When you think of Oxford, England, what comes to mind? I’ve always imagined the city full of beautiful old buildings that looked like they were straight out of Harry Potter. After a crazy week in London, I needed a break from the city, so I decided to take a day trip to Oxford to see what the famous university town was really like. Here’s everything I did while visiting, + some extra recommendations for your day trip to Oxford!
Getting to Oxford from London
Oxford is an easy day trip from London. A train from London’s Paddington Station to Oxford takes about an hour, and there are upwards of 40 trains per day. You can also take the train from Marylebone, or take one of the many buses that run this route. I left London around 9 and arrived in Oxford around 10, and I spent about 7 hours in the university town before heading back to the capital. I think taking a day trip to Oxford from London is the perfect way to escape the city for a day and explore another part of England. Even though I would have enjoyed staying in Oxford longer, I covered a lot of ground and saw most of the major sites during
Things to Do in Oxford
Go up Saint Mary’s Church Tower: For stunning views of Oxford, including the best shot of the famous Radcliffe Camera, go up the tower at St Mary’s Church! When I visited in the early afternoon, there was a 30-minute wait because they only allow groups of around 6 up at a time. If you want to avoid the wait, try going earlier in the morning, but if you’re trying to get the perfect photo of the Camera, you’ll want to wait until the afternoon when the church’s shadow isn’t reflected onto it. While you’re at the church, be sure to check out the beautiful sanctuary!
See Radcliffe’s Camera, the Bridge of Sighs, Christ Church College, and Bodleian Library: These are just a few of the iconic buildings that everyone thinks of when they think of Oxford. Radcliffe’s Camera is a unique circular building that was built in the 1700s as a reading room for students of the university. The Bridge of Sighs is a quaint, covered bridge that connects two academic buildings. Christ Church College is one of the most famous colleges in the university, and it was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII. The college is made up of a cathedral, libraries, a great hall, student accommodation, and more. Bodleian Library is the university’s main library, and it was first opened in 1602. There are even more beautiful, historic buildings
Visit one of the many museums: Oxford is full of impressive museums, spanning subjects like art and science. Pitt Rivers Museum is one of the most popular museums for tourists, and its filled with an impressive collection of arhceological objects, including shrunken heads.
Enjoy a pint at one of the local pubs: Can you really visit an English town without going to a pub? There’s a range of pubs in Oxford, from trendy student bars to pubs that have welcomed academics and visitors alike for hundreds of years. I went to Turf Tavern and had a classic pub lunch with a local cider. Want to try local, British food while you’re in the UK? Check out my guide to the best British food.
Go punting: Punting is one of the most popular sports in Oxford. Punting is a boating activity where the punter uses a long pole to push a shallow boat along the water. Oxford has several canals and rivers where locals and visitors can practice punting, and you can even rent a boat to try it out.
Check out the Covered Market: Oxford’s Covered Market is located on the high street, and it’s filled with little shops, takeaways, and cafes. This is a fun place to walk around or grab a quick snack.
Relax in one of the lovely parks: There are several meadows and parks throughout Oxford, and they’re perfect for relaxing or playing a little soccer. If it wasn’t so snowy during my day trip to Oxford, I would have spent more time enjoying these parks!
Stroll through the Botanic Garden: The university has a lovely Botanic Garden that was founded in 1621, making it one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. You can find all sorts of plants as you wander through the greenhouses!
Have some afternoon tea: What day out in the UK would be complete without afternoon tea? You can find a range of afternoon teas, from a formal full tea to a casual cream tea, in Oxford. This is a great way to relax after touring museums and libraries all day!
Visit Blenheim Palace: Although I didn’t make it out to Blenheim Palace, one of my blogger friends recommended it as an interesting thing to do near Oxford! The Palace was built in the 1700s, and it looks absolutely beautiful! Blenheim Palace also has connections to Sir Winston Churchill, so it would be a great place to visit if you love history!
Recommendations for Your Day Trip to Oxford from London
If I had more time to explore Oxford during my day trip, I would have taken a tour because I would love to know more about the history of the university. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can also take a tour of Oxford’s filming locations, or follow this self-guided Harry Potter tour through the city! Once you get off the high street, there are so many beautiful parks and quaint houses amongst the historic academic colleges. I loved wandering through the city and watching punters navigate the picturesque canals (even though they were lined with snow when I visited)! The whole city is just lovely, and I highly recommend taking a day trip to Oxford from London and seeing it all for yourself.