The Cotswolds is one of the largest ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ in England. It is easily accessible from the capitol & makes the perfect day trip for holidaymakers. If you want to wander through quiet countryside villages, filled with honey-coloured stones cottages.
Then this is the perfect day out during your vacation. Soak up the atmosphere, unwind & immerse yourself in the beauty & history on a relaxing & friendly tour with your local guides Lucy & Richard Lambert from Cotswolds Guided Tours.
How to Reach the Cotswolds?
So you are planning a trip to the Cotswolds whilst staying in London & just wondering how to make it possible…..look no further for our step by step guide! Remember the Cotswolds covers 800 square miles, so this is not a definitive guide to reach every village but will help cover the main routes on how to reach the region.
Take a Road Trip to the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is located North West of London, around 90 miles. So, you could rent a hire car & travel up by road. Depending on where you are staying then the journey is relatively easy. Greater London is surrounded by a circular motorway, essentially a ring road. This motorway is called the M25, so if you are staying within London you need to get on to the M25 & head for Junction 1, which will connect to the M40.
Once on the M40 then you will be heading North West towards Oxford. The best services on the M40 is Beaconsfield, where you have a selection of restaurants, all important restrooms & you can get your caffeine fix. Beaconsfield services are located at junction 2 of the M40, Don’t confuse this with Beaconsfield (the place) which is much further north on the M40!
If you are staying right in the centre of London you can hop onto the A40, which turns into the M40 & you can skip out the M25.
Travel along the M40 heading for Oxford, so you have started at junction 1 and need to keep heading north until you see the signs for Oxford at junction 8. This will also be signposted for the A40 towards Cheltenham.
As you take the exit here, you will be travelling along the A40 and will soon be at the outskirts of Oxford. You then have a couple of options depending on which part of the Cotswolds you are staying in. Travel over a series of roundabouts if you are heading for Burford, Cirencester or Cheltenham then you need to stay on the A40 heading west. If you are heading for the northern Cotswolds then you need to follow the signs for Blenheim Palace, Woodstock & Chipping Norton.
Depending on traffic the journey from the M25 to the Cotswolds will take around 90 minutes, much longer during rush hour!!!
As Richard & I often get told by guests that Brits all drive on the wrong side of the road…..then you may decide that driving in the UK is a bit too stressful even with satellite navigation or ‘google maps’. For those of you who would prefer to leave the driving to someone else let’s take a look at your other options!
Catching a train to the Cotswolds from London
The simplest way to reach the Cotswolds is by train, however there aren’t too many rail stations in the Cotswolds, so I will focus on the main ones. Your first journey whilst in London will be to reach London Paddington station. Luckily London Paddington has the over rail (which you need to reach the Cotswolds) and is also connected to London’s famous underground ‘tube’ network. In fact, London Paddington is one of the busiest rail stations in Europe, so you may be using this station for other days out whilst in London. Lots of tube stations connect here including The District Line, The Circle Line, The Hammersmith & City Line, The Bakerloo Line & the new Elizabeth Line.
Use the Transport for London website to navigate your way to London Paddington.
Once at London Paddington you have a selection of options for over rail. If you are spending the day with us ‘Cotswolds Guided Tours’ then we advise guests take the train from London Paddington to Moreton in Marsh. This is a direct route, (no changes) and you arrive at the Cotswolds most northly train station. On your journey out from London Paddington you will pass some other major stations, for example Reading & Oxford, so if you are staying at either of these you can hop on the train. Reading to Moreton in Marsh takes an hour, Oxford to Moreton in Marsh takes just over 30 minutes.
Alternatively, from London Paddington you can catch the train to Cheltenham which takes just over 2 hours direct. If you are staying in Cirencester then the nearest rail station is Kemble, which takes 75 minutes. All of the above services are run by Great Western Railways.
Flying to the UK & want to head straight to the Cotswolds
As the majority of our Cotswold tour guests fly into London Heathrow then it is worth considering taking the train straight to the Cotswolds. Heathrow is connected to the underground & you can catch the tube into central London via the Elizabeth Line, tubes
run every 30 minutes & take 35 minutes to get to London Paddington. Or you can catch the Heathrow Express which runs every 15 minutes and goes straight to London Paddington (taking only 15 minutes) Either way it is a straight forward and easy journey right into the centre of London.
Once at London Paddington just follow the steps above to reach the Cotswolds.
Can I visit the Cotswolds in one day?
Yes! We have a selection of one day tours, all possible if you plan to arrive by train. If you are taking the train to meet we recommend our Cotswold tours start at 9.30am at Moreton in Marsh Railway Station. Of course, if you are already here, we can collect you from your accommodation at 9.30am, just let us know! There is a train that arrives from London Paddington at 9.17am which will be perfect for your tour. If you have luggage with you we can store this on the minibus throughout the tour. At the end of your day exploring, we can either return you back to the railway station at Moreton in Marsh or drop you off at your hotel if you are staying locally. We would advise booking your train tickets 6-8 weeks in advance to get the best ticket price.
If you book a 6-hour Famous Cotswolds Tour visiting 6 wonderful villages & market towns. You can spend the day visiting Lower Slaughter, Bourton on the Water, Upper Slaughter, Snowshill, Broadway & Stanton. Then we will get you back to Moreton in Marsh railway station so you can return on the 3.53pm train.
Our 7-hour Cotswold Bucket List Tour visits all the above locations, along with a stop at a Jane Austen village & one of the oldest sites in the Cotswolds, Rollright Stones, where you can try dowsing. You will be back at Moreton in Marsh railway station ready to catch the 4.53pm train.
If a 7 hour tour sounds just right for you then we do have a Bespoke tour option where you can select 6 of your own favourite stops from our list. This tour means you can build a day that suits you, perhaps stopping at the waterside villages of Bibury, Bourton on the Water & Lower Slaughter. Then onto some hillside locations like Snowshill & Stow on the Wold. Add in the world-renowned market towns of Chipping Campden, or focus on all the market towns or all the hidden gems, the choice is yours. Again the 4.53pm train will be perfect to return back to London.
Then our last one-day tour option that covers all the must-see locations in 8 hours, The Ultimate Cotswold tour. This tour is perfect for guests who want to see everything in one day or who have limited time in the UK. If you arrive on the 9.17am train you can head back to London on the 5.53pm train.
However, you decide to reach the Cotswolds, once you are here if you want to take a tour then we would love to meet you & be part of your holiday! If you have any questions then head over to the ‘Contact Lucy’ page on our website. Lucy will be on hand to help, so do not hesitate to reach out.