We were very excited to visit Blenheim Palace and a couple of the Cotswolds villages on our private tour by car with a Blue Badge local guide. On our London day trip, we toured the grand Blenheim Palace and the photogenic rural Cotswolds villages of Bibury and Burford.
We’ll tell you how you can plan your own day trip from London to visit these places whether you want to visit by car, public transit, or guided tour. We’ll also share details about our own Blenheim Palace day trip along with photos from all the places we visited on our tour.
Our London Day Trip to the Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace
We actually booked our London day tour to Blenheim Palace by invitation from a company called Zestrip, an Italy-based online marketplace where local experts or guides could advertise and sell activities and tours to travelers. However this company has since closed. The private tour we took was with Blue Badge guide Robina Brown, and she still offers private tours throughout the UK via her website.
Our tour was private and customizable, and our guide Robina was very responsive and easy to communicate with in putting together the details of our trip. We decided with her to visit Blenheim Palace, Bladon (where the Churchills are buried near Blenheim), and a couple of Cotswolds villages (Bibury and Burford).
We could have easily fit another Cotwolds village or two into our day. Other nearby Cotswolds villages of interest that would have fit well with this trip are Bourton-on-the-Water, Upper Slaugther, Lower Slaughter, and/or Stow-on-the-Wold.
Our first stop on our trip was Blenheim Palace. It is about 1.5 hours without traffic from London, but we had some traffic leaving the city so it took us about 2 hours. Robina provided commentary during our drive and we had a very pleasant conversation which made the drive go by fairly quickly.
Although Laurence and I have visited Oxford several times (you can check out our recommended Oxford itinerary), we had never made it out to Blenheim Palace so we were excited to finally see it!
Blenheim Palace is one of England’s largest country houses, and serves as the principal residence of the dukes of Marlborough. The Palace was built between 1705 and 1722 in the English Baroque style by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor (who also designed Castle Howard). Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
After visiting Blenheim Palace, we recommend taking a short drive to nearby St. Martin’s Church in the nearby village of Bladon to see the Spencer-Churchill family graves where Sir Winston Churchill, his wife Clementine, and several of his family members are buried. If the church is open, you can also see a small exhibition inside and a Churchill memorial window.
This was a pleasant stop and we were the only people at the churchyard during our short visit there. But note there are only a few parking spaces next to the church so if coming by car, you may need to park in the village and walk a little bit.
Bibury Most Beautiful Village in the Cotswolds
Bibury is a small Cotswolds village in Gloucestershire that was described by artist William Morris as “the most beautiful village in the Cotswolds”. One of the most photographed views in Bibury is the picturesque Arlington Row stone cottages which were originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store and later converted into weavers’ cottages in the seventeenth century.
These cute honey-colored cottages are still lived in today by local residents (so do be respectful of the people who live here!), and are some of the oldest inhabited properties in the UK. Arlington Row is owned and maintained by the National Trust and you can even book a stay at one of the weaver’s cottages that is rented out as a holiday apartment (9 Arlington Row) through the National Trust website.
The weather was not the best on our day trip, but we had a brief period of lovely sunlight during our walk in Arlington Row and got some nice postcard-perfect shots here.