Looking for the best London day trips? I recommend heading to Oxford. If you need convincing, here are some of the best things to do in Oxford in one day 😉.
Can you believe I actually started writing this post in Google Docs on the journey back to London from Oxford? You could say I was inspired, as I had such a lovely little Oxford day trip from London. There are so many London day trip options, but I have never seen a bad photo of Oxford, so that basically sealed the deal for me. Here are my recommendations for the best things to do in Oxford.
How to get to Oxford from London
First things first. You’re probably wondering how to get to Oxford from London in the first place, right? Well, there are several bus options between Oxford and London, as well as train services. The train is faster, but when I looked they were a lot more expensive. So naturally, I went with the bus option on this particular Oxford day trip. I booked it through National Express, but it was an Oxford Tube service. The return trip cost me £11 and it takes about two hours each way (depending on traffic). It goes from Victoria Coach Station in London and drops you steps from the action in Oxford.
Alternatively, there are plenty of organised day trip options available through Get Your Guide (the company I personally use to book tours). There’s this full day trip option with train transfers. Otherwise, you can visit Oxford, Stratford and the Cotswolds in one day or do an organised day trip to both Oxford and Cambridge.
Things to do in Oxford
Have brunch at The Rickety Press
When I googled ‘best restaurants in Oxford’ and the best brunch spots, The Rickety Press was a frontrunner. It was about a 10-minute walk north of the bus station. The cosy pub had a great brunch menu and I went with the bacon buttie with hash browns. It was delicious and I highly recommend putting a hash brown into your sandwich 🤤.
The area around The Rickety Press was also home to some cute and colourful homes, so I’m glad I stepped out of the town centre for brunch. Other brunch recommendations include The Jericho Cafe and The Handlebar Cafe.
Visit Oxford Castle & Prison
I didn’t have enough time to check out Oxford Castle & Prison, but I did do a little walk by. I mean, it’s existed for A THOUSAND YEARS, so I had to see it for myself. You can also pay £1 to climb the Castle Mound here, which is small but probably offers pretty good views over Oxford.
Do a walking tour
One of the best things to do in Oxford is hands down a free walking tour with Footprints Tours. They do multiple tours daily and the guides are actually Oxford University students. We saw most of Oxford’s must-see buildings, but also learned about famous past students, Oxford’s history in general and what it’s like to be an Oxford University student. Our guide, Georgie also pointed out a few different Harry Potter filming locations. For a two-hour tour, it was very comprehensive and informative. I highly recommend doing this walking tour on your Oxford day trip.
Follow in Harry’s footsteps
If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you can visit filming locations and places that inspired certain movie scenes throughout Oxford. Footprints Tours does a paid Harry Potter Tour of Oxford or there’s this Harry Potter Film Locations Tour through Get Your Guide. Otherwise, check out this post on Solo Sophie, where she lists the main filming locations.
See the sights
Between these tours, you will cover the majority of the main sights and things to do in Oxford. But here they are as well: Christ Church College and Cathedral, Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, the Bridge of Sighs, The Divinity School, Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, Sheldonian Theatre and Carfax Tower.
Tour a college
So Oxford University is comprised of several different colleges, which are dotted around the town. Our walking tour guide attended St John’s College, which is open for visitors after 1pm daily. It’s free to have a look around its grounds, so that’s where I headed within my limited timeframe. My university was about 1% as pretty as this place.
Alternatively, you can pay a small fee to go inside popular colleges like Trinity College (visit the website for specific opening hours), New College (here’s the official website) and Christ Church College. The latter is a Harry Potter hotspot and the £10 entrance fee includes access to all areas, including the Cathedral. Most nights of the week, there’s a Choral Evensong in the Cathedral at 6pm as well, which anyone can enjoy.
Do a spot of shopping
For a small town, Oxford is home to a massive shopping centre. Westgate has all the usual suspects, like H&M, Zara and Uniqlo. But in the city centre there are also plenty of souvenir shops and boutiques selling both Oxford University and Harry Potter paraphernalia.
Visit the Oxford Covered Market
Don’t visit the Oxford Covered Market if you’re hungry, as it’s filled with delicious options. I popped by for afternoon tea and picked up a honeycomb tiffin from Taylor’s. It was a combination of chocolate, biscuits and toffee 🤤. I also heard good things about Ben’s Cookies. But it’s not all about the food – there are shops as well.
Walk (or punt) along the river
On a warm summer’s day, I could imagine it would be quite lovely punting along Oxford’s River Cherwell. Visit the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse to either hire a punt yourself or to enquire about chauffeured punt rides (that sounds so fancy). Otherwise, if you have spare time you can take a nice wander along the river. There’s also Castle Mill Stream on the other side of town.
Go to a museum
Oxford is home to quite a few renowned museums and art galleries. The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is the UK’s oldest museum. Founded in 1683, it features everything from ancient to contemporary art. Then there’s the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Modern Art Oxford and Pitt Rivers Museum.
I mean, with a list like this you could easily spend a weekend exploring Oxford! I might just have to do that myself the next time I visit England 😉. If you do end up using these tips on your own trip to Oxford, I would love to know – here’s where you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.
This post contains affiliate links (and phone photos only as my camera died the day before 😔).