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Everything You Need to Plan Your London to Cotswolds Day Trip

Think of Cotswolds, and what comes to mind are lush rolling hills, green meadows, and quaint villages made with the amber-colored Cotswolds stone. To visit Cotswolds is to enter a whole different world. This beautiful British landscape is spread over six English counties. A little under 140 kilometers from London, the Cotswolds make for a lovely day tour. Leave behind the fast-paced lifestyle and enjoy a break in the quintessential English countryside. Here’s everything you need to plan you London to Costwolds day trip.

Visiting Cotswolds Post-COVID 19

Visitors are now allowed to visit the Cotswolds, with new guidelines and measures in place to ensure their security. You can now explore the stunning rural countryside through various Cotswolds tours. 

Health Guidelines in Cotswolds

  • As businesses and attractions open up, visitors are encouraged to plan their visit in advance and ensure they are mindful of their safety.
  • Most Cotswolds attractions have reduced visitor capacity, and do not allow walk-in visits. Travelers must book tickets in advance for access to the attractions.
  • Guests must carry their own masks and keep them on at all times.
  • Social distancing is mandatory and hand cleaning facilities are available at most venues. To be extra safe, guests are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitisers. 
  • While most attractions have toilets, some may have them in different places. Guests are encouraged to check in advance.

Why Take a London to Cotswolds Day Trip

Cotswolds is about two hours away from London, making it an easy location to access when taking a day trip. While London is all about the thrill of the hustle and bustle of the city with its numerous attractions and experiences, Cotswolds gives you a chance to sit back and relax. Cotswolds was declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) nearly half a century ago. When in Cotswolds, you can visit castles, parks, buildings, and churches, and admire the gentle waterways. Its verdant landscapes, grassy hills, and charming, old-world villages make for an unforgettable experience.

Your London to Cotswolds Day Trip Options

london to cotswolds day trip

A Cotswolds guided tour is the perfect way to discover this stunning area in all its glory. When taking a tour, such as a London to Costwolds day trip, you get the company of an expert guide who knows the Cotswolds like the back of their hand. Additionally, as part of this tour, you will also be provided with transport to and from the venues, ensuring a smooth and comfortable visit.

Day tour to Cotswolds from london

A non-guided Cotswolds tour is great for those who like to explore on their own. As part of this self-guided tour, you can pick and choose which attractions you want to visit, when you want to visit, and how you will visit. You, however, will have to arrange for your own transportation, which can sometimes get a little overwhelming, especially if you plan to visit more locations.

london to costwolds

A combo tour is for those who want to explore the UK beyond Cotswolds. Combo tours from London cover a host of locations such as Stonehenge, Windsor, and Bath. In this specific case, tours to Oxford, Stratford, and Warwick are extremely popular from Cotswolds. You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide and transfers are included.

Guided vs. Non-Guided Tour

cotswolds to london
Guided Tours
  1. An expert guide will accompany you on your journey around the Cotswolds and give you insight into its history.
  2. Guided tours are usually conducted in groups unless one opts for a private guided tour.
  3. Your transportation to and from the Cotswolds is included in a guided tour. This is either from a meeting point or directly from your hotel.
  4. To make the most out of your tour, guided tours stick to a fixed itinerary that covers as many attractions as possible in the given timeframe.
cotswolds tour
Non-Guided Tours
  1. A non-guided (self-guided) tour gives you the chance to explore the Cotswolds on your own.
  2. A non-guided tour isn’t usually done as part of a group.
  3. When it comes to non-guided tours, visitors have to arrange their own transportation to, from, and within the Cotswolds.
  4. Non-guided tours give you the flexibility to explore the city at your own pace.

Which London to Cotswolds Day Tour is Perfect For You?

1. If you’re on a budget

For a budget-friendly Cotswolds tour, you can purchase tickets to the specific attractions you want to visit, along with transportation tickets. Wherever possible, look for tickets with audioguides to get the most out of your visit. 

2. If you’re looking for a guided tour

If you want to discover the Cotswolds in-depth, pick a guided Cotswolds tour. Your knowledgeable English-speaking guide will take you to all the major attractions and experiences, all the while giving you facts and trivia about the area.

3. If you want to explore beyond Cotswolds 

You can explore more than just Cotswolds by choosing a combo tour. Visitors can choose from locations like Oxford, Stratford, Warwick, and more. These tours show travelers the best of the country within a day or so.

What to See in Cotswolds

Here are some of the attractions you will get to see as part of your day trip to Cotswolds.

castle combe
Castle Combe

Often referred to as the ‘prettiest village in England’, Castle Combe is best known for its beautiful honey-colored Cotswold stone buildings. The Market Cross monument and St Andrew’s Church, the latter of which features a faceless clock, are must-visit attractions.

blenheim palace
Blenheim Palace

Built in the 1700s in the English Baroque architecture style, Blenheim Palace is best known as the ancestral home of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and has since welcomed many visitors.

broadway tower cotswolds
Broadway Tower

This is the highest castle in the Cotswolds, and is a great example of English heritage. Visitors can take the Broadway Tower Circular Walk path to explore the Broadway Tower & Park, covering a distance of 1.2 km.

bampton downton abbey

Fans of the popular TV series Downton Abbey will recognize Bampton from the show. This picturesque village is the fictional ‘Downton’ of the series. Apart from visiting filming locations, visitors can explore St. Mary’s Church and the stunning Chimney Meadows Nature Reserve.

Plan Your Visit to the Cotswolds

Getting there
Best time to Visit
Food & drink
getting to cotswolds
  • Train: There are trains from Paddington to the many stations in Cotswolds throughout the day. Some of the railway stations you can get off for Cotswolds are Cheltenham, Gloucester, Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stonehouse, Ashchurch, Cam and Dursley, and Stroud. The journey can take up to 2 hours.
  • Bus: The Victoria London Station has coaches that take you directly to Cheltenham, Gloucester, or Stroud. While this is one of the cheaper options, it is also the route that will take you the longest to get there. The journey takes about 2.5 hours.
  • Car: You can take the M4, M5 and M40 to get to Cotswolds from London. While parking can be a hassle, it adds to the convenience of exploring the Cotswolds at your own pace. Driving to Cotswolds can take anywhere between 1.5-2.5 hours.
best time to visit cotswolds

The best time to visit the Cotswolds is between March and May. June and September are popular months to visit as it is the summer, but between March to May is when the weather is pleasant and the attractions aren’t as crowded, making your visit a smooth and unhurried experience.

Winter in Cotswolds is also a wonderful time. If you don’t mind the cold, head to the quaint towns and enjoy the crisp, fresh air, and head to one of the cafes for a delicious hot chocolate.

what to eat in cotswolds

The Cotswolds has all sorts of places for people to eat and drink at - be it pubs, restaurants, cafes, and Michelin-star eateries.

When in the Cotswolds, visitors are encouraged to try Single Gloucester cheese, Stinking Bishop cheese, Gloucester Old Spot pork, Tewkesbury mustard, Bibury trout, and Hobbs House bread.

Cotswolds Distillery is the region’s first ever distillery, which is best known for its Cotswolds Dry Gin and Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky either.

Other food and beverage experiences to try out include visiting a farmers market, traditional afternoon tea, and food festivals like Cheltenham Food Festival and Tewkesbury Food Festival.

where to stay in cotswolds

The Cotswolds has a lot of accommodation options for travelers. If you are on a budget, you can opt for a hostel or go camping. If you’re looking at a mid-sized budget, why not visit a bed & breakfast or a country inn? And if luxury is what you seek, you can find yourself a boutique townhouse, a manor house, or a luxury hotel.

And if you’re looking for a unique experience, why not go glamping? This glamorous camping experience is the perfect way to enjoy the natural beauty of the Cotswolds with a splash of luxury. Some popular glamping options are The Red Lion, Cotswold Farm Park Caravan and Camp Site, National Star Camping Pods, and Gold Rush Cabin.

where to shop cotswolds

For those who are sick of High Streets, Cotswolds is heavenly. There are an array of independent shops within the area that sell anything and everything you desire. When in the Cotswolds, one must visit the many antique shops, such as the ones in Burford, Broadway, and Tewkesbury.

Tewkesbury, along with Chipping Norton and Nailsworth, is also well-known for its vintage shops, which sell not just things to wear, but also things you can use to decorate your home.

what to do in cotswolds

Here are some things you absolutely must do when in Cotswolds:

  • Follow the Gloucestershire Ale Trail highlights and visit some of the Cotswolds’ best craft breweries.
  • Explore Sudeley Castle & Gardens.
  • Make a splash at the Cotswold Water Park.
  • Take a picture on the bridge at the southern tip of Castle Combe.
  • Experience the world of Downton Abbey at Bampton.
  • Check out the abandoned boats and ships at the Purton Ships Graveyard.
  • Have a drink at the Cotswolds Distillery.
  • Discover the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens.

Visitor Tips for London to Cotswolds Day Trips

  • Most of Costwolds villages have limited parking, where some are permit parking only. If you are driving down to Cotswolds, ensure that if you cannot find a dedicated car park, you look for street parking close to the village.
  • Carry your own mask and hand sanitizer. Keep the mask on at all times on the tour.
  • To avoid crowds, visit the Cotswolds during a weekday, as most people tend to visit Cotswolds as a weekend trip.
  • Cotswolds day trips usually involve a lot of walking, so ensure you wear comfortable shoes.
  • Visitors can enjoy an array of water sports in Cotswolds, especially in the summer. You can also go hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

All Your Day Trip to Cotswolds Questions Answered

Is it safe to visit Cotswolds post-COVID 19?

While Cotswolds has several hygiene measures in place, it is recommended that people check ahead to see which towns and villages that meet the new industry safety standards.

Can I purchase tickets for Cotswolds tours online?

Yes. You can purchase Cotswolds tour tickets online. Additionally, even if you are looking to visit an attraction, you need to book your tickets online, as only visitors with pre-booked reservations are allowed.

What is the cancelation policy for London to Cotswolds tour tickets?

This depends solely on the kind of ticket purchased. Some tickets offer a full refund if canceled up to 24 hours in advance, while others cannot be cancelled, amended, or rescheduled. Please ensure you check the cancellation policy before booking.

Which attractions are covered on Cotswolds sightseeing tours?

Some popular attractions covered are Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre, Blenheim Palace, Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Cheltenham Racecourse, and Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens.

What are the best Cotswolds tour tickets?

To ensure you make the most of your trip, it is best to take a guided tour of Cotswolds. If you're looking to explore further, you can also get a combo tour from London to Cotswolds. This can take you to other destinations such as Bath and Oxford.

Are there discounts available on Cotswolds tickets?

While this primarily depends on the attraction, most attractions offer discounts to seniors, children, and disabled individuals.

Can I buy same day tickets to the Cotswolds?

While it is possible to purchase same-day tickets, it is advised that you book tickets online, as most attractions follow the time slot ticketing process in order to get your preferred time slot for the visit.

Is it possible for me to take a guided tour in the Cotswolds?

Yes, you can purchase tickets for a guided tour in the Cotswolds online. While slightly expensive, the tour will be enriching as you will be accompanied by an expert guide who will give you information, facts, and trivia about the region.

Should I buy tickets to Cotswolds in advance?

Yes. As most Cotswolds attractions have reduced their visitor capacity as part of their health measures, they do not allow walk-in visits. It is best to book tickets in advance for access to the attractions.

What is the duration of a Cotswolds tour?

A Cotswolds tour typically takes about ten hours.

When's the best time to visit the Cotswolds?

While June and September are popular months to visit as it is during the summer, March to May is when the weather is pleasant and the attractions aren’t as crowded, making it the best time to visit the Cotswolds.