We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

Los Angeles
5 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

Hi, everyone,

My partner and I will be making our first trip to England this April. We've been so busy that we're only NOW planning the details of our trip. Our goal is to spend a total of 7 nights (3 or 4 nights in London and 3 or 4 nights in the Cotswolds). I'm not really worried about seeing all the tourist stuff in London in 3 days, but I am worried about setting just the right itinerary for the Cotswolds. I hear Burford and Broadway are both beautiful places to stay, but I definitely want to see Oxford and Stratford (well, Oxford more so than Stratford, to be honest).

Is it recommended to stay in bigger cities like Oxford and Stratford and take day trips into villages like Burford and Broadway or stay in the villages and take day trips to the bigger towns? I suppose my biggest concern is transportation. I assume trains go into the bigger towns and I'd need a car or tour bus to get around the villages. So if I'm going to the North Cotswolds with all of my luggage, I might as well stay in Stratford. Maybe?

Currently, the plan looks something like this:

SATURDAY - Arrive in London midday, Night in London

SUNDAY - London tourist stuff, Night in London

MONDAY - Day trip to Windsor, Night in London

TUESDAY - Either head out to Stratford or Oxford and spend the night in one of those cities or pass straight through to Broadway or Burford and stay there

WEDNESDAY - Tour Oxford/Burford/Woodstock or Stratford/Broadway/Chipping

THURSDAY - Maybe a Train to Bath if already in Oxford/Burford area or to Oxford if in Stratford/Broadway area

FRIDAY - Tour whichever area I've ended up!

SATURDAY - Train back to London, Fly back to U.S.

As you can see, my plan is far from ready. Should Oxford just be a day trip from London before taking a train up to Stratford? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Oh, and my partner and I are two gay American men in our early 30's if that matters. I'd like to think these areas will be reasonably welcoming for friendly tourists such as ourselves!

west midlands
Level Contributor
202 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

hi there imo the north cotswolds is the best area for touring as nothing is very far, i would give stratford a miss if you are not to bothered and concentrate on the beautiful towns and villages of the area .. i love burford but you must not miss bourton on the water stow on the wold. broadway and the beautiful chipping campden all easy to do with a car .also fantastic small villages eg snowshill with the wonderful snowshill manor just out of broadwat then you could go to chipping campden ,stow and bourton on the water in that order then on to burford there are loads of other villages all around you will be spoilt for choice but i think these are the must dos stay in one of the towns of villages to get a feel for the area rather than oxford or stratford . the cotswolds are very welcoming and i am sure you will have no problem but will have a wonderful time regards

Leeds.West Yorks.
Level Contributor
600 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

Hi there,

I agree with the previous posting re: giving Stratford a miss and concentrate on the Cotswolds. To get the best out of your visit a car would be advisable then you're not tied to bus routes and timetables. You could happily visit Burford ( A MUST) Bourton, and Stowe in one day. Can recommend the Cotswold Gateway hotel in Burford, at least for a nice meal. Just opposite the hotel is a Travelodge which could be another option for your stay. Try to take in Woodstock and maybe Blenheim Palace.

I'm sure you will enjoy the area, but remember, it's a popular area with the Brits too, so it will be busy!

Enjoy !

Edited: 28 March 2011, 10:01
west midlands
Level Contributor
202 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

yes gateway is good

Oxfordshire
Level Contributor
2,617 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

If you plan to see any plays, there's a case for staying in Stratford.

Otherwise, it's completely the wrong place to stay. Mediocre public transport, ugly and sometimes tourist-choked town. For some people worth visiting: but no point at all in staying there.

Apart from Burford, Chipping Campden, Northleach, Stow on the Wold are all worth staying in: much prettier than Stratford and handier for where you want to be. Organised tours are difficult to find, and public transport requires a great deal of planning and organising (though many manage it, using the timetables at http://www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/userfiles/file/transport/northtt.winter2010.final.pdf).

I strongly recommend a car. Dealing with luggage en route to the Cotswolds/Oxford via Windsor is tricky, as is dealing with a car in Oxford. I'd suggest hiring a car at Heathrow, visiting Windsor, then going on to eg Burford (or wherever) and seeing the Cotswolds. Visit Oxford either from a Cotswold base (driving to, and parking at, Moreton in Marsh or Charlbury, then training in), or en route back to London, leaving your car at the Peartree P&R, visiting the city then busing back to Peartree to drive on.

Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
190 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

Here's my 2 cents worth as an American who lived in and toured the Cotswolds extensively from 1982 and more recently in 2009.

I lived outside Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water for several years, literally on top of a “Wold” and revisited in 2004 and 2009. Both are lovely but extremely crowded in early spring and summer. B&Bs are plentiful but reservations are recommended. Use TA to find some good B&Bs.

You are spoiled for choice in the Cotswolds; almost every village is worth visiting.

My personal recommendations for some slightly out of the mainstream villages would be Colne St. Aldwyns, Bibury and Fairford.

There is a 15th cent. church in Fairford with 28 windows relating the Bible from the Garden of Eden to the Last Judgment. The glass is from the 15 and 16th Cent. it's verry attractive and Fairford is worth exploring.

For my money the "Duntisbournes" capture what most Americans think of when they think of Cotworld villages.

Duntisbourne Abbots, Duntisbourne Leer, Middle Duntisbourne and Duntisbourne Rouse are located off the A417 a few miles northwest of Cirencester and are charming. They are best suited for a summer hike and the scenery is among the best in the Cotswolds, IMHO.

Edited: 29 March 2011, 07:39
TX
Level Contributor
5,715 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

Quite a timely recommendation (for me) by HaggisNscotch, as I've just started reading a murder mystery set in Duntisbourne Abbots! There are so many wonderful little villages that we didn't have an opportunity to explore during our recent Cotswold stay, and I'm already longing to return and experience more of the area. I completely agree with not staying in Stratford. It was alright to visit for a day, but we found ourselves eager to return to Bourton-on-the Hill after the hustle and bustle of the larger city. I'm guessing there's probably never really a time of year when the city is not overrun with tourists (and yes, I realize that WE too were tourists - just saying that we preferred our time spent among locals and found the smaller villages much more conducive to that sort of thing). We loved the quietude of Bourton-on-the Hill, which is only a couple of miles from the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh.

Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
190 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

Bajablonde,

can you tell me the name of the mystery? My wife and I love the Agatha Raisin mysteries by MC Beaton, which are mostly set in the Cotswolds but it sounds like you have a different one about murder in the Cotswold (very violent place, isn't it??).

west midlands
Level Contributor
202 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

hi just for your info m c beaton lived in blockley for a time and some of her books are set there although under a disguise

TX
Level Contributor
5,715 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

HaggisNscotch, thank you for mentioning the Agatha Raisin books! I'll definitely add them to my reading list. I'm currently reading "A Cotswold Killing" by Rebecca Tope and cannot put it down! Amazon.com reviewers only give it 2.5 stars, but they are clearly nuts, because it's an intriguing tale - made even more so to me because I can completely envision the setting! Here's the gist of the story:

"Nestled in the fertile hills of the Cotswolds, the village of Duntisbourne Abbots is a well-kept secret: beautiful, timeless and quintessentially English. When recently widowed Thea Osborne arrives to house-sit for a local couple, her only fear is that three weeks there might prove a little dull. Her first night's sleep at Brook View is broken by a piercing scream outside but she decides such things don't require investigation in a sleepy place like this. At least not until a body turns up... In calling on her neighbors to get some answers, Thea uncovers more tragedy and intrigue than she thought possible behind the peaceful Gloucestershire village. The first in a new series of thrillers to be set in the Cotswold area, A Cotswold Killing takes the reader on a tense journey along winding roads and muddy paths towards a dramatic and unexpected denouement."

Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
190 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Need help planning first trip to London and Cotswolds

If you throw Agatha Raisin, Morse and Agatha Christie's forage into Chipping Cleghorn into the mix it seems the west of England is quite a dangerous place to live.