England has so many historic and beautiful towns and each with personality of its own. If you are planning for a short break or a day trip, you will be spoilt for choices. Plan your perfect day trip from London and visit one of the most beautiful historic towns in England – Oxford. Plan the perfect itinerary for 24 hours with this Oxford day trip guide.
Basic Information about Oxford
Where is Oxford
Oxford is located in south-east England in the county town of Oxfordshire. It is situated about 60 miles northwest of London.
How to get from London to Oxford
There are many ways you can reach Oxford – be it public transport, self-drive or a package tour. You can visit Oxford for a day or you can extend your stay further for a week to explore Oxfordshire.
Reaching by Train
Train is the best mode of transport for reaching Oxford from London. The train from London Paddington or Marylebone will take you to Oxford in just an hour.
Book train tickets here – Trainline
Reaching by road
If you plan to drive by your own car, you should reach Oxford in about an hour and 40 minutes via M40.
Take a guided tour from London to Oxford
There are numerous companies that offer Oxford day trips from London. These tours will pick you up from your hotels or from a central meeting point and drop you back at the end of your tour. Most of the Oxford day tours will also take you to other surrounding areas or towns like Stonehenge, Stratford-Upon-Avon. Some tours will also arrange lunch or drinks.
Here are some options:
- This full day tour to Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford includes entry to Windsor castle & Stonehenge and a packed lunch
- This full day tour of Stonehenge, Windsor & Oxford includes entry to Windsor castle & Stonehenge but not lunch
- This tour of Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford & Cotswolds covers 4 destinations and includes entry to Shakespeare’s birth museum
- This Oxford & Cotswolds villages day tour includes a visit to beautiful Cotswolds villages
- This Harry Potter studio tour & Oxford day trip is perfect for Harry Potter fans. This tour takes you to the Warner Bros studios in Watford where Harry Potter movies were filmed.
- This full day Oxford tour includes train transfers so it is light on pocket and you get more time on hand to explore Oxford
- If you are looking for a private tour, this Oxford, Cotswolds country and Blenheim private tour is a great choice. Private chauffeur driven car is ready for pick-up & drop-off and to take you around all of your chosen points of interests. Perfect for one or two couples travelling together.
Getting around Oxford
Oxford is great to explore on foot or by bike. Lovely cobbled streets, narrow alleyways are best explored on foot. But if you need to see surrounding area or wider Oxfordshire, you can use public buses or hire a taxi.
Another great option is to get a City sightseeing ho-on-hop-off tour bus ticket which takes you around the town and you can discover more sights in a short time.
Oxford day trip itinerary – Things to do
Wander on the streets of Oxford
If you reach Oxford early in the morning and you are lucky enough to find the town to yourself, have a stroll around. The city is so pretty that you will not keep your camera down. I strongly recommend visiting the Bridge of Sighs in the morning before the crowds.
If you prefer a guided tour, this 1.5 hour walking tour takes you around the city and also inside a historic college. Most of the guides on these tours are local students or Oxford-educated guides with extensive knowledge of the area and history.
Get lost in the museums
It should not come as a surprise that Oxford is home to many museums and libraries.
Ashmolean museum is the University of Oxford’s museum of arts & archaeology and it is world’s first university museum. It was first opened in the 17th century as a collection of botanical & geological items. Over the centuries it has developed into a museum hosting artefacts from different cultures and times.
Pitt Rivers museum has the largest collection of archaeological and anthropological artefacts in the UK. What’s interesting about this museum is the way artefacts are displayed. Collection is arranged according to how the artefacts were used rather than their era or period. It’s fascinating to see the same objects used differently in different cultures and how they evolved over a period of time. This was my favourite museum in Oxford!
Oxford Museum of Natural History is housed in a massive neo-gothic building and holds a large collection of natural history specimen. Pitt Rivers and Oxford museum of Natural history have been awarded as family friendly museums – both are great places to visit with kids.
Bodleian library & Radcliffe camera are a must visit places for a bibliophile. Radcliffe camera – previously known as Radcliffe science library is a reading room and its iconic image dominates most of the Oxford pictures. Bodleian library is one of the world’s oldest libraries and home to over 13 million printed items. You can book a guided tour which is a great option for those wanting to know more about architecture, history and the collection held at the library.
Try punting in river Cherwell
Like Cambridge even Oxford is famous for punting. You can hire a boat and try your hand at punting or book one of the guided boat rides where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful views around you.
Organ at Christ Church Cathedral
Explore Oxford’s Gardens & Parks
Christ Church Meadow is at the entrance to the Christ Church college and is open to public all year round. It is a tranquil place, great to relax for a bit after walking around Oxford. The meadows are beautifully laid out with trees, shrubs and a water feature.
Another great option for relaxing is Oxford university parks. If you walk further inside you reach river Cherwell where you can have a fantastic picnics watching the boats and the ducks in the river.
Oxford for Harry Potter fans
Oxford is a perfect place to visit for Harry Potter fans. Many of the scenes from Harry Potter films were shot at Bodleian library, New College & Christ Church college. The neo-gothic buildings provided a perfect backdrop as Gryffindor school. You might even spot a game of Quidditch if you are lucky!
With this 2 hour Harry Potter film location tour you can walk in Harry Potter’s footsteps and see the site which was used as Divinity school. Remember the scene where Ronald Weasley attempts to cast the spell ‘Eat slugs’? That scene was shot right here in Oxford!
Read HERE about visiting Warner Bros studio where you can see the props and sets used in Harry Potter movies.
Eating out guide for Oxford
Covered market in Oxford is a market that dates back to 1770. It’s a colourful market with retailers selling fresh local produce, bakery products, flowers and much more. This market opens quite early around 8 am. If you reach Oxford early morning I highly recommend visiting this market before heading on to other attractions.
How about a slightly ‘lighter’ experience after museum & university hopping? At the end of the day if you are ready for a tipple, head to Oxford Artisan distillery to taste the spirits made here and to experience behind-the-scene action. This distillery makes gin, vodka, Absinthe & rye whiskey. This experience gives you grain-to-glass experience.
From typical English pubs to fine-dining restaurants, Oxford has everything for every palate & budget. Try The Kings Arms for moderately priced typical English pub food or The Oxford Kitchen for a Michelin star experience. Or simply grab a sandwich & beer and enjoy it on a guided boat tour!
Staying in Oxford
If one day was too less for you how about staying a bit longer? Oxford has various types of accommodations available in and around the city to suit every budget – Hostels, Bed-and-breakfasts and Hotels.
If you are travelling by public transport, it may be worth staying near the town so that you don’t end up spending a lot of time travelling to the station.
Here are some recommendations for your stay in Oxford –
- Malmaison Oxford Castle hotel – A boutique hotel in the centre of town offering luxury accommodation. What’s interesting is that the building was once a prison which is now converted into a luxury hotel
- Vanbrugh house hotel – This historic hotel was built in 18th century. Intensely stylish & chic boutique hotel in the city centre
- Macdonald Randolph hotel – Home to the famous Morse bar – the watering hole of the world-famous inspector Morse and a historic building
- Mercure Eastgate Oxford – 17th century 4 star hotel right in the centre of University area
- Old Parsonage hotel – A hidden gem located at the end of beautiful boulevard st. Giles. Tucked away from the busy road & yet close to restaurants, pubs, shops everything
In addition to the hotels there are numerous budget accommodations & hostels in Oxford.
Another option is to book an apartment or a room on AirBnB. If this is your first time using AirBnB, you can get £25 off on your first booking by using my code to sign up.
So what will you do on your Oxford day trip? Hope these tips will help you plan that perfect trip.
If you have recently made Oxford day trip from London? What activities did you do and what did you like the most in Oxford? If you have any questions, comments or just some thoughts on Oxford day trip let me know in comments. I will be happy to answer any questions 🙂
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