Whether you’re visiting London for the first time or you’ve spent time in the city before, an Oxford day trip from London is definitely a must-do! While the well-known and prestigious University of Oxford might intrigue you to visit, there’s so much more to explore in the city.
Oxford is located only about 90km west of the heart of London and is easily accessible. The city is considered one of the most beautiful and beloved cities in the UK. It is also a major city for innovation, arts, technology and science.
People visit from far and near, so to experience all the city has to offer here is the perfect Oxford itinerary for you.
Getting to Oxford from London can be done through various modes of transportation and once there you can navigate the city with ease on foot.
Of course, you don’t have to explore Oxford all on your own, there are some organised Oxford tours that can lead the way if you’re in the need of some guidance. As an added bonus, all your transportation needs will be taken care of as well.
For instance, this guided tour of Oxford and Cotswolds Villages for your day trip. You’ll be able to see all that the English charm these areas have to offer, including Bibury, the Great Hall at Christ Church College and, of course, Oxford University. A similar tour is also available on Viator.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland, you might like this full-day tour. While you’ll get information about these books and movies, you’ll also learn the history surrounding the dreamy English Countryside.
Other options include this full-day tour that visits Oxford, Stonehedge and Windsor (also available here on Viator) or this full-day tour that combines a trip to Oxford with a Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Travelling for your day trip from London to Oxford by train is probably the most convenient way to get there. You can catch a train from Paddington Station in West London, with trains usually passing every 30 minutes or if you’re visiting on a Sunday you can expect to get a train every 60 minutes.
The journey will last roughly an hour and from the station, you’re only a 10-minute walk away from the city centre. It is recommended that you purchase a ticket beforehand to save money. You can buy tickets and view schedules here.
The Oxford train station is located about a fifteen-minute walk from central Oxford. Make sure that you get off here rather than at the further out Oxford Parkway station.
If you prefer getting to your day trip to Oxford from London by bus, your travel time will be a bit longer amounting to an hour and forty minutes. However, the bus frequency is better with only 10 to 15 minutes in between buses.
Buses leave from Victoria Coach Station and the main Oxford bus station is Gloucester Green, which is located in the centre of the city making is very convenient to get sightseeing. You can buy tickets and view schedules here.
Alternatively, you can also use the Oxford Tube that you can get at certain stations like Victoria, Notting Hill Gate, Marble Arch and Shepherd’s Bush.
If you wish to travel by car, your journey will take longer than by train or bus with the estimated time to be over two hours. You’re also going to have to account for parking while in Oxford – it’s better to find a car park to leave your car for the day and explore on foot.
One benefit of having a car when you visit Oxford is that you can make a few stops along the way. For instance, you have the flexibility to explore places like Windsor Castle or other attractions in this area of England.
If you’re thinking of renting a car for the trip you can browse options here.
You’ll start your London to Oxford day trip adventures in the city centre on High Street near the Carfax Tower, where you’ll be minutes away from most of the main sights. Here you’ll take in the city’s extraordinary beauty.
Carfax Tower and Oxford Covered Market
The Carfax Tower is all that remains of the official Oxford church, St Martin’s Church, which dated back to 1122. The tower is the highest building in the city since others are prohibited from building anything higher than the Carfax Tower. So after you climb up 99 steps, you’ll be sure to have the most breathtaking view of the city.
Near the tower you’ll see the Oxford Town Hall which hosts various events, you can admire the building from the outside then you’ll follow Cornmarket Street to Golden Cross and continue walking until you reach the Covered Market.
Here you’ll find so many delicious food, treats, clothes and more. The market itself is a beautiful sight to see and no matter how the weather is you’ll manage to stay dry while exploring the market.
Once you’re done at the market, you’ll go back to High Street heading east towards the University Church of St Mary the Virgin to continue your Oxford day trip from London.
The stunning church marks the beginning of the University of Oxford and has continued to thrive for more than seven hundred years. Next, you’ll continue passed the church on St Mary’s Passage until you reach Radcliffe Camera.
Radcliffe Camera is both an impressive landmark and library, with its history dating back to 1737. The landmark is actually England’s first known circular library and is now part of the Bodleian Library on the university grounds, as a reading room.
You might be wondering where the “camera” comes from but the meaning of the word used is the Latin word for “room.” Close by, you can also view the Bridge of Sighs, which is a great way to experience the beauty of Oxford’s unique architecture.
After taking a look around, you’ll walk towards the University of Oxford.
The famous University of Oxford is the world’s second-oldest university but the very first in regards to the English-speaking world, with its first teachings dating to 1096. As prestigious as it is, people from all over the world apply in hopes of joining one of its 39 colleges.
Although the colleges are not all in one place, which is why Oxford is such an interesting university city with the different colleges spread all throughout the city centre. The section of the university close to Radcliffe Camera is closest to resembling the main campus, which is a great stop in the Oxford day trip itinerary and is known as the Science Area.
As you walk south on Broad street, passing Clarendon Building, you’ll come across Sheldonian Theatre. The building that was built from 1664 to 1668 is not only used for lectures and university-related ceremonies but also for music concerts.
Next to the theatre, you’ll find the History of Science Museum also known as the Old Ashmolean which is the oldest museum in the UK and the oldest purpose-built museum in the world.
Some iconic and historical items you’ll see here include the blackboard Albert Einstein used while lecturing at Oxford and about 18,000 other objects that represent the history of science.
Just across the street from the museum, you’ll find the original Blackwell’s book shop which was founded in 1879. Now with 18 shops and owned by Waterstones, Blackwell is a chain that can be found all over the UK.
If you’re in need of a new book, music, art or just want to explore, you can roam the 144-year-old bookshop until you discover what you’re looking for.
If you continue north on Parks Road, there is another charming part belonging to the university which is the University Parks. The massive grounds include many beautiful gardens like the Botanic Garden which is the UK’s oldest botanic garden and is located on High Street.
Additionally, the grounds are also home to the Wytham Woods which are used for research at the university, along with the Harcourt Arboretum, Bagley Wood and Christ Church Meadow.
You will end this part of your journey in the stunning Botanic Garden and once you’re done exploring you’ll continue to your last stop.
From the garden, you’ll back to the starting point on High Street near Carfax Tower and down A420 to end your London to Oxford day trip at the Christ Church. The church, or college, is often referred to as “The House” and the University of Oxford’s constituent college, as well as part of the Christ Church Cathedral.
King Henry VIII founded Christ Church in 1546 and today it’s both one of the wealthiest and largest colleges at Oxford. Here you can visit the cloisters that were seen in many scenes of the Harry Potter movies. Visiting Christ Church is certainly one of the best things to do in Oxford and an unmissable stop when visiting the city.
Now that you’ve completed your one day in Oxford you can return to London with fond memories. However, if you still haven’t had enough and have more time to spend in Oxford, then continue to learn what else there is to do in the area.
If you’ve enjoyed your day trip to Oxford and have decided to stay longer, there are plenty of activities to fill up an extra day or two. Whether you prefer exploring outdoors or indoors, the city filled with history and beauty will have what you need.
After exploring the city on foot on your first Oxford day trip from London, you can enjoy the sights and experience a different side of Oxford from the river with a river cruise.
Just about 16km northwest of the city centre you’ll find the magnificent Blenheim Palace and its impressive gardens. The palace’s construction was completed in 1722, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
You can walk through the same rooms and grounds Sir Winston Churchill once walked through or get lost in the Marlborough Maze. The palace has activities for people of all ages.
Travellers who want to see more of the city can leisurely walk around Port Meadow located right beside the Thames river. On a warm day, visitors can take a swim right where the Thames and Castle Mill Stream meet.
If you visit the prison and want to experience other spooky parts of Oxford, you can join one of the many ghost tours to discover all the city’s paranormal stories. If you would prefer to stay away from anything scary, the city has many fascinating museums for you to explore.
For example, at the unique Story Museum, you’ll jump into an enchanting storybook and can let your imagination run wild. The museum is perfect for families and visitors who are young at heart.
In the centre of the city, you can tour the ancient medieval castle and its prison. Visitors will learn about its significant history over the last 1000 years since the castle was built. Today, on its grounds you’ll also find a boutique hotel, apartments, bars, restaurants and even an education centre.
An additional day or two to your Oxford itinerary can help give you a better overview of the area and you can leave having seen all there is to see in the beautiful old city. No matter if you plan to see Oxford in one day or two or more, the city is definitely worth the visit.
Are you planning an Oxford day trip? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!