Unforgettable London Day Trips: Stonehenge and the Cotswolds

Taking a trip to Stonehenge and the nearby Cotswolds is a great way to explore some of the amazing sites outside of London.

A visit to this area offers a glimpse into a different kind of England that is a world away from the busy streets of the capital. From gorgeous cottages to windy English country lanes to impressive archaeological sites, here’s what to expect on an unforgettable day trip from London.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is the world’s most famous Neolithic stone circle that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s over 5,000 years old, and sees over 1 million visitors pass through its entrance gate each year.

The site has been developed so an entrance ticket not only gives you access to the stone circle, but also includes entrance to the state-of-the-art information centre and mock-up Neolithic village. All in all, a visit should take around 90 minutes.

How to get to Stonehenge from London

The great news is that Stonehenge is only 80 miles from London, but getting there can be a little tricky with not a lot of public transportation options. One way around this is to take a Stonehenge tour, there are plenty of options to choose from and most provide transport daily from Central London.

Since a typical visit to Stonehenge won’t take more than 2 hours, the trips usually include an add-on, with a visit to a nearby town or another historical site in the area. This is a great way of turning a trip to Stonehenge into a full day excursion.

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Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is the name given to a region north of London that is known for its outstanding natural beauty and protected by conversation acts passed by the UK parliament. This is in general some of the prettiest countryside in Great Britain, with lots of green rolling hills, picture perfect farmland, and pretty villages.

You could easily spend several days travelling around the Cotswolds; there’s so much to see and lots of places to visit. If you are planning on visiting by car for the day, then its best to stick to the southern end of the region, which is located closest to London.

Start off with a visit Burford, which is nicknamed the “gateway to the Cotswolds”. This hillside town features lots of small antique shops and one-off stores. Both sides of the main high street are built with the traditional yellow mustard-coloured stone that characterises the area. Make sure to stop by Huffkins, a classic bakery that offers amazing cakes, scones and pastries, along with serving up traditional English teas.

From here, head to Bourton-on-the-Water, which is known locally as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”. This is because of the small stream that flows through the centre of the village, and the iconic tiny bridges that crisscross it. Again, there are plenty of small shops and local stores to enjoy, along with a motoring museum that displays classic British cars and vehicles.

The market town of Stow-on-the-Wold is just a 10 minute drive away. In its hay day, Stow was the main town in the region for the trade of wool, and traders would come to the town from across the country. Today market days look a little different, focusing on fresh local produce and unique goods. Market days take place every second Thursday of the month. In general, the town offers some of the best one-off shops in the region, with lots of antique stores to explore.  

How to travel from London to the Cotswolds

If travelling by car isn’t an option, then there are trains that go from London Paddington Station to Charlbury Station in the Northern Cotswolds. From here, its possible to walk to many of the villages mentioned above, or even to rent bicycles on a sunny day. 

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