Home Destinations 7 Wonderful Things to Do in Burford in The Cotswolds [The Ultimate Guide]

7 Wonderful Things to Do in Burford in The Cotswolds [The Ultimate Guide]

by Michele
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Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - View from the High Street
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Burford is a delightful Cotswold town famous for its elevated High Street with stunning views over the open countryside. From the high Wolds (“hills”), Burford’s main thoroughfare gently slopes downhill to meet up with a medieval bridge spanning the River Windrush. Plan your perfect visit with this guide to the best things to do in Burford, plus tips on where to eat and where to stay.

Burford’s name comes from the Old English words burh meaning ‘fortified town’ or ‘hilltown’ and ford, meaning ‘the crossing of a river’. Its High Street is more trafficked than other popular villages such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Castle Combe, and The Slaughters but the views from Burford’s hilltop are magnificent, making it an instant drawcard.

Before we jump in, here’s a fun fact. The phrase ‘every Tom, Dick, and Harry’, which refers to unspecified people, actually comes from real people who lived in the nearby village of Fulbrook, a short walk from Burford. Tom, Dick, and Harry were three brothers who were criminals and committed highway robbery in the mid-18th century. 

From where to stay to where to eat, here are the best things to do in Burford in the Cotswolds.

1. Visit the Tolsey Museum

Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Tolsey Museum Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Tolsey Museum top floorIn 1088, Burford was the lucky first town in the Cotswolds to be granted a market charter. The Tolsey, a Tudor timber-framed building on stone pillars, had the primary function of collecting tolls from the market traders of the time and was where the Borough Court met. Being located on the corner of Sheep and Market Streets, this meant there was no unauthorised access to the market and from there they could ensure everyone paid their tolls. Hence the name Tolsey! 

Around the back was a lock-up where drunkards and rogues of the town were temporarily held.

The building now houses the Tolsey Museum where you can see such artefacts as town maces and charters. Perhaps the most famous piece on display is the Keble Mortar, a large Bronze Mortar made in Burford in 1659 by Edward Neale, a bell-founder for Francis Keble of Burford. Shaped like an upside down bell with axe-shaped handles, after more than 350 years, the Keble Mortar was finally brought home and placed on exhibit here.

2. Get incredible views from the top of Burford High Street

Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Views of countryside from the High Street Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Walk to the top of the High Street Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - The Ultimate GuideBest Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Bench on the High Street Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Pretty cottage covered in wisteria Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Pretty home with a blue front door on the High Street Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Pretty Jacobean homeBest Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - War Memorial Burford’s unique High Street is lined with a mix of old buildings from half-timbered facades with wonky windows, elegant stone houses, to horse-and-carriage gateways. Walk to the top end of the High Street, where it’s noticeably quieter, and sit on any one of the park benches and take it all in.

3. Visit Britain’s Oldest Pharmacy

Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Reavley Chemist - The oldest Pharmacy in BritainLocated on the opposite corner of the Tolsey Museum is the oldest pharmacy in England, dating back to 1734. As a popular market town and “gateway” to the Cotswolds, Reavley Chemist has been offering both residents and passing travellers alike traditional cures and remedies for their ailments for centuries. Step inside this local treasure and see the stunning Victorian apothecary cabinets along the walls. 

4. Cross the Medieval Bridge

Located at the foot of the hill is a three arched medieval bridge that crosses the river Windrush. Since there is no pedestrian access, the best way to experience this old bridge is by crossing it by car.

5. Visit St. John the Baptist Church

Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Visit St. John the Baptist ChurchStanding behind a row of sixteenth-century weavers’ cottages is St John the Baptist Church, a prime example of Burford’s wealth as a medieval market town with several important figures buried here. 

One of the Church’s highlights is the impressive mausoleum of Lawrence Tanfield, James I’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. When Sir Lawrence died in 1625, his widow arranged for the tomb to be placed in the chapel one night, without the permission of the priests or town and he’s remained there ever since alongside his wife in an elaborate canopied table-tomb. 

What’s more striking is the funerary plaque of Edmund Harman who was Henry VIII’s barber and surgeon. The plaque, attached to the wall of the nave, depicts four Amazonian figures and is considered the earliest depictions of native Americans in Britain.

As a wool trading town, the churchyard features several “bale tombs” with rounded tops that resemble bales of wool and are unique to the Cotswolds.

The building itself is architecturally interesting with different parts of it surviving each phase of its construction starting with the Normans up until the end in the wool boom of the seventeenth century. 

6. Eat the best homemade pies in town at The Royal Oak 

Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - The Royal Oak InnLocated just off the High Street, The Royal Oak is a classic Gastro Pub housed inside a charming grade II listed public house. Whether you cosy up next to the fireplace in winter with a pint or cool off with a Pimms in the beer garden, make sure you order one of their famous homemade shortcrust pies. All pies are served with a choice of mash potato or thick cut chips and seasonal greens and meaty gravy. They even have vegetarian pies and veggie gravy! 

  • Address: 26 Witney St, Burford OX18 4SN
  • Opening times:  Monday – Thursday 12pm – 10pm; Friday and Saturday 12pm – 10pm; Sunday 12pm – 7pm
  • For more details, visit the official Royal Oak website here

7. Have lunch at the award-winning The Angel at Burford

Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Gnocchi at The Angel at Burford Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Garden at The Angel at Burford Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Fireplace at The Angel at Burford Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Eat at The Angel Best Things to Do in Burford - The Cotswolds - Beetroot salad at The Angel at BurfordA few doors down from The Royal Oak is the popular local hangout and multi-award winning 16th century inn, The Angel at Burford. For 3 years running it won “Cotswold Pub of the Year from 2015 to 2017 and it’s not hard to see why. This beautifully renovated building still maintains its medieval charm and features a stunning walled garden and sun terrace. 

Want to see more of the Cotswolds? Join one of these top-rated tours.

Don’t miss my Cotswolds travel guide for more tips

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Burford in The Cotswolds

The Angel at Burford 

The Angel at Burford is a family-run inn with just 3 rooms and additional annex rooms, each with their own original features and furnished in a relaxed and cosy Cotswold style. All bedrooms have large beds, en suite bathrooms with shower and bath,  tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary toiletries, free WiFi and a TV with Freeview. 

Check availability and book your stay at The Angel at Burford here

The Bay Tree 

Set inside a sixteenth century wisteria-clad stone house with original stone fireplaces is the enchanting Bay Tree hotel. Winner of Small Hotel of the Year at the National Enjoy England Excellence Awards 2011, the Bay Tree has its own library and walled gardens perfect for relaxing after a long summer’s day.

Each of its 21 rooms are lavishly and individually decorated in period character. From big beds with generous mattresses, Molton Brown toiletries to hunting themed fabrics, The Bay Tree oozes classic Cotswold country style.

Check availability and book your stay at The Bay Tree Inn here

The Lamb Inn 

Located in the picturesesque Sheep Street, the Lamb Inn is a historical Cotswold Inn that dates back to the 15th century. Each of its 17 individually-designed bedrooms are equipped with free Wifi, tea and coffee making facilities, and an excellent breakfast to start your day.

With its period features including log fireplaces and flagstone floors, The Lamb Inn also offers a collection of sitting rooms, a traditional English bar and an award-winning restaurant.

Check availability and book your stay at The Lamb Inn here

Bull Cottage

Live like a King in this medieval cottage  that’s been hosting guests for over three hundred years, including Charles II who stayed here with Nell Gwynne, and Lord Nelson with Lady Hamilton. dark wood panelling and four-poster beds

Dating back to the 14th century, Bull Cottage retains many of its original features including exposed beams, flagstone floors and fireplaces that are over 600 years old. Decked out with modern furnishings, this homely cottage features an open-plan living room with a wood burning stove, dining area, as well as a fitted kitchen. Upstairs is a king-size bedroom, a double bedroom and a triple bedroom. During the summer, you can enjoy the courtyard garden with a bench and a table and chairs

Check availability and book your stay at Bull Cottage here

Burford House 

With an elevated view of the High Street, Burford House is a historic timber-framed townhouse hotel set inside a 17th-century Cotswold stone building. Its exposed beams and leaded windows add to the charm of its individually-designed bedrooms which all include tea and coffee making facilities, a flat-screen TV, and free WiFi.

Relax in the sitting room next to the wood-burning stove or retreat to the and the garden room overlooking the courtyard garden. Burford House offers a fabulous breakfast, lunch and Afternoon Tea with home made scones and cakes.

Check availability and book your stay at Burford House here

For more places to stay in Burford, you can check availability and the latest prices here.


For an alternative accommodation option, I would recommend renting out an apartment or room through Airbnb. Cute Airbnb options are popping up all over the area so you’ll find some really beautiful places at very affordable prices. Airbnb has numerous convenient options to choose from. If it’s your first time get US$65 OFF here or get £50 OFF your first stay here, when you sign up using my unique reader referral link. If not, compare prices and book your stay here. For more inspiration, visit my guide to the most unique cottages on Airbnb.

Here’s a handy map to see all available stays.


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