5 Day Cotswolds Road Trip Itinerary: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction

This 5 day Cotswolds road trip itinerary based on starting from Heathrow Airport and have included maps for each day so you easily click and see what else is in the surrounding areas.

The Cotswolds is a picturesque region of England that is known for its rolling hills, quaint villages, and stunning countryside views.

Taking a road trip through the area is one of the best ways to explore it, as you can take your time and enjoy all the sights along the way.

The benefit of taking a road trip in this part of England is that you get to see all the hidden gems scattered throughout this rural landscape – from traditional pubs and charming churches to ancient castles and historic sites.

I’ve driven through the Cotswolds many times, taking time to explore the beautiful countryside and coming across quaint villages and towns along the way.

This is the best way to travel through the region partly because public transport to remote areas is non-existent but mainly for the freedom and the stop and go flexibility.

Please note the UK takes driving while using a mobile device and drinking and driving extremely seriously (see this under Practical Information at the end of this guide).

Let’s get stuck in to our 5 day Cotswold road trip itinerary.

Day 1: Cirencester and Surrounding Areas

Day 1 of our 5 day Cotswolds road trip itinerary begins at Heathrow Airport. Plug in the destination to your GPS.

Head to Cirencester via the M4 and A419, a journey of around two hours. The route takes you through picturesque countryside, including the rolling hills and quintessential villages of the Cotswolds, which are renowned for their charm and beauty.

Upon arrival in Cirencester, there are several must-see attractions worth exploring.

Start by visiting the Corinium Museum, which tells the story of Cirencester’s Roman past. The town was once the second-largest Roman settlement in Britain, and the museum is home to an impressive collection of mosaics, sculptures, and artifacts from this period.

Next, take a stroll around the town centre and explore Cirencester’s picturesque market square, which is surrounded by elegant Georgian buildings.

The town has a rich wool heritage, and you can learn more about this at the town’s wool church, St. John the Baptist. Built in the 12th century, the church is home to some beautiful carvings and fine examples of woolen tapestries.

For lunch, Cirencester has many eateries and must-try classic British pub cuisine, such as a hearty pie or fish and chips.

In the afternoon, head to the Cotswold Water Park, which is just a short drive from the town. The park is home to over 180 lakes and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and water sports.

Day 2: Chipping Campden and Broadway

Day 2 of our Cotswolds road trip itinerary, involves driving from Cirencester to the charming market town of Chipping Campden. The drive takes around an hour and a half via the A429, passing through some wonderful countryside along the way.

Once you arrive in Chipping Campden, explore its winding streets, admire the fine architecture and take in the impressive views from Dover’s Hill.

This historic market town is known for its wool trade, with many of the buildings dating back to the 14th century when it was an important trading centre.

You can find out more about the history of Chipping Campden at The Court Barn Museum. Here, you’ll learn all about how this small area became one of Europe’s great centres for weaving cloth.

Afterwards, stop off at one of Chipping Campden’s lovely tea rooms or pubs for a bite to eat before continuing your journey to Broadway – another pretty Cotswolds village that is just a short drive away.

Broadway is known for its charming high street with a selection of independent shops, galleries and eateries and it’s nice to wander around and see a slice of yesterday Britain today.

For accommodation in Broadway, you have plenty of options to choose from.

The Lygon Arms is one of the town’s most luxurious hotels, dating back to the 16th century and offering delightful rooms, fine dining, and a spa. There’s also The Broadway Hotel, a delightful family-run establishment with an excellent restaurant.

There are bed & breakfast, self-catering and camping options available, but book early to avoid disappointment!

As you explore Broadway, don’t forget to take in some of its impressive panoramic views on Broadway Hill (a short drive from the town).

Day 3: Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water

For Day 3 or our Cotswolds road trip itinerary, make your way to the picturesque village of Bibury, which is just over an hour away via the A44. Parking here is limited.

Set on the banks of the River Coln, this charming village has remained unchanged since William Morris described it as “the most beautiful village in England” in 1876.

Visit Arlington Row – a series of weavers’ cottages that date back to the 14th century and are now a protected National Trust property. You can also explore Bibury Trout Farm, where you can get up close with some fantastically coloured trout.

Continue your journey to Bourton-on-the-Water, which is just a short drive away. This charming village is known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ because of its picturesque bridges and canals.

Explore Bourton-on-the-Water’s many attractions, such as the Motor Museum, Birdland Park and Gardens, and The Model Village (interestingly, this has Grade II listed status).

If you have time, take in some of the stunning views of Cleeve Hill which is known for its panoramic views of the Cotswolds. Another great place for views and walking is Leckhampton Hill.

Accommodation in Bourton-on-the-Water includes The Old New Inn, which is one of the oldest pubs in the Cotswolds and offers traditional rooms and delicious food.

Day 4: Stow-on-the-Wold and Lower Slaughter

Continuing our Cotswolds road trip itinerary, Day 4 takes us from Bourton-on-the-Water to Stow-on-the-Wold and Lower Slaughter.

The drive takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes via the A424, so you should have plenty of time to stop off at some attractions along the way. You’ll see plenty of stunning views of The Cotswolds’ rolling hills and valleys as you go.

On arrival in Stow-on-the-Wold, it’s worth taking a stroll around the centre of town – which is known for its ancient buildings dating back thousands of years. Pay particular attention to The Market Cross, which marks the centre of town and was first mentioned in 1685.

Visit St Edward’s Church – originally built in 1107 – to admire its impressive architecture, or take a walk around Chastleton House. This Jacobean manor house dates back to 1607 and offers wonderful views over the Cotswolds countryside.

Lower Slaughter is just a short drive away and is another beautiful village worth exploring.

Whilst in Lower Slaughter, you can visit the picturesque Mill and Weir, wander through the pretty gardens at The Old Porch House or explore Lower Slaughter Manor with its traditional 16th-century buildings.

There are some relaxing riverside walks and to spot an abundance of wildlife that calls this area home and beautiful meadows to see.

For accommodation, try The Slaughters Inn or Lords of the Manor.

Day 5: Batsford Arboretum and Burford

On the last day of our Cotswold road trip itinerary, we drive from Lower Slaughter to Batsford Arboretum and Burford.

The route to Batsford Arboretum takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes via the A424, so you should have plenty of time to make stops along the way.

When you arrive at Batsford Arboretum, take a peaceful woodland walk through the stunning gardens – with over 3,000 trees, shrubs and plants from all around the world.

Enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful nature reserve as you wander through its mature woodlands and meadows in 55 acres of parkland and beautiful views over the Evenlode Valley.

From here, take the A40 to Burford, a charming market town known for its independent shops and art galleries and delicious afternoon teas.

Stroll through the streets of the town and take in some of its traditional Cotswold stone buildings and visit The Royal Oak run by John, Jeanette and Harry, for lunch or dinner where you can sample some classic British pub food–with a modern twist–in a warm and cosy venue.

Take some time to explore Burford’s stunning countryside and visit the nearby hilltop village of Bampton, which featured as Downton Village in many episodes of Downton Abbey.

Drive ON

And there you have it, our 5 day Cotswolds Road Trip Itinerary.

Five days of exploring the beauty of this picturesque region, with plenty of opportunities to sample hearty British pub food, explore stunning countryside and even catch a glimpse of Downton Abbey.

Don’t forget to drive safely and responsibly – respecting speed limits, being aware of the weather conditions and not making calls or using your phone while driving – and you will have an unforgettable road trip in the Cotswolds!

So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends or family, pack your bags, plan and hit the roads for an amazing road trip in one of England’s most spectacular regions.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing break away from daily life or an action-packed adventure full of activities and sightseeing, the Cotswolds has it all!

Read on for some must-know practical information that may be useful to know when driving in the UK.

Practical Information

Driving around the Cotswolds is a great way to see and stay in this beautiful part of England.

Here are some useful tips:

Call 999 In Emergency

In case of emergency, call 999. You can also contact the local tourist information centres for assistance in finding nearby medical facilities.

Weather

For safety, monitor the weather, as some roads can become flooded or even blocked during heavy rain. Several times I’ve encountered fog. In the winter, there is a risk of snow and the main roads will get gritted, but the minor roads will not.

Speed Limits

Please be aware of the speed limits when you are on the roads and be careful at night for wildlife crossing the roads, and local drivers who know the roads very well.

Fuel

Check the nearest petrol station. This sounds Captain Obvious, but if you’re staying or driving to a remote village, you may have to drive half an hour from your lodgings just to reach a petrol station. You have to pump your own fuel, then pay with credit card, debit card or cash inside the petrol station shop.

For electric car charging, check ahead if your accommodation offers this or the nearest charging station.

UK Law – Driving and Mobile Phones

Pay attention to the law regarding driving and mobile phones.

Under UK law, it’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle.

This means you must not use a device in your hand for any reason, whether online or offline. For example, you must not text, make calls, take photos or videos, or browse the web.

The law still applies to you if you’re:

  • stopped at traffic lights
  • queuing in traffic
  • supervising a learner driver
  • driving a car that turns off the engine when you stop moving
  • holding and using a device that’s offline or in flight mode

Exceptions

You can use a device held in your hand if:

  • you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • you’re safely parked
  • you’re making a contactless payment in a vehicle that is not moving, for example at a drive-through restaurant
  • you’re using the device to park your vehicle remotely
  • Using devices hands-free
  • You can use devices with hands-free access, as long as you do not hold them at any time during usage.

Hands-free access means using, for example:

  • a Bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav
  • The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

UK Law – Drinking and Driving

Read here about the penalties associated with drinking and driving. You can be fined, imprisoned, have your license taken away, be awarded points, instructed to take a driving course, banned or a combination of penalites. This doesn’t matter if you are a tourist driving in the UK. Make sure you bring your driving license and international license if visiting the UK and intending to drive.

If you liked this Cotswold road trip itinerary, take a look at www.travelcotswolds.com for information about towns and villages found in the Cotswolds. We do not receive any compensation for any links you click on in this article. This site is ad supported.

Scroll to Top