How to Get Around the Cotswolds Without a Car

How to Get Around the Cotswolds Without a Car

Touring the Cotswolds without a car can seem a challenge to start with but after some research, it can be surprisingly easy to get around without a car.

How do you get to Cotswolds without a car? Getting to the Cotswolds is quite easy from Bath, Oxford or London. Whether you decide to go by train, bus, coach or book a tour there are several ways you can succeed in getting to the Cotswolds.

To help with the process here is a useful guide to getting around the Cotswolds without a car.

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Getting Around the Cotswolds Without a Car

There are a few ways to get around the Cotswolds without a car by either catching the train, bus, coach or book a tour.

Whatever your reason for not wanting to drive in England it can be an enjoyable experience not driving. The ability to be able to read, enjoy, take in the countryside or just not have the additional stress can add to the holiday vibes.

The only downside is that you have to keep an eye on the time and how long it will take you to get to the train station or bus stop to catch the next train or bus on your journey.

Some towns that are harder to visit without a car so keep in mind that you might not get to all the places that are on your list or require a few exchanges.

Easiest Way to Get to the Cotswolds is Starting in Oxford

Christ Church in Oxford England
Christ Church in Oxford

Getting to Oxford is actually very straightforward and it is well worth starting your Cotswolds trip with some time in Oxford. 

The university town of Oxford is famously known as the town of the dreaming spires. 

The university does dominate the centre of Oxford with its beautiful buildings showcasing stunning architecture. 

Book lovers will head to Blackwells the famous academic bookseller and Harry Potter fans will be in their element in central Oxford (see 10 Places to visit in England outside of London). 

There are plenty of green spaces to explore in Oxford and the outskirts on every side feature some beautiful areas to explore as well. 

Oxford Cotswolds by Bus

There is a shuttle bus service called The Airline from the Oxford Bus Company that runs from to and from London Heathrow to Oxford 44 times a day, making Oxford a very good option for anyone travelling from overseas and planning to tour or stay in the Cotswolds.  Advance booking is recommended.

There is also a regular bus service that runs from Bristol International Airport to Oxford several times a day by National Express.

Once at Oxford there are buses that go on to many of the Cotswold towns with stops in the villages on the way.

Oxford Cotswolds by Train

Paddington Train Station London
Paddington Train Station

Once in Oxford, there are good train links to lots of Cotswolds locations and it is well worth checking out a train timetable to see the options available. For example, you can go on to Moreton-in Marsh, Cam and Dursley or Bath stations.

You can use the Cotswolds Discoverer by Rail Pass for GWR trains between Oxford and Moreton-in-Marsh.

Getting to Oxford there are trains from Birmingham, Bristol, London and many other locations.

The best way to get train tickets is by using National Rail Enquiries or Trainline. This applies to all the routes that are mentioned in this article. If you know the company operating these routes you can also buy directly from the train company.

Birmingham – Oxford

The train journey from Birmingham has no changes and takes one hour and seven or one hour and eight minutes.

Bristol Temple Meads – Oxford

Around one hour and twenty minutes with one change from Bristol Temple Meads.

London Marylebone – Oxford

Trains take from an hour to an hour and a half with no changes on some options.

London Paddington – Oxford

London Paddington to Oxford is from under an hour to just over an hour and tickets can be picked up very cheaply too.

London to Cotswolds by Bus

There is a daily National Express coach from London to Bourton-on-the-Water and hourly coaches direct from London Victoria to Cheltenham in the Cotswolds.

London to Cotswolds by Train

London to the Cotswolds by train is surprisingly easy; all you have to do is get to Paddington Station or Marylebone Station!  Okay, okay, it helps to know whereabouts in the Cotswolds that you want to go to.  Here are some options:

London Paddington – Bath Spa

Bath Spa from London Paddington can be done in as little as 1 hour 19 minutes with typical journeys all being below an hour and a half. There are no changes.

London Paddington – Stroud

Trains leave every hour throughout the day for Stroud and takes 1 hour and 28 minutes. There are no changes.

London Paddington – Gloucester

Travel times vary and the longer journey time actually takes longer, so choose your train time wisely.  Travel time tends to be between 1 hour and 46 minutes and 2 hours and 19 minutes.  As well as costing less the 1 hour 46 option also has no changes, making it the obvious choice.

London Paddington – Cheltenham Spa

There are various timing option and change options to go to Cheltenham from London.  The quickest is 1 hour 50 minutes with a change at Bristol Parkway, but the simplest is the slightly longer journey time of 1 hour 59 minutes with no changes.

London Paddington – Dursley (Cam & Dursley)

Travel times are between 1 hour 53 minutes and 2 hours and 23 minutes with a change at Bristol Parkway or Gloucester depending on which option you choose.

London Paddington – Moreton in Marsh

Most train journeys from London Paddington to Morton-in-Marsh take 1 hour and 29 minutes without any changes.

London Marylebone – Moreton-in-Marsh

Most trains take about an hour and three quarters from Marylebone with a change at Oxford for Moreton-in-Marsh.

UK to Cotswolds

If starting out from somewhere else then National Express coaches offer coaches to the Cotswolds from lots of locations and if you prefer of course trains link up with a bit of planning, if you can get a train to London or Oxford then you can get to the Cotswolds.

Car Service London to Cotswolds

One of the leading taxi and tour companies in the Cotswolds, Cotswold Executive Cabs not only offer individual tours of the Cotswolds area, but they will also collect you from London or London Airports to take you to your Cotswold destination.

Car Tours Around the Cotswolds

Groups of up to 8 people can book a dedicated tour guide/chauffeur to guide you around the Cotswolds at your own pace and to see the things you want to see. 

The companies sometimes offer their preferred set routes, but where you stop and how long you stay is up to your group of friends or family. 

This can be a very useful way to take an easier option for a day in the middle of a walking and public transport tour or if you prefer you could hire a chauffeur for the whole time. 

Cotswolds Discovery Pass

A brilliant way to get about in the Cotswolds is to use the Cotswolds Discovery Pass that is accepted by trains and most bus companies. 

You simply buy a pass per day and hop on and off where you want to. 

Using the Cotswolds hop on hop off bus system is a great way to see and explore villages and other beautiful things that you may not otherwise have known about. 

It is also a great way to meet some of the local people, which is always the absolute best way to find out about the best places to visit, eat at and so on. 

The tickets can be bought up to 3 months in advance from a train station or from the bus on the day.  Buses that offer the Cotswold Discovery Pass are Stagecoach, Pulhams, Johnsons Excelbus and Swanbrook.

Cotswolds by Tour

Tours are the easiest option when visiting the Cotswolds. The trip is pre-planned so all you need to do is rock up to the pick-up point and be guided around the Cotswolds.

The only negative is that you won’t get off the beaten path but you will have someone knowledgable give you facts about the places you are visiting.

Tours can be anything from a day trip to a few days. Trips will leave from Bath, Oxford or London, here are some options:

Day Trips From London to the Cotswolds

Each tour leaves between 7:45 to 9:15 am, are roughly 10 to 12 hours and have English guides. Meeting points are normally near Victoria station but ensure you check beforehand so you don’t miss your tour!

Oxford and Cotswolds villages day trip highlights:

  • Visit one of the oldest English speaking universities – Oxford and you’ll get a peek inside Great Hall at Christ Church College.
  • Explore the traditional villages of the Cotswolds.
  • Visit Minster Lovell Hall and charming town of Bibury.

Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon, Cotswolds and Warwick highlights:

  • The day will start in the beautiful Cotswolds towns which are the highlight of the trip!
  • Next visit the Medieval Warwick Castle, which was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068.
  • On the third stop, you will visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford Upon Avon.
  • Lastly, Oxford. A jam-packed day of sightseeing!

Stonehenge, Stratford, Bath & Cotswolds 

  • Visit the prehistoric monument Stonehenge.
  • Walkthrough the beautiful Bath before taking a scenic drive through the picturesque Cotswolds.
  • Discover Stratford-upon-Avon where you will visit Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall.

Day Trips From From Bath to the Cotswolds

Kat and family at Pulteney Bridge
Kat and family at Pulteney Bridge in Bath

Tours are between 8 to 9 hours which depart from various locations in Bath.

Cotswold Discovery Tour highlights:

  • This tour will allow you to visit the classic and famous Cotswolds towns. The list includes Castle Combe, Malmesbury, Bibury, Arlington Row, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-World and Tetbury.

Stonehenge, Salisbury and the Cotswolds day tour highlights:

  • The tour starts with Stonehenge before going South to Salisbury to visit the Cathedral City.
  • Next is visiting some of the best Costwolds towns! On the agenda is Lacock, Biddestone, and Castle Combe.

Day Trips From From Oxford to the Cotswolds

Tours depart from the Oxford visitors centre and are typically around 7 hours.

Cotswolds Towns and Villages small group tour highlights:

  • Like the Bath version, this tour covers all the best Cotswolds towns. This includes Great Tew, Stow-on-the-Wold Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” and Burford.
  • You will also explore the valley of the River Windrush and discover amazing villages such as Swinbrook and Asthall.

Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace with pub lunch highlights:

  • Nothing beats having a pub lunch at one of the Cotswold’s finest pubs – this has to be on the bucket list!
  • Explore the stunning Blenheim Place and Gardens, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
  • And we can’t forget the main reason for your trip which is visiting the villages! The tour includes Burford, Bibury, Bourton-on the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold.

Longer Trips From London to the Cotswolds

These tours are run by Rabbie’s and pick up location will change depending on the package you choose.

Cotswolds, Bath, and Oxford: 2-Day Tour from London highlights:

  • Spend more time exploring Bath and the Cotswolds – cover all the best highlights.
  • Admire the ancient stone circle of Avebury, a World Heritage Site.

Oxford and The Cotswolds: 3-Day Small-Group Tour highlights:

  • Visit the birthplace of Winston Churchill the beautiful Blenheim Place.
  • A dedicated afternoon exploring Stratford-Upon-Avon the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
  • Get as close to the medieval ages as possible at Warwick Castle.
  • Explore the university city of Oxford.
  • And of course, discover England’s beautiful Cotswold villages.

Finally:

Whatever type of Cotswolds trip you want, it is easy to get around without a car. Yes, you have to manage your time carefully. 

Maybe pack a bit less stuff if you are going to be walking from the train station or bus stop to that dream accommodation you have booked, but The Cotswolds without a car independently is very, very possible and a lot of fun.

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