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The magical villages and towns of the Cotswolds have remained seemingly unchanged with the passing of time. With honey-coloured cottages and lush rolling hills, they’re the picture postcard of quaint and cosy England.
The Cotswolds is spread out over five counties and covers nearly 800 square miles. The closest town to London is about 100 miles away, making it an easy option for a day trip from the English capital.
Deciding which town or village to travel to might feel overwhelming, especially if you’re only visiting for one day.
But not to worry, Cotswolds tours from London are the perfect way to discover this region. Plus, they take all the hassle out of planning.
Why You Should Experience Cotswolds Touring in a Group
Guided Cotswolds tours from London make exploring the area a breeze. Instead of visiting this rural region of England on your own, you’ll benefit from travelling with a knowledgeable tour guide.
Doing so means you’ll learn valuable insight into the history and culture of each site you visit.
The tours are well structured, so all you’ll have to worry about is showing up on time. As a bonus, you’ll get to meet fellow tourists who are part of your group. Or, if that’s not something you’re into, you can always select a small group tour option.
What Does a Cotswolds Day Trip From London Include?
All of these day trips from London include a visit to the Cotswolds in one form or another. Some tours allow you to explore one, or more, of the picturesque villages and towns.
While others only offer a driving tour of the area (usually with a photo stop) en route to another popular UK destination.
A good number of the day trips combine tours of the Cotswolds with other exciting cities and towns in England, like Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Roundtrip transportation from London is always included. Have a look at the different options and pick the one that suits your interests best.
Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds: Day Trip from London
Combine your Cotswolds day trip with a tour of Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. Your first stop will be Stratford, the birthplace of famous English playwright William Shakespeare.
Wander around the town where he grew up and see the beautiful Tudor-style buildings. You’ll visit several sites associated with his life, including the Swan Theatre.
Next up, sit back and relax as you travel through the Cotswolds. See the rural English countryside at its finest.
Admire rows of honeycomb-coloured buildings, wide-open valleys, and lush rolling hills. It’s as pretty as a picture.
Lastly, you’ll visit Oxford. This is one of the world’s most historic and famous university towns. Stretch your legs on a walk around the college buildings and beautiful spires.
See famous sites, like the Bridge of Sighs and Christchurch Cathedral, and learn about the city’s ties to Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter.
Before you leave you’ll have a chance to grab something to eat. There are plenty of great restaurants in town, but feel free to ask your guide for recommendations.
Oxford and Cotswolds Villages Day Trip
Travel to two of the most popular UK destinations, Oxford and the Cotswolds. This small-group tour departs London in a luxury Mercedes mini-coach.
First up, you’ll spend the morning strolling around lovely Oxford. At this enchanting university city, history is on full display. Visit important sites, like the Ashmolean Museum and the Great Hall at Christ Church College.
For unbeatable views of the breathtaking spires, you’ll head to a vantage point and see the city laid out before your eyes.
Next, discover some of the traditional villages of the Cotswolds. You’ll start in the quaint market town of Burford. This is the Gateway to the Cotswolds and features all of the hallmarks of the area, like charming cafes, small local shops, idyllic scenery, and cosy pubs.
Afterwards, you’ll explore the village of Bibury. Wander around the famous Arlington Row, a road that contains a photogenic line of traditional Cotswolds buildings. It’s one of the most photographed sites in England. It’s even featured on all UK passports.
Full-Day Cotswolds Tour with Lunch
Why visit just one Cotswolds village when you could visit four? On this full-day tour from London, you’ll travel to Burford, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Stow-on-the-Wold.
You’ll begin in Burford. This charming town is known for its scenic High Street. It features charming gift stores, quaint farm shops, and plenty of antiques.
Next, carry on to Bibury for a two-course lunch at the beautiful Swan Hotel. This quaint eatery is set inside a 17th-century former coach inn. Enjoy your meal with a glass of ale or wine and a fabulous view of the River Coln.
Bourton-on-the-Water is your next stop. This village contains many low-lying bridges that sit above the gently flowing River Windrush. For this reason, it’s commonly referred to as ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’.
The last stop is Stow-on-the-Wold, a small market town that sits on top of an 800-foot hill. As you can imagine, the views are absolutely spectacular.
Full-Day Tour of the Cotswolds
This trip makes Cotswolds touring too easy. Spend the day exploring four idyllic destinations.
Start your day in Bourton-on-the-water. This peaceful village is one of the most scenic areas of the Cotswolds. A slow-flowing river slices through the town centre and small local shops and cafes are found in abundance.
Next, travel to Stow-on-the-Wold. The town sits on an 800-foot hill and offers picturesque views of the rolling English countryside.
There are plenty of local shops and tea rooms to discover. Don’t forget to visit St. Edward’s Church; this small religious building is known for its unique tree-framed doorway.
Carry on to Bibury. This town is known for its traditional English aesthetic. It’s so photogenic it’s been used for filming several popular movies, like “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Stardust”.
Your best photo opportunity can be found at Arlington Row, the famed row of quaint Cotswolds cottages I mentioned earlier.
End your day in Burford. This beautiful old town is full of historic buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Here, you can pick up some classic Cotswolds souvenirs or enjoy a meal before you head back to London.
Stonehenge, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, Cotswolds Day Tour
This small-group tour explores four iconic UK destinations. Depart London and start your trip at Stonehenge.
This ancient prehistoric monument is believed to have been constructed between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Learn about the history and mystery surrounding these massive stones.
Next, travel to the charming city of Bath. You’ll have free time here to spend however you please. Tour the Roman Baths, wander the Georgian streets, visit Bath Abbey, or get up to whatever else you fancy.
When you hop back on the luxury, air-conditioned coach, your legs will get a break as you drive through the idyllic Cotswolds. Admire views of the beautiful countryside and quaint market towns as you head to your next stop, Stratford-upon-Avon.
See the childhood home of William Shakespeare and receive a private tour of his Schoolroom and Guildhall.
Take part in a Tudor lesson and test your writing skills with a quill and ink. Lastly, you’ll be entertained by a short performance of a famous Shakespearean play.
Warwick Castle, Stratford, Oxford & Cotswolds Day Trip
If you’re a fan of English history, this day trip is the perfect addition to your London itinerary.
Start your day in Oxford with a walking tour. Learn about the history of this famous university city and admire the beautiful old architecture. Afterwards, enjoy a bit of free time. Shop for souvenirs, visit a traditional English pub, or find one of the city’s vantage points.
Next, travel through the Cotswolds en route to Stratford-upon-Avon. Marvel at traditional cottages and grassy hills as you venture through the rural countryside.
When you arrive, you’ll start with a tour of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall. Enjoy a private Tutor lesson where you’ll learn to write with a quill and ink. Then, continue exploring more of the town, including Shakespeare’s birthplace.
Lastly, visit Warwick Castle. This is one of Britain’s most important medieval castles. It has a history that dates back over 1,000 years.
Step back in time as you tour the period furnished rooms and spacious grounds. The displays provide insightful information and pay homage to the castle’s heritage.
Downton Abbey, Cotswolds, and Highclere Castle Tour
If you’re a fan of the British historical drama “Downton Abbey”, this tour will be right up your alley.
Set off from London on board an executive mini-coach. Start your day at Cogges Manor Farm in the Cotswolds. Or, as it’s called in the series, “Yew Tree Farm”. See the filming sites featured in many episodes.
Next, head to the Swan Inn at Swinbrook. This is the setting for one of the shows’ most controversial plot twists, making it instantly recognizable.
Continue on to Shilton. This cosy Cotswolds village is inaccessible to larger coaches, meaning it won’t be swarming with tourists.
Have a wander around before making the short journey to Bampton (Downton village). This small settlement was used for filming the village scenes in the series.
Lastly, visit the iconic Highclere Castle. This is the home of the Grantham family in the series. Go on a guided tour of the castle’s sumptuous rooms and see the world-famous Egyptian exhibition.
Cotswolds, Country Pub Lunch, & Blenheim Palace Tour
This day tour is the complete Cotswolds package. Start the day driving through the rural countryside, passing small villages and towns like Minster Lovell and Swinbrook.
Your first stop will be Stow-on-the-Wold. The picturesque town square contains small art galleries, antique shops and craft stores. Grab a take-away coffee from a cafe and pop into a few shops.
Next, visit Burford for a traditional pub lunch. Feast on pan roast chicken breast with a potato cake and roasted veggies. Vegetarian dishes are also available. After you’re nice and full, continue on to Bibury.
This quiet village is considered one of the prettiest in England. The rural landscape that surrounds the main centre is a lovely place to enjoy a scenic Cotswolds walk.
Next up on your itinerary is Bourton-on-the-Water. The town centre features many small bridges that cross over a slow flowing stream. It looks like it’s straight out of a storybook.
The last stop of the day is the grand Blenheim Palace in Woodstock. This is the largest privately-owned house in England. It’s the birthplace of Winston Churchill and dates back to 1705. Explore the lavish rooms and discover over 300 years of UK history. It’s the perfect way to end your day.
Stonehenge, Bath, Lacock, & Avebury Small Group Tour
This tour leaves London nice and early, so you’ll be among the first batch of guests to arrive at Stonehenge.
Marvel at the mysterious stones and learn about the different theories behind this prehistoric monument at the visitor’s centre.
Next, continue on to Bath. Tour the most famous attraction in the city, the Roman Baths. This well-preserved site shows what life was like in the first decades of Roman Britain. Afterwards, enjoy a bit of free time exploring the elegant Georgian streets.
Your next stop is the beautiful village of Lacock. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time as you take a guided tour through the quaint streets and alleyways.
The classic English landscape has been used for filming in several movies, including “Pride and Prejudice” and “Harry Potter”.
Lastly, you’ll visit Avebury. This village is surrounded by a Neolithic henge monument which is the largest stone circle in the world.
Unlike in Stonehenge, guests are allowed to walk right up and touch the ancient monument. After a guided walk around the village, you’ll head back to London.
Private Full-Day Tour: Cotswolds Country, Oxford & Blenheim
This private Cotswolds tour from London allows you to customize your itinerary. It’s a great option for couples or groups of up to eight people.
A private chauffeur will pick you up from your chosen location in Central London. Enjoy a tour of the city before heading to Oxford. Stretch your legs as you walk around and marvel at the dreamy spires and historic architecture.
Next, travel to the village of Woodstock to see the magnificent Blenheim Palace. This 17th-century stately home is the birthplace of former British prime minister Winston Churchill. Tour the opulent rooms, wander the scenic grounds and discover the history of this iconic UK building.
Afterwards, you’ll make your way to the charming towns and villages of the Cotswolds. You can visit whichever ones you fancy, like Stow-on-the-Wold, Upper and Lower Slaughter, and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Whether you want to shop around a quaint town centre or travel to one of the breathtaking Cotswolds viewpoints, you’re free to decide.
During the whole course of the day, your private driver will fill you in with plenty of fun facts about the local history and the culture of the sites you visit.
Oxford and the Cotswolds: 3-Day Small-Group Tour
If you’re on a longer UK holiday, why not take a 3-day tour of the Cotswolds and the surrounding area? This will give you plenty of opportunities to fully experience each destination you visit.
Your first day will start with a trip to Blenheim Palace. Discover three centuries of British history as you tour the rooms and palace grounds. Next, visit the ancient Rollright Standing Stones.
These Neolithic and bronze age monuments are set in the quiet countryside next to the Cotswolds.
Finish the afternoon at the Hook Norton Brewery. Learn about beer production and enjoy a tasty local pint. You’ll end the day at Stratford-upon-Avon, which will be your base for the following two nights.
Day two will start with a trip to Warwick Castle. This well-preserved medieval structure dates back to the time of William the Conqueror. It’s often described as one of the most important historic monuments in Britain.
Then, you’ll return to Stratford-upon-Avon with its wonderfully medieval aesthetic.
On your final day, you’ll journey to the Cotswolds. See the incredible vantage point at Broadway Tower and wander around the charming towns of Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water.
Round off the afternoon exploring Oxford before heading back to London.
London, Oxford, Stratford, Christmas Lunch in the Cotswolds
If you’re visiting London at Christmas time, this Cotswolds tour will put you in the holiday spirit.
This day trip operates on Christmas day, meaning you’ll have the rare treat of seeing these sites with hardly any other tourists.
Start the morning exploring the highlights of London on a panoramic bus. See the city’s top attractions, like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London. Then, you’ll continue on to Oxford. Enjoy a walk through the historic streets. You’ll pass famous buildings, like Christchurch, Radcliffe Camera, and The Ashmolean Museum.
Next up, journey to the Cotswolds. On the way there, stop for a photo opportunity outside of Blenheim Palace. In December the large facade is decked out in beautiful twinkling lights.
Once you reach the Cotswolds you’ll visit an Elizabethan pub for a festive lunch. Feast on delicious roast turkey with all the trimmings. Finish your meal with a traditional Christmas pudding – and maybe a drink (or two)!
Spend the rest of the afternoon in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. Wander around this quaint market town and imagine what Christmas would have been like a hundred years ago.
Gloucester and Lacock Harry Potter Day Tour
This Cotswolds day tour from London is perfect for muggles. Enjoy a day discovering the rural countryside in conjunction with iconic “Harry Potter” filming locations.
Travel to Gloucester, the cathedral city of the Cotswolds. Walk through the ancient streets and admire the 11th-century Gloucester Cathedral – which doubled as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
You’ll also visit the village of Lacock. With timber-framed cottages and picturesque streets, it’s easily one of the prettiest Cotswolds destinations. Several scenes from the Harry Potter movie series were filmed here.
The cloisters of Lacock Abbey were used to shoot the corridors in Hogwarts. Various rooms throughout the abbey were also used for classrooms, including Professor Snape’s potions classroom and Professor Quirrell’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
In “The Half-Blood Prince”, the house where Horace Slughorn hid from the Death Eaters in the opening scene was also filmed here.
Another site you’ll visit is the location used to film Godric’s Hollow. See the house where James and Lily Potter were murdered by Lord Voldemort.
Your knowledgeable tour guide will give you insight into how the films were made throughout the day. Nerd out as you talk about the books and enjoy some wizard trivia.
Cotswolds Day Trips From London | Final Thoughts
A day trip to the Cotswolds from London is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
The cosy cottages, charming town centres, rolling hillsides, and local shops provide a gentler pace of life. Each is full of immense character and has its own special appeal.
For extra excitement, choose a Cotswolds tour that includes a stop at another popular UK destination. Whichever option you choose, you’ll discover some of the most beautiful areas of England.