London to Cotswolds: A Perfect English Day Trip

For those heading to London and looking to see a calmer side of England, we have this lovely and super informative post from Sam, the Honest Explorer. Thanks so much, Sam, for helping our readers discover somewhere new and taking them from London to the Cotswolds.


The Cotswolds- where time stands still. This area of outstanding natural beauty lies in South-central England and is situated between several counties (Wiltshire Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire to name a few). All properties here must comply with a design code, being built with Cotswold stone. The result of this is that nothing much seems to have changed over the years. Everything is simple and idyllic, surrounded by the fresh English countryside.

The good news is that travelling to the Cotswolds from London can most certainly be possible, taking around two hours or so. The small villages are close by each other, making it a perfect road trip and being able to see many places in a day.

If you have more time on your hands though I’d for sure recommended staying at least one night. There’s so much to see and do but at the same time you don’t want to be rushing around from village to village. The beauty of the Cotswolds is the peace and quiet and a chance to get away from busy London.

Cotswolds 2

How do I get to the Cotswolds from London?

By car: This is the preferred choice by many as it gives complete freedom on where to go, what to see and how long to spend in each place. Heading west on the M4 is one of the quickest routes, taking around two hours.

By train: The Cotswolds Line runs from London Paddington to Worcester and takes in many towns like Moreton-in-Marsh & Kingham. The Golden Valley Line runs further south and includes stops like Stroud and Cheltenham. You can still get to the Cotswolds from London by train in two hours or less.

By coach: National Express coaches are of a good standard and stop in places like Cheltenham and Cirencester from London Victoria. They may take a little longer- around two and a half to three hours but you could save a bit if you book early.

By Bus: This is probably the hardest way to travel as the local buses do not run very frequently and the amount of bus numbers and routes may be confusing. Plus some buses may not run on a Sunday.

By tour group: There are many sites offering day trips to the Cotswolds from London. Make sure they go to the smaller villages too and check the group size. A smaller group will be better.

Check out our other posts about the United Kingdom — including other day trips from London!

Which villages should I visit?

First of all, there are so many villages to choose from, it’s sometimes better to just drive and stop where you like (however you will be stopping every five minutes of you do this!). Here are some of the most popular places:

Castle Combe

Castle Combe

This was the first place I visited on my trip from London to the Cotswolds, as it’s situated close by the M4, where you will be coming from London. This was a favourite of mine and as I was early, there weren’t too many crowds. It felt very authentic (as do all the of villages) and its really nice just to watch village life and people go about their daily business.

The little stream and bridge at the bottom of the village is to die for- I’ve even seen pictures of this in the snow and rain and it’s still beautifully picturesque.

Bourton on the Water

Bourton on the Water

This is a little larger than other villages and is a popular summer spot for locals and visitors alike. The stream runs through the village and during summer you will see kids, adults and dogs all going for a dip in the clear stream. They also have a model village next to the town.



This is also small but one of my favourites, due to its pure idyllic-ness. Children playing in the stream, chocolate box cottages and people sitting outside the pub enjoying a Sunday lunch. It’s so quaint and pretty I just wanted to pack up and move!

Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden

This is an historic town with many cafes and souvenir shops. In the centre of town you will see the old Market hall, built in 1627. This historic landmark was where the traders used to sell goods and is a prominent design in the centre of town. Chipping Campden is right at the top of the Cotswolds so a great place to stay if you are doing a two day trip. It also has many lovely gardens to visit close by and a pretty church.

Read more on the Cotswolds villages here

What route should I take?

If coming from London, then it would be a good idea to start at Castle Combe and work your way up. For a weekend trip you can stay further up north, working your way up one side on the first day and the other side on day two.

For a day trip I would have a think about which villages you would like to visit and check Google maps to see the driving time and whether you can fit them all in. A lot of the places I have mentioned are up north so it may be best to drive a bit first. These towns are all close together so when you get up there everything is not too far. Either way even just visiting a handful of villages will be worth the trip.

Cotswolds 3

Many of the Cotswolds villages are close to woodland walks so if visiting for a weekend, be sure to set aside some time for that. I wish I had more time to visit the surrounding countryside but I guess it’s just an excuse to go back again!

The Cotswolds is such a quintessentially English and unspoilt area, which holds so much history and charm. Whether visiting for a day or a week you will no doubt fall in love with this gorgeous place.

Here’s another English town for a fun day trip from London

About the author:

Honest Explorer is a solo female travel blog run by Sam, a British backpacker who has been solo travelling around the world for over a decade. The blog inspires girls to travel the world, giving travel advice, stories and inspiration.

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Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.