Discover the Beauty of the Cotswolds Without a Car (2023)

cotswolds without a car
See the Cotswolds without a car? No problem

Get ready to soak up the beauty of the Cotswolds, that dreamy region in England. Think rolling hills, charming villages, and historic landmarks – it’s like stepping into a fairytale.

Now, here’s the exciting part – you don’t even need a car to have an epic time here. Lace up your walking shoes and hit the numerous trails that wind their way through this stunning region.

But hey, don’t worry if walking isn’t your thing. Hop on a bus or a train, and you’ll be whisked away to villages and towns without breaking a sweat.

Plus, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, many of the larger towns have bike rental services, so you can pedal your way through this enchanting region. Two wheels, endless possibilities!

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So, who needs a car? Let the adventures begin!

Another option for getting around the Cotswolds without a car is by public transportation. The area is well-served by buses and trains, making it easy to travel between villages and towns.

About The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is a picturesque region in south-central England, known for its rolling hills, charming villages, and historic architecture. It covers an area of about 800 square miles and is located roughly between Oxford to the east and Bath to the west, and many of its towns and villages date back to the Middle Ages.

In 1966, The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is protected by law to preserve its unique character and heritage. The region is known for its distinctive honey-colored limestone buildings, which are a common sight in many of its towns and villages.

With over 80 villages and parishes spread across the region and connected by main and secondary roads, you may think a car is needed to explore everywhere you want to go.

It’s possible to get around the Cotswolds without a car because there are public buses and trains, plenty of places to explore on foot and scenic trails offering stunning views of the countryside.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit

The Cotswolds is a beautiful place to visit all year round, but the best time to visit is from June to August. However, this is also the busiest time of the year, so expect crowds and higher prices.

If you prefer cooler weather and fewer crowds, visit in the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November). The winter months (December to February) can be cold and rainy, but you can enjoy the festive season with Christmas markets and other events.

[In December 2022, snow was recorded in many villages and while the main roads were gritted, the smaller roads were not.]

Itinerary Length

If you want to explore the Cotswolds area thoroughly, you’ll need at least three to four days. This will give you enough time to visit the charming villages, go on scenic walks, and enjoy the local cuisine.

Budgeting Your Trip

Accommodation can be pricey, especially during the peak seasons, but there are some real gems at wallet-friendly prices. There is a huge variance in what’s on offer for staying in the Cotswolds.

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Many attractions in the Cotswolds are free, such as walking trails and historic churches. However, some attractions require an admission fee, so plan accordingly. Overall, a budget of £50-£100 per day per person should be sufficient; cash and credit cards are widely accepted.

Public Transport in the Cotswolds

Bus Services

The Cotswolds has a good network of local bus services, which are operated by Stagecoach, Pulham & Sons, and other companies. The buses run frequently between the main towns and villages, and there are also some services that run to more remote areas.

Most bus services are operated on a Monday to Saturday basis, with a reduced service on Sundays and public holidays.

Train Services

The Cotswolds is served by several railway stations, which are operated by Great Western Railway. The main stations are at Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, and Moreton-in-Marsh, and there are also smaller stations at Kemble, Kingham, and other locations.

The fares vary depending on the distance travelled and the time of day, but they are generally affordable. It’s also possible to buy advance tickets, which can save money if you plan to travel on a specific date and time.

The train pricing and ticketing is notoriously complicated even for locals.

Taxi Services

There are many licensed taxi firms in the Cotswolds for single and multiple trip hire. See our guide to taxi services in the region.

Walking Tours in the Cotswolds

Guided Tours

Guided walking tours are a great way to explore the Cotswolds without a car. These tours typically range from half-day to multi-day excursions and are led by knowledgeable guides who can provide insights into the history, culture, and natural beauty of the region.

Some popular guided walking tours in the Cotswolds include the Cotswold Way National Trail, which covers 102 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath, and the England Way, which runs from Milford Common to Bourton-on-the-Water.

These tours often all inclusive with transportation, making them a convenient and hassle-free way to experience the Cotswolds.

vintage car ride
Want to visit the Cotswolds without a car? No problem. (Photo: Travel Cotswolds)

Self-Guided Tours

For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, self-guided walking tours are a great option. These tours typically provide detailed maps and route descriptions, as well as suggestions for accommodations, restaurants, and attractions along the way.

Whether you choose a guided or self-guided walking tour, the Cotswolds offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventure, cultural exploration, and relaxation. So grab your walking shoes and get ready to discover the beauty of this enchanting region on foot.

Cycling in the Cotswolds

Bike Rental

Cycling is a great way to explore the Cotswolds without a car. There are several bike rental options available in the area. Many bike rental shops offer a range of bikes, from standard road bikes to electric bikes. Prices vary depending on the type of bike and the rental period.

Cycling Routes

The Cotswolds is home to a variety of cycling routes, ranging from leisurely rides to challenging routes for experienced cyclists. The routes take you through beautiful countryside, quaint villages, and historic towns.

Another popular route is the Cotswold Water Park Cycle Route, which takes you through the Cotswold Water Park, a network of lakes and wetlands. The route is mostly flat and suitable for all levels of cyclists.

For experienced cyclists, the Cotswold Hills provide a challenging ride. The hills offer stunning views of the countryside and are a popular destination for cyclists.

Overall, cycling is a great way to explore the Cotswolds without a car. With a range of bike rental options and cycling routes available, there is something for everyone.

Eating And Drinking In The Cotswolds

Accommodation Options

When visiting the Cotswolds without a car, choosing the right accommodation is crucial. Luckily, there are plenty of options available, ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels.

One popular option is to stay in a traditional Cotswold stone cottage. These charming cottages are often located in picturesque villages and offer a cozy and authentic experience.

Another option is to stay in a bed and breakfast, which can provide a more personal touch and local insight.

Of course, this being the Cotswolds, the area is a haven for romantics! There are plenty of places to stay offering a chance to spend time together without having to travel far. Check out some romantic ways to spend your trip to the region

Local Cuisine

One of the highlights of staying in the Cotswolds is the opportunity to sample the delicious local cuisine. The region is known for its fresh, locally sourced ingredients and traditional dishes.

One must-try dish is the Cotswold lamb, which is raised on the rolling hills of the area and known for its tender and flavorful meat. Other popular dishes include Gloucestershire Old Spot pork, locally caught trout, and the famous double Gloucester cheese.

To fully experience the local cuisine, be sure to visit the many farm shops and farmers’ markets in the area. These offer a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses, as well as artisanal bread and pastries.

Overall, staying in the Cotswolds without a car can be a delightful experience, with plenty of accommodation options and delicious local cuisine to enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ways to explore the Cotswolds without a car?

The best ways to explore the Cotswolds without a car are by walking, cycling, or taking public transportation. The Cotswolds is a beautiful area with many scenic routes, and walking or cycling is a great way to see the countryside up close. Public transportation is also a good option, with buses and trains connecting many of the towns and villages in the area.

Where are the train stations located in the Cotswolds?

The main train stations in the Cotswolds are located in Cheltenham, Stroud, Moreton-in-Marsh, and Kemble. These stations are served by trains from London and other major cities in the UK. There are also smaller stations in other towns and villages in the area.

What is the best place to stay in the Cotswolds without a car?

The best place to stay in the Cotswolds without a car depends on your preferences and interests. If you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities, you may want to stay in a town or village that is close to walking and cycling routes. If you prefer to explore the local history and culture, you may want to stay in a larger town or city that has museums, galleries, and other attractions.

How do I get to the Cotswolds from London without a car?

You can get to the Cotswolds from London by train, bus, or coach. Trains run regularly from London Paddington to the Cotswolds, with stops at stations such as Moreton-in-Marsh and Cheltenham. Buses and coaches also run from London to the Cotswolds, with stops in towns and villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold.

Is it possible to see the Cotswolds without a car?

Yes, it is possible to see the Cotswolds without a car. There are many walking and cycling routes in the area, and public transportation is available to connect towns and villages. Some attractions, such as historic houses and gardens, may require a car or taxi to reach, but there are many other things to see and do that are accessible by foot or public transportation.

What are the transportation options for getting around the Cotswolds?

The transportation options for getting around the Cotswolds include buses, trains, taxis, and cycling. Buses and trains connect many of the towns and villages in the area, and taxis are available for hire. Cycling is also a popular option, with many scenic routes and cycle paths.

Enchantment Awaits
Enchantment Awaits

The Cotswolds region is home to many charming villages and towns, churches, historic landmarks, outdoor activities, in a beautiful part of England.

After visiting the region many times, we created the website dedicated to helping others plan their own trips to the Cotswolds.

Check out some great places to eat, including Where To Find Authentic French Food In The CotswoldsCheese, Glorious Cotswolds Local Cheese!Discovering the Delicious Delights of the Cotswolds, and our food and drink page.


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