The Cotswolds are the kind of place you can dream about going to for years. When you finally arrive there, it more than exceeds your expectations and in fact, makes you want to put down roots there.
Many people make their way out to The Cotswold on a day trip from London. But, I think this area is best seen in 2, or even 3 days.
Below is a 3 day, self-drive itinerary from London that will take you through as many of these dreamy little towns as possible.
Depart London as early as possible. The drive out to The Cotswolds takes about 2 hours — and that’s if you don’t get lost, don’t make any stops, and are used to driving on the left side of the road.
Stop 1: Oxford
This literary (and non-literary) lovers town is definitely worth a stop. It’s also chock-full of tourists and their accompany tour buses invading the tiny streets. Good freaking luck finding parking to actually walk around Christ Church Cathedral after noon.
So, make it an early start! The drive from central London to Oxford is an hour and some change. Spend some time wandering the grounds of the University of Oxford and the Cathedral. Then make your way over to the Eagle and the Child — a pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis used to have pints together every week. Maybe you’ve heard of a little thing called Lord of the Rings…? Totally worth a stop!
Stop 2: Chipping Camden
This is toward the top of the Cotswolds region and a great place to base yourself out of to see the little towns the following day. The drive from Oxford is about an hour and you’ll see some of the Cotswold villages on the way up there.
Chipping Campden is a wonderful little market town. From here, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can walk to Bath. The 100 mile picturesque walk through the Cotswolds to Bath starts here, in Chipping Campden. If driving through the area is more your cup o’ tea (it sure is mine), spend the afternoon moseying about the 14th Century village of Chipping Campden.
Check into your hotel or AirBnB, have some dinner and get ready for a big day tomorrow!
Stop 1: Stratford-upon-Avon
Dear heavens, get here early. The tour buses and crowd are enough to make you write the place off, but hang in there with me. This village in the Cotswolds is known as the birthplace of Mr. William Shakespeare. Most people visiting are going to check out his childhood home and the iconic thatched roof home of his wife, Anne Hathaway. No, not the woman that plays Cat Woman. The REAL Anne Hathaway.
No lie, I got there at the ass crack of dawn around 6 AM. Mostly because I had a long day ahead of me, but also because I greatly dislike crowds.
You can’t go inside old Bill Shakespeare’s house anyway, so I figured why wait!
After popping over to Bill’s house, wander around and watch the sleepy little town wake up. There’s some cute shops and the buildings are wonderful, so don’t just see Shakespeare’s house and hightail it out of there.
Stop 2: Upper & Lower Slaughter
Slaughter is an Old English word for mud or muck. Just because we turned this word into a bloody mess shouldn’t set you off for visiting. The villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are only a mile away and there’s a walking trail in-between the two that follows along the River Eye for a portion.
Full of blossoms, the iconic yellow stone of the Cotswolds and the frosty river running through it…my goodness they are beautiful.
There’s just a few spots for parking outside the village, so park it and take the small walking path through the homes. There’s no shops or restaurants here, just lovely homes. You can spend all day here imagining what it’s like to live in a yellow stone house, waking up on a frosty autumn morning. Building a roaring fire in the morning and cracking open your door to the sound of the river flowing through and the crunch of your shoes on the gravel. Ahhhh, what a life.
Stop 3: Burton-on-the-Water
Ohhhh boy, now you’re gettin’ into the good stuff. Burton-on-the-Water has a canal running through the town with lovely stone bridges arching over the water. This village is regularly voted in the top prettiest villages in ALL OF ENGLAND.
This is the perfect place to have breakfast and you’ll find a few cafes’s with seating looking out to the canal.
You can make your way through Burton-on-the-Water in an hour. So, have a sit for breakfast and cuppa and then wander along the canal and pop into the quirky shops. The last stop for the day is coming up next, so there’s no need to rush.
Stop 4: Burford
You’ll make your way to Burford by the afternoon and I suggest you spend the night here. Mostly because you’re never going to want to leave.
I mean, seriously, someone may have to drag you into the car the next morning and light a fire under your ass.
The road running right up the middle, High Street will have you strolling past beautiful house after beautiful house. Not to mention the gorgeous tea rooms and welcoming store fronts — you’ll be picturing your future life here before you know it.