Quintessentially English, the Cotswolds are like a beautiful, old garden that spreads out over gentle, rolling hills. Quaint villages with stone cottages beside peaceful streams feel somewhat timeless, as though you have stepped back into the 1940s. Tours to the Cotswolds are easily done from London, and indeed there are many people who commute to London for work everyday from their pleasant Cotswolds homes, far from the trappings of city life.
There are many Cotswolds tour options available from London, ranging from day trips to multi-day explorations, and the range of choice can be off-putting. That is why we have filtered out the best in terms of itinerary, authenticity of experience and value for money, to present you with the best five.
FROM: £55/per person
One of the better-value tours from London is this day-trip combining both the best of the Cotswolds and the renowned university city of Oxford, plus the delightful natural scenery between the two. Starting out at Oxford – with the Great Hall of Christ Church College and art masterpieces in the Ashmolean Museum – the 16-seater Mercedes minibus then heads through the stone villages of the Cotswolds to Bampton just outside the Cotswolds, which is best-known today as a site where some of the scenes from Downton Abbey were filmed. There will be time for afternoon tea before the return to London.
From £95/ per person
Combine the beauty of the Cotswolds with a gourmet 2-course lunch during this full-day tour of the English countryside. Departing by coach from London Victoria, you’ll visit four of the Cotswolds’ most charming villages – Burford, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Stow-on-the-Wold – passing rolling landscapes, dry stone walls, quaint churches, and streams that tumble past tiny villages and petty hamlets. Lunch will be enjoyed at the Swan Hotel, housed in a 17th-century former coach inn and overlooking the River Coln. After lunch, the tour will conclude with a guided tour walk through the town centre of Stow-on-the-Wold, before returning to London.
From £70/ per person
Dedicating the entire itinerary to the Cotswolds, this local guide-led tour first heads for the timeless town of Burford, with its exquisite medieval buildings. There will be time to wander down the high street and peek into the excellent antiques shops along the way. Next up is the traditional market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, with its central square surrounded by old pubs and shops. The final spot in the Cotswolds is the revered Arlington Row in Bibury, which is one of Britain’s most iconic old streets. There is time to explore each destination before making the return trip to London and stopping at the charming riverside town of Henley-on-Thames to break up the journey.
From £60/ per person
Particularly for those who wish to see as much as possible but only have a short amount of time to do so, this excellent whistle-stop tour manages to pack in three of the big hitters of England’s heartland over ten hours. William Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon is the first stop, with the lovely Tudor buildings and pleasant riverside walks, not to mention the birthplace and Swan Theatre linked to the great Bard himself. Oxford is up next, after driving through the pretty countryside of the Cotswolds, to see highlights like the Bridge of Sighs, where you will learn about the great university’s connection to Harry Potter, with time allowed for a trip to a local pub.
From £149/ per person
When one day is not sufficient, a slightly longer trip that also takes in some of the other remarkable sights of South West England is recommended. Not only does this tour from London take in the famous Cotswold landmarks, but it also dips into Celtic Britain at Avebury stone circles, relics of Roman and Georgian Britain at Bath, and one of the world’s major intellectual centres in Oxford, among other stops. A 3-star bed and breakfast stay is also included in the price.