Escape to the picturesque English countryside with these 10 unforgettable day trips to the Cotswolds. From quaint villages to breathtaking walks, explore the best the region has to offer with our curated 1 day Cotswolds itineraries.

By: Paul Healy | Published: 8 Apr 2023

Everyone needs a little adventure every now and then, but not all adventures have to be adrenaline-fueled.

Sometimes, all you need is a micro-break away from the daily grind to unwind and take in something new.

Located just 1.5 hours from London, Bristol, and Birmingham, the Cotswolds is the perfect destination for a day trip steeped in English charm.

After spending many years exploring the area, we’ve put together 10 day trips that capture the most beautiful places to visit in the Cotswolds.

Our recommendations include what to see and do in the area, where to eat, and where to stay if you decide to stay overnight.

Where to stay in the Cotswolds

ABOUT THIS GUIDE

COTSWOLDS DAY TRIPS

This guide includes 10 day trip ideas to the Cotswolds with an itinerary for each day, plus recommendations on where to eat and suggested tours from London.


1 – BOURTON ON THE WATER & THE SLAUGHTERS

Best Cotswolds day trip for ambling quintessential English villages

Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, and Upper Slaughter, and three of the most charming villages in the Cotswolds, bursting with traditional English charm. Each are conveniently located just a few miles apart, making strolling between them both easy and a great thing to do in the Cotswolds.

BOURTON-ON-THE-WATER

Start in Bourton-in-the-Water, the self-proclaimed Venice of the Cotswolds. Trendy cafes, quaint tea rooms, and old-time ice cream stands straddle either side of the picturesque river that runs the length of the high street.

Begin the day with coffee and a croissant at Bakery on the Water, before popping into the Cotswolds Motoring Museum.

Check out the Model Village – weirdly an exact mini-replica of the town, then sample some of the excellent ales at the Hawkstone Brewery Bar.

UPPER SLAUGHTER

Next, drive to Upper Slaughter, one of the two tiny villages that perfectly capture the Cotswolds aesthetic.

Skip lunch and dive straight into high tea at the Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter. Set across 8 acres of secluded gardens and parkland it’s a great way to experience a grand English manor house with a plump cream and jam-topped scone.

LOWER SLAUGHTER

In the afternoon, take the 10-minute walk to Lower Slaughter along the Warden’s Way – the beautiful path over gently rolling hills that connects the two villages.

Finish the day at one of the many great pubs in the area: our pick is the King’s Head in Bledington.

Upper Slaughter, Cotswolds
LOWER SLAUGHTER

BOURTON DAY TRIP – TOURS FROM LONDON

If you would prefer to get an organised tour from London, these include Bourton with several other great destinations in the Cotswolds.

Full Day Tour With Lunch — This well-rated tour includes Burford, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold with lunch at the beautiful Swan Hotel.

Small-Group Tour — This highly-rated tour from London includes Burford, Bibury, Bourton and Stow with an optional lunch.

WHERE TO STAY

The Old Stocks Inn | Stow on the Wold

Two kids walk through a river beside stone cottages on a late summer afternoon

2 – BLENHEIM PALACE

Best Cotswolds day trip for visiting one of England’s grand stately homes  

Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 and 1722 to thank the first duke of Marlborough for his many military victories over the French and Bavarians. It stands today as one of the most extravagant stately houses in Britain and an interesting thing to do in the Cotswolds.

PALACE TOUR

Start in the palace and explore the gilded stateroom with priceless collections of portraits, tapestries, and furniture. The grand entrance hall and library may steal the show, but each room is an expression of wealth and opulence.

The Churchill Exhibitions detail the life and history of the first duke, John Churchill, and his more famous descendent, Winston, who spent much of his youth in the palace.

FORMAL GARDENS

The opulence doesn’t end once you step outside the palace. The immaculate Formal Gardens include a magnificent water terrace, a private Italian garden and a tranquil secret garden. The Pleasure Garden is perfect for kids with a miniature train ride, an intricate maze and a pizza café.

For lunch, dine in style at the Orangery Restaurant serving a delicious 2-course lunch in specially created marque pods in the Italian Garden.

WOODSTOCK

Alternatively, bring your own picnic and sit by the great lake enjoying spectacular views of the palace façade. After lunch, stroll around the rest of the expansive grounds then head into the village for an excellent coffee at the Woodstock Coffee Shop.

dark pub interior with fairy lights hanging from the ceiling beams

GREAT TEW

In the evening, drive to the village of Great Tew and have dinner at the thoroughly atmospheric Falkland Arms.

BLENHEIM DAY TRIP – TOURS FROM LONDON

As a popular day trip from London, there are several tours that include Blenheim Palace and the surrounding villages.

Blenheim Palace & Downton Abbey — Travel via coach to Blenheim and enjoy a guided tour followed by a visit to Bampton, the Downton Abbey village.

Entry Ticket — If you are driving yourself, skip the queue with this entry-only ticket.

WHERE TO STAY

Falkland Arms | Great Tew

3 – BURFORD & MINSTER LOVELL  

Best Cotswolds day trip for a picnic and wild swim

While it’s best known for cute villages, the rolling green countryside and forest-lined rivers make the Cotswolds an excellent destination for relaxing in the great outdoors. Pack a picnic and your sense of adventure and enjoy some Thames wild swimming in one of the most atmospheric locations in Britain.   

BURFORD

Start at the town of Burford and kick things off with a pastry and an excellent coffee at Lynwood Café. Explore the town on foot while you set about constructing a picnic for the swim.

The Burford Farm shop has a great selection of local sandwich fillers, pastries, and snacks. Next door, the Cotswolds Cheese shop is wall to wall with local delicacies.

Match it all with some homemade chutney from Brumbles of Burford. The Cookshop will come in handy if you forgot to pack that corkscrew.

MINSTER LOVELL

After collecting your picnic supplies and discovering the charms of Burford, drive to Minster Lovell. It’s a beautiful Cotswolds village.

At the end of a row of quaint houses, the picturesque ruins of a 15th-century manor house rest on the banks of the River Windrush. Have a picnic by the river before cooling off with an invigorating wild swim.

As the afternoon approaches, try our Minster Lovell ruins walk which explores both sides of the river and the village.

SWINBROOK

Once you’ve experienced the elixir that is swimming in a river and hiking through the countryside, drive to Swinbrook to have a pint and dinner at the Swan Inn.

BURFORD DAY TRIP – TOURS FROM LONDON

See see Burford on a tour from London, here are some we recommend.

Small-Group Tour — This highly-rated tour from London includes Burford, Bibury, Bourton and Stow with an optional lunch.

Oxford, Burford & Bibury — This tour includes a visit to Oxford followed by Burford, then the charming village of Bibury before returning to London.

WHERE TO STAY

The Bay Tree Hotel | Burford 

4 – BATH 

Best day trip to the Cotswolds for exploring a historic Roman town 

At the southern end of the Cotswolds, the golden glow of Bath’s stone-dominated architecture shimmers among the surrounding green countryside. In the first century AD it was a Roman spa town.

The supposed healing properties of the hot springs has brought the well-healed here ever since. It’s one of our favourite cities in England and a great Cotswolds day trip from London.  

ROMAN BATHS

Start with the audio guide of the remarkable Roman Baths. Outside, a large bathing pool is still surrounded by imperious Roman sculptures, while inside, ancient objects are displayed within the temples and courtyards of reconstructed Roman times.

BATH ABBEY

After the baths, grab a coffee from Mokoko and pop into Bath Abbey, and strain your neck admiring the impressive fan vaulting. Just outside the Abbey, a grassy slope drops to the river providing the perfect amphitheatre for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, Oak restaurant does a very innovative (and delicious) vegetarian lunch.  

ROYAL CRESCENT

In the afternoon, stroll around town collecting the 18th-century Pulteney Bridge with the shops crammed on top before visiting the Royal Crescent for that picture-perfect sweep of terrace houses.

More information is available in our guide to spending one day in Bath.

BATH TOURS FROM LONDON

There are plenty of tours of Bath to help you see the most of this charming city, here are our recommendations.

Stonehenge, Windsor & Bath — The tour allows you to select Windsor Castle and/or Stonehenge in addition to a visit to Bath. Doing all 3 is far too rushed so it’s a good idea to pick one or the other.

Bath Walking Tour — If you’ve already made your way to Bath, this highly-rated walking tour includes all the highlights with a Blue Badge Guide.

WHERE TO STAY

Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa | Bath

5 – KINGHAM & DAYLESFORD  

Best Cotswolds day trip for the foodies 

Forty years ago, the family behind Daylesford Organic Farmhouse began turning their land to sustainable organic farming. It’s now a trendy enterprise with a café, restaurant, spa, and shop. It’s also helped turn the area into a hip, foodie destination. Just the fuel needed to explore the many Cotswolds things to do.

KINGHAM

Begin your day at Daylesford Organic near Kingham. Their selection of produce covers everything from fresh seasonal veggies to their own delicious breads.

The cheese room is mecca for cheese lovers, and homewares in a desaturated spectrum of subtle greys and whites give the place a stylish sophistication. Cooking classes and spa treatments are also available.

Fill up on brunch in the café where they serve an innovative selection of fresh regional delights.

STOURTON

After brunch, drive to the village of Stourton; home to the Cotswold Distillery. Tours and tastings run three times a day where you can learn about their artisanal process and sample their wide range of gins and whiskies.

Just a few miles further east, the family-run Hook Norton Brewery has been churning out beer since Victorian times. Tradition hasn’t faltered; they still use horses to deliver beer to the local pubs. Tours are available twice a day and hourly on weekends.

KINGHAM

Finish this day out in the Cotswolds at the foodie centre Kingham. Choose between the local pub – the Plough – operated under a Heston Blumenthal prodigy, or The Wild Rabbit, from the Daylesford Organic stable.

WHERE TO STAY

The Plough | Kingham 

6 – COTSWOLDS WAY 

Best day trip to the Cotswolds for hiking in the great outdoors 

There’s no better day out in the Cotswolds than hitting some of the trails for a country walk.

The most famous path is the Cotswolds Way, a 102-mile trail that follows the escarpment on the western edge of the Cotswolds. From this vantage point – the highest in the Cotswolds – excellent views of the beautiful English countryside accompany hikers on route from one atmospheric pub to the next.

COTSWOLDS WAY TRAILS

We’ve put together three great circular walks on the Cotswolds Way.

The first one collects the beautiful villages of Broadway and Broadway Tower. The second follows the lovely countryside from Stanton to Snowshill with a few excellent pubs at the end.

The final one explores Cleeve Hill, an unusually remote and barren part of the Cotswolds.

All the details are in our guide to the best walks in the Cotswolds.

WHERE TO STAY

Guiting Guest House | Guiting Power

7 – CIRENCESTER & AROUND 

Best Cotswolds day trip for uncovering local history  

The area around Cirencester was a popular location with the Romans who built an extensive network of roadways and scattered the area with artifacts. The remnants of ancient history and 17th-century industry fill the region with a rich history, making it one of the most interesting places in the Cotswolds.

CHEDWORTH

Start at Chedworth which has the ruins of one of the largest Roman Villas in the UK. Built between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, most of the buildings are little more than foundations, but it’s worth a visit for the extraordinarily well-preserved mosaics alone.

BIBURY

Next head to Bibury. Like many villages in the Cotswolds Bibury’s leading industry was wool and textiles. In the 17th century, a monastic wool store was converted into a row of cottages for weavers.

Today, Arlington Row is possibly one of the most visited and photographed spots in the Cotswolds. Walk around the watery meadow and become seduced by the iconic English cottages with their steep-pitched roofs.

Bibury is one of our top day trips from London.

CIRENCESTER

As lunch approaches make your way to Cirencester, the capital of the Cotswolds. It has plenty of independent shops and restaurants to keep you occupied for an afternoon.

Explore the bizarre-looking St John the Baptist Church, parts of which still stand from the early 12th century. Then pop into the Corinium Museum which will take you on a journey through Cotswolds history from prehistoric times to the modern-day.

CIRENCESTER TOURS FROM LONDON

To see Cirencester and Bibury from London, here are some tours we recommend.

Small-Group Tour — This highly-rated tour from London includes Burford, Bibury, Bourton, and Stow with an optional lunch.

Cotswolds & Oxford — Enjoy a lovely drive through the countryside before visiting Bourton-on-the-Water then Bibury. Finish the day at Oxford.

WHERE TO STAY

Kings Head | Cirencester

Day out Cotswolds, Cirencester.

8 – CASTLE COMBE & LACOCK 

Best Cotswolds day trip for exploring two of the most filmed villages 

Castle Combe and Lacock are two of the most beautiful villages in the UK. Put them together and you have an excellent day out in the Cotswolds.

LACOCK

Lacock, which is owned and managed by the National Trust who have ensured it remains beautifully preserved.

Half-timber, half-stone cottages line wonky laneways; shops have maintained their original simple branding; and films such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma have been lured in by authentic facades. The Abbey – a quirky country house with varying architectural styles inherited over the centuries – is the highlight.

Best Cotswolds villages
LACOCK

CASTLE COMBE

Drive to Castle Combe (20 minutes) and make up your own mind about its claim to be the prettiest of all the villages (it’s definitely close in our book).

Grab lunch – washed down with a pint – at the Castle Inn overlooking the market square; or have high tea – washed down with champagne – at the luxurious Manor House.

In the afternoon explore the village which has gained regular appearances in the film industry.  It’s easy to see why. With green forested hills in the background, quaint cottages in the foreground, and a babbling brook in between, it takes little imagination to be transported back to another time.

COUNTRY WALK

Wander out of the town to explore the rolling green countryside surrounding Castle Combe. There are several great short walks in the area, including a lovely circular walk around the lush wooded countryside and back to the town. The details are in our hiking in the Cotswolds article.

Where to stay in the Cotswolds
CASTLE COMBE

DINNER

Drive to Didmarton (20 minutes) for dinner at the Kings Arms who have a great selection of local ales in a traditional country pub setting.

LACOCK TOURS FROM LONDON

While there are currently no organised tours from London including Castle Combe that we would recommend, Lacock is included on several tours in the area.

Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath & Lacock — This well-rated guided tour is a packed day, but it includes several of the great highlights of the area, including lunch at Lacock.

Stonehenge, Bath, Lacock & Avebury — Visit the premier historical sites in the Cotswolds on this well-rated small tour from London.

WHERE TO STAY

Kings Arms, Didmarton

9 – OXFORD 

Best day trip to the Cotswolds for stunning architecture at an iconic university 

Walking around the golden-hued streets, it’s easy to see that Oxford was built on Cotswolds stone, even if today it’s technically in another region.

As a compact city bursting with history, Oxford is perfect for a day trip. Visit the colleges, see world-class museums, and checkout iconic architecture.

All the details on what to do in the city of dreaming spires are covered in our Oxford day trip article.

If you have more time, read our guide to the best things to do in Oxford.

10 – BROADWAY, CHIPPING CAMDEN & SUDELEY CASTLE

Best day trip to the Cotswolds to see a bit of everything 

For a snapshot of the best of the best, this Cotswolds day out has it all. Inspect a stately home, wander two cute villages, enjoy magnificent views, photograph an old English folly, amble through a classic country garden and sample a local ale.

SUDELEY CASTLE

Begin the day at Sudeley Castle, the 15th-century resting place of the last of Henry VIII wives. It’s still a private residence and the inside is a mishmash of different styles, but it’s the gardens that steal the show. Intricate geometric designs, wisteria-covered ruined walls and an idyllic chapel are just a few of the highlights.

BROADWAY

Next head to the village of Broadway. Set at the foot of the western end of the Cotswolds escarpment, Broadway has a wide grass-fringed high street lined with classy hotels, quirky delis and sophisticated wine bars.

Famous artists have called this place home over the years, encouraging a small but thriving art scene. Munch on small bites and Italian favourites at the Lygon Wine Bar, while you people-watch from their high street location.

BROADWAY TOWER

After lunch, drive up to Broadway Tower. The grassy slopes are the perfect spot to relaxing in front of fantastic views over the Vale of Evesham, Malvern Hills and Black Mountains.

CHIPPING CAMPDEN

Refreshed, pop into Chipping Camden for a stroll down the lovely high street, collecting the beautiful 12th-century Norman church, then make your way to Hidcote Manor. Regularly cited as one of the finest gardens in the country, it’s best visited in spring or early summer when it is a sea of colour.

EBRINGTON

End the day at the Ebrington Arms, one of our favourite pubs in the Cotswolds. The well-crafted French-inspired dishes are sourced locally, and their very own Yubby Ale is the perfect way to end a big day in the Cotswolds.

WHERE TO STAY

The Fish Hotel | Broadway

COTSWOLDS DAY TRIP MAP

The Cotswolds is a rural area of England and while buses and trains do connect some of the villages and towns they are not that regular. The easiest, and by far the most convenient way to get around is to drive.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


WHERE TO STAY IN THE COTSWOLDS?

The Cotswolds is a diverse area with sleepy hamlets, imposing stately homes, charming rural countryside and quaint English pubs.

If you decide to stay overnight in the Cotswolds there are several different sections based on what you want to see.

We have a full list of the best areas with accommodation options in our article on where to stay in the Cotswolds.

heythrop park golf and spa hotel cotswolds

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Take on a mini adventure with these great days out in the Cotswolds. Visit imposing palaces and quaint villages; walk scenic country trails and roam immaculate formal gardens. Enjoy some of the best experiences the Cotswolds has to offer. #cotswolds