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6 easy day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds (without a car)

It has a scenic location on the banks of the River Avon and beautiful medieval half-timbered buildings, but it’s Stratford-upon-Avon’s links with William Shakespeare – who was born, lived and died in the town – that’s made it one of England’s top tourist attractions. And Stratford-upon-Avon’s position just north of the Cotswolds means you can easily combine the two in one trip.

Although the most convenient way to explore the Cotswolds is by car, you can also take day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds by public transport. But trains and buses in the Cotswolds don’t always run very frequently or connect well, so you need to choose the right place to visit.

Day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds
The River Avon and RSC theatre

We’ve chosen six destinations around the Cotswolds which you can easily visit by public transport from Stratford-upon-Avon. They don’t involve coordinating multiple connections and most take less than an hour to reach from Stratford, so you can get there and back on a day trip.

Although Stratford-upon-Avon is on a train line, it doesn’t run south through the Cotswolds so you can’t reach hubs like Cheltenham or Bath without long journeys and multiple changes, making the train impractical for a Cotswolds day trip. So our destinations all use local bus services.

The village of Broadway in the Cotswolds
The village of Broadway

If your favourite town or village isn’t on the list, we’ve rounded up other Cotswold destinations you can visit by public transport from Stratford-upon-Avon at the end of the post. These do involve longer journeys with more complex connections though so might be better for a longer trip.

For links to all bus timetables, see our guide to the Cotswolds by public transport. And if you’re travelling by car instead, our town and village guides give details of parking.

Historic buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon
Half-timbered buildings in Stratford

Map of day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds

Map of day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds
Bus routes from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds

6 easy day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds without a car

1. Chipping Campden

Historic Chipping Campden has over 270 listed buildings, many built with the profits from the wool and cloth trade. You can see some of the best examples along the High Street, including Grevel House, which dates from 1380, the Woolstaplers Hall, Market Hall and St James Church.

You can also learn about Chipping Campden’s links with the Arts and Crafts movement at the Court Barn Museum. And the Cotswold Way long-distance walking route starts in Chipping Campden – try out a section of it on a 4.1-mile circular walk to Dover’s Hill for panoramic views.

How to get there: Chipping Campden is 12 miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. To get there, take the Stagecoach 1/2 bus which runs from Wood Street/Bridge Street in Stratford to either the Town Hall or the Noel Arms pub in Chipping Campden. The journey takes 40 minutes and there are seven–eight services in each direction from Monday to Saturday, but none on Sundays.

Chipping Campden Market Hall
Chipping Campden’s Market Hall

2. Broadway

The beautiful village of Broadway is a great place to shop, stroll, eat and drink. You can discover its past at the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery or the Gordon Russell Design Museum, dedicated to a local furniture designer. Or follow in the footsteps of Oliver Cromwell at the Lygon Arms.

Just outside the village, the hilltop Broadway Tower is a 18th-century folly surrounded by a deer park that’s been used as a printing press and artists’ retreat – and is also the site of a nuclear bunker. Now open to visitors, you can get there on a 4.4-mile circular walk from Broadway.

How to get there: Broadway is 16 miles southwest of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is also linked to Stratford by the Stagecoach 1/2 bus, which stops at the Lygon Arms. The journey takes an hour, but there are only three services a day in each direction (excluding Sundays) which call at Broadway.

The Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds
The Broadway Tower

3. Blockley

If you’re a fan of the BBC TV series Father Brown – about a 1950s crime-solving priest in the fictional village of Kembleford – you might recognise Blockley, as it’s the main filming location for the show. Locations include the Church of St Peter and St Paul and the village vicarage.

Peaceful Blockley is a lovely place the stroll around, and has a good community-run café and village store where you can stop for lunch. There’s also Mill Dene Garden, a privately owned garden open to the public from April–October, and a scenic 4.5-mile circular walk to Batsford Arboretum.

How to get there: Blockley is 15 miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. The Stagecoach 1/2 bus stops in Blockley after calling at Broadway, with the journey from Stratford taking 75 minutes.

Honey-stone cottages in Blockley in the Cotswolds
Golden-stone cottages in Blockley

4. Moreton-in-Marsh

Moreton-in-Marsh was given a charter allowing it to hold markets in 1629. It still has a popular Tuesday market, taking place on the High Street surrounded by historic buildings like Redesdale Hall, the 16th-century Curfew Tower and White Hart Royal where Charles I once stayed.

You can also explore Moreton’s links with J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was a frequent visitor to the town and used it as inspiration when writing The Lord of the Rings – The Bell Inn became the Prancing Pony and the Four Shire Stone on the edge of Moreton became the Three-Farthing Stone.

How to get there: Moreton-in-Marsh is 16.5 miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. The Pulhams 51 bus runs from Wood Street/Bridge Street in Stratford to Moreton-in-Marsh train station. It takes 50 minutes and runs five times a day. Or the slower Stagecoach 1/2 bus takes 70–90 minutes to reach Moreton, depending on how many stops it makes. Neither service runs on Sundays.

Moreton-in-Marsh on a day trip from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds

5. Chipping Norton

Chipping Norton was an important centre for the wool trade, and you can still see the ornate Bliss Mill on the edge of town, originally built in 1872 to weave tweed fabric. You can also discover more local history at the Chipping Norton Museum or in the 12th-century St Mary’s Church.

Today Chipping Norton is known for its independent shops, cafés and restaurants, and has a weekly market taking place on Wednesdays. You can also catch a performance or exhibition at the Theatre Chipping Norton, or take a dip in the Chippy Lido, a 25-metre heated outdoor pool.

How to get there: Chipping Norton is 22 miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. The Stagecoach 50 bus runs from Wood Street/Bridge Street in Stratford to West Street in Chipping Norton. The journey takes around 50 minutes, with four services in each direction every day.

Bliss Mill in Chipping Norton
Bliss Mill

6. Shipston-on-Stour

The riverside Warwickshire town of Shipston-on-Stour is one of the lesser-known spots around the Cotswolds, but has a charming medieval town centre with a marketplace and selection of traditional shops – including a wine merchant dating from 1842 – and former coaching inns.

The recently opened Shipston Museum takes you through the town’s history, including its wool trade heyday. In the 16th century, fine tapestries were woven in Barcheston just south of Shipston – some of these Sheldon tapestries are now on display at London’s V&A Museum.

How to get there: Shipston-on-Stour is 11 miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. You can get there using the Stagecoach 50 bus, which runs around once an hour (every two hours on Sundays), or the less-frequent Pulhams 51 bus, which doesn’t run on Sundays. Both take 30 minutes.

Shipston-on-Stour High Street
Shipston-on-Stour High Street (photo © John Sutton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How do I get to…?

Is your favourite Cotswold town or village not listed above? We’ve included the main destinations you can reach easily on day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds without a car. But if you don’t mind a slower and more complex journey with more changes, here’s how you can visit:

  • Bourton-on-the-Water: Pulhams 51 or Stagecoach 1/2 bus to Moreton-in-Marsh, then Pulhams 801 bus to Bourton-on-the-Water.
  • Stow-on-the-Wold: Pulhams 51 or Stagecoach 1/2 bus to Moreton-in-Marsh, then Pulhams 801 bus to Stow-on-the-Wold.
  • The Slaughters: Pulhams 51 or Stagecoach 1/2 bus to Moreton-in-Marsh, then Pulhams 801 bus to Slaughter Pike and a 10-minute walk to Lower Slaughter (30 mins to Upper Slaughter).
  • Winchcombe: Stagecoach 1/2 bus to Chipping Campden, then Pulhams 606 to Winchcombe.

Do double-check timetables as services and connections are limited, especially at weekends.

Unfortunately as Stratford-upon-Avon isn’t on a direct train line into the Cotswolds it takes too long to reach places like Bibury, Castle Combe or Tetbury to be able to visit them in a day.

Stow-on-the-Wold stocks and market square

Cotswold tours from Stratford-upon-Avon

If time is tight and you want to visit several places around the Cotswolds in one day without hiring a car, another option is to take a guided day tour from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds. There are several different tours available, which vary in which destinations they visit:

  • Cotswolds Tour:* 7.5-hour minibus tour from Shakespeare’s Birthplace Coach Terminal to Chipping Campden, Snowshill, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water.
  • Secret Cotswolds:* 7.5-hour minibus tour which includes some lesser-known spots, visiting the Rollright Stones, Burford, Broadway, Stanton and Guiting Power.
  • Cotswolds Walks and Villages Guided Tour:* 7.5-hour minibus tour including walks to the Broadway Tower, Broadway village, a walk through the Windrush Valley and Burford.
Shakepeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon

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6 easy day trips from Stratford-upon-Avon to Cotswolds, which you can do without a car using public transport, including Chipping Campden, Broadway and Chipping Norton | Day trips from Oxford | Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon | Stratford-upon-Avon day trips | Cotswold day trips | Cotswolds without a car

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