On Friday I celebrated my four year anniversary of living in London. Throughout my time here, I’ve made an effort to see as much of the country as I can. One way I’ve gone about it is to take day trips from London to other parts of England. I always do so independently, either by train or car. Until Saturday, that is. On Saturday I went on an organized day trip from London to Stratford-upon-Avon, the Cotswolds, Warwick Castle, and Oxford compliments of GetYourGuide.

Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford

Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford

It was an ambitious itinerary. The 12-hour tour from London left Victoria Coach Station at 8:30am and wasn’t scheduled to return until 8pm. There were three major stops on the trip and a fourth for lunch. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive.

That was party because I’m not a big fan of organized tours. I find group travel puts frustrating limits on my freedom and tour guides put me in a coma of boredom.

When several of the 27 other people on the tour held up our departure by making last-nanosecond trips to the bathrooms and coffee shops, I had a feeling I was in for a very long day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford.

Houses in Warwick, England

The Tour Guide

However, shortly after we departed, our guide, Alan, welcomed us on board and entertained us with some tantalizing tales about London.

Despite my misgivings, I found myself cracking a smile. His style was far from the dry recitation of historical hodgepodge that characterized most tour guides, and I appreciated it.

Alan’s anecdotes made the two-hour drive from London to Warwick Castle pass by quickly. We arrived in Warwick around 10:30am and had the next hour-and-a-half to explore the castle.

Bicycle by the Vaults and Garden Cafe in Oxford

Warwick Castle

The best part for me was that we were able to explore it on our own. And explore I did.

I took off down the path to the fortress, which was conceived in the 10th century and built up over the next few.

I stopped at the rose garden and the historic mill, headed across the idyllic River Avon, and visited the birds of prey. They reminded me of the ones I flew during my Leeds Castle falconry experience a few years ago.

Warwick Castle in England

Afterwards I entered the castle walls and climbed up to the top of the towers. The views were stunning.

From there I walked through an exhibition about castle life. Warwick Castle is owned by the same group that owns the London attraction Madame Tussauds.

As such, it was heavy on the human replicas and unnecessary glamorization of menial chores like mending underwear.

Still, the small exhibitions about the involvement of Richard III and other important personages were pleasantly informative for my inner history nerd and Shakespeare fan.

Warwick Castle

Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon

Speaking of whom, we departed Warwick Castle at noon and headed to the next stop on our day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford: the birthplace of Shakespeare.

It’s worth noting that we actually departed on schedule, too, which was the first time in all of my organized day trip experiences that that has happened. I was happy.

We arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon after a short drive from Warwick Castle. Skipping the queue at the entrance to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, we filed into the small home on Henley Street to see The Bard’s abode.

It was crowded, but I slowly made my way through the dining room, living room, bedrooms, kitchen, and other parts of the house. It was large for its time, and there were several exhibitions about Shakespeare and his home along the way.

Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford upon Avon, England

After the visit, I had about 30 minutes to explore Stratford-upon-Avon. I started by walking down to the river and past the theater where I had seen my friend in Romeo and Juliet on my last visit to Stratford-upon-Avon.

I also walked around the main shopping streets, which were filled with restaurants, pubs, tea rooms, high street shops, and boutiques.

I was more interested in the facades of the beautiful historic buildings than their contents, and ran through the rain to see as much of Stratford-upon-Avon as I could before heading back to the bus.

Historic Street in Stratford upon Avon

The Cotswolds

Once there, we had another on-time departure and left for the next stop on our day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford.

Our driver, Keith, drove us into the countryside for lunch at a place called the White Hart pub in the Cotswolds.

It was around 2:30pm by the time we got there, and I was famished. I thought it would have made more sense to stop for lunch before traveling to Stratford-upon-Avon, but I enjoyed the mushroom stroganoff and conversation with the others at my table all the same.

After lunch we drove through the idyllic Cotswolds countryside as Alan entertained us with stories about thatched-roof cottages and pointed out everything from deer and llamas to a witch’s house.

White Hart Pub in the Cotswolds


An hour later we arrived at the last stop on our day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford.

The bus dropped us off right outside of Christ Church, the Oxford University college that’s famous for its rich history and—let’s be honest—its role as a filming location for the Harry Potter movies.

Fan Vaulted Ceiling at Christ Church in Oxford

We waited in a long line to get into the Great Hall, a stunning room lined with portraits of famous personages like John Locke and John Wesley.

Sadly, I think I was the only person who was more interested in the actual history of the building than the Harry Potter history.

One woman had such an encyclopedic knowledge of the films that she pointed out every minor difference between the actual Christ Church Great Hall and the Hogwarts version.

Christ Church Great Hall in Oxford

Once outside the hall, Alan took us on a short tour of Oxford. Starting on the grounds of Christ Church, we walked by Oriel College, where friends of mine had shown me the world’s largest portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on my last trip to Oxford.

From there we continued along to Radcliffe Square, past the Bridge of Sighs, and alongside the Sheldonian Theatre, where I had been to my friend’s graduation from Oxford a while back.

Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, England

The Oxford tour ended outside the Ashmolean Museum, where the bus was scheduled to pick us up 40 minutes later.

I spent the remainder of my visit to Oxford walking through the famous Covered Market and along the bustling shopping streets. At the end of the day, I boarded the bus for the hour’s drive back to London.

Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford Verdict

We arrived in the city at 7:30pm and the bus made several stops to let us all off as close to our hotels and homes as possible. As predicted, I was completely exhausted from the day and ended up getting 12 hours of sleep that night.

When I woke up the next morning, I had time to reflect on my epic day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford.

Oxford University College Architecture

I enjoyed it a lot more than I had anticipated, owing largely to Alan’s ability to mix history and hilarity, traveling with a good group of bus tour companions, and getting a nice balance of guided tours and free time.

However, I thought that doing a day trip to so many places in just 12 hours was a bit ambitious. I felt rushed in Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, two cities that deserve an entire day just for themselves.

River Avon at Warwick Castle in England

Then again, not everyone on the tour lives in London and has the luxury of being able to take separate day trips to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford.

If I were only traveling in the UK for a week, I would probably want to pack in as much as I could in every tour, too.

To be honest, I live in the UK and I still feel that way sometimes. Maybe that’s the problem. There is entirely too much to see in this country. I’m glad I have a long time to get around to visiting the rest of it.

If you want to do this tour, you can book it on the GetYourGuide website here.

New here? Join thousands of others and subscribe to the A Lady in London blog via email.

Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a small commission when you click on them and make a purchase. It doesn’t affect the way you shop, and it’s a great way to support the A Lady in London blog.

Pin it!
Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford

12 Comments on Lady on a Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, and Oxford

  1. You said that there is too much to see in this country. I celebrated my second anniversary in London in early October and it never ceases to amaze me how well the elderly age in this country. You do a remarkable job of sharing your experiences in the UK but if I may suggest, try to catch snippets of the tales they tell about these precious places. I’m never leaving because as you implied so eloquently, there is always something else to see.

    QUESTION: Have you ever been to Southend on Sea? I lived there for two months during a project and I will never forget it.

    Happy anniversary Lady.

  2. Thank you for posting. I am meeting my son in England in a few weeks and we are planning on spending a day in each of the locations you visited prior to completing the week in London. Your information will be helpful to us.

  3. Sounds like a great trip. We’re also not fond of tours (never took one) but due to lack of time on this trip we’re thinking of taking a day trip to Oxford and Stratford. Trying to decide which company to use. Could you let us know the name of the company you used? It seems they were reliable. We’ve read some reviews and it seems those companies which have the trip we want have both good and very bad reviews. We’re planning to buy tickets online and are a little concerned about dependability of the tour companies. Appreciate any info. Thanks

    • Hi Carol. I’m glad you found the post helpful. The company I went through was GetYourGuide. You can find a link to their website in the beginning of the post. Have a great trip!

  4. We took a trip to the UK for about 10 days last June, and spent 2 days in Edinburgh, 2 in York, 2 in Warwick and 2 in Bath, then on to London. It was a whirlwind tour, and we at the last minute decided not to go to Stratford upon Avon. I do wish now that we had made the effort to go to Oxford and Stratford. We took the train and dragged suitcases the entire way, but wanted to be our own guides. It is lovely to see your photos and videos.

    • That sounds like a great trip, Joan! You covered a lot of the top places in the UK. If you get a chance to come back, I definitely recommend Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon.

  5. Really pleased you enjoyed your tour of Warwick and the surrounding area , however I would recommend a visit to Baddesley Clinton house , a NT property as a complement to any tour of the area . For a true feel of the history of the area , with Priest holes and the Gunpowder plot connections .

  6. Am planning my holiday and your experience was really Informative as I am not a fan of organised tours but sometimes a great guide and nice companions make up for its shortcomings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.