Burford, Cotswolds: ultimate guide & best things to do

Burford Cotswolds

Undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns in the Cotswolds and another favourite of mine, Burford is a tranquil opportunity to step back in time. You can dip into one of the pubs or tea rooms, browse some of the pretty shops, and enjoy any of the other lovely things to do in Burford.

I’m sure you’ll recognise Burford from its iconic High Street, which strides downhill until it meets the River Windrush. Here, there’s an opportunity to snap photos of the impressive mediaeval bridge or nip into the church.

Mind you, I have no doubt that it’ll take you longer than usual to wend your way along the High Street as you’ll be distracted by beautiful ancient houses and inviting shops.

And that’s before you stop off at the fascinating Tolsey Museum, which I’d recommend that you do. There’s no escaping that Burford is one of the most popular small towns in the Cotswolds.

It’s not only loved for its classic Cotswolds charm, but it’s also a well-known spot for antique hunting and places to eat. I love that you can stay in a hotel once visited by King Charles, dine where Nelson once ate or even visit the oldest chemist in England!

If you want to avoid the busiest times in Burford then I’d really recommend visiting out of season if you can.

However, one time you should aim to join the slightly higher numbers is on Levellers Day in May. There’s a vibrant parade through the town accompanied by various celebrations of human rights and freedom of speech.

One of the things I love most about Burford is the maze of alleyways and side streets ripe for discovering. 

In my guide to Burford, I share my top tips for visiting, along with my favourite things to do, places to eat and where to stay.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Burford – what you need to know

Where is Burford?

Burford is on the north-east edge of the Cotswolds, within easy reach of Oxford. As such, I consider it to be a perfect entrance point for reaching the Cotswolds from London and exploring many of the other villages and attractions beyond.

Bourton-on-the-Water is just 15 minutes away, Oxford 30 minutes, and Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter 20 minutes. 

Mermaid Inn Burford

Due to its location, I’d recommend accessing Burford by car with the A40 coming close to the village. It’s around a 2-hour drive from London. Having a car also makes it much easier to explore other areas in the Cotswolds too. 

However, unlike many other Cotswolds villages, I’m pleased to say that it is at least possible to visit using public transport! There’s a bus (the 233) to Burford from Witney, and you can connect to Oxford in Witney.

Parking in Burford

Again, Burford is actually one of the easiest Cotswolds villages and towns to park in owing to the large free car park at the lower end of town.

Burford

Find the car park via a turning by Mrs Bumbles (a wonderful deli!). Take care as the road is narrow as it passes the Church, with just room for a single car, and then enter the car park.

It’s good to know that there are also free and clean public toilets located in the car park too.

Get access to my Cotswolds travel guide

I have curated all of my Cotswolds knowledge and recommendations into one comprehensive guide, complete with an interactive map, filtering options and itineraries. 

It’s available to buy through Rexby and you can preview parts of it for free. Get in touch if you have any questions about my Cotswolds guide!


Best things to do in Burford

1. Burford walks

I don’t think there is a better way to explore the surrounding area than with a bracing walk.

There is a fabulous choice of Burford walks with something for everyone to enjoy the surrounding Cotswolds countryside.

River Windrush Burford

One of my favourite Burford walks is called the Villages of Windrush Valley. It’s a four mile gentle walk that takes in Norman churches and manors, and you even walk past ancient burial mounds.

Another good walk is Great Barrington to Burford which allows you to enjoy the gentle splendour of the Windrush Valley. 

2. Go shopping

Burford is renowned for its antique shops, but there’s so much more to discover here too. The shops are wonderfully inviting and often highly specialist and luxury.

Burford Sweet Shop

A wander down the High Street is a must. Some of my favourite shops to wander into include:

  • The Cotswolds Cheese Company for the likes of Stinking Bishop or Whisky-Smoked Cheddar.
  • The Sweet Shop for traditional British goodies.
  • Three French Hens for its eclectic offerings.
  • The Madhatter Bookshop for a world of imagination.

If you’ve come by car and are going home soon, it’s also worth visiting the garden ‘centre’ on Church Lane.

3. Get photos

Make sure you spend some time meandering around Burford, discovering the alleyways and the Windrush.

Burford Cotswolds

One of the best places to take photos, and an area which showcases just why people love Cotswolds villages so much, is Burford Hill. Here I’m sure you’ll be charmed by the row of quaint picturesque cottages. 

4. Visit St John the Baptist Church

I’d definitely recommend a visit to St John the Baptist Church in Burford. Rightly a Grade I listed building, it is alive with 1,000 years of history.

See if you can spy where one of Cromwell’s imprisoned soldiers carved his name into the stone before meeting his gruesome end by execution. You can even see a bullet hole in the wall!

Burford Church

Even if the blood-thirsty history isn’t your thing, I think this church is worth visiting for its marvellous architecture, making it one of the best churches in England, let alone the Cotswolds. 

5. Hunt for ghosts

In my opinion, a Burford must-do is to enjoy a theatrical ghost tour with the aptly named Bill Spectre.

He was once famed for his Oxford tours, but he’s now brought his tours to Burford where you can get spooked as you discover another side to this sleepy town.

Expect Bill to immerse you in dark and unsettling stories as he turns up in full costume and amuses you with his illusions and suitable props!

6. Visit The Tolsey Museum

The Tolsey is Burford’s museum and I think it’s well worth a visit if you have time. Within the half-timbered building, you’ll find the spot where wool merchants would gather to conduct their trade in mediaeval times.

In the rooms above, there are some fascinating exhibits sharing details of the local trades that flourished here.

Tolsey Museum Burford

There are the expected ones, like brewing and leatherworking, but you’ll be intrigued to learn a little more about clarinet-making and bell-founding!

It’s open in the summer only, from Tuesday to Sunday, so plan your visit accordingly. 

7. Partake in the Levellers Day

Every May, Levellers Day is marked in Burford with debates, a parade and pop-up stalls. Each year there is a different therme.

For example, a recent event involved a ceremony of remembrance to Cromwell’s executed soldiers, a march throughout the town, a Levellers conversation and debate, a performance poet and musician, as well as storytelling. 

8. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

I’d recommend this one for families, although it’s fascinating for everyone, the Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens is just a five minute drive from Burford.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Here you’ll get a chance to gaze at giraffes, marvel at some rhinos making the Manor House lawns their own and discover some cheeky lemurs. 

9. Asthall Manor 

Asthall Manor is on the outskirts of Burford and I consider to be a truly lovely place to visit. A Jacobean manor house sitting amongst beautiful gardens, meadows and woodlands, it feels like a secret discovery.

Rose-covered arshway at Asthall Manor, Cotswolds

While it is a private home, you can regularly visit the grounds and it’s become a hub for art and nature opportunities. There is a biennial sculpture exhibition held here.

Burford accommodation

Burford accommodation also offers greater choice than many Cotswolds villages as it’s just slightly larger as a small market town. Expect plenty of high-quality options.

Burford hotels

The Highway Inn

Address: 117 High Street, Burford OX18 4RG

The Highway Inn

Found right on the High Street, the Highway Inn is a characterful property that I think successfully balances its original charm with modern luxurious touches.

A boutique hotel, with each bedroom being distinctly unique, it’s also intimate and perfect for a romantic stay. I’d recommend enjoying a full English breakfast in the morning in the popular restaurant.

The Lamb Inn

Address: Sheep St, Burford OX18 4LR

The Lamb Inn Burford

For luxury Burford accommodation, The Lamb Inn should be top of your considerations and is a popular Burford hotel. The Lamb Inn is, so wonderfully, found on Sheep Street!

It’s exactly everything that you expect from stylish yet Old English accommodation. A stay here warms the heart with award-winning food, outstanding service and thoughtful touches.

Enjoying a pre-dinner drink in the courtyard and walled garden is a must as far as I’m concerned!

Burford House

Address: 99 High Street, Burford OX18 4QA

Burford House Hotel

Another Burford boutique hotel is the charmingly tiny Burford House which has just six ensuite rooms.

It may be small but each room is simply beautiful and I know you’ll be afforded a warm welcome here.

The Bay Tree Hotel

Address: 12 Sheep St, Burford OX18 4LW

21 individually designed rooms make up the higgledy-piggledy Bay Tree Hotel on Sheep Street.

Dogs are welcome too and a fair weather stay should definitely include a game of croquet on the lawn!

The Angel at Burford

Address: 14 Witney St, Burford OX18 4SN

The Angel at Burford

A 16th century coaching inn, I’d recommend The Angel for a family stay in Burford. It also has an excellent restaurant and is a great place to indulge in a delicious brunch in the Cotswolds.

As well as luxury hotels, Burford also boasts a few characterful B&Bs as well as several holiday lets.

Where to eat in Burford

There are so many wonderful places to eat in Burford that I’m sure you’ll be spoilt for choice.

The Burford pubs are renowned for their warm hospitality and there is a good range of Burford restaurants. Of course, afternoon tea in Burford is a must too! 

Pubs & restaurants in Burford

The Mermaid

Address: 78 High St, Burford OX18 4QF

Mermaid Inn Burford

The Mermaid is an 18th century pub that serves up classic British pub grub in front of imposing fireplaces in a characterful atmosphere.

In the winter, I adore how cosy it is indoors with real ales and warming fires; but in summer, I’d recommend ordering a jug of Pimms and heading outside.

The Cotswold Arms

Address: 46 High St, Burford OX18 4QF

Cotswold Arms

The Cotswold Arms is one of my favourite Burford pubs. The outside is always inviting, with a display of vibrant red leaves in autumn creeping up the golden Cotswolds stone. It’s a pub to get a picture of from the outside!

Inside, you’ll receive a friendly welcome and excellently executed British dishes, such as beef and ale pie or fish and chips. Veggies and vegans are well catered for too.

A word of warning though – pick your night, as this is a popular pub with locals for music and sports.

The Highway Inn

Address: 117 High Street, Burford OX18 4RG

The Highway Inn Burford

The Highway Inn has a popular restaurant and I can see why it’s so loved. Enjoy the atmosphere in the historic building while tucking into good food.

The Lamb Inn

Address: Sheep St, Burford OX18 4LR

The Lamb Inn Restaurant

The Lamb Inn is also home to one of the best restaurants in Burford. This Old English Inn is a place where you can expect modern seasonal dishes beautifully presented accompanied by excellent service.

I recommend dining al fresco if the weather permits, as there is a beautiful walled garden.

The Bay Tree Hotel

Address: 12 Sheep St, Burford OX18 4LW

Bay Tree Hotel Restaurant

Dinners, as well as afternoon teas, are served at The Bay Tree Hotel. Expect a charming atmosphere and I’m pleased to say that your dog can come too!

Burford House

Address: 99 High Street, Burford OX18 4QA

Little Italian Bistro

The Little Italian Bistro in Burford House serves up tasty meals both inside and in their courtyard garden. Perfect for getting your pizza or pasta fix!

The Spice Lounge

Address: 81 High Street, Burford OX18 4QA

The Spice Lounge Burford

For those who adore Indian cuisine, I’d recommend enjoy an organic curry healthily prepared at The Spice Lounge on the High Street.

The Angel at Burford

Address: 14 Witney St, Burford OX18 4SN

The Angel at Burford Food

With a clutch of awards under its belt and an AA rosette, chef Mike Burkert serves up tasty and well-presented fresh seasonal dishes.

The Priory

Address: 37 High Street, Burford OX18 4QA

The Priory Burford

The Priory is a pretty little restaurant in Burford that offers a varied menu, as well as café-style food.

Places for afternoon tea in Burford

Many of the hotels in Burford offer afternoon tea. However, I’d also recommend trying:

Lynwood & Co

Address: 134 High Street, Burford OX184QU

Lynwood & Co Cafe Burford

A local’s favourite, Lynwood & Co serve up delicious in-house made cakes, as well as sandwiches and salads. Not necessarily related to afternoon tea but trust me when I say that the toasties here are life-changing! (Dramatic? Yes. True? Yes.)

Huffkins

Address: 96-98 High Street, Burford OX18 4QF

Afternoon Tea Huffkins

A local icon, Huffkins is renowned for its gourmet teas and coffees but also its food, including scrumptious cream teas. A traditional tea room and bakery, I think this is a must-do in Burford.

Huffkins is also wonderful for loading up a hamper for a picnic to enjoy down by the river. Other places that are essential for stocking up for a picnic are Mrs Bumbles and The Bakery on the Hill.

Get access to my Cotswolds travel guide

I have curated all of my Cotswolds knowledge and recommendations into one comprehensive guide, complete with an interactive map, filtering options and itineraries. 

It’s available to buy through Rexby and you can preview parts of it for free. Get in touch if you have any questions about my Cotswolds guide!


Burford is a wonderful small town to visit in the Cotswolds and offers a wealth of things to do and places to stay. If you have any questions or own recommendations, do let me know in the comments!

It’s also an idyllic base for exploring the deeper Cotswolds beyond, especially some of the most iconic Cotswolds villages.

Looking for more inspiration? Start with my guide to visiting the Cotswolds or discover my Cotswolds articles:

Or check out more of my Cotswolds villages guides:

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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