The Cotswolds is a stunning region only 100 miles from London. It covers palaces, oh so cute honey-coloured stone houses, market towns, green hedges, winding roads and is essentially the England of Hollywood! Indeed many films and tv shows have been shot in the Cotswolds – including Downton Abbey!
The close proximity makes it super easy to take a Cotswolds Tour from London. A Cotswolds day tour from London is the most common type but I do encourage you to also consider spending the night in this beautiful area to allow for more exploration. Here is my complete guide on Cotswolds Tours from London.
Cotswolds Tour from London – What are the Options?
The Cotswolds covers a big area – almost 800 square miles! The single largest town in the Cotswolds is Cirencester. However, the key things to visit in the Cotswolds are its charming villages. There are market towns such as Cirencester, Tetbury, Stroud and Tewkesbury.
The cutest towns are Stow on the Wold, Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, Bourton on the Water, Chipping Norton and Chipping Campden. In the Cotswolds Hills, the two main towns are Painswick and Snowshill.
Most of the tours of the Cotswolds from London visit some of these cute towns. They also tend to include several options for stops along the way in Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwick Castle and Blenheim Palace.
If you’re a Downton Abbey fan there are also Cotswold tours that focus on where the exteriors were shot for the series.
The other option is a Bath and Cotswolds Tour from London which also includes Stonehenge.
Day Trip to Cotswolds from London
To see the maximum number of towns on a London to Cotswolds day tour check out the Lunch in the Cotswolds Tour. This London to Cotswolds day tour includes visits to four picture-perfect Cotswolds villages – Burford, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-water and Stow-on-the-Wold. This is the tour to take if you would like to see as much of the Cotswolds as is possible. It also includes a 2-course lunch in a Cotswolds village.
Logistics: The tour meets at 815am at Victoria Coach Station. It is a full day trip.
Visit two of the most charming towns in the Cotswolds – Burford and Bourton-on-the-water in this Cotswolds Day Trip from London. As this London to Cotswolds tour only has two stops you will have a lot more time to explore each of the towns and visit some of the key sites in the area like the Tolsey museum or the DragonFly Maze.
Logistics: Pick up point to be set at a later date – normally a 730am start and a 630pm return.
If you’re looking to cover the maximum number of sights in this region in your London Cotswolds tour, try this Day Trip from London which includes Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford. Following this, the coach will drive through the Cotswolds.
Logistics: The tour starts around 830am at Victoria Coach Station and runs for 10 hours. Check the website – this tour to Cotswolds from London runs on different days depending on the time of year.
Did you love Downton Abbey? I did! The village that appeared in the series is actually in the Cotswolds (the main home, Highclere Castle, is south of the Cotswolds). This Downton Abbey Village and Cotswolds Tour include the town of Bampton (where Downton was filmed), Blenheim Palace, Bibury, and Bourton-on-the-water.
Logistics: The tour begins at Victoria Coach Station at 9 am and returns to the same spot by 7 pm. The tour runs between May and September.
Cotswolds Plus more Day Trips from London
The London to Stonehenge day trip takes in Stonehenge, the lovely town of Bath and the Cotswolds village of Lacock. The tour also drives through the Cotswolds.
Combine the Cotswolds with the stunning Blenheim Palace in this Downton Abbey Village Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds Tour 1 Day Blenheim Palace is best known as the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It is the only non-royal Palace in the UK and well worth a visit.
Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford and the Cotswolds with a free lunch on this Shakespeare’s Stratford and Cotswolds Tour. Pick up point is the Golden Tours office at Victoria Station at 8 am.
Visit Stratford plus Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water on this Cotswolds and Shakespeare tour. This tour also departs at 8 am from the Golden Tours office at Victoria Station.
Or set your own schedule with this Private Tour of Oxford and the Cotswolds.
Cotswolds Day Tours from Oxford
This Cotswolds Villages Small Group Tour from Oxford includes visits to Great Tew, Stow-on-the-Wold, Lower Slaughter, Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford and Minster Lovell.
Logistics: Pick up at 10 am from the Visitor Information Centre on Broad Street. Return for 5 pm.
The Cotswolds Adventurer Tour includes Bampton (used for the village in Downton Abbey), Kelmscott, Lechlade, Bibury, Northleach, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold and Blenheim Palace.
Logistics: 930am pick up from the Visitor Information Centre on Broad Street
FAQs about Tours from London to Cotswolds:
Which Cotswolds Villages to visit?
The two main towns in the Cotswolds Hills are Painswick and Snowshill. There are market towns such as Cirencester, Tetbury, Stroud and Tewkesbury. The cutest towns are Stow on the Wold, Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, Bourton on the Water, Chipping Norton and Chipping Campden. All tours of Cotswolds from London will list which towns they visit.
How far is Oxford from the Cotswolds?
Oxford is about 33 miles from the Cotswolds or a one hour drive in decent traffic.
Where are the Cotswolds located?
The Cotswolds is in South Central England – west of London. The area is 40km across and 140km long.
What is the main town in the Cotswolds?
The main town is Cirencester.
Which town/village is best in the Cotswolds for a weekend away?
If you are looking for a weekend away in the Cotswolds I would highly recommend staying at the lovely Bruern Cottages near Kingham. This area is a fantastic base for visiting the towns of the Cotswolds such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford and Chipping Norton. The cottages are literally in the middle of the Cotswolds so there is easy access to all the key towns.
Michael Paul Holidays is a Bristol-based online holiday property agency. They have a fantastic range of four and five stars rated self-catering accommodation that includes cottages, lodges, and log cabins. Their phone operators have stayed at or have great knowledge of all their accommodation – this is great for getting advice. Every property they have listed has been personally visited so you can be confident that all their properties are of high quality.
Bruern Stables were built in 1882 to accommodate the needs of Bruern Abbey, which is across the road. In 1947 the entire estate was purchased by Michael Astor and his wife Nancy. The process of turning the stables into 12 luxury self-catering cottages began in 1993.
Unlike many luxury cottage rentals, it is possible to stay at Bruern Cottages for just 2 nights or more. The majority of cottages require a one-week minimum stay – this makes Bruern perfect for a weekend away!
The converted stables at Bruern Cottages are beautiful. The exterior features the beautiful honeyed stone look of the Cotswolds. Once inside each cottage is uniquely furnished in a boutique luxury style that feels incredibly comfortable.
Farrow and Ball have provided most of the paint and the fabrics of many well known British designers are used. Most of the antiques and furniture have been locally sourced. If you enjoy antiques do ask the owners for their local list of hot spots!
I was delighted to find one of my favourite brands, Elemis, in the bathrooms! Plus towels, robes etc all supplied by another favourite The White Company!
Aintree and Sandown Cottages
A group of 6 of us stayed across Aintree and Sandown Cottages. The cottages are literally attached to each other which makes it super easy to have your own space as well as spending time with friends. Both cottages have large kitchens. Sandown has a large open area for the kitchen and living room areas.
Upstairs at Aintree are beautifully furnished bedrooms – a large master double and then two twins with bathrooms. Sandown has a double bedroom and ensuite on the ground floor and twin room upstairs.
Without question, my favourite part of both cottages was the living areas. Bruern Cottages have done a wonderful job making these living areas so comfortable yet stylish. Once you sit down it is hard to imagine leaving! I simply craved poor weather so I could justify sitting on the couch and popping on the tv (which comes with full Sky to keep everyone happy!).
Take a video tour of Bruern Cottages!
Eating at Bruern Cottages
The cottages are self-catering but Bruern knows that often when you arrive at a cottage you haven’t had time to get to a store. They provide a fantastic welcome pack that is stocked with local products! Salted butter, fresh eggs, cheese, local bacon and sausages, cake and even bubbles (or wine)! It was such a wonderful package to receive on arrival!
Bruern caters for literally everyone! I can imagine a romantic weekend here with a partner as much as I can imagine a multi-generational family. The cottages themselves have full wifi, sky etc for teenagers. The outdoor areas are perfect for younger kids and running around. There is an entire play area kitted out with toys outside the fantastic spa and gym area.
The indoor pool is heated so it is ready to be used no matter what the weather. For warmer days there is a lovely outdoor area with sun loungers. The spa area also has treatment rooms and Bruern Cottages can organise massages, facials etc if booked in advance. And the gym has the latest equipment.
No wonder Bruern Cottages is so often full of repeat customers!
⇒ Another great place for relaxing in England is Ockenden Manor Spa – read all about it here.
⇒ Read this post for a Full Guide to a Luxury Weekend in the Cotswolds.
For the ultimate in the English countryside don’t miss a visit to Daylesford Organic. This luxury farm has an amazing shop filled with food and home design items. There is a restaurant, a spa, places to stay, a cooking school and so much more. It is a stunning place to visit.
Looking for some more great ideas for a weekend away from London? Check out this post on Weekend Getaways in Europe.
Great Deals if you are making your own way to the Cotswolds from London
If you have made your own way to the Cotswolds book your ticket for Blenheim Palace Tickets here in advance to save time. If you are planning Warwick Castle then buy your Warwick castle tickets now to save money and time. And check out this Oxford Castle Unlocked guided tour.
If you’re travelling around England check out my posts on Where to Stay in the Cotswolds, the best London Food Tours, 2 Fantastic Luxury Hotels Yorkshire, the New Forest, Exeter, Exmouth and lovely Brighton.
How do I get to the Cotswolds?
If you’re coming from outside the UK then London is the best place to fly into for the Cotswolds. Option one is to stay in London and then take one of the Cotswolds day tour from London options above. Option two is taking a Cotswolds day trip from London by train. Paddington is the key station for trains to the Cotswolds – some great value options for UK rail passes are listed below.
Option three is hiring a car and driving yourself to the Cotswolds. Heathrow is a great place to pick up a hire car for the Cotswolds. Heathrow is the closest airport to the Cotswolds. Also, picking up the car at Heathrow means you will avoid central London traffic which is always a good idea!
⇒ The Cotswolds is not far from lovely Wales – find out if Wales is for you by reading my post on Places to Visit in South Wales.
Getting to London and Getting Around:
Best Ways to get from the Airport into London
London has several airports. It can be confusing and expensive to get from each of the airports into central London. And the last thing you need after a flight! It is much easier to organize tickets before you fly.
Heathrow is the most common airport for international flights. The fastest way to get from Heathrow into Central London is the Heathrow Express. This train only takes 15 minutes to get from Heathrow to Paddington Station and runs 4 times an hour. The Heathrow Express is much faster than a cab or any other option. Save £5 per standard ticket when you book here.
⇒ Save £5 per standard ticket on Heathrow express tickets here
The lowest cost way to get from Heathrow to central London is the tube. The tube is actually one of the fastest options as well – and will get you the closest to your final destination.
⇒ Avoid the Queue – Book Your Heathrow airport to London tube here
There is also a bus or coach option which drops passengers at Victoria Station. This is a cheap option but you will have to deal with London traffic! If you are taking this option during peak hour it could take up to 2 hours each way. Book your national express Heathrow airport coach transfer here.
Gatwick is south of London and can be quite the distance in a car. The Gatwick Express is the fastest option into London and runs directly from Gatwick to Victoria Station.
⇒ Book Here and Save £5 per standard ticket on your Gatwick express e-ticket here
If you don’t need the express option there is a slightly slower-moving train that has several more options in terms of stops including Clapham Junction, Kings Cross St Pancras, and London Bridge.
⇒ Book the Gatwick Airport to Central London Commuter Train here.
The third option is the national express Gatwick airport coach transfer. This is the least expensive option but it can take some time with London traffic. There is one departure an hour and the average journey time is 90 minutes.
When in London the tube and buses are absolutely the best way to get around town quickly and cheaply. The best way to pay for this is to get a London visitor oyster card– which you can order before you leave home. However, once you leave London trains are a great option – Train prices and availabilities – or the roads are less scary outside London so hiring a car can work well – for great deals on car hire click here.
Boutique Hotels in Londons
Artist Residence is located in Pimlico which is fabulously central. It is in a gorgeous 5 store regency building and has a cute bar.
The Portobello Hotel is located in one of London’s best known and cutest neighbourhoods Notting Hill. This is also the hotel where Kate Moss and Johnny Depp filled up the bath with champagne! The hotel is located on a quiet street but is a great location.
I live in London and write about it frequently – I do believe it is the best city in the world!!! So if you’re spending some time in London you may want to read some of my articles:
The Great Northern Hotel is ridiculously close to Kings Cross and St Pancras stations which is incredibly convenient. The hotel dates back to 1854 but has had a major refurb so it feels fresh and modern.
The Hoxton hotel is in the heart of East London in Shoreditch and a perfect base for exploration. The rooms aren’t huge but the location makes up for it – as does the great value for London with rooms starting at £99 a night.
Great Deals for those visiting London from outside the UK
Visit Great Britain has some fantastic offers that are just for those who live outside the UK. It is possible to make significant savings if you book certain things before you travel – not to mention how much easier it is to already have tickets for things when you arrive!
If you have just moved to the UK you can buy these passes in your first six months of residency.
There are a number of Brit Rail passes available. Rail is a brilliant way to get around the UK – the train services are generally pretty good and there are good timetables. The most important thing to check is what kind of pass you need. The best way to determine this is to start by checking this map against where you are planning to visit.
The BritRail London Plus Pass is the best option if you are planning to base yourself in London and take a few day trips. This pass covers the Cotswolds as well as Cambridge, Canterbury and many more.
The Britrail England pass covers all of England including getting to and from the airport. Also, for each adult or senior ticket purchased you will receive a free ticket for a child between 5 and 15 (children under 5 travel free).
Southwest England includes some of the most popular tourist sites in the UK – Bath, Cornwall, Oxford and the Cotswolds! If you are not basing yourself in London but plan on travelling around the BritRail South West Pass is the best option.
There are two options available for Scotland.
The BritRail Central Scotland Pass covers the key central cities in Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Fife Station.
If you’re planning on exploring the Highlands and the islands of Scotland then a better option is the BritRail Scottish Freedom Pass. This covers all rail within Scotland and even some of the ferries to the islands.
If you’re planning on travelling around England and Scotland then the best option is to buy the BritRail GB Pass. This covers all train journeys across all of the United Kingdom.
All of the above take the form of paper tickets that will be mailed to your home address.
There is a new BritRail MPass which has an e-ticket that can be downloaded onto a mobile. However, it has one key restriction which is that the travel must be taken on consecutive days so make sure you check if this suits your plans before purchasing.
If you prefer travelling via a bus to train then check out the skimmer pass national express coach. National Express travels to over 1000 locations and has free wifi, USB and power sockets, onboard entertainment, air conditioning and reclining leather seats!
Minicabs can be a great way to get around the UK. Minicabit taxi booking covers 300 UK towns and cities and can be booked as far as one year out. These can be particularly good for getting from a train station to hotels/b&Bs.
One of the best value offers for overseas visitors are National Trust passes. These passes cover entry to a large number of major attractions and stately homes within the UK. If you will be visiting a few of their properties these passes very quickly become amazing value.
The English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass covers entry to over 100 properties including Stonehenge and Dover Castle. The passes cover unlimited visits over a set number of days.
The National Trust Touring Pass covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will get you entry into over 300 properties including some of the venues where films such as Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter were filmed.
The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass covers more than 75 properties including Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, Urquhart Castle at Lochness and many more.
The Scottish Heritage Pass covers over 120 properties but can only be used between April 1 and October 31.
UK Travel Essentials
⇒ Grab a WorldSIM PrePaid Global SIM Card to stay in touch at reasonable prices.
⇒ Access WIFI at local rates with the mobile wi-fi rental wireless internet anywhere you go in Britain. This in your pocket wifi can be picked up at Heathrow or Paddington Station.
Who Paid for What in this Post
Thanks to Michael Paul Holidays and Bruern Cottages for hosting me in the Cotswolds.
If you click through on the links in this post and end up making a purchase on that site I will get a small commission. Just wanted to let you know!
READ NEXT: BEST LONDON FOOD TOURS
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Also published on Medium.