The Cotswolds are a collection of quaint villages in the Gloucestershire area of the English coutryside. The Cotswolds are considered an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the UK and a must-see during your trip to England! I absolutely loved my day-trip to the Cotswolds from London and felt like I got a wonderful taste of the English countryside. Read my blog post on the Complete First Timer’s Guide to London if you’re planning a trip to London anytime soon.
Since the Cotswolds are a number of tiny little villages spread across the countryside the best way to get around is by hiring a car or doing a tour. I researched whether it was possible to explore the Cotswolds using only public transport and it just didn’t look like you’d be able to see as much and would be far more limited in your explorations. Hiring a car is a great option if you’re a couple or a family where it works out better cost-wise but if you are a solo-traveller my recommendation would be to do a tour.
Day Trip to the Cotswolds with Get Your Guide
I did the Get Your Guide Cotswolds Day Tour and thoroughly enjoyed it! As a solo-traveller, joining a group tour works out well cost-wise. It allows you to see a number of different villages, relax and be driven from village to village while enjoying the scenery and gives you the opportunity to learn a bit of history from your guide. The tour consists of a maximum of 16 people and you are driven through the countryside in a minivan. Your guide will give you a comprehensive history and background of each village as you drive there but once you arrive in a village you are given a time to meet back at the vehicle and free reign to explore as you will. I found it to be the perfect combination of structure in getting you from A-B combined with the freedom to explore on your own terms. The tour cost me R1300 but I got a 20% discount as I am part of the Get Your Guide Content Creator community. This is for a full day tour with pick up and drop off in London. We visited 4 different villages, our guide was incredible and I can highly recommend it!
The first stop on the tour was Burford. This picturesque town was so pretty! Plenty of narrow side roads lined with the typical Cotswold style stone-clad cottages. If you’re looking for a coffee or ‘cream tea’ you might want to stop at Huffkins. A cream tea consists of a scone with clotted cream and jam served with a cup of tea or warm drink of your choice. This should cost you about £8.
Next stop was Bibury which is the location of the famous Arlington Row. This row of 14th century cottages is so quaint and lovely. It is located alongside a pretty river. The cottages are now owned by the National Trust and a protected historical site. The Arlington Row really is quintessential Cotswolds!
Bourton-on-the-Water was the most bustling village we visited on the tour. It made for a perfect lunch stop with plenty of options. I went for the fish, chips and mushy peas from the Chip Shed. The fish was delicious, chips could have been better. Top-tip: pay less and get the takeaway and go and enjoy your meal on a bench along the river. Bourton-on-the-Water is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds with plenty of very pretty waterways.
The final stop on our Cotswolds Day Tour was Stow-on-the-Wold. It is most famous for an old church door that is said to have inspired JRR Tolkien in his writings about Middle Earth. It’s easy to see why when you look at this medieval style door framed by gnarled tree trunks. The rest of the town is also lovely and charming with a central square lined by buildings clad in the typical Cotswold stone. If you’d prefer to enjoy your cream tea in the afternoon then there is another Huffkins here for you to enjoy your scone and tea.
The Cotswolds are a very endearing part of the English countryside and really are well worth the visit. I thoroughly enjoyed my Day Trip to the Cotswolds with Get Your Guide and can highly recommend it to anyone looking to explore the Cotswolds without hiring a car.
Are you planning a trip to England? Read my blog post on the Complete First Timer’s Guide to London for all the market, foodie, neighbourhood and park recommendations.