Burford is one of the most picturesque towns in the Cotswolds thanks to its stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Windrush River that runs through. There are lots of wonderful things to do in Burford such as wandering around the honey-colored, stone-bricked buildings and exploring the many boutique shops.
I’ve been visiting the Cotswolds for many years as I have friends living in the region, and Burford is somewhere I love to spend a few days whenever I’m in this part of the world. There are lots of excellent places to visit in Burford to keep visitors occupied and it’s a great base for exploring nearby places of interest.
The town is famed for its pretty high street and old buildings, however, it’s an important historical landmark thanks to The Levellers, a band of rebels and mutineer soldiers who were executed in the town in May 1649. You can see evidence of their imprisonment in the Church of St John the Baptist.
Best Things To Do in Burford
Below, you’ll find a wide selection of Burford attractions from the historic church where the Levellers were confined, to the Tolsey Museum, Kilkenny Lane Country Park, and a few excellent things to do nearby.
1. Explore the Beautiful Town Center
One of the best things to do in Burford for first-time visitors is to explore the town and its many boutique shops and cafes. The town is famous for its antique and second-hand shops, so, if you enjoy nosing through thrift stores, you’ll be happy to know that there’s plenty of choice when it comes to browsing for interesting items in Burford.
The High Street is on a large hill that looks down towards the River Windrush and out across the rolling hills and valleys of the Cotswolds; making it one of the most impressive streets in the area. It hasn’t changed much in centuries so if you’re looking for an example of a quintessential English country town, this is the perfect place.
2. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at Huffkins
Huffkins is a cute little bakery and tea room located on the picturesque High Street and is the perfect place to pop in for a morning coffee, a light lunch, or a cream tea with plenty of Cotswold cream and jam. I love a good cream tea and at £8.95 for a pot of tea and freshly made scones, this is one of the best in the area.
If you’re looking for a little more pomp and ceremony then the afternoon tea for two is just the thing. Enjoy a selection of hand-sliced sandwiches, cakes, and scones all washed down with hot tea, or if you’re feeling celebratory, a glass or two of prosecco. Afternoon tea starts at £54.95 for two people and is one of the most romantic things to do in Burford for couples.
This is one of my favorite places to pop in for a coffee and a snack when I’m in town, and the cakes really are excellent. Highly recommended.
Address: 98 High Street, Oxfordshire, OX18 4QF. Click here for directions.
3. See the Church of St John the Baptist
The Church of St John the Baptist dates as far back as 1175 and is one of the most visited in the country. The church as you see it today, including the spire, dates to the 16th Century and is one of the finest examples of a Cotswold place of worship.
During the English Civil War (1642 – 1651) a group of radicals took issue with the government of the day and wanted more freedom for the people. As soldiers started to become angry at missing wages they joined the group, known as The Levellers, but came to be routed near Burbury and locked in the church on 16th May 1649.
The ringleaders were taken from the church and shot, and today you can see a plaque inside that commemorates these martyrs. Leveller’s Day is now celebrated on or around the 16th May each year and if you happen to be in Burford you can witness the celebrations.
Address: Church Green, Oxfordshire, OX18 4RY. Click here for directions.
4. Take the Cotswold and Burford Circular Walk
The town is surrounded by some of the most picturesque countryside in England, so getting out for a walk or a hike is a must and is one of the things I make sure I do each time I visit. The Cotswold and Burford Circular is a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) walk that starts and finishes in the town.
It’s a relatively easy hike that doesn’t require a high level of fitness and takes around three hours to complete. The trail passes through medieval farmland, rolling meadows, and along the River Windrush. It’s also possible to bike the route, and dogs are welcome. Preview the trail here.
5. Have a Pint in the Cotswolds Arms
The Cotswold Arms is a traditional British pub in the heart of Burford that dates back to the 15th Century. This is my favorite of the many pubs in town thanks to its gorgeous setting and rustic charm. You can warm up next to a roaring fire in winter, and in summer months, enjoy a cold pint in the beer garden.
The pub offers an excellent selection of local ales, craft beers, ciders, wines, and cocktails, and there’s an excellent food menu of hearty pub classics from fish and chips to steaks and pies, all using locally sourced produce where available. There’s also live music at weekends which makes this one of the most fun places to go in Bursford at night.
Address: 78 High Street, Oxfordshire, OX18 4QF. Click here for directions.
6. Visit the Burford Garden Company
Whether you’re in need of more garden plants or not, having a look around the Burford Garden Company is one of the most fun, free things to do in Burford. The company was founded in 1976 and is so much more than just a garden center. While away an afternoon and browse a huge selection of plants, home decor, art, and other curios.
You’ll find the Burford Art Gallery here with interesting sculptures and displays, contemporary paintings, and more. There’s also an onsite cafe that serves a delicious selection of hot meals, light snacks, and drinks. Visiting the Burford Garden Company is definitely one of the best things to do in Burford for families.
Address: Shilton Road, Oxfordshire, OX18 4PA. Click here for directions.
7. Visit Minster Lovell Hall
Minster Lovell Hall was once a 15th Century Manor House a few miles from Burford that was since abandoned and now forms a picturesque set of ruins in a beautiful, rural location next to the Windrush. The house was built in the 1430s by William Lovell – one of the richest men in England at the time.
As with the nearby Church of St Oswald, Minster Lovell Hall is only accessible by foot, is open during daylight hours, and is free to explore. For budding photographers, this is an excellent spot to catch some incredible shots, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
Address: Minster Riding, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX29 0RR. Click here for directions.
8. See the Tolsey Museum
If you want to learn more about the town’s fascinating history; from medieval times to the Civil War and up to today, pay a visit to the small Tolsey Museum on the High Street. The museum is located in the Tolsey, which was built in the early 1500s as a house for market traders.
Inside, you’ll discover a wealth of interesting exhibits from archaeological finds to old photographs. Although a donation is appreciated, there isn’t an entrance fee for the museum; making this one of the best free things to do in Burford. Open daily from 2 pm until 5 pm from April to October and weekends only in November and December.
Address: 126 High Street, Oxfordshire, OX18 4QJ. Click here for directions.
9. See the Church of St Oswald
The impressive 11th Century Church of St Oswald was built on an earlier Roman site so has a history dating back over 2,000 years. The church as you see it today mainly stems from the 13th Century and is one of the finest and best-preserved medieval churches in the country.
The church is only accessible by foot and is located next to the River Windrush, a short walk from Burford. The church is open during daylight hours throughout the year and is free to enter.
Address: Widford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4TU. Click here for directions.
10. Visit the Cotswold Cheese Company
The Cotswold Cheese Company stocks over 120 different artisan and farmhouse cheeses, specializing in locally sourced dairy products as well as those from other top cheesemakers in France and Italy. Who doesn’t love a wedge of crumbly cheese with their picnic? This is the best place to get it.
You can even buy a Cotswold Cheese Company gift card for the cheese-lover in your life (starting at £10) which makes a great quirky, gift (and is probably better than a piece of provolone in your suitcase).
Address: 113 High Street, Oxfordshire, OX18 4RG. Click here for directions.
11. Take a Day Trip to Oxford
Oxford is a historic city 30 miles east of Burford that’s famed for its age-old university, world-famous museums like the Ashmolean, and pleasant parks and open, green spaces. There are lots of wonderful things to do in Oxford from exploring the famous colleges to walking along the river and finding out about the city’s long history.
The best way to see the city is to take a walking tour like this two-hour assisted trip around the city and university with an alumni guide. You’ll get to learn about the history of the city and take in some of its top landmarks such as the Bodleian Library, Trinity College, and the Radcliffe Camera. Click here to find out more and book.
Getting to Oxford is an easy drive that takes under an hour from Burford, or you can get there by public transport with relative ease. Take the 233 bus to Witney and then change for the S1 or S2 into Oxford.
12 Relax at Kilkenny Lane Country Park
Kilkenny Lane Country Park covers an area of 50 acres (21 hectares) a couple of miles from Burford. This is a fantastic place for the whole family as it has a large adventure play area for kids. There are hiking trails, bridleways for horse riding, and many perfect spots to settle down for a picnic.
The country park is open year-round every day and is free to enter. There’s a car park but no other facilities, though The Mason’s Arms pub is within walking distance.
Address: Elmhurst Way, Carterton, Oxfordshire, OX18 1EY. Click here for directions.
One of the best places to visit near Burford is the gorgeous market town of Stow-on-the-Wold. The town is the highest point in the Cotswolds and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside for miles around. Stow has an interesting history that dates back to the medieval period and is famous for its historic market square.
See the picturesque St Edward’s Church with its fairy-tale doorway that looks as though it’s straight out of a fantasy novel. Stow-on-the-Wold is also famous for antique shops such as the Tara Antiques Centre and is home to one of the oldest pubs in England – The Porch House.
Just upriver from Burbury is the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water which is known as being one of the most picturesque places in England. See the historic stone bridges that crisscross the river, marvel at the rustic cottages of traditional Cotswold stone, and discover the many tourist attractions from the model village to the Motoring and Toy Museum.
Other Bourton attractions include the Greystones Nature Reserve and the Hawkstone Brewery (home of the famous Jeremy Clarkson’s Lager). Bourton-on-the-Water is definitely one of the best places to visit near Burford if you’re keen to set your sights on one of the prettiest villages in the country.
15. Take a Tour of the Cotswolds
This tour from the nearby city of Oxford includes Burford as well as other picturesque towns and villages like Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water. As well as spending time in some of the prettiest villages in the country, you’ll get to explore historic sites such as the 15th Century Minster Lovell Hall.
This is definitely one of the best things to do around Burford as you’ll get to walk along the scenic Windrush River (and have a paddle if the weather is good), see the picture-perfect hamlet of Lower Slaughter, and snap some Instagram-worthy photos of the “chocolate box” style houses and cottages.
Taking a tour like this is one of the best ways to see the Cotswolds hassle-free. You’ll be transported from Oxford in a modern, air-conditioned vehicle with a private driver and guide. The tour lasts 7 hours and departs from Oxford Railway Station at 10 am and returns at 5 pm. Click here to book now.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Burford
Below, you’ll find a couple of travel itineraries for sightseeing in Burford to help you get the most out of your visit. They include all the top tourist attractions in Burford and some of the best day trips from the village.
1 Day in Burford Itinerary
With just one day to spend sightseeing in Burford, start off by exploring the gorgeous High Street and The Hill with lots of great photo opportunities amongst the picturesque stone cottages, independent shops, tea rooms, and pubs. Walk along the gorgeous Windrush River that winds its way along the village and see the old stone bridge.
Pop into the Huffkins Bakery for lunch or an indulgent cream tea with lashings of Costwold cream and jam. Once fuelled, check out the small Tolsey Museum before making your way to Kilkenny Lane Country Park for a stroll and soak in the stunning Cotswold views (don’t worry, it’s not in Ireland).
Finish off the day in one (or all) of the pubs in the town from The Angel at Burford to The Cotswold Arms or The Royal Oak (crawling – not literally – from one to the other is definitely one of the best things to do in Burford at night).
2-3 Days in Burford Itinerary
With a few days to spend in beautiful Burford, follow the above itinerary for your first day and spend more time exploring the town. Start your day at Lynwood and Co for some of the best coffee in the Cotswolds and make time to visit the historic Church of St John the Baptist; the site of a bloody execution during the Civil War.
Check out some of the interesting shops from the Sweet Shop to the Cotswold Cheese Company and grab a taste of the Cotswolds to take home with you. Settle at one of the great restaurants for lunch like the Burford House Hotel, and spend the early evening exploring the countryside and River Windrush before heading back into town to finish up at one of the pubs.
1 Week in Burford Itinerary
With a week to spend in Burford, follow the above itineraries for your first few days and add in day trips to nearby places of interest. Take a tour of Cotswold villages like Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water, and keep a day spare for exploring the ancient city of Oxford and its prestigious university.
Where to Stay in Burford
These are a few of the best hotels in Burford for tourists:
The Bay Tree Hotel – Best for First-Time Visitors
The gorgeous Bay Tree Hotel is a 16th Century country residence in the center of Burford that offers four-star rooms with an en-suite bathroom and everything you need for a relaxing stay. The hotel has won multiple awards including Small Hotel of the Year and is the perfect place for first-time visitors. Click here to book now.
Inn for All Seasons – Best for Families
The charming Inn for All Seasons offers large, family-sized rooms just a couple of miles from Burford in a beautiful countryside setting. Rooms come with an en-suite bathroom, flatscreen TV, and tea and coffee-making facilities. There’s an onsite restaurant, bar, and gardens for guests to enjoy. Click here to find out more.
Priory Tea Rooms – Best for Budget Travelers
The cozy Priory Tea Rooms is also a bed and breakfast with comfortable double rooms featuring private bathrooms, free WiFi, and a pleasant garden to relax in. The accommodation is in the heart of the town, just a minute’s walk from all the shops, pubs, and amenities Burford has to take advantage of. A great budget option. Click here for more info.
Best Restaurants in Burford
Burford is a wonderful destination for foodies with lots of excellent cafes, restaurants, and pubs specializing in local and seasonal produce. Below, you’ll find five of my top picks:
Huffkins Bakery and Cafe: One of the best places to start your day is at the Huffkins Bakery which offers an excellent selection of breakfast and lunch options from a full English to eggs, sandwiches, and salads. There’s both outside and inside seating, and a shop selling luxury hampers and other gifts. Dogs are also welcome. Click here for directions.
The Mermaid Inn: This 15th Century Inn is one of my favorite places for a bite to eat and a couple of pints thanks to its rustic charm, excellent selection of real ales, and reasonably priced menu. Choose from hearty pub food like burgers and steaks to pizza, salads, and some seriously decadent desserts. Click here for directions.
The Spice Lounge: If you’re looking for something a little spicy, then head to the excellent Spice Lounge for a taste of South Asia. I love a good curry and the biryanis and tandooris served here are second to none. The Spice Lounge offers both restaurant dining and takeout service. Click here for directions.
The Angel at Burford: The Angel is another of my favorite pubs in Burford and has an excellent menu of pub classics from beer-battered fish and chips to burgers, steaks, and filling pies. They offer a good vegetarian selection and they create a tasty Thai green curry (one of my favorites). Click here for directions.
The Cotswold Outpost: This excellent cafe and restaurant is the best place to come for breakfast, brunch, or lunch in the town. The menu includes freshly made sandwiches, sausage rolls, plowman’s lunches, and an excellent selection of homemade cakes and scones. Click here for directions.
Getting to Burford
Driving or taking a tour is the best way to get to Burford as public transport around the Cotswolds is somewhat limited. If driving, the village is just off the A40. The nearest major city is Oxford, 20 miles (32 km) to the east. From Oxford, take the S1 or S2 bus to Witney and change for the 233 to Burford.
You can visit Burford in one of the many Cotswolds tours setting off from either London or Oxford. Click here to learn more and book. There are daily trains from London to Oxford, where you can change for local buses for the final stretch.
All the main tourist attractions are within walking distance and strolling around the town is the best way to take it all in at a leisurely pace. Cycling is another great way to get around and will enable you to go a little further afield.
Things To Do in Burford: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Burford:
Burford is known as the site of the execution of The Levellers, a band of dissidents that challenged parliament during the English Civil War in 1649. The town is also known for its picturesque stone houses, and antique and boutique shops selling local arts, crafts, and produce.
Burford is a fantastic destination at any time of year, but the shoulder seasons of spring and fall mean that you can avoid the summer crowds. Winter is also a great time to visit as the town looks stunning in the snow and you can warm in front of a roaring fire in one of the rustic pubs.
Burford is definitely worth visiting as it’s one of the most picturesque places in the Cotswolds and provides visitors with a real representation of a sleepy English town.
Two to three days is a good amount of time to spend in the town and experience all the top things to see in Burford. If you want to explore the nearby towns and villages, then a week is better.
Like most rural towns and villages in England, Burford is very safe for visitors. Violent crime is almost unheard of and tourists need not worry too much about safety, though the usual traveler precautions should be taken such as not flashing valuables and large amounts of cash.
Some of the most popular things to do in Burford include walking along the River Windrush, shopping for antiques, and trying the food and drink in the many excellent pubs and restaurants in the town.
Burford is a haven for foodies with some excellent restaurants in the town serving up seasonal dishes from local ingredients. Be sure to visit the Cotswolds Cheese Company and The Sweet Shop on the High Street so you can savor the flavor of the town after your trip with some takeaway goods.
Now you know what to see and do in Burford, the charming Cotswold town made famous by the mutineers and rebels known as the Levellers, to its picturesque “chocolate box” houses, rustic, country pubs, and many wonderful walks. With so many wonderful attractions in Burford, it’s a place I’ll return to again and again.
The town also makes a great base for exploring the wider Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and nearby villages like Bourton and Stow. One thing’s for sure, if you’re planning on visiting this tranquil corner of England, make sure you don’t miss this beautiful town.