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The Cotswolds

  • The Cotswolds, United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 09 July, 2024
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Few places in the British Isles evoke a quintessential sense of England like the Cotswolds. The region spans five counties, with rolling hills and clusters of stone cottages that form picturesque villages and small towns.

It’s weekend break heaven, with luxurious, cosy hotels, gastropubs and a lattice of walking routes crossing the wooded valleys and steep escarpments. There are urban pleasures too – the region is flanked by some of Britain’s most iconic, beautiful towns, including Oxford, Bath, Stratford and Cheltenham.

Orientation

The Cotswolds sprawls across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire, covering nearly 800sq miles. Visit Broadway Tower, the Cotswold’s highest point, for views over up to 16 counties.

Bath and Cheltenham are at the far western end of the region, with Oxford at the East, while Cirencester and Evesham are the southern/northern tips.

The pretty towns of Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-the-Marsh lie at the centre of the region, with Chipping Campden perhaps the most iconic and beautiful Cotswold town.

Tours, tickets & transfers

27

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

  • London

Visit some of England’s most beautiful towns and countryside on this 12-hour tour of Stonehenge, Bath, the Cotswolds and Stratford-upon-Avon. Travel out of London by luxury coach to the prehistoric site of Stonehenge, and onward for a panoramic tour of Bath — both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Continue on with your guide through the Cotswolds countryside to the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Enjoy a visit to Shakespeare's Schoolroom. Combine vibrant history, gorgeous scenery and sightseeing at some of Britain's most popular attractions.

Price £121

Min age 0

Rating 4.15 / 5 [968 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • London

Join this small-group day tour to the Cotswolds from London, and explore the highlights of the beautiful English countryside. Travel in a minibus in small, friendly groups as your Driver-Guide explains the history of the region and tells you the local stories. Along the way you'll meander along country lanes, see remote countryside and visit the most charming villages in the region. • Explore the highlights of the Cotswolds in one day • Get off the beaten path and travel along the narrow country lanes • Visit a mix of charming villages, historic towns and beautiful countryside • Small groups with a maximum of 16 passengers

Price £85

Min age 7

Rating 4.80 / 5 [944 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • London

Escape London's crowds for a day trip to the picture-perfect Cotswolds for lunch. You'll visit a region that is forever England, seemingly unchanged by the modern world and famous for its beautiful villages and rolling hills. There will be time to visit quaint villages such as Burford before enjoying a fabulous two-course lunch in a traditional English hotel restaurant.

Price £118

Min age 0

Rating 4.33 / 5 [935 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • London

The Cotswolds are like stepping into a landscape painting. Vivid green colours, lush waterways and the most delightful cottages. And Oxford needs no introduction. The city of students, spires and sumptuous cathedrals is as inspirational as it is fascinating. Join this 10-hour, guided small-group tour and experience two of England’s most deservedly-famous locations. Transportation between attractions is included. Food and drinks can be purchased along the way.

Price £81

Min age 5

Rating 4.61 / 5 [683 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Stratford-upon-Avon

Award-winning guided small-group minibus tours of the Cotswolds from Moreton-in-Marsh or Stratford-upon-Avon. Experience the Cotswolds with a local guide in a small and friendly group size of up to 16 people. We'll explore picture-postcard Cotswold towns and villages including Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water, as well as the stunning Dover's Hill viewpoint and our "secret" off-the-beaten-track village, which many customers agree is a highlight of the tour! Stratford-upon-Avon pick up is from Shakespeare's Birthplace Coach Terminal - please arrive at 08.50 for 09.00 departure. If you're travelling by train from Birmingham, then Stratford-upon-Avon train station is just a 5-10 minute walk from our pick up spot. We then travel to Moreton-in-Marsh rail station to collect our final passengers. If you select pick up from Moreton-in-Marsh, please arrive at 09.30. There are direct trains to Moreton-in-Marsh from London, Reading, Oxford or Worcester.

Price £75

Min age 3

Rating 4.95 / 5 [605 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Travel advice

When to go

The summer months – and particularly the school holidays of July and August – sees the Cotswolds throng with tourists.

Far better to visit if you can in September or October, when the villages are quieter and the countryside is ablaze with autumn colour. Equally beautiful are the spring months of April and May, when the fields are alive with daffodils and new-born lambs.

Getting there and away

Bath, Cheltenham and Oxford all have excellent train connections from London. Heathrow Airport is just over an hour’s drive from the Cotswolds; Bristol airport around the same.

The Oxford Tube is an hourly bus service from London Victoria to Oxford, from where connecting buses and trains go to various towns in the Cotswolds area. Around two hours’ drive from London.

Getting around

The Cotswolds is a large area so to explore it properly it’s best to have a car – although in summer the single-lane country roads are horribly busy. The only train stations in the Cotswolds are at Moreton-in-Marsh, Stroud and Stonehouse, with links to London and Birmingham.

Cycling is an excellent way to discover the Cotswolds; there are miles of bridleways and cycle paths that offer the chance to escape the busy roads.

Where to stay

North of the A40 is where most of the major tourist honeypots are – Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway and Moreton-in-the-Marsh, while the southern Cotswolds are quieter and less visited.

Not all Cotswold villages are overrun with tourists; Blockley is a hidden gem with pretty houses and a great village shop for picnic supplies.

Excellent walking (and fishing) is to be found in the Windrush Valley, home to the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, while for long-distance hiking, Chipping Campden, Broadway and Winchcombe are all on the way

First timers looking for the quintessential Cotswolds experience should stay in Broadway or Chipping Camden, while those after a more tranquil, crowd-free break should stay south, in Tetbury or Bibury.