Want to do a Cotswolds road trip this year? Here’s my route, my highlights and my top tips for your trip planning.
Last weekend my boyfriend and I went on a 3-day Cotswolds road trip, which you could totally narrow down to 2 days in the Cotswolds, or a Cotswolds day trip. Doing a road trip in the Cotswolds had been a dream for a while now, but for some reason, with all my travels, I’d never actually got round to it.
This did mean I’ve had a long time to plan though, so with this Cotswolds road trip itinerary, you can be sure I’ve sought out the best places. I studied blogs and sites to make sure we weren’t missing out. You can do this road trip in the Cotswolds in three days, but there’s always much more to see, so use it as your guide!
– Read on for the best Cotswolds driving itinerary, to see as much as possible
I’d been loaned the Citroën C3 Aircross from Citroën and so we wanted to put it through its paces. It’s a compact SUV, so the Cotswolds seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out the stability and durability, and the sound system.
After Ben’s work finished on the Friday I picked him up in Southampton ready to head off onto our Cotswolds road trip. We drove up to the Mercure Bowden Hall in Gloucestershire. We were actually meant to share the driving but I was enjoying it so much, I hogged the wheel.
We had two nights in two different hotels on our 3-day Cotswolds road trip, two nights that I’d spent way too long researching for the best deal. Very happy with both though, and would totally recommend. More info below.
– Post sponsored by Citroën, but all travel on our weekend in the Cotswolds was paid for by me.
Map for 3 days in the Cotswolds
– This is the best driving route in the Cotswolds, as researched by me. If you have a weekend in the Cotswolds you can see a lot, but don’t pack your itinerary too full!
Road trip in the Cotswolds
We spent our Cotswolds weekend checking out the villages, wandering in the Sudeley Castle grounds, watching the footie in a cute pub and generally admiring just how beautiful the Cotswolds are.
Before this trip I’d only ever been to the Cotswolds once, for a photo shoot with Laurence Llewewyn-Bowen for a magazine in Cirencester. After this trip I know I’ll be back one day soon, as there’s still so much more to see.
This weekend Cotswolds road trip will take you through five counties: Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. All in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
If you’re looking for a great itinerary for 3 days in the Cotswolds, then I’d 100% recommend this one. We saw a lot, without feeling rushed or trying to do too much.
Our 3-day Cotswolds road trip
Absolutely loved driving round the Cotswolds for the weekend in the Citroën, here’s what we got up to – our full Cotswolds road trip itinerary.
Mercure Bowden Hall
After a lot of research and trying to find the best deal, we booked into the Mercure Bowden Hall for the first night of our Cotswolds road trip. It was wonderful.
For just £60 between us on Secret Escapes we got a glass of Prosecco each, a great room for the night, free parking and a buffet breakfast.
My boyfriend is kinda obsessed with pillows and mattresses, and it’s made me notice them all the more. The duvet and pillows here were excellent. Both of us had a great night’s sleep, and they definitely passed Ben’s stringent testing.
The hotel was up a little path, in a cool location on the hill. We really liked it here, all the more with the price.
I’d strongly recommend you go for the pizza deal over the fish and chips in the restaurant – Ben definitely won that round of best dinner.
We arrived by about 6ish and saw some great sunset views on the drive through the Cotswolds to get there. The winding hills make for great vantage points across the villages.
Unfortunately it was kinda rainy and we were eager to arrive before nightfall, so we didn’t stop. To be honest it was so nice to get there and relax on our Cotswolds weekend, rather than racing about trying to see everything.
We had a great evening and breakfast at the Mercure Bowden Hall, and it left us feeling invigorated for our Cotswolds weekend ahead.
Map for day two of 3 days in the Cotswolds
Road trip through Winchcombe
First stop of our weekend in the Cotswolds was Winchcombe, a 35-minute journey from our hotel.
We parked up on the side of the road – free for an hour – and headed off into the unknown. We hadn’t done the most research for this trip and so were in Winchcombe to find out what to do first hand.
– Visiting the Cotswolds by car is definitely the best way to get around
All signs pointed to Sudeley Castle, literally.
So after walking through the cute streets, shop and houses of Winchcombe, we walked up the path to the star attraction. Unfortunately it was £17 each to get in, and we only had an hour on the car, so after the nice walk, we decided to turn back.
Sudeley Castle is the main thing to do in Winchcombe though, and I would’ve loved to look round. Obviously, all the more reason to go back.
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Road trip through Broadway
Visiting Broadway was when I realised that the Cotswolds had a lot of cool places I wanted to see more of – and some great Cotswolds festivals too. I’d assumed it was just a few cool villages, but seeing Broadway made me realise there was a lot in the Cotswolds I wanted to see.
I didn’t actually take any pics here, as we were in and out, but you’ll have to trust me when I say it was one of the most picturesque of all the Cotswolds villages we went to in the three days. Also, one of the most underrated.
We went up to Broadway Tower, seeing as it kept coming up as a ‘top thing to see in the Cotswolds’.
It was so windy!
It cost £5 to go in and up the tower, which we actually decided not to do as we couldn’t see the benefit over what was already an impressive view from the top of the hill. Just being up there was enough for us. This is a great spot on your Cotswolds driving itinerary.
There’s a nice little coffee shop here, which was totally rammed on the day we visited. Lovely place for a brew and a bit of cake though.
Gotta keep your energy up on a Cotswolds road trip!
Road trip through Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden wasn’t on my original Cotswolds road trip plan, but, seeing as it was some important Liverpool football match it was the only place I could find a pub that was showing it. We ended up at the Red Lion – a really, really nice pub. There was a special barn room out the back with a huge screen in for the footie fans.
We ordered a snacky lunch between us – the chips and pulled pork was yum. I’ll admit I’d gotten over excited at the dandelion and burdock chicken wings and ordered them, even at £7. They weren’t quite the portion I wanted, so if you go, focus on the chips instead.
We had a little look round Chipping Campden, and it was yet another wonderful village with cute houses, cute signs and independent places to eat and drink. Loved it!
Road trip through Stow on the Wold
Next up on our Cotswolds road trip itinerary: Stow on the Wold.
Google ‘Stow on the Wold’ and the top thing to do seems to be to go and look at a door. We actually forgot about this and pootled around the shops instead on our Cotswolds weekend.
We shared a passionfruit cake at the Hive Cafe, which was great. Such a lovely business and after Ben and I had been discussing how we thought cake was overrated, we proved ourselves wrong with this. It was moist and delicious.
No exaggeration to say it was the best cake I’ve had for YEARS.
– Visiting the Cotswolds by car gives you so much more freedom to explore
You can park for free on the road in Stow on the Wold, but after 3pm you can go to the bottom of the village and there’s a big car park there that’s free after 3pm.
Stow on the Wold is a great place to stop for a drink, and if it was closer to summer, we would’ve loved to hike too.
De Vere Cotswold Water Park
There are more villages to discover in the Cotswolds on a road trip, and to be honest, I don’t think you can go wrong. But, we decided to crack on and go and enjoy the spa at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park, where we were spending the night.
We got a great bargain here, with a £79 price tag. For that we got a night’s accommodation, and access to their lovely spa, which was the main reason I booked here to be honest.
We arrived at 6pm and headed straight over to the spa to carry on with our weekend away in the Cotswolds. Time for some pampering!
There’s a pool, a steam room, a sauna and a bubble bath and therapy shower too. It was pretty busy in the evening, although we still had plenty of space. It was nice and felt a bit like we were on holiday in a hot country, with people lying on the sun loungers and mooching about in their swimmers.
There were less people when I went over at 7:30am the next day if that’s your worry.
The only downside at the De Vere Water Park was that we hadn’t booked into one of the restaurants there, and they were both full. We ended up having to eat at the bar with everyone drinking on a Saturday night.
There weren’t many options.
I ended up with chicken tikka masala and Ben had chilli.
They were alright, or would’ve been for half the price. Each meal was £16.
If you book at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park for your Cotswold road trip, make sure to book into the on site pub – The Boathouse, too.
As well as the restaurants and bar, and spa, there’s also some really nice walks around the De Vere Cotswold Water Park you can enjoy.
You could definitely do this weekend Cotswolds itinerary as a winter trip too.
Map for day three of 3 days in the Cotswolds
It was the most populated of the villages we saw and had a few shops like Joules and White Stuff too. We actually just went straight for breakfast at Jack’s as we decided to see Cirencester, rather than eat around the De Vere Cotswold Park.
Jack’s turned out to be an excellent choice.
We both went for the breakfast bowls, over the traditional breakfast items on the menu. Black beans, tostadas, poached eggs and tasty, tasty chorizo too. Need to try and recreate this at home.
The coffee was spot on too.
This was my favourite meal of my three days on our Cotswolds road trip.
We wandered around Cirencester afterwards. We saw The Fleece, one of the top places to eat in the Cotswolds, according to the internet and there’s a lovely big church too. Had a little look in Accessorize and treated myself, and picked up a few essentials in Boots.
You can park at The Forum in Cirencester for free on a Sunday, or after 3pm. Free day out!
Cirencester is a definite must see in the Cotswolds.
Barnsley was on our list but after my morning trip to the spa, we were running a bit behind and wanted to get to the Cotswold Wildlife Sanctuary.
We did drive through though and it was such a pretty village, which is why I wanted to include it.
– Photo from Wikipedia, we didn’t stop!
Bibury is one of the most popular places to visit in the Cotswolds. On a Sunday at 10amish it was living up to its reputation, with tourists surrounding the Instagram spots doing their thing.
We didn’t actually stop, mainly because I didn’t realise it would be so amazing and I’d want to, and because there was no space to.
A coach had just dropped off a bunch of people and was taking up all the spaces.
If you can visit, Bibury is incredible. And, it makes sense on the 3-day Cotswold road trip route too.
READ MORE: My Top Road Trip Essentials!
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
Saw some cool bats, monkeys, flamingos – even giraffes. My favourite was the anteater. I’ve never seen one before and he was playing a game with us where he’d hide and come back out.
So many animals there – we saw over 260 species.
We spent three hours at the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. Ben loved the Prairie Dogs, they had this whole little Mexican Wave thing going on which was really cute.
And that was the end of our Citroën adventure in the Cotswolds. Honestly, whatever you might’ve been told or think about the Cotswolds, it’s actually even more impressive.
I hope this post has inspired you to get out and see the Cotswolds for a weekend.
And if you want to know more about the Citroën C3 Aircross to maybe see the Cotswolds by car, just click through!
Explore more of England
NEW SITE: I recently launched a brand new website dedicated entirely to days out in England.
It’s called… DAY OUT IN ENGLAND. Ha!
It’s packed full of local knowledge, awesome things to do, and more.
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