Driving through the scenic countryside of England is an excellent way to escape the city and experience English culture and history. If you’re spending some time in London and looking to see some nearby attractions, this is the perfect itinerary for you!
This one week road trip from London runs in a loop and takes you through some of England’s most iconic landmarks and prettiest little villages.
You will spend a few days exploring the highlights of the stunning Cotswolds region, walk through the historic cities of Bath and Oxford, see the ancient site of Stonehenge and finish off the road trip with a visit to the incredible Salisbury Cathedral.
This will be an unforgettable week of discovering England’s most fascinating history while passing through some of the country’s most breath-taking landscapes.
This road trip from London can be done at any time of the year, we did it in November and we had a lovely time. Yes, it was a little chilly but nothing that a roaring fire inside of a medieval pub can’t fix! The spring and summer months will be much busier as the warmer weather naturally attracts more tourists.
No matter when you choose to go, this driving route is truly beautiful in every season. We had such an incredible time on this road trip and feel that it deserves a spot on everyone’s UK bucket list!
Table of Contents
Road Trip From London Overview
- Lower Slaughter
- Castle Combe
Day One – Depart London in the morning and drive to Oxford. Spend the rest of the day seeing the highlights of Oxford.
Night One – Oxford
Day Two – Depart Oxford and drive to Shakespeare’s birth town, Stratford-upon-Avon. Spend the rest of the day exploring the town.
Night Two – Stratford-upon-Avon
Day Three – Depart Stratford-upon-Avon in the morning and drive to the first Cotswolds village, Stow-on-the-Wold. Spend some time checking out the town before continuing to Lower Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Night Three – Bourton-on-the-Water
Day Four – Start the day with a drive to the village of Bibury to see the famous Arlington Row and stop for tea at the lovely Swan Hotel. Continue your Cotswolds road trip to the gorgeous little village of Castle Combe. Spend the afternoon in the village before driving to Bath.
Night Four – Bath
Day Five – Spend the full day seeing the highlights of Bath.
Night Five – Bath
Day Six – Depart Bath in the morning and make your way to Stonehenge, spend a few hours at the stones before continuing to Salisbury. See the Salisbury Cathedral and other attractions in the afternoon.
Night Six – Salisbury
Day Seven – Drive back to London
Total Driving Time / Distance Covered
7.5 – 8 hours / 323 miles – Give or take depending on traffic and chosen driving route
Road Trip From London Highlights
- Discover the history and amazing architecture in the famous university city of Oxford
- Visit the medieval village of Stratford-upon-Avon, known as Shakespeare’s birthplace
- Transport to another era as you wander through the fairy-tale Cotswolds villages
- See the incredible Roman Baths in the beautiful city of Bath
- Marvel at the mysterious ancient stone circle at Stonehenge
- Take a walk through the majestic Salisbury Cathedral
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The Ultimate One Week Road Trip From London
Car Rental In London
The first thing you should do before departing on this road trip from London is arrange your car rental. To book a car, we recommend using this comparison tool to easily search between all providers. We use this website for pretty much all car rentals in every country we visit as they have a large selection of providers with reasonable prices and no booking fees.
Pick up your car first thing in the morning and then begin the 1:15 hr drive from London to Oxford.
The city of Oxford is packed full of amazing history and plenty of beautiful architecture. It’s home to the oldest university in the English speaking world, the University of Oxford which dates back to the 12th century. Oxford is often referred to as “the city of dreaming spires” because of the university’s many towers that dominate the city’s skyline.
Besides strolling along the high street of the medieval town centre and browsing a few of the shops along the way, there are a few things to do in Oxford that you shouldn’t miss on your visit!
Highlights of Oxford
University of Oxford – Take a 2-hr guided walking tour to see the famous sites of Oxford University. An experienced guide will take you through the university’s complex to see one of the Harry Potter filming sites, the Bodleian Library and the Divinity School. Find tour prices and availability.
Radcliffe Camera – No visit to Oxford is complete without seeing this iconic circular building. What was originally built as a library in the 18th century is now one of the most photographed buildings in all of Oxford. You are only permitted to enter the Radcliffe Camera on a guided tour, but it’s worth checking out even if you just admire from the outside.
Oxford Castle & Prison – Discover the rich and fascinating history of Oxford Castle & Prison on a guided tour lead by a costumed guide. The tour includes: climbing the oldest tower in Oxford to see panoramic views from the top, descending into the 900+ year old crypt, hearing the many stories of the crazy events that unfolded over the centuries from an informative guide and so much more! Find tour prices and availability.
Blenheim Palace – A 20 minute drive from Oxford will take you to this gorgeous countryside manor surrounded by stunning gardens and beautiful landscapes. Blenheim Palace is known as the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It’s conveniently located along the drive from Oxford to Stratford-upon-Avon, making it easy to stop in for a visit.
Medieval Pubs – Oxford has many historic pubs to check out around the town centre. We had lunch at the oldest pub in Oxford, The Bear Inn. The interior is very small and cosy but it’s full of medieval charm and definitely worth stopping at for lunch or drinks. Here are some more old pubs to check out: Turf Tavern, The Eagle and Child, The Trout Inn.
Where to stay in Oxford
Bear and Ragged Staff – If you’re hoping to stay somewhere with some character and history, you can’t go wrong here. Located just outside of the city, this charming old property offers free parking and delicious home-made food. There’s a cosy bar with a big fireplace which is perfect if you’re visiting during the cold months.
Malmaison Oxford – Once a Victorian prison and now a gorgeous boutique hotel in the heart of Oxford. This highly rated, unique property features tastefully decorated rooms, beautiful architecture, 2 bars and breakfast included. Parking is available on site at an extra cost.
Old Parsonage Hotel – A stunning building dating back to 1660, only a 5 minute walk from Oxford city centre. This lovely hotel features modern rooms in an old setting, free parking, a restaurant & bar and an excellent breakfast (which costs extra).
Take a step back in time to the 16th century when Shakespeare himself once roamed these very streets. Stratford-upon-Avon is a charming English market town full of well-preserved Tudor style architecture located along the banks of the Avon River.
It’s most commonly known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, so naturally you can expect to find all things dedicated to the famous playwright around the town.
Highlights of Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s Birthplace – It wouldn’t be a trip to Stratford without a visit inside Shakespeare’s birth home, after all it is the most popular attraction in the town! This iconic half-timbered 16th century building has been preserved incredibly well both inside and out.
The home has been set up with furniture consistent to the time period as well as displays which tell the story of Shakespeare’s childhood and family life in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – A 20 minute walk from the town centre of Stratford is the adorable 600 year old thatched cottage that once belonged to Shakespeare’s wife. It features original furniture, timber framing that dates to the 15th century and is surrounded by the prettiest gardens.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Catch one of Shakespeare’s plays live at the riverside Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The layout of the theatre is consistent to Shakespeare’s time, providing an authentic play watching experience.
In addition to showing Shakespeare’s most famous plays, there is also a rooftop restaurant where you can dine with beautiful views over the Avon River. Click here to see upcoming plays and events.
Stratford Butterfly Farm – The UK’s largest tropical butterfly farm is a fun way to break up all of the Shakespeare attractions, especially for families travelling with children.
A few minutes walk from the town centre will take you to see hundreds of the world’s most beautiful butterflies, exotic birds, and various insects.
Tickets to Shakespeare’s family homes: If you plan to visit more than one of the homes associated with Shakespeare’s family, check out this ticket which gives you access to 5 different locations including his birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage.
Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon
Mercure Stratford Upon Avon Shakespeare Hotel – A beautiful 17th century inn featuring oak beamed ceilings and comfortable rooms. It’s centrally located within walking distance to all attractions around Stratford. Breakfast is included and parking is available on site at an extra cost.
Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel – This lovely timber-framed Tudor style manor is only a 5 minute walk from the town centre of Stratford. It has a spa and gym, an award winning restaurant and rooms featuring Tudor style décor.
The Manor Hotel is a great choice if you’re looking for a few extra comforts during your stay in Stratford. Breakfast is included and parking is also available at an extra cost.
The White Swan Hotel – Located in a well preserved historic building, this highly-rated property is a perfect blend of medieval and modern furnishings. It’s a 10 minute walk from the town centre and includes breakfast. Parking is not available on site but there are many options nearby.
The Cotswolds ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ is one of the most popular places to visit in England, especially because getting from London to the Cotswolds is an easy drive under 2 hours.
With a concentration of enchanting fairy-tale villages and rolling green hills, driving in the Cotswolds is truly a magical experience. Taking a day tour from London to the Cotswolds is a popular way to visit but to truly take in the beauty of this region, it’s definitely worth spending a bit longer!
The sleepy little villages and slower pace of life in the countryside is certainly a welcome contrast to the bustling streets of London. It’s a place to simply relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the traditional English villages that appear to be frozen in time.
Take a walk through the countryside, sip a pint in a medieval pub next to a roaring fire, enjoy a high tea in a historic tea room; these are the things that must be done while visiting the Cotswolds!
Only a short 30 minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon, this quintessential English market town is the perfect place to start off your tour through the Cotswolds.
Day 3 on the road trip from London is all about exploring the three lovely Cotswolds villages of: Stow-on-the-Wold, Lower Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water. These towns are within very close proximity to one another, making it easy to see them all in one day!
Take some time to browse the cute shops around Stow-on-the-Wold, check out the market square to see the ancient town cross, and pop it to one of the many little tea rooms for some tea and scones.
Before you carry on, make sure to visit the beautiful St. Edward’s Church which is famous for it’s doorway framed by trees.
Despite its harsh name, Lower Slaughter certainly makes the list of one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. It’s nestled around the River Eye with picturesque foot bridges and gorgeous little stone cottages.
Lower Slaughter is one of the lesser visited towns compared to the likes of other, more popular Cotswolds villages but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of your time!
Take a stroll along “Copse Hill Road”, which was once named Britain’s most romantic street. It’s not hard to see why as the scenery is so pretty, it’s as though you’ve stepped into a painting.
Along this walk is where you’ll come across the town’s most popular attraction, the Old Mill. Step inside the Old Mill’s museum to learn about it’s history over the centuries and refuel with a bite to eat and some tea in the museum’s cafe.
One of the bigger and more popular Cotswolds towns, Bourton-on-the-Water has been named ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds’ because of the many little footbridges that cross over the River Windrush that runs through the town.
One of the best things to in Bourton-on-the-Water is simply taking a scenic stroll along the river, finding perfect photo opportunities as you go. The town is full of cute cafes, tea houses, old pubs and lovely little shops, it’s easy to lose track of time as you wander through the streets.
Check out the Model Village which is a miniature replica of Bourton-on-the-Water built in traditional Cotswolds stone at 1/9th scale of the actual town! This is a fun attraction that doesn’t take too long to get through and something that appeals to all ages.
Another cool thing to see in Bourton-on-the-Water is the Cotswolds Motoring Museum which is home to a big collection of vintage cars, motorcycles, caravans and much more! A must visit for any motor enthusiast.
Where to stay in Bourton-on-the-Water
The Lamb Inn – After a full day of exploring the Cotswolds, you’ll need to find a comfortable place to rest your head and The Lamb Inn makes a great choice.
Located only a short drive from Bourton-on-the-Water, this beautiful countryside inn has everything you could ask for. It features free parking, spacious rooms, breakfast included and a nice restaurant serving delicious food!
It’s been called one of the most beautiful villages in England, Bibury is no stranger to a crowd. Arlington Row is said to be one of the most photographed scenes in all of England.
This perfect little row of stone houses dates back to the 14th century and is truly like a scene taken straight from a fairy-tale. The buildings were originally used to store wool but were later converted to weaver’s cottages in the 17th century.
Nowadays the buildings that you see are actually inhabited by people, which is important to remember when you’re strolling along snapping photos.
Besides admiring this lovely row of houses, the charming ivy-covered Swan Hotel next to the River Coln makes an excellent place to stop in for a tea break. The historic building was once an 18th century coaching inn and has since been turned into a hotel with a nice restaurant, bar and café.
Located in the south end of the Cotswolds, Castle Combe is a picturesque little village with traditional honey-coloured stone cottages and a bubbling stream flowing through. This is another village that’s been heavily photographed and it’s not hard to see why.
I really felt like I was walking through the set of a movie, it’s just that perfect (also because it has actually been featured in several movies/TV series!) Castle Combe is quite literally frozen in time as there have been no new buildings constructed in the town since the 17th century.
If you visit Castle Combe during the summer, you will definitely see some tour groups and crowds filling the little streets. But if you go during the winter like I did, you might just be lucky enough to get this fairy-tale village to yourself!
Besides, visiting the Cotswolds at Christmas time only adds to the magic of this place!
Besides strolling through the village taking photos around each corner, there are a few things to do here that you shouldn’t miss. Grab a classic English pub lunch at the White Hart or Castle Inn, both historic pubs in the town centre serving tasty food and ales.
Take a walk over to the 14th century Manor House, which is now a luxury hotel with a golf course and a Michelin star restaurant. You can pop inside for afternoon tea or just admire the gorgeous building from the outside and carry on.
Before you drive off to Bath, make sure to walk down the hill from the market square until you reach the bridge. This is the perfect angle to capture the cottages, river and surrounding woodland, and even better if you can get this magical scene all to yourself!
An easy 30 minute drive from Castle Combe will bring you to the charming city of Bath. Rich in history that goes all the way back to the Roman times, there are so many awesome things to see and do in Bath that you could easily spend a few days there and not be bored.
This road trip from London itinerary includes one full day in Bath, so I will be recommending the absolute highlights that cannot be missed!
In addition to the incredible Roman monuments that Bath is famous for, it’s also known for it’s Georgian architecture featuring many impressive 18th century structures.
Some of the highlights that you will see on your visit are the Pulteney Bridge, the Royal Crescent and Bath Abbey, but there are many other pretty buildings to be discovered as you explore the town.
Highlights of Bath
Roman Baths – The most famous attraction that draws people to Bath is the ancient Roman Baths. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a history that goes back almost 2,000 years. What originally started off as a Roman Temple eventually turned into a public bath house that became extremely popular for people visiting from all over the UK and Europe.
The series of pools and baths have been incredibly well maintained and preserved and are open to the public for viewing purposes only. After you finish your tour through the bathing rooms, you’ll end up at the museum which tells the story of the baths over the centuries and has many fascinating Roman artefacts on display.
When starting your full day of sightseeing in Bath, it’s worth visiting the Roman Baths first thing in the morning to avoid standing in long queues and crowds. Throughout the day, it gets very busy with tour groups visiting on a day trip from London especially during high season.
Roman Baths Opening Hours – 9:30am – 5pm
Roman Bath Tickets – The ticket price varies throughout the year depending on the season. Tickets do tend to sell out so I would recommend buying them online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Bath Abbey – Tick off yet another UNESCO Heritage listed site in Bath when you visit the beautiful 1,000 year old Bath Abbey which is conveniently located right next door to the Roman Baths.
Although the history of this church goes back so far, it has seen many changes and renovations to its appearance over the years. Entrance to the church is free but if you wish to climb the tower to get a view over the town, it costs £8.
Pulteney Bridge – A visit to Bath is not complete without a stroll across the iconic Pulteney Bridge. This 18th century bridge is one of the four bridges left in the world with shops lining each side.
The others that you may have heard of include Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Rialto Bridge in Venice, and Krämerbrücke in Germany.
Take a look through the little shops on the bridge and walk along both sides of the Avon River to find the perfect angle to photograph the bridge from.
Thermae Bath Spa – Just because you weren’t able to bathe in the ancient Roman Baths, doesn’t mean you’re out of luck! The Thermae Bath Spa is a modern hot spring spa fed by mineral waters from the original Bath springs.
You have the option to relax in their indoor baths or in the open air rooftop bath that overlooks the city with epic panoramic views. This is the perfect way to end the day and unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Find out more information about visiting the Thermae Bath Spa here.
Sally Lunn’s Tea House – Stop in for a snack and some tea at the famous Sally Lunn’s Tea House. This is one of the oldest buildings in Bath and it’s also where the iconic “Bath Bun” was first created in the 15th century.
Bath is full of quintessential English tea rooms but if you’re looking for some history to go along with your tea, this is the place to go!
If you’re a customer of Sally Lunn’s, this also gives you access to the in-house museum located below the tea house. You’ll be able to walk through the medieval kitchen and learn stories of the buildings history.
Royal Crescent – Another one of Bath’s most iconic buildings is the 18th century crescent shaped row of town homes. It’s located on a hill about 15 minutes walk from the town centre.
One of the town homes has been decorated with antique furnishings and opened up to the public as a museum. Head inside the museum for a glimpse into upper class life in 18th century Bath. Find more info here.
Bath Walking Tour – Taking a guided tour of Bath’s highlights is a great idea to help you gain a deeper insight into the town’s fascinating history. A tour guide will lead you through the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, Bath Circus and the Crescent.
This tour includes skip-the-line tickets to the Roman Baths as well as a guided tour through the bath house. Click here to find tickets and availability.
Where to stay in Bath
This road trip from London itinerary recommends staying 2 nights in Bath so you’ll want to find a nice place with a good breakfast!
Bailbrook Lodge – We stayed at this charming old manor 5 minutes from Bath city centre and had a great stay. The breakfast was delicious and included complimentary champagne!
Free parking is available on site and we chose to leave the car parked there and catch the bus into Bath which was very easy to do from just outside of the inn. We can definitely recommend this place!
Brooks Guesthouse – If you’re hoping to stay somewhere a bit more central and closer to the action then the Brooks Guesthouse is a good option. It’s a 10 minute walk to the town centre of Bath making all of the main attractions easily accessible.
Parking spaces are available near the guest house at an extra cost. The rooms are nicely decorated and all reviews say positive things about the breakfast which is included in your stay.
The Bath Priory – Seeking some luxury during your stay in Bath? This gorgeous country manor is set 3km from Bath city centre, surrounded by lush greenery and gardens. The hotel features a beautiful indoor pool, sauna and a spa offering beauty treatments.
The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated. The hotel’s restaurant serves high quality French cuisine and seasonal dishes. Free parking is available on site. A great option if you’re seeking some comfort and relaxation.
The prehistoric ruins of Stonehenge are arguably one of the most visited attractions in the UK. With millions of tourists visiting each year, there is a reason why Stonehenge is worthy of a stop on this road trip itinerary!
The most fascinating thing about this circle of stones is their mysterious nature. They’ve been estimated to be around 5,000 years old but no one actually knows how or why they were put there and arranged in a circle.
Your ticket to the stones includes the shuttle that takes you there from the visitor centre and a visit to the museum. The museum has hundreds of prehistoric exhibits on display with history and facts from the time Stonehenge was constructed. You should allow for up to 2 hours to spend at the stones and museum.
Is Stonehenge worth visiting? Stonehenge is very touristy and you can expect to see some crowds but this shouldn’t stop you from seeing such an incredible wonder of the world. Despite the crowds, Stonehenge is such a unique and important part of British history and it’s absolutely worth a visit on this road trip from London!
Tickets – £21.10 adult, £12.70 child
The final stop on this road trip from London will bring you to yet another historic gem. Salisbury is the closest city to Stonehenge, being a convenient 20 minute drive to the south.
The city is steeped in fascinating history and well-known for the incredible 13th century Gothic Cathedral which happens to have the UK’s tallest spire!
Salisbury Cathedral is truly a work of art, both inside and out. Inside of the Cathedral, you will be able to see some original Saxon documents including one of the four original Magna Carta’s.
Highlights of Salisbury
Salisbury Cathedral – The city’s main attraction and one of the most visited churches in England is the spectacular Salisbury Cathedral. The Cathedral was built in traditional English Gothic style and completed in the year 1258.
Some of its best features include beautiful stained glass windows, the largest cloister in England dating from the 13th century, the oldest working clock in the world and of course the amazing spire!
One of the highlights of visiting Salisbury Cathedral is taking a tour of the tower. If you feel like braving the 332 steps up a winding medieval staircase, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views over Salisbury and surrounding countryside. See the official website for more info on tower tour pricing and booking.
It goes without saying that the other highlight is seeing the Magna Carta which is displayed in the Cathedral’s Chapter House. This ancient document dates back to the year 1215 and signifies the foundation of constitutional law in Britain.
The copy that you can see in Salisbury Cathedral is the best preserved out of the four remaining copies in the world.
Salisbury Museum – A fascinating museum full of ancient artefacts that tell the story of the region’s vast history from prehistoric times to present day. The museum is inside “The King’s House” which is a listed building dating to the 13th century, it first opened it’s doors in 1860.
Some of the objects on display are over 2,700 years old and range from weapons to jewellery and even a 4,000 year old skeleton from the Bronze Age who was found with gold and other interesting items inside his grave.
You can find the Salisbury Museum near the Cathedral Close, facing the western side of the Cathedral. See the official website for more info about planning your visit.
Old Sarum – Salisbury once started as an Iron Age settlement located 2 miles north of the current city. The history of this site goes back to the year 400 BC and you’ll be able to see the town’s ramparts, ruins from the Cathedral and the site where the castle once stood.
In the year 1220, the entire town moved to its present day location leaving Old Sarum abandoned and the Cathedral demolished once the new one was built in Salisbury.
As you walk through the peaceful countryside setting, it’s hard to imagine that a busy medieval village once existed there. Visiting this site is definitely a must during your time in Salisbury, not only is it rich in history but the countryside views also make it worth while.
Find more info about getting tickets and visiting Old Sarum here.
Medieval Pubs – Salisbury has no shortage of quirky old English pubs, full of character and old world charm. Low ceilings, oak beams, open fires and creaky floorboards, there’s really nothing like a good old medieval pub to transport you back in time!
We stopped for lunch at The New Inn and really enjoyed sitting outside in their beer garden. The timber framed building is full of character and dates to the 14th century.
The food we had was great but the best part is the awesome view of the Cathedral’s spire that can be seen from the beer garden.
A few other pubs in Salisbury that are worth checking out: The Ox Row Inn, The Wig and Quill, The Haunch of Venison, The Old Mill. See this website for a list of more pubs and dining options in Salisbury.
Where to stay in Salisbury
The Chapter House – A charming old Tudor building with plenty of character and modern comforts located in the town centre of Salisbury, within walking distance to attractions.
The rooms are nicely decorated with modern furnishings and each one features something different from original fireplaces to wooden wall panelling. The restaurant serves British cuisine with a breakfast included in your stay. Parking is available nearby for £6 per day.
The Legacy Rose & Crown Hotel – Finish off your England road trip in a lovely old building set in a scenic location. This beautiful hotel sits on the edge of the River Avon in a gorgeous 13th century half-timbered building.
It’s located just outside of the town centre, only a 10 minute walk from the Cathedral. Some of the rooms feature stunning river views. Free parking is available on site and breakfast is also included.
The Kings Head Inn Wetherspoon – If you’re looking for a more budget friendly option in the town centre of Salisbury, The Kings Head makes a great choice.
With excellent ratings, this hotel offers comfortable spacious rooms, a restaurant and bar on the ground floor, and walking distance to attractions, all for a reasonable price. Parking is available in a car park a few minutes walk from the inn.
Read More England Travel Guides
- The Top 20 Most Beautiful English Villages
- The Perfect Day Trip Itinerary from London to Bath
- Top 10 Cotswolds Tours from London
- 10 Epic Day Trips to the Countryside of Kent
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