3 Days In The Cotswolds: From Oxford to Bath

Advisor - Bethany Rinehart
Curated By

Bethany Rinehart

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  • England

  • Cotswolds

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Small Town

  • Architecture

  • Sightseeing

old buildings of a historic university
Curator’s statement

The Cotswolds is an area 2.5 hours west of London covering almost 800 square miles. It is a designated AONB or Area Of Natural Beauty. It's comprised of farmland and villages full of picturesque honey colored stone buildings that look like they are from a movie (and many of them literally are - think Downton Abbey). It's a lovely area full of character and small town charm.

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Where to stay

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Kings Head Hotel

Discover timeless charm and warm hospitality at Kings Head Hotel, where history meets luxury in a picturesque setting.

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Each one of the 45 charming and elegant rooms in this sophisticated, cozy English getaway housed on a lush, garden-laden estate in historic Bath has been individually designed to guarantee an exquisite, luxurious stay.

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  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Randolph Hotel, by Graduate Hotels

An elegant blend of history and modernity, offering a sophisticated stay with a touch of collegiate charm.

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Advisor - Bethany Rinehart

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Day 1: Oxford

The Divinity School is a medieval building and room where Harry Potter movie was shot.

Although not quite in the Cotswolds, there is much to explore in Oxford which is close to the eastern border of the Cotswolds.

Explore The Covered Market to explore over 50 independent shops, cafes and bars under 1 roof.

Head over towards Oxford University. University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is a beautiful church from the 11th century. Nearby is the Bodleian Library - don't miss the Radcliffe Camera -an iconic round building built in the mid 1700s that houses the science library - or the Divinity School with it's gorgeously ornate ceiling which you might recognize as the infirmary in Harry Potter.

Saint Michael At The North Gate is a historical Saxon Tower and offers a view of of the rooftops of Oxford.

Walk the grounds of Christ Church.

Experience traditional tea service at The Randolph Hotel. Don't miss out on the homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream!

The Ashmolean Museum is the University of Oxford's museum of art and archeology dating back to the late 1600s. Open daily and free admission.

For more history, check out Oxford Castle & Prison. England has no shortage of castles and this is the city's oldest building. You can also tour the 900 year old crypt and the prison.

Finish your day with dinner on the water at the Cherwell Boat House.

Day 2: Burford, Bourton on the Water, Bibury, Cirencester

quaint village on a small canal with cherry blossoms

Burford

The "Gateway to the Cotswolds" is often a first stop.

Go see Saint John The Baptist Church. Ornate word carvings & stained glass windows adorn this old church.

Grab some cheese and deli snacks at The Cotswold Cheese Company.

Visit Robert Reavley - the oldest pharmacy in England operating since 1734.

The Cotswold Wildlife Park & Garden is a short drive away and provides a family friendly park and more than 260 animal species.

Bourton on the Water

The "Venice of the Cotswolds", is one of the Cotswold's most famous and beautiful villages.

Walk along the River Windrush which winds thru the town and has 5 bridges to get you across.

Check out the quaint model village built of Cotswold stone or the Cotswold Toy & Motoring Museum that contains rare vehicles and classic memorabilia.

Visit the Cotswolds Distillery Shop.

Grab a sandwich or pastry at Bakery on the Water.

Bibury

Famed for being home to the iconic Arlington Row. Even if you don't know the name, chances are you have seen a picture of this charming street. This is a popular tourist destination so plan accordingly during peak travel seasons.
By now you're probably hungry so grab lunch at family run The Catherine Wheel.

Cirencester

Make your way to Cirencester, the "Capital of the Cotswolds" for the night.

Visit the Church of Saint John The Baptist (yes another one) which dates back to the 12th century.

Walk through Cotswolds Sculpture Park, Cirencester Park, Cerney House Gardens or explore the shops in town center.

Cirencester Amphitheater is one of the largest known examples surviving from the Roman occupation of Britain. You can see the earthwork remains of an amphitheater that was built to hold about 8000 people.

Go to Corn Hall and find unique items or artwork at the Indoor Market (on Fridays it is the Antiques and Collectables Market).

Grab a drink at The Fleece and dinner at Tierra & Mar or Malt & Anchor.

Day 3: Cirencester & Bath

The Roman Baths are well-preserved thermae in the city of Bath.

Finish up any sites in Cirencester that you didn't get to enjoy but don't delay long in heading to Bath, about 15 minutes south of Cirencester and the south end of the Cotswolds. Built for pleasure and relaxation dating back to the Roman times, Bath is a vibrant city to visit.

Number 1 priority for Bath is tour the Roman Baths. Once the site of one of the great religious spas of the ancient world; the people of Roman Britain came to the site to worship the goddess Sulis Minerva and bathe in the waters of the natural thermal springs, which still flow with hot water today. Tickets are required. Grab breakfast or afternoon tea in The Pump Room on site.

Next door, take in the gothic architecture of Bath Abbey. Then enjoy your own modern day version with a visit to Thermae Bath Spa, which houses the only natural thermal hot springs in Britain you can bathe in.

The Circus (a large ring of historic townhouses), the Royal Crescent (30 terraced houses laid out in a crescent) and Pulteney Bridge (one of 4 bridges in the world with shops across its full span on both sides) are the must see famed examples of Georgian architecture.

Sally Lunn's is a historic restaurant in one of the oldest houses in the city, famous for its Bath buns. The Raven is a great stop for hearty pub grub and a pint, or for fine dining check out The Chequers.

Additional days

old stone village on a canal in springtime

There are other amazing stops in the Cotswolds if you want to extend your stay, including Stow-on-the-Wold for shopping antiques, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter known for their beauty, or Castle Combe which boasts no new houses built since the 1600s and feels like a fairytale village.

Need to Know

The roads in the Cotswolds can be very narrow with no shoulders so drive with caution! (Especially since many of us are not used to driving on the left side of the road!)

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Long Weekend Retreat to Cartagena.

Advisor - Bethany Rinehart

Travel Advisor

Bethany Rinehart

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to England.