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Drive through rolling hills and patchwork countryside to discover some of England’s most captivating historic cities and eccentric villages. Stop by beautiful Oxford and Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.
Exploring England is easy. In the countryside, the roads are excellent, well signposted and largely toll free. Distances between towns are short and driving is on the left hand side of the road, same as in New Zealand.
Day 1: London – Oxford (90km)
Oxford University, founded in the 11th century, is the oldest in the English speaking world and lends a unique academic atmosphere. Take a walking tour of the colleges, gardens and alleyways to hear of the fascinating history. You may recognise Christ Church College as the setting of Harry Potter.
Day 2: Oxford – Stratford-upon-Avon (66km)
Stop at Blenheim Palace on your way to the vibrant, small town of Stratford. Boasting a rich architectural heritage, Stratford has an English charm with 500 year old houses, traditional English pubs, and the peaceful River Avon.
Day 3: Stratford-upon-Avon – Cheltenham (50km)
Journey to the spa town of Cheltenham, your base for touring the Cotswolds Romantic Road.
Day 4: Road for Today (113km)
The Romantic Road takes you north over Cleeve Hill and down into historic Winchcombe. Visit Stanway and Stanton before the quaint chocolate-box villages of Broadway, Chipping Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, and the Slaughters.
Day 5: Road for Tomorrow (145km)
Follow the country road to Northleach and onwards to Burford following the Windrush Valley. Lechlade and Fairford feature on the journey en route to Cirencester via the pretty village of Bibury on the River Coln. Follow the winding road back to Cheltenham calling into Painswick.
Customise this itinerary to travel at your own pace.
Continue back to London or onward to Bath and South West England.
Highlights worth seeing along the way
Blenheim Palace – This lavishly decorated, grand country house built in 1705 is the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Enjoy a guided tour through the state rooms and wander through the beautiful gardens.
Cheltenham – King George III came to drink Cheltenham’s medicinal waters and it wasn’t long before the town was transformed into a fashionable resort spa, with wide boulevards, imperial gardens and glorious Georgian architecture.
Snowshill – Set in the hills and famous for its elegant manor house and gardens, this collection of ancient cottages, a 19th century village church and characterful pub are all clustered around a tiny village green. Visit the Snowshill Lavender Farm for the finest lavender products.
Hailes Abbey, Winchcombe – These beautiful 13th century remains, are the perfect place to take a picnic and enjoy your surroundings.
Warwick Castle – The castle dates to the 10th century. Explore the Great Hall, State Rooms, Chapel, Ghost Tower and Dungeons, and outside, the Victorian rose garden, conservatory and peacock garden.
Cotswold Way – A public footpath providing loads of walks all over the Cotswolds through honey coloured villages, past beautiful old houses and thatched cottages.
William Shakespeare – His five unique properties dominate Stratford including the beautiful cottage of his wife, Anne Hathaway.
Our favourite places to stay:
• Mercure Eastgate Hotel, Oxford
• Queen’s Hotel, Cheltenham
• DoubleTree by Hilton Stratford-upon-Avon
Choosing your Rental Car
Take into consideration the size of the vehicle you require. We strongly recommend a minimum 1.4 litre for two adults. If the vehicle is to be used for day touring from a central base and not for transporting your luggage, a smaller vehicle may be adequate. We suggest you book your car before leaving home as this will save money and ensure you get the car of your choice.
Image credit: VisitEngland