On our every trip abroad, we try to experience as many new places as possible. Ideally, we like to overnight in all our destinations. Unfortunately, we don’t always have enough time to do so. That’s why we love day trips. They give us the chance to get a taste of some place new in just a few hours. So, during our recent trip to England, we took a delightful Oxford day trip on our way from Bristol to London.

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Oxford is famous for being home to the oldest English-speaking university in the world. For that alone, it’s well worth a visit. It is also well-known for the fascinating stories narrating its legendary rivalry with Cambridge University.

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Last but not least, Oxford serves as the perfect backdrop for many of Harry Potter’s adventures. The university city is heaven on earth for the famous wizard enthusiasts as they can visit many of the Harry Potter films locations.

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We were taken aback by Oxford’s beauty and old fashioned ambience. The city centre is very compact and mostly pedestrianised, with all major attractions within walking distance from one another. Therefore, walking around Oxford is extremely pleasant. Equally popular, or even more so, is cycling. All in all, even though our Oxford day trip was very short, it was really delightful.

This photo shows a quaint cobblestone street in the centre of Oxford along which a lot of people walk or cycle.
Oxford’s quaint cobblestone streets are ideal for either walking or cycling.

Our Oxford day trip itinerary

We entered the city from Quaking Bridge. Therefore, the first thing we saw was Oxford Castle and its impressive Mound. We then walked along New Road taking a glimpse of the modern side of the city before reaching Carfax Tower on Queen Street. The tower is considered the centre of Oxford city and it offers great views from its top. As soon as we were on High Street, the city’s main road, we were enchanted by the old fashioned, colourful houses.

Starting the day the right way: A superb English breakfast

At this point, I would like to mention that we started our Oxford day trip very early in the morning. I mean really early, at least by our standards. We were in Oxford at about 08:00 am. So, what better way to start the day than with a full English breakfast?

From High Street we turned left towards Radcliffe Square and we stopped at The Vaults & Garden Café. The building alone is worth a visit, as the café is housed in Oxford University’s premises which date back to 1320. Both the vaulted ceiling interior and the garden with magnificent views to Radcliffe Camera are marvellous spots to enjoy a drink or meal.

Regarding our breakfast, for me it was scones, jam and clotted cream. It always is. I never ever miss a chance to indulge in this masterpiece of a treat whenever I am in the UK. Katerina, however, enjoyed the full English breakfast for £9.5 and it was worth every penny. Freshly made with the best organic ingredients, she literally considers it the best meal she had during our week-long trip to England.

This photo shows the full English breakfast served at the Vaults and Garden Cafe in Oxford, England, we enjoyed during our Oxford day trip.
English breakfast at The Vaults and Garden Cafe.

Free walking tour with Wander Oxford

Given that we only had but very few hours to spend in Oxford, we decided to join a free walking tour of the city so as to see and learn more in less time. There are many walking tours on offer in Oxford, both free and paid ones. We chose the one offered by Wander Oxford. So, after our wonderful breakfast, we walked along quaint Turl Street and then got to our meeting point in Cornmarket Street.

There we met Lisa, our extremely knowledgeable and always smiling tour guide. After a brief overview of the city’s history and a comprehensive account of how the University is made up, she took us inside Balliol College, one of the University’s oldest ones. As we marvelled at the College’s fine architecture, she shared with us the most interesting stories. Most of all we enjoyed the ones related to Balliol’s rivalry with neighbouring Trinity College.

We visited the College’s beautiful Chapel, as well as the peaceful gardens. There, we learnt about a peculiar Balliol College Boat Club tradition. Every time they win a rowing race, they are allowed to mark their victory on the College’s walls. They can only use chalk for this graffiti of sorts, though. Our favourite room in Balliol was the College’s Dining Hall. It seems as if it has sprung straight out of a Harry Potter film. I swear, we could almost see Harry, Ron, Hermione and all the other teenage wizards storming hungrily inside for dinner.

This photo shows the Dining Hall in Balliol College, University of Oxford, England. There are empty long wooden tables with glasses on them. The hall is empty and peaceful.
The tables are set waiting for the hungry wizards to dine.

Leaving Balliol College behind, we resumed our walk, during which we saw some of Oxford’s major sights. We learnt a lot about the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre, the Radcliffe Camera, St Mary’s Church, the Bridge of Sighs and many more. Lisa was kind enough to inform us about all the free museums’ opening times. She also went so far as to reserve for us tickets for the exhibitions available at Weston Library. The free walking tour lasted about two hours and it was a great way to get a taste of the city and see its main attractions.

This photo shows Radcliffe Square in Oxford, England very early in the morning. There are no people in the streets, everything is absolutely quiet.
Visit Radcliffe Square very early in the morning and take in the beauty and absolute tranquility.

More things to do in Oxford

Realising that we had some time left before taking the bus to London, we opted for the Museum of the History of Science. A visit to its rich collection of old scientific instruments is free of charge. The most fascinating object on display is a blackboard with Einstein’s own handwriting. He used it during a Cosmology lecture he gave in Oxford back in 1931.

Afterwards, we walked along the wonderfully picturesque Merton Street. Before heading to Gloucester Green bus station to catch our coach to London, we visited the beautiful Oxford Covered Market with its cute little shops where one can sit and have something to eat or drink.

We can say that we saw most of the city’s highlights during our Oxford day trip. However, we feel that we would like to have spent more time there. A stroll along the river, a river cruise or even the traditional Oxford punting should be part of everyone’s itinerary to Oxford.

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Furthermore, all visitors should make time for a meal and a pint at the Turf Tavern, the 12th century historic pub tucked at the end of St Helen’s Passage near the Bridge of Sighs. Most of all, though, we would love to see the city at night. We imagine that Oxford’s magnificent architecture dimly lit under a starry night must be a sight for sore eyes. So, we’re not done with you charming Oxford. Till we meet again!

Planning a trip to the United Kingdom?
Read all you need to know about our favourite South Bank walk in London here!

This photo shows the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford, England, a top attraction for every Oxford day trip.
The Bridge of Sighs
This photo shows the Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford, England.
Carfax Tower

How to get to Oxford from London

Oxford is a super easy day trip from London. National Express, Megabus and Oxford Tube operate frequent coach and bus services every day. A one way trip takes about an hour and a half. You can also get from London to Oxford by train. The journey lasts about one hour but it’s usually more expensive than the bus. There are also many day tours that arrange to take you from London to Oxford and back and they also include guided tours. The options are endless. It’s just a question of budget, and, perhaps most importantly, time.

Explore Oxford and the Cotswolds on a guided tour from London!

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11 Comments

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hi, thanks for your comment! We really liked Oxford too and we’d love to be back for more 🙂

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  4. Sadly I’ve never visited Oxford but I sure want to now, especially now I know exactly what to explore there! Super impressive amount of activities all in one day I love it!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Hey Anna, thank you very much! Our day trips are usually packed with things to see and do but we always have a great time! When you visit Oxford, do let us know if you liked it as much as we did!

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Thank you Lisa! We hope to join you again in one of your tours!

  5. I’ve been there once but in the evening. It was indeed a really beautiful city with the sunset over it.

    • Maria Spyrou Reply

      Oh lucky you! It must have been really beautiful!

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