5 travel itineraries for exploring the Cotswolds without a car

Featuring picturesque villages, charming cottages, rolling hills, enchanting valleys and splendid scenery, the Cotswolds are one of the best places to visit in the UK. Offering the perfect country escape, the Cotswolds can be explored without a car. However, expect to visit a limited number of villages at any given time and spend a lot of time travelling.

From London and any major city in the UK, you can travel by train or bus to the main cities near the Cotswolds and then by bus to the towns and villages of the Cotswolds. Some villages are unfortunately not accessible by public transport. However, you can also get around by taxi or on foot. You’ll find travel itineraries for exploring the Cotswolds without a car based on the most convenient travel routes by public transport.

I’d recommend thoroughly researching your itinerary and the bus times before setting off. The bus itineraries and timetables are subject to change. Some buses run infrequently, and most buses have limited services on Sundays and bank holidays. If you’re planning on taking the bus several times a day, you may wish to consider the Cotswolds Discoverer One Day Travel Pass.

1. Travelling by bus from Chippenham to Badminton, Castle Combe and Malmesbury

Located east of Bath and Bristol, Chippenham can easily be reached by train or bus from Bath, Bristol and London (and any other major city in the UK). From the city of Chippenham, you can explore the three Cotswold villages of Badminton, Castle Combe and Malmesbury by bus. Due to the limited bus services to Badminton and Castle Combe, you’ll struggle to explore all three villages in one day. I’d recommend visiting these villages over two days and staying overnight in Malmesbury.

Cotswold cottages along the By Brook stream in Castle Combe
Weavers cottages in Castle Combe

Exploring Castle Combe

From Chippenham, you can take the 35 bus to Castle Combe. One of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, Castle Combe offers rows upon rows of quaint cottages. The picturesque village also features a remarkable 14th century market cross, a medieval water pump, the 13th century church of St Andrews and a peaceful stream that completes the picture-perfect scene. Find out more with the Castle Combe guide.

Visiting Malmesbury

Back in Chippenham, you can travel to Malmesbury with the 92 bus. The market town of Malmesbury is filled with Cotswold charm. Malmesbury features striking medieval architecture, picturesque cottages, delightful independent shops and cafés, and beautiful country views. The key attractions include the Norman Abbey and the 13th century market cross. Explore the market town with the Malmesbury guide.

Quaint and colourful cottages in Malmesbury
Medieval town houses in Malmesbury

Escaping to Badminton

From Malmesbury, you can visit Badminton with the 41 bus. Renowned for the grand Badminton Estate and the annual Badminton Horse Trials, the Cotswold village of Badminton boasts an impressive collection of chocolate-box cottages. You can explore the picturesque villages of Badminton and Little Badminton, the delightful Badminton Park and the rolling Cotswold countryside with the Badminton walk guide.

Picturesque thatched and stone cottages in Little Badminton on the Badminton Park walk
Quaint cottages in Little Badminton

Public transport itineraries

Find the itineraries and timetables for the 35 bus to Castle Combe on faresaver.co.uk and the 92 bus to Malmesbury on coachstyle.uk. Please note that there are limited services on the 35 bus to Castle Combe and the 41 bus between Malmesbury and Badminton.

If you wish to extend your trip, you can also travel by bus from Chippenham to Box and from Malmesbury to Cirencester and Tetbury. Find the public transport itineraries by Cotswold village.

2. Visiting Bisley, Painswick and Uley from Stroud without a car

Located in the heart of the Central Cotswolds, Stroud can be reached by train or bus from Cheltenham, Gloucester and London (and any other major city in the UK). From the city of Stroud, you can explore the three Cotswold villages of Bisley, Painswick and Uley by bus. Due to the limited bus services to Bisley, you’ll struggle to explore all three villages in one day. I’d recommend visiting these villages over two days and staying overnight in Painswick.

Views of Uley village nested in Cotswold valley
Views of the Uley village

Exploring Uley

From Stroud, you can visit Uley with the 65 bus. Alternatively, you can take the 65 bus from Cam & Dursley Railway Station. Nested in an enchanting valley, the chocolate-box village of Uley comprises one main street, one quaint shop, one charming pub and rows upon rows of charming cottages. Uley also boasts a breathtaking hill fort which offers a lovely walk. Find the Uley to Uley Bury & Cam Long Down walk guide.

Escaping to Painswick

Back in Stroud, you can take the 66 bus to Painswick. Alternatively, you can take the 66 bus from Cheltenham. Painswick offers typical Cotswold streets and cottages. The picturesque town also features a stunning Norman church and intriguing churchyard, beautiful Rococo gardens, a remarkable hill fort and lovely country scenery. Explore the quaint town with the Painswick guide.

Typical Cotswold cottage in Painswick
Cotswold cottage in Painswick

Visiting Bisley

You can travel from Stroud to Bisley with the 8B bus. The village of Bisley is the epitome of British country charm. Boasting quaint streets and striking landscapes, Bisley is a peaceful market town and usually quieter than other Cotswold villages. You can easily get lost in the quaint, tranquil streets of the old town and marvel at the rows upon rows of chocolate-box Cotswold cottages. Find out more with the Bisley guide.

Quaint row of cottages in Bisley
Church Hill cottages in Bisley

Public transport itineraries

Find the itineraries and timetables for the 65 bus to Uley and the 66 bus to Painswick on stagecoachbus.com. Please note that there are limited services on the 8B bus to Bisley and the 65 bus to Uley.

If you wish to extend your trip, you can also travel by bus from Stroud to Cirencester, Nailsworth and Tetbury. Find the public transport itineraries by Cotswold village.

3. Exploring Bibury, Cirencester and Northleach from Kemble by bus

Kemble Railway Station can easily be reached by train from London (and any other major city in the UK). From Kemble Railway Station, you can explore the three Cotswold villages of Bibury, Cirencester and Northleach by bus. Due to the limited bus services to Bibury and Northleach, you’ll struggle to explore all three villages in one day. I’d recommend visiting these villages over two days and staying overnight in Cirencester.

Visiting Cirencester

From Kemble, you can travel to Cirencester with the 882 bus. Alternatively, you can take the 882 bus from Gloucester, the 51 bus from Cheltenham or Swindon, or the 54 bus from Stroud. The medieval market town of Cirencester features a striking market square, the imposing St John Baptist church, an intriguing Roman amphitheatre, quaint narrow streets, independent shops and cafes, and charming parks.

Medieval Cotswold cottages in Cirencester
Cirencester Park cottages

Exploring Bibury and Northleach

From Cirencester, you can visit both Bibury and Northleach with the 885 bus. Alternatively, you can take the 801 bus from Cheltenham or Moreton-in-Marsh to Bourton-on-the-Water, then the 855 bus from Bourton-on-the-Water to Bibury and Northleach.

Bibury is one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds. Renowned for Arlington Row, a charming lane of medieval cottages, Bibury also offers an delightful water meadow and is filled with Cotswold charm. Nested in an enchanting Cotswold valley, the market town of Northleach enjoys a charming market square, picturesque narrow streets, medieval town houses, quaint Cotswold cottages and independent shops.

Arlington Row, famous row of Cotswold cottages in Bibury
Arlington Row in Bibury (National Trust)

Public transport itineraries

Find the itineraries and timetables for the 855 bus to Bibury and Northleach and the 882 bus to Cirencester on pulhamscoaches.com. Please note that there are limited services on the 855 bus to Bibury and Northleach.

If you wish to extend your trip, you can also travel by bus from Cirencester to Malmesbury and Tetbury, and from Northleach to Bourton-on-the-Water and Burford. Find the public transport itineraries by Cotswold village.

4. Travelling without a car from Moreton-in-Marsh to Lower Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold

From London, Oxford and any major city in the UK, you can travel by train to Moreton-in-Marsh. The Cotswold market town of Moreton-in-Marsh features a wide high street, the remarkable Curfew Tower, charming Cotswold town houses and cottages, and independent shops and cafes. The historic market still runs every Tuesday on the high street.

From Moreton-in-Marsh, you can travel to the Cotswold villages of Lower Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold with the 801 bus. Alternatively, you can take the 801 bus from Cheltenham to Lower Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold or the 802 bus from Kingham to Stow-on-the-Wold. While you can travel to all three villages in one day, I’d recommend visiting these villages over two days and staying overnight in Moreton-in-Marsh.

Charming street along stream in Lower Slaughter, top picturesque village in the North Cotswolds
Lower Slaughter

Escaping to Lower Slaughter

The top attraction in the village of Lower Slaughter is the quaint row of honey-coloured cottages overlooking the charming Eye stream. Other sights include the old mill, which has been turned into a museum, and the stately Manor House. From Lower Slaughter, you can walk along the River Eye to the village of Upper Slaughter. The sister village to Lower Slaughter, Upper Slaughter enjoys a cluster of quaint cottages and a serene hamlet feel.

Visiting Stow-on-the-Wold

Another typical market town, Stow-on-the-Wold offers an impressive market square with an ancient cross, medieval old stocks, independent and antique shops, cosy cafes and delightful pubs. Known for its yew tree framed doorway, the church of St Edwards boasts striking architecture. The Cotswold market town is also filled with chocolate-box town houses and cottages.

The market place in the Cotswold town of Stow-on-the-Wold
Market square in Stow-on-the-Wold (Cotswolds)

Public transport itineraries

Find the itinerary and timetable for the 801 bus to Lower Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold on pulhamscoaches.com. Please note that the bus stop for Lower Slaughter is called Slaughter Pike.

If you wish to extend your trip, you can also travel by bus from Moreton-in-Marsh to Blockley, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Chipping Campden and Northleach Find the public transport itineraries by Cotswold village.

5. Visiting Blockley, Broadway and Chipping Campden from Moreton-in-Marsh by bus

From London, Oxford and any major city in the UK, you can travel by train to Moreton-in-Marsh. Featuring a wide high street, the remarkable Curfew Tower, charming Cotswold town houses and cottages, and independent shops and cafes, the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh is full of Cotswold charm. The historic market still runs every Tuesday on the high street.

From Moreton-in-Marsh, you can travel to the three Cotswold villages of Blockley, Broadway and Chipping Campden with the 1 or 2 bus. Alternatively, you can take the 1 or 2 bus from Stratford-upon-Avon to Blockley, Broadway, Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh, and the 606 bus from Cheltenham to Broadway and Chipping Campden. You won’t have time to explore all four villages in one day, so I’d recommend staying overnight in Broadway or Chipping Campden.

Red telephone box and street in Chipping Campden, North Cotswold village
High Street in Chipping Campden

Exploring Blockley, Broadway and Chipping Campden

A peaceful Cotswold village, Blockley enchants with its winding stream and picture- perfect cottages. Nested in an enchanting valley, Blockley is the epitome of Cotswold quintessence. The market town of Broadway features a wide and grand high street full of shops and cafés, and imposing architecture in the typical Cotswold stone. From Broadway, you can walk to Broadway Tower, which offers lovely views of the surrounding Cotswold countryside.

Chipping Campden offers a welcoming market town feel. The medieval market town features a remarkable market hall, windy narrow streets and quaint cottages painted in the golden Cotswold stone. The high street is a delight of small cafés and shops, but the side streets are equally striking with their collection of distinctive cottages.

Quaint Cotswold cottage in Broadway village
Quaint cottages in Broadway

Public transport itineraries

Find the itinerary and timetable for the 1 and 2 buses to Blockley, Broadway and Chipping Campden on johnsonscoaches.co.uk. Please note that there are limited services on the 1 bus to Broadway.

If you wish to extend your trip, you can also travel by bus from Moreton-in-Marsh to Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, Northleach and Stow-on-the-Wold, and from Broadway and Chipping Camden to Stanton and Winchcombe. Find the public transport itineraries by Cotswold village.

Explore the Cotswolds further

The Cotswolds offer picturesque villages, charming cottages, honey-coloured stone, bountiful hills and spectacular scenery. From Castle Combe to Painswick and Broadway, the Cotswolds are full of charming British quintessence. Explore this enchanting region further with the Cotswold travel guides.

Bright red telephone box and post box contrast against the honey-coloured Cotswold cottage in Stanton
The picturesque village of Stanton

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Itineraries for the Cotswolds without a car

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