (subject to change)

Westonbirt Arboretum


Park lovers ought to hit this place as the Westonbirt Arboretum is a lovely place to wander both on and off the paths and trails. Lined with rhododendrons and azaleas, bluebells and wild garlic, this 600 acre land of reserves is all things calming. 2 popular trails here are the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. Both are starkly different yet outworldly beautiful.

Ticket Price : Adult: £8-15; Children: £3-7.50
Timings : 9 AM – 5 PM (subject to change)

Cotswolds Distillery


This is the first first full-scale distillery to be established in Cotswolds. Though it makes gin and other natural spirits artisanally, the Cotswolds Distillery focuses on distilling single malt whisky and is one of the only six distilleries still producing English whisky. This 4 acre distillery conducts daily tours and tastings, making it a well worth visit.

Ticket Price : £20
Tours available : Daily at 11 AM, 1 PM & 3 PM (subject to change)

Best Time To Visit the Cotswolds from London?

The best time to visit the Cotswolds really depends on your personal preference. As with any other tourist location in England, the spring and early summer months (March, April, and May) are ideal in terms of the weather. Tourist crowds will be moderately high, but not as dense as the peak summer crowds. Daytime temperatures are pleasant and fluctuate between 10°C & 17°C. You will also be able to see all the wildflowers in full bloom.

However, if you are looking for a more serene tour with barely any crowds, the winter months from December to February can be an excellent alternative. Hotels will generally offer off-season discounts as well. The Cotswolds can radiate an entirely different allure in these months, especially on crisp, snowy days with blue skies.

Where can I eat in the Cotswolds?

After all that sightseeing, you’re bound to work up an appetite. In a city far away from home, you might need some help finding the best places to visit. Here are our favorite eateries in the Cotswolds and we’re sure you’ll like them too.

The Thyme – Ox Barn

Like many of the eateries in the Cotswolds, the Ox Barn at Thyme uses only the freshest of ingredients picked from the kitchen garden and surrounding farmlands. The open fire and leather chairs add to the rural ambiance. Roast pork and chicken terrine made with wild garlic are the most popular items on the menu.

The Kingham Plough

Sample the incredible pork pie or fish pie topped with special Thermidor sauce if you visit the Kingham Plough. While the setting may seem somewhat rustic, the menu is filled with modern British dishes.

The Lamb Inn

With its characteristic flagstones and open fire, this inn looks like it is straight out of a Tolkein novel. Browse through the exceptional beer options and relish English fishcakes, pork sausages with mashed potato, and a dash of ale, or venison loin.

The Wheatsheaf Inn

This old inn that dates back to the 17th century is one of the best places to eat in Cheltenham. Enjoy an entire array of mouthwatering dishes such as celeriac puree, slow-cooked beef, and puddings.

Once Upon a Tea Room

Savor a summer tart or cucumber finger sandwiches for a classic afternoon tea at this charming tea room. You can also purchase takeaway grazing platters, cone cups, and special teas after your meal.

Where can I stay at the Cotswolds?

Rest your weary legs after a long day of sightseeing at a local hotel. This is also super beneficial if you’re thinking of extending your trip for another day or two. Here are some of our top hotel recommendations.

The Inn at Fossebridge

With a storied 300-year history, this traditional coaching inn is the beating heart of the charming hamlet of Fossebridge. If you are visiting the inn during the winter, you can sip on hot chocolate or wine as you sit next to a warm log fire.

Starts from £109/night

The Duke of Wellington

Located in the tiny village of Bourton-on-the-Water, The Duke of Wellington is a pet-friendly hotel that offers free parking, dining, and in-room TVs.

Starts from £100/night

The Frogmill

The Frogmill could perhaps be regarded as the chef-d’oeuvre of English country clubs. This hotel boasts 25+ boutique bedrooms, great dining options, and an exquisite bar.

Starts from £150/night

Where to Shop at the Cotswolds?

Cotswold Pottery

Hand-crafted kitchenware and pots can be bought at this cozy shop in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Each of the beautiful pieces available here is almost entirely unique.

The Cotswold Chocolate Company

The company sells delicious chocolates made from ethically sourced natural ingredients and native Cotswolds cream. You will find an impressive collection of handmade chocolate boxes that you can take back home for your family and friends.

Burford Garden Company

In characteristic Cotswolds fashion, the Burford Garden Company sells an eclectic range of gardening-oriented products. You can buy gardening accessories, furniture, fresh local produce, and gardening art.

Tips for your London to Cotswolds Day Trip

Not only will the rolling hills and wild meadows take you breath away, but so shall the food and drinks you gorge on here. While you’re here, make sure you dig into a Gloucester Old Spot pork some Stinking Bishop cheese,munch on a Hobbs House bread and try the Bibury trout. Their locally brewed ales and beers , single malts and gins don’t disappoint either.
The pub culture here is traditional with a magical vibe. You will get to witness the whole course from roaring open fire, friendly pub dogs, and idyllic beer gardens in most pubs around here. Make sure to hop by one!
Make sure you don your most comfortable pair of walking shoes during your trip as there is a lot of walking and it will sure make you weary by the end of the day.
Though Cotswolds does not look like the hub of high-octane adrenaline sports, you’ll be shocked to know that it actually is. If you’re into mountain biking,wild swimming, water-skiing or wakeboarding, try your hands at it the English way.

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