An Oxford day trip is one of the best the UK has to offer. The city is bursting with history, culture, and of course, one of the most famous universities in the world!
There is so much to do and see in Oxford. So, where possible, I would recommend staying for a few nights. However, where time is limited, here is precisely how to spend one day in Oxford.
Arrive Early for Breakfast
Like many other cities in England, Oxford excels at café culture. So, for the perfect day out in Oxford, you should aim to arrive no later than 10 am. This allows plenty of time to soak in the atmosphere and line your stomach for the day.
There are tonnes of incredible places for brunch in Oxford. The Jericho Café is an amazing independent café serving a delicious full English, complete with Oxford sourdough bread. However, for something a little more quirky, I would recommend The Handle Bar, which has an extensive menu including Huevos Rancheros, Gravadlax and an incredible mezze platter. The Handle Bar also has plenty of great vegan and gluten-free options.
Visit the Famous Colleges of Oxford University
If you’re searching for the best things to do in Oxford, you will undoubtedly be familiar with the colleges of Oxford University. Each has its unique charm, boasts a wealth of history, and has some of the most magnificent architecture in the country. So, it can be challenging to know where to start.
Magdelen is the biggest of the 39 Oxford colleges and is one of the best places to visit in Oxford. If you’ve only got time to squeeze in one of the colleges, then Magdelen is the right call. It’s only a ten-minute walk from the heart of the city, yet inside feels like a true oasis. There is even a field of deer within the grounds!
The Radcliffe Camera (pictured below) has to be one of the most Instagrammed spots in the city and is actually the main reading room of the Bodlien library. Unfortunately, this building is closed to the general public, but admiring from the outside is a must-do whilst in Oxford.
Most colleges charge a small entrance fee (between £2 – £10) and are only open during certain hours. You should also be aware that some colleges are only available to tour during non-term-time.
Lunch at The Covered Market – Oxford Day Trip
The covered market is iconic in Oxford city centre. It is open seven days a week and is home to over 50 independent traders offering some of the best food and coffee the city has to offer. Incredibly, the covered market dates back to 1770 and is known across the country for being one of the oldest continually operating markets.
There is a food option to suit every taste here. The options range from Mediterranean cuisine at the Brothers Café to authentic noodles at A Taste of China. For an extra special organic treat afterwards, indulge in a taste of Wicked Chocolate.
Punting in Oxford – An Unmissable Experience
You simply cannot visit Oxford without trying Punting.
A Punt is a flat-bottomed boat propelled around Oxford’s waterways using a long mental stick. Punts became popular on the Thames in the 1860s and are now synonymous in the University cities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Punts are around 5m in length and fit five people, making them a fun and quirky way to enjoy the city with your friends or family.
I can’t lie, I was very nervous stepping into the boat. But, after a slightly rocky start, we settled into the calmness of the ride, which was an excellent way to see the city. The staff provided you with a basic map, and it took us around 50 minutes to complete the route with absolutely no experience.
On the weekend, hiring a Punt for an hour costs £30, or £40 if you choose to hire a chauffeur.
Hit the Shops and Grab Yourself a Bargain
Of course, Oxford has all the high street offerings you would expect from a large city. The Westgate shopping centre combines them all under one roof. However, the authentic charm of Oxford is its many vintage and second-hand stores where you can pick up a gem for a fraction of what you would expect in a mega-mall.
You will have sampled the delights on the covered market at lunchtime, but whilst you’re in the area, you should also check out the various lifestyle stores in this iconic venue. Gulp Fiction is a great independent bookstore inside the market, where you can also treat yourself to an excellent coffee.
Little Clarendon Street is a beautiful cobbled road lined with boutique stores for you to pick up some unique clothing or homeware. Even if you’re not in the market for any new items, I would certainly recommend a spot of window shopping.
Dinner at the White Rabbit
You’ll undoubtedly be exhausted after a busy day exploring Oxford. So, dinner at the White Rabbit is the perfect option to enjoy an incredible pizza and great drinks.
This pub has friendly staff, a wide selection of beers and a decent size garden. However, the best part is their extensive wood-fired pizza menu! The pizzas are great and can all be served on a gluten-free base – the perfect end to your day trip to Oxford.
Frequently Asked Questions – Oxford Day Trip
How Far Is Oxford From London?
As you have seen, a day trip to Oxford from London is an enjoyable and convenient day out. Being only 55 miles from central London, the drive takes around one and a half hours. However, the easiest and least expensive way to get to Oxford from London is on the train. This journey takes around 55 minutes.
How Expensive Is Oxford?
Oxford prices are slightly cheaper than those you would expect in London. Expect to pay around £12 for a main meal, £6 for a glass of wine and £3.50 for a decent coffee.
Where Is the Best Place to Stay in Oxford?
Although it is possible to see the best of Oxford in a day, you can’t be blamed for wanting to spend longer here and further explore the city. For a luxury experience, try out the Old Bank Hotel. Conversely, Premier Inn has excellent budget options in the city.
What Are Other Fun Things to Do in Oxford?
Aside from the things mentioned above, there is plenty more to keep you busy in Oxford. I would thoroughly recommend taking a walking tour around the various colleges, giving you a much deeper appreciation for the architecture. In addition, the botanical gardens are fantastic to enjoy on a spring or summer’s day.
How to Get Around Oxford?
A great thing about Oxford is how accessible it is on foot, and you can easily walk between all the best things to do in the city. If two wheels are more your thing, there are plenty of places to rent bicycles in Oxford. However, if you plan on venturing further out of the city, the buses are very well-connected and inexpensive.