This post's overview:
- 1 Do you need a car to get to these beautiful English villages in Autumn?
- 2 Where to park in the most beautiful villages near London (and how difficult is it to find a parking spot in Autumn)
- 3 The most beautiful villages to visit in Autumn (near London)
- 4 The most beautiful English villages in Autumn: the prettiest Cotswolds villages
- 5 Summary of the most beautiful villages in Autumn (near London)
- 6 Some other posts you might find useful
Hi guys, in this post, I wanted to share with you the most beautiful villages to visit in England this Autumn (or Fall, however you call it)! Most of these villages are located near London (or more or less near, but in any case, it’s possible to visit them on a day trip from London).
If you’re new to this blog, my name is Liza. I’m a Digital Marketing professional with a 9-5 job and a strong passion for photography, videography and travel. Together with my partner Pepe, we’ve been exploring the UK (and the world) from London. We mainly focus on day trips and weekend trips, and we love nature and charming villages. To access our latest London and UK content, click here!
Do you need a car to get to these beautiful English villages in Autumn?
If you own a car already, just skip this part. Suppose you’re visiting London or you simply don’t have a car and prefer to rent one from time to time. In that case, I recommend using Rentalcars.com. Before we bought our own car, we were always using these two in the UK and never had any issues.
I recommend renting a car at the airport, as renting in the city is usually a bit more expensive (or sometimes 2x-3x more expensive). Even if it means you need to wake up early and head to *most probably* Heathrow, the price difference will be massive. If you’re heading West or North, rent your car in Heathrow. If you’re heading South or South-West, Gatwick would be a fabulous option.
However, you don’t actually need a car to visit a lot of these villages (I will let you know, which ones would require a car) – you can get to a lot of them using trains and buses. I recommend buying train tickets in advance and I always use Trainline for that!
Where to park in the most beautiful villages near London (and how difficult is it to find a parking spot in Autumn)
Another commonly asked question is where to park in English villages in Autumn (and not in Autumn as well). Sometimes, parking can be an absolute nightmare, especially during busy times and in places like the Cotswolds. I recommend researching parking options in advance and in some busy towns, perhaps, it’s better to come there for a weekend instead, leave the car at the hotel and just walk between villages.
Bigger villages usually have plenty of parking spaces or a designated parking lot. Make sure to bring some coins with you, as some parking machines are old and only accept coins (no notes and no cards, yes, it can be frustrating).
However, in Autumn, there are usually not as many tourists as during summer months or on bank holidays, which is yet another reason to visit England’s most beautiful villages in Autumn!
Alright, without further ado, let’s get started with the most beautiful places to visit in England this Autumn (that are near London)
The most beautiful villages to visit in Autumn (near London)
My personal favourite from this list of the most charming villages to visit in Autumn is Lacock. Lacock looks too beautiful to be true – it’s a village straight from a movie set. Maybe, for this reason, there are so many movies and TV series that were filmed in Lacock, from Harry Potter to The Downtown Abbey. Lacock is very small, however, if you visit the Abbey as well, you can easily spend a couple of hours in this village.
The food is also great there! We had dinner in “The Sign of Angel”, a 15th-century restaurant, which was so unique and so cosy inside. I recommend booking a table in advance here.
There is no train station in Lacock, so your best bet is taking a train to Chippenham and then taking a bus X34 to Lacock. The bus doesn’t go very often, so make sure to check the schedule in advance.
Alternatively, you can drive (like we did) or take one of the tours from London that visit multiple destinations including Lacock, like this tour to Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath and Lacock or this tour to Bath, Avebury and Lacock.
Another stunning picture-perfect village is Shaftesbury. Often featured as the place with the most beautiful street in England (Gold Hill), Shaftesbury is another small village, located roughly 2.5 hours driving from London.
Shaftesbury is stunning in Autumn! However, I think it’s not worth a trip if you just want to visit Shaftesbury – I would combine it with some other beautiful places nearby. For example, we managed to combine Shaftesbury with Lacock and Salisbury in one day.
It’s somewhat difficult to get there by public transport – you would need to take a train to Gillingham and then take a bus that only goes a couple of times a day, and the total journey time for just a one-way ride is over 8 hours, so to go there, you definitely need a car!
One of the prettiest villages in England is located a very short drive away from West London. Shere is a village, where The Holiday movie was filmed (remember that iconic movie about home swap with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law?). Shere is a quintessential English village with a couple of cosy pubs and beautiful countryside all around.
To get there, grab a train to Guildford and then a bus or two trains (one to Guildford, another to Gomshall and then walk for 20 minutes).
Amberley is one of the villages that impressed me the most from this list. That’s because almost all houses in Amberley have thatched roofs! That’s what makes it very different from other villages in this list. It’s not as touristy as Shere, Lacock or any of the villages in Cotswolds. Still, it’s very unique and very beautiful. In the heart of the village, there is also a very cool pub – Black Horse (it gets busy, so makes sense to book it in advance, if you’re visiting for lunch or dinner).
There are actually quite a few things to do near Amberley, e.g. Amberley Museum, there is also a very beautiful Castle transformed into a luxury hotel, where you can stay overnight. Arundel Castle is just around the corner as well!
Amberley has a train station, so getting there is not very difficult, you can take a direct train from London Victoria station, and you will be in Amberley in less than 90 minutes.
Rye is one of the most beautiful villages to visit in England and not just in Autumn, however, it’s especially pretty in Autumn! Rye is much larger than all the aforementioned locations and is actually worth a single trip just to visit Rye (without combining it with other locations). Rye used to be a smuggler’s village, – you can still find a network of underground tunnels in Rye. Rye’s main street (Mermaid Street) can be a strong rival to Gold Hill from Shaftesbury in terms of beauty and could be also considered one of the most beautiful streets in England.
Two most famous pubs in Rye are The Mermaid Inn and The Ship Inn, however, there are also a couple of nice tea rooms and lots of different shops and stores.
You can get to Rye in around 90 minutes from London with an interchange in Ashford, which might be even faster than driving depending on where you are based in London.
Dedham is the most beautiful village in Essex and one of the prettiest places to visit in Autumn. It used to be a very rich wool-manufacturing village with a large market. A lot of famous people lived in Dedham as well, e.g. John Constable and Sir Alfred Munnings. Dedham is a very small village, however, it’s perfect for taking photos – there are a lot of Tudor-style houses of different colours, from pink to green. However, Dedham is very small and it would be great to combine it with other places nearby, for example, England’s oldest city, Colchester!
Getting to Dedham by public transport is a bit difficult, so if you decide to visit, I recommend driving there.
England’s most famous village for oysters, Whitstable is popular all year long, however, it’s especially pretty in October on a chilly and sunny day. Crowds of tourists will be gone and you can enjoy quieter Whitstable and actually enjoy it a lot.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants and it’d a great place for a day trip from London, as you can easily spend 4-5 hours there, walking around, eating and exploring the town.
Getting to Whitstable is pretty easy – take a train to Canterbury and hop on a regular bus to Whitstable or grab a bus directly to Whitstable (National Express). You can also drive there in less than 1.5 hours.
Warwick is slightly bigger than a village, it’s actually a town and a capital of a county (Warwickshire), so there are plenty of things to do there. Warwick Castle might be the most famous landmark in Warwick – you can buy the tickets here. There are also a few walking trails around Warwick, an Alpaca farm in a nearby town called Kenilworth and a few very beautiful medieval streets.
It’s very easy to get to Warwick, there are regular trains that go there from London Marylebone station.
Another wonderful location to visit in Autumn is Winchester, a very small cathedral city in the South of England. Winchester has a stunning cathedral and a very beautiful Christmas Market. It usually starts running in November and in my opinion, it would be the best time to visit Winchester!
Winchester has a large Old Town and it would take a few hours to explore all what it has to offer!
Getting to Winchester by public transport is super easy – the train from Waterloo takes less than an hour.
Castleton, Peak District
Our next location is located slightly further away from London, but it’s still doable in a day trip from London. Castleton is one of the prettiest villages in Peak District. It would take around 3 hours to get there from North London when there is no traffic and you can combine the visit to Peak District with Castleton village. Some of the best hikes in Peak District are located near Castleton!
We loved Castleton because of its old stone houses and dramatic landscapes around it. It looks stunning in Autumn, especially around middle October to late November.
Getting to Castleton by public transport is a bit problematic. I recommend hiring a car and driving there instead.
The most beautiful English villages in Autumn: the prettiest Cotswolds villages
Cotswolds is a wonderful destination for autumn colours and some of the most beautiful villages and towns in England. It has so many stunning villages that I created a separate section of this article dedicated to just Cotswolds villages like Bibury and Castle Combe. While it’s certainly possible to drive to Cotswolds for one day and see a few of the most stunning villages, you can also go there on a weekend trip and combine Bath and Cotswolds in one trip. You can read more about the proposed itinerary in my article about a weekend in Bath and Cotswolds by car.
Exploring the Cotswolds without car is possible, but might be a little problematic as buses don’t run too often between different villages. However, if you head to one of the larger towns (there are direct trains from London to Moreton-in-Marsh and some other places), there might be 1-2 buses that you can take and visit 2-3 villages in one day! Some villages are located so close to each other that you can actually walk there and do not need to take a bus. For example, it’s super easy to walk to The Slaughters from Bourton-on-the-Water.
There are also quite a few tours you can take that will bring you to some of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds. I can recommend these two tours:
Where to stay in Cotswolds if you decide to spend a weekend there
If you realise that you want to see more than 2 or 3 villages in the Cotswolds, I suggest staying there overnight. Cotswolds has some of the best hotels and guesthouses in England, from some really luxurious ones like The Slaughters Country Inn and Cotswold Grange to cosy guesthouses and B&Bs like The Old Brewhouse and Cotswold Garden Tea Rooms.
In no particular order, here are some of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds to visit this Autumn:
Probably the most touristy village of all, Bourton-on-the-Water has a lot of things to offer, from nice restaurants to some really lovely shops and even museums. Bourton-on-the-Water is absolutely stunning in Autumn – we saw it twice in Autumn, once on a sunny day and another time when it was very foggy and it looked charming on both occasions.
Stow-in-the-Wold is famous for its stunning church in the heart of the village and an ancient tree next to it. A lot of people search for the “village in Cotswolds where the famous tree is located” and that’s Stow-in-the-Wold. Besides there tree, you can find there many nice cute shops and one of the best tea rooms in Cotswolds!
Broadway is probably the best village in Cotswolds for shops – there are so many there! Broadway is also quite different compared to most of villages in the Cotswolds because it doesn’t have a compact village centre. Instead, it looks like one very long beautiful street!
Bibiry is a picture-perfect English village that is so small that it’s very hard to find parking there unless you arrive by 9am on the weekend. Bibury doesn’t have much to see and do except for a couple of walks nearby. However, it’s probably the second best village in the Cotswolds for photos! If you’re wondering, which village is the best for photos, that would be our next entry, Castle Combe!
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Castle Combe is the most beautiful village in Cotswolds and the best for photos as well. It looks equally stunning on a sunny day and on a rainy one. It’s very small, however, there are a few walks that you can take nearby! Finding a parking there is also a challenge, unless you park relatively far from the village.
Upper & Lower Slaughters
Upper & Lower Slaughters are two villages located very close to each other, just a short walk away. As mentioned before, you can actually walk there from Bourton-on-the-Water, especially if the weather is nice. These two villages are tiny but very good for photos, especially in the middle of October – to early November, when the leaves are yellow and the Autumn is in full swing.
Cirencester is definitely not a village, it’s a small town, but it’s huge compared to other villages in the Cotswolds. There are quite a few hotels there and a lot of people stay overnight in Cirencester if they decide to make the day trip to Cotswolds a weekend trip. Cirencester has a lot of ancient buildings, quite a few cafes and restaurants. Every Monday and Friday, you can find a Charter market at the heart of the town and every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, there is a farmers market on the main square. You can find the schedule of the markets here.
Finally, last but not least, Chipping Norton looks best when it’s a little bit foggy. An old market town, Chipping Norton still has a large market square and a lot of beautiful buildings. There are quite a few nice tea rooms around the village as well.
Summary of the most beautiful villages in Autumn (near London)
I hope you enjoyed this article about the most beautiful villages to visit in England in Autumn that are close to London. All these villages look stunning when Autumn is in full swing! There are quite a few stunning villages in Cotswolds that you should definitely visit in Autumn – of course, it won’t be possible to visit all of them in one day, but perhaps, you can stay in Cotswolds overnight and explore them.