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Weekend in Bath and Cotswolds: 3-day road trip itinerary

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Weekend in Bath and Cotswolds: 3-day road trip itinerary
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Hi guys, in this post, I wanted to share with you our itinerary for a weekend in Bath and Cotswolds. On this 3-day road trip, we managed to see beautiful Bath and most of the popular and photogenic villages in Cotswolds. If you’re interested in our road trip itinerary and planning to spend 2-3 days in Bath and Cotswolds as well, this post is for you!

If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza. I love exploring the UK one weekend at a time. On Tripsget, I write about combing a full-time job in London with travelling and focus a lot on weekend trips in Europe. As Europe is still pretty much closed, together with my partner, we decided to explore more of the UK, especially some places where we wanted to go for a long time but didn’t have a chance to. If you’re interested in my other posts about travelling in the UK, head here!

Alright, here’s the table of contents with what you can expect to see in this post!

Is there a way to visit Cotswolds without a car?

A lot of people have been asking me whether there is a way to visit Cotswolds without a car. Well, technically, you can, but it will be very time consuming and inconvenient. Most of the villages don’t have train stations nearby, but there are buses that connect the villages. However, the routes are often very limited, and gaps between buses can be huge.

You can, of course, buy a day tour from London, Oxford or Bath – that tour would bring you to some of the best villages in Cotswolds, however, if you want to travel independently and decide, which places you actually want to visit, I recommend hiring a car.

In 2017, we went to Cotswolds for just 1 day, and we rented a car in Heathrow through Rentalcars.com. Quite often, we also rent through Avis. A few months ago, we bought a car, so right now we don’t need to hire cars anymore, but when going abroad, we still rent through Rentalcars.com.

Weekend in Bath and Cotswolds: 3-day road trip itinerary

Our itinerary for a weekend in Bath and Cotswolds: Bath and Cotswolds in one trip

Alright, let’s start with our road trip itinerary for Cotswolds and Bath in one trip. We started our journey in London, as we live and work there. We left London on Friday evening after work, but if you have an opportunity to take a day, off, I definitely recommend it. You can spend more time in Bath or in Cotswolds and will probably get less tired.

Here’s our itinerary in a nutshell:

1.5 days in Bath

Castle Combe

Tetbury

Night in Thames Head Inn

Bibury

Chedworth

Stow-on-Wold

Bourton-on-the-Water including a hike to Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter

Naunton

Broadway

Chipping Campden

You can also see our route on the map below:

Driving to Bath from London and parking in Bath

It took us about 2 hours, 45 minutes to drive to Bath, and we left our car at the Charlotte Street Car Park. Parking in Bath is very restricted, and only a few hotels in the city centre offer parking. There are only 2 or 3 long term car parks and Charlotte street is one of them. Located in the city centre, it’s easy to find, and it was just 6 minutes walking from our hotel. You can check the price of the car park on their official website.

Staying in Bath. Best hotels to stay in Bath.

Bath is a pricy city, so typically, the hotels aren’t cheap. However, we found a fantastic deal in the city centre for under £55 per night in summer. We stayed at the Z Hotel Bath, and it was great! We had a tiny, but a very modern room with a beautiful view and it was tranquil at night.

If Z hotel is fully booked, here are some other great hotels in Bath (for any budget): some other options to consider are The Gainsborough Hotel for the ultimate luxury, The Kennard for traditional architecture and interior design and Eight for stylish and sleek interiors.

Z Hotel Bath Room

Things to see in Bath in 1 day (and one evening):

Enjoy the views of Bath at night.

On the first evening, we just had enough time to walk around the city centre and have dinner in one of the restaurants. Bath has many great restaurants, but if you’re travelling during the weekend, consider booking in advance.

After dinner, we went for another walk, to see the city after dark and it was lovely. Bath was almost empty and very romantic, and despite a small drizzle, it was delightful to walk around.

Enjoy the views of the Pulteney Bridge.

The next morning, we decided to head to the famous Pulteney bridge. Built in 1774, it’s one of the most beautiful bridges in England. What’s so unique about the Pulteney bridge is that it has a few shops and cafes built on the bridge, similar to the bridges in Florence and Venice. Walk the promenade to see the best view of the Pulteney bridge from the North Parade!

See the Roman baths

Later, we crossed the North Parade and went to see the Roman Baths from the outside. We were quite unlucky, as Roman baths were fully booked for a few days in advance, so we couldn’t visit them this time. If you want to visit the Roman Baths, you can buy your tickets here.

Try the famous Bath bun

We had our brunch in one of Bath’s most iconic food spots: Sally Lunn’s. Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House is a cafe and a museum at the same time. Located on an incredibly photogenic street (called Lilliput alley these days), it’s one of the oldest houses in Bath. You don’t need a reservation to eat at Sally Lunn’s, as it’s walk-in only. At Sally Lunn’s, you would be able to try the iconic Bath bun – a large brioche bun, created by Sally Lunn, a young Huguenot lady who fleed to Bath and that was inspired by French brioche buns. 

I didn’t expect the Bath bun to take so well, but it was amazing. It was definitely the best thing we’ve tried in Bath. Even though the queue to enter Sally Lynn’s might be long, I still recommend going there and having your lunch or snack there.

The famous Bath Bun at Sally Lunn's

Marvel around the photogenic streets of Bath

Bath is one of England’s most photogenic places! It’s truly amazing. We spent a few hours just wandering around the beautiful streets of Bath, and there were so many.

Visit the Bath Cathedral

Bath Cathedral is free to visit; however, there is a suggested donation at the entrance. It’s a beautiful cathedral in the heart of the city. It’s currently undergoing some renovations; however, you can still visit it! We really liked the unique floor of the cathedral. When you visit – make sure to take a look!

Wander around the places where Jane Austen has lived in Bath

Jane Austen has lived in Bath for about 6 years, and there are quite a few places associated with her. First of all, is the Jane Austen centre located in the city centre. It tells about the life of Jane Austen in Bath. Another remarkable place is, of course, the house where she lived in Bath (or better to say, one of them, as there were few). It’s located close to the Sydney Gardens, and right now, there is a guesthouse.

Have an Afternoon tea at the famous Pump room

This is a place we couldn’t visit, as it was still closed, even though the lockdown was lifted a few months ago. The Pump room is a stunning restaurant right next to the Roman Baths. It’s said that the rich and famous of the mid-19th century were common frequenters of the Pump room.

Visit the grand Circus area of Bath

Another place that is a place you need to see in Bath even if you’re visiting for just 1 day is the Circus – a charming street that forms a circus and has 3 entrances! It is, indeed, very impressive, so make sure to take a look!

Things to see in Bath in 1 day (and one evening):

Walk around the Royal Crescent

Another very impressive place we visited in Bath was the Royal Crescent. The area around is also full of small independent shops and lovely restaurants, so you can have a quick stop there.

Alright, these were the things you can see in Bath in one day!

Visiting Cotswolds: a weekend in Bath and Cotswolds

Once you’re done with Bath, although, arguably, you can’t be done with Bath, this city has so much to see, you can drive to Cotswolds. We left Bath at around 4pm, and our first destination was the stunning village called Castle Combe.

If you’re interested in the most Instagrammable villages in Cotswolds, head to this post!

Day 1: Castle Combe and Tetbury. Night at the Thames Head Inn

Castle Combe is only a very short drive away from Bath – less than 30 minutes. Castle Combe is probably the most photographed village in Cotswolds, so it might be jam-packed. Parking spaces are also very limited, so you might need to wait a bit in order for some cars to leave. Despite the trouble, Castle Combe is definitely worth visiting, and I would call it my favourite village in Cotswolds.

We spent about 45 minutes in Castle Combe, and when it started raining, even more, we left, hoping that the rain would eventually stop before we reach our next destination. Luckily, that was exactly what happened, so we enjoyed exploring Tetbury without rain. Tetbury is another lovely market town in Cotswolds, and it’s famous for its Chipping Steps. We spent about 10-15 minutes trying to find the Chipping Steps (Chipping means market, in case you’re wondering), as they are not on Google.

As it turned out, the Chipping steps were next to the parking – on the top right side.

Thames Head Inn

After visiting Tetbury, it was time to check-in at the hotel and have dinner. We stayed at the hotel called Thames Head Inn – a medieval inn, located very close to Cirencester (driving). While there are no villages nearby (walking), there is food available at the Inn until 9 pm and plenty of pleasant walking routes including the one to the source of Thames (hence the name Thames Head). Thames Head Inn was a great and quiet inn, and the price was also amazing. You can check the prices and availability here.

Some other hotels in Cotswolds to consider: Barnsley House in beautiful Cirencester with a lot of amazing restaurants around. Aylworth Manor is a lovely village called Naunton and The Slaughters Manor House – a stunning manor in the heart of Cotswolds. Make sure to book them in advance, as these are some of the most sought-after hotels in Cotswolds!

Thames Head Inn

Day 2 of the weekend in the Cotswolds and Bath: visiting most popular villages in Cotswolds

Bibury and Chedworth

As we wanted to arrive to Bibury early, we skipped breakfast and headed straight to the village. Bibury was just 15 minutes driving away from our Inn, so we arrived there just before 9. Bibury is one of the most popular villages in Cotswolds AONB, and that’s because it’s stunning. It’s probably one of the most beautiful villages in the entire world. Although, to be honest, I still like Castle Combe a bit more.

Parking in Bibury is very limited. Last time we went to Cotswolds in 2017, we couldn’t find parking at all, so we couldn’t stop to see Bibury. This time, we came early and prepared. Make sure to visit Bibury early to avoid the disappointment of not being able to park anywhere and not seeing this stunning and trendy village.

We spent about 1 hour walking around Bibury and taking photos before heading to our next destination, the village called Chedworth. Chedworth is a lesser-known village in Cotswolds, and it’s definitely not as touristy as Bibury (nowhere close). However, keep in mind that Chedworth doesn’t have dedicated parking at all. There is space for probably 5 or 6 cars, however, if you are planning on visiting the Roman Villa in Chedworth, you’ll be able to get parking from National Trust. You can then later walk to the village and take some lovely photos.

Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water

Our next stop was a very popular town called Stow-on-the-Wold. This town is a very touristy one, and it has a lot of tea rooms, including one of the best-rated tea rooms in the entire Cotswolds. That’s where we had a late breakfast. The tearoom is called Lucy’s Tearoom, and I can only recommend it!

Stow-on-the-Wold also has a lot of lovely shops (however, not quite as many as the next destination on our Cotswolds weekend itinerary). However, the main landmark is undoubtedly the stunning door of St. Edward’s Church!

Bourton-on-the-Water is, perhaps, the most visited town in Cotswolds and it also has a large parking lot. Bourton-on-the-water is a place, where plenty of walking trails around Cotswolds cross. It has an incredible amount of cafes, souvenir shops and a couple of museums. You can easily spend a couple of hours in Bourton-on-the-Water.

2.5-hour hike to the Slaughters from Bourton-on-the-Water

We thought that our itinerary for a weekend in Bath and Cotswolds wouldn’t be complete without a short 2-3-hour hike. We decided to hike to the Slaughters from Bourton-on-the-Water, as it’s a short and enjoyable circular walk that only takes 2 or maximum 3 hours (depending on your speed and how many photos do you usually take).

If you’re interested in the route of the short hike to the Slaughters, here’s the link. 

We adjusted this itinerary and added a short walk to the Upper Slaughter as well. You can easily find it if you walk behind the mill in Lower Slaughter.

Naunton, Broadway and Chipping Campden

Our next stop was a village called Naunton. It’s incredibly photogenic. We wanted to see its main highlight, the Dove cottage (it looks like it came straight from a fairytale).

From Naunton, we drove to Broadway, a bigger town, probably one of the biggest and most commercial towns in Cotswolds. Unfortunately, as it was Sunday 5 pm, most of the shops were already closed, however, if you skip the hike we did and just drive to the Lower Slaughter instead, you will be able to see Broadway buzzing with life. Despite being quite big, Broadway is stunning! It’s unique in a sense that it has a large and pretty wide shopping street flowing through the entire town, but it doesn’t ruin the town at all!

Our next destination was Chipping Campden, another market town in Cotswolds. We decided to stop there and have dinner in one of its restaurants.

Chipping Campden is lovely and has an old medieval hall in the heart of the town. It also has a lot of beautiful photogenic houses, and it’s enjoyable to walk around.

After having dinner, we started driving back to London. The drive to North London was relatively short, less than 2 hours and we arrived back home just after 10 pm.

Summary of our weekend trip itinerary for Bath and Cotswolds in one trip

We absolutely loved our weekend in Bath and Cotswolds and wouldn’t change pretty much anything in our road trip itinerary except for maybe the weather. It was quite rainy on Saturday, but Sunday was lovely and very warm.

If you think that our itinerary is too busy and tiring, you can definitely extend it and spend 3 days in Bath and Cotswolds instead of 2.5 or even 4 days if you have a chance. If you only have 2 days to spend in Cotswolds and Bath and thinking which villages can you skip, you can probably skip Tetbury, Chedworth, Naunton and Chipping Campden. Even though these villages and towns in Cotswolds are undoubtedly impressive, the rest of the villages are even better.

I hope you enjoyed this post and should you have any questions, send me a message on Instagram @lizatripsget!

Some other posts you might like if you enjoyed this post:

1 Day in Cotswolds: road trip from London

The most Instagrammable places in Cotswolds

3-day road trip to the South of England: best of the South – Dorset, Devon and Cornwall

The best hike near London: Sevenoaks Circular

15+ amazing weekend trip destinations in the UK

7-day itinerary for Scotland: the highlights of Scotland

3 days in Wales: Cardiff and South-West Wales

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