The stunning Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Beauty is described by many as the true essence of the British countryside. The area is packed full of postcard-worthy rolling, green hills, historic, quaint villages, and beautiful country houses with thatched roofs and crumbling chimneys and it really shouldn’t be missed off of any England itinerary. This ultimate Cotswold Weekend itinerary not only takes you to the Cotswolds but also includes some of the gems of South-west England such as Oxford, Bath, Wells and the stunning but relatively unheard of Cheddar Gorge.
One of the best parts is that the Cotswolds is relatively close to London- only 3 hours by car and exploring these villages makes for the perfect weekend getaway at any time of year. Not only that, the villages themselves are quite close together so you can visit quite a few in only one day.
This is the perfect itinerary for a long weekend or 3-day trip and combines a visit to the heritage towns of Oxford and Bath as well as many quintessentially British Cotswolds Villages. It can easily be adapted for a standard 2-day weekend trip. While this itinerary can be done by public transport you’d probably have to allow for more travel time and expect to see a little less. I’d highly recommend doing the trip by car, as we did due to the ease of driving from one place to the next, parking and exploring further on foot.
THE ULTIMATE COTSWOLD ITINERARY
We left London as early as possible and drove to Oxford, Oxfordshire, the journey taking about two hours. Oxford, famous for the prestigious university is a lovely town to walk around in, pop into some Oxford University Colleges and enjoy the atmosphere that just oozes intelligence. Different colleges form Oxford University and many of them are open to the public, however, they all have their own opening hours, making timing your visit a little problematic. We weren’t particularly bothered by which colleges we saw and we ended up popping into a couple that happened to be open, while we were walking around, including Balliol College; one of the oldest and greenest colleges of Oxford University.
Other unmissable sights of Oxford include Radcliffe Camera, the 18th Century academic library and reading rooms, the Bridge of Sights, Christchurch college and cathedral, the original Blackwells’ Bookshop and the Bodleian Library, the second-largest library in the UK. These sights are very close together in the centre of Oxford and can easily be visited on a self-guided walk apart from the Bodleian Library. If you would like to go inside you’ll have to book a tour prior to your visit. The Bodleian Library was one of the filming spots for Harry Potter and if you are a Harry Potter fan I’d highly recommend the Christchurch Mornings Harry Potter Film Site Tour which takes you to all the heritage sights of CS Lewis’s Narnia & Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland as well as the filming location of Harry Potter.
Check out Oxford in One Day for more information on the perfect day trip to Oxford
Next on your Cotswold itinerary, head to Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Beauty. Bourton-on-the-Water is often referred to the Venice of the Cotswolds and it’s easy to see why. Wander over the low bridges and check out all the local-quarried limestone houses, cottages, pubs and possibly the cutest country post office ever.
Only a 10- minute drive from Bourton-on-the-water are the Slaughters or two villages; Upper and Lower Slaughter. Park in the centre and simply walk around admiring all the gorgeous lime cottages, beautiful gardens full of colourful flowers, thatched roofs and country streams. Don’t miss Lords of the Manor Hotel and Upper Slaughter Manor in Upper Slaughter- both showcasing stunning Victorian architecture.