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Alternative to London Walks (train) day tours of Cambridge, Oxford, and Cotswolds?

London Walks is highly recommended by Rick Steves for day tours, but unfortunately the dates they offer Oxford and Cambridge tours in July conflict with our travel to Scotland.

Can anyone recommend similar day tours, preferably using a train to visit these places? I have read about local tours offered by students and other tour operators in Oxford and Cambridge, so I suppose we could just take a train to these places and join one of those local tours. Would appreciate feedback on any such tours you might have taken.

The Cotswolds tour date offered by London Walks works for us, but we are open to any suggestions regarding alternatives.

Posted by
27362 posts

If you must visit the Cotswolds from London, I doubt you can improve on the London Walks tour, because I believe it puts you on a train initially, which should be faster than riding a bus all the way from London. What you might consider is doing what I did: spending 3 nights (or just 2 if time is tight) in Oxford and taking a GoCotswolds or Secret Cottage tour originating in Moreton-in-Marsh. M-i-M is a short train ride from Oxford. That way you get a full day in the Cotswolds, and you don't have to make a second round-trip from London to the same area. Lodging costs will probably be lower than in London, too.

Taking trains to Oxford and Cambridge on your own is easy. In Oxford I took a walking tour offered by the tourist office--just booked it earlier in the AM. It was very good, and I think the T.O. has better access to the colleges than the private walking-tour companies. Some days it's not so easy to get into the colleges, but if you walk around you'll see placards with hours posted. The T.O. may be able to provide some guidance.

I never got around to taking a walking tour in Cambridge, but if there are multiple options I would choose one offered by the students or the T.O.

The Ashmolean, Pitt-Rivers and Fitzwilliam Museums are all excellent.

Posted by
174 posts

Thanks, acraven! Our schedule is very tight, so we couldn't spend the night in the Cotswolds. London Walks offers a tour of just the Cotswolds, or Cotswolds/Oxford on a different day. It seems like we should just take the dedicated Cotswold tour, and do Oxford with the tourist office. But this probably means another train trip in the same direction.

Which brings up a question, because we have limited time. If we are visiting Cambridge, would it also be compelling to visit Oxford? We have heard that Cambridge is more scenic, but don't know which place is more interesting to the public (of course depending on what their interests are).

Posted by
457 posts

I did the day trip to the Cotswolds with London Walks a few years back. It was a full day trip. We took the train out and were met by a coach when we got to the station in the Cotswolds. It worked really well, we got round a lot. There are several stops and a few short walks. Really recommend it.

As far as Oxford or Cambridge, they are both great for day trips. As you are going in July, would suggest Cambridge as punting on the Cam should be lovely at that time of year. But really its a toss up. Save the other trip for the next time you are in the UK.

Posted by
6629 posts

Andy -- Oxford and Cambridge are both fine places to visit, and of course they're not exactly the same, but with limited time I'd suggest choosing one or the other. Cambridge will probably be more attractive in summer, is easily reached by train from London (Kings Cross or Liverpool Street), and won't duplicate your train ride to Moreton-in-Marsh.