What To Do In Oxford In One Day | UK

What To Do In Oxford In One Day

While I was back in Bristol for a couple of days with a friend, we decided to take a day trip to Oxford. Oxford which is with Cambridge one of the most collegial city. I was supposed to visit Oxford a few months ago while I was studying English in Bristol although I start to feel very poorly, so I decided instead to go to Wells see the Cathedral with a classmate not without any disappointment as I wanted to visit Oxford which is why this time I had to go. Even if it was only the time of a day trip.

Journey To Oxford

We took the 9:30 at Bristol Temple Meads, as I wanted to hop on an off-peak train since it’s slightly cheaper than a regular ticket. £24,90 return ticket for a 1-hour and a half trains ride.

If you’re staying in London and would like to make a day trip to Oxford you entirely can as well, it’s quite easy to travel from London Oxford. A day trip to Oxford from London cost around £64 and takes up to 1h.

Check here for trains.

We had one train change to do at Didcot Parkway before taking another train there for two stops when we finally reached Oxford.
By the way, we got a snack at the Pumpkin Cafe while we were waiting for our next train, and I do not recommend their cheese and tomatoes toastie, it was just gross and tasteless.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s move on to see what you to do on a day trip to Oxford.

What To Do In Oxford In One Day

If like us you only have one day to explore Oxford you’ll be happy to know that there’s plenty you can see and everything is within a walkable distance. Pretty great if you ask me. The whole city architecture and vibe makes the trip worth it by itself, it’s plenty of fun to explore without an actual plan, so there’s no need to worry much about this. Even if your day isn’t entirely planned, you will quickly find activities to do in the city centre.

However, if you’re here it’s because you’d like to know what’s possible to do during one day, so, let me still walk you through what you can do during one day in Oxford.




What To Do In Oxford In One Day

Wadham College

Colleges 

Obviously, Oxford is famous for its colleges as it is the home of the oldest university in the world. Those independents colleges are the highlight of any trip to Oxford. I mean is it possible to explore the city and not visit at least one?!

The city counts a total of 38 colleges, so, it’s impossible to see them all in one day. All full of history, traditions and I have to admit gorgeous architecture. It’s a real pleasure to explore both the inside and outside, to admire their architecture. Visiting a few of them probably took up to 50% of our time.

  • Wadham College the first college we visited on that day, it really vast with the garden and buildings. You can also find some references to Alice in Wonderland there.
  • Magdalen College We saw the Magdalen College by the end of our day, so we didn’t visit inside, only strolled outside, which is too bad as this was also one of the sets for Harry Potter! It was still particularly pretty and gives the city quite an eerie vibe with the sun slowly starting to set.
  • Oriel College is located nearby Christ Church and Radcliff Camera and offer a rather Gothic architectural style.

We probably visited/saw a few more colleges but those are the one that really caught my attention, those colleges are all stunning with a lot of details but after seeing in a few they start to blend in your mind, to be honest.
Also, keep in mind that visiting colleges isn’t free you need to pay a small fee, also, obviously not every part is accessible to the public.

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Christ Church was my favourite part of that day; when you reach the location, you can see why it is such a famous spot.  The inside of the church is gorgeous, and the view you get from its top is worth climbing the super narrow steps! It’s also the best way to get a beautiful shot of Radcliff Camera from above!

Radcliff Camera

What To Do In Oxford In One Day

Radcliff Camera is a beautiful library, which as I wrote above you can a great view on from one of the side at the top of Christ Church.

It is possible to visit the inside of the library by booking a Bodleian Library tour; however, we did not feel like doing it so we skipped that.

Bodleian Library 

The Bodleian Library is composed of different buildings including the Divinity School and is home to one of the world oldest libraries, it used to be a working library belonging to the Oxford University. The most famous one being Duke Humfrey’s library.

Hertford Bridge or The Bridge Of Sighs

Located near the premise of the Bodleian Library and Hertford College this little bridge is often referred to as the Bridge Of Sighs as it bears resemblances with the bridge you can find in Venice.

Oxford Divinity School

Oxford Divinity School is the place were some scene from Harry Potter was shot! It was used as the nursery. You can visit it without getting the full tour. For one pound you can spend 10 min there, which is more than enough as it’s relatively quick to visit as it’s just one room and there’s not much to read either. You can snap your shot stroll and voila.
The Divinity School is the oldest teaching hall in the university.

Oxford Castle/Prison

Oxford’s Castle was partly destroyed during the English Civil War and turned into a prison and is home to a 1000 years of history. You can also spend the night in the actual jail in one of the cells at the Malmaison Hotel if you wanted to. There’s plenty of restaurants and pubs next to the castle in Oxford Castle Quarter if you fancy a pint.

Oxford City Centre

The centre of the city is the first thing we visited that day as it’s the closest to the train station when you arrive in Oxford. The architecture is a mix of ancient and modern houses.

The streets there are, naturally, quite busy as you can find lots of souvenirs shops, fast foods, restaurants and pubs.

Just wander around

Maybe it’s just me but I love to explore the city without a particular itinerary, soak in the atmosphere and discover charming street. Oxford has so many beautiful architectural styles from the English Gothic to Neoclassical it’s a true pleasure to see all those different styles.

Climb a Tower

A good activity to do in Oxford is to climb a tower to enjoy the gorgeous view of the city. There are three towers you can climb to do that;

  • Carfax Tower
  • University Church of St Mary the Virgin
  • St George’s Tower at Oxford Castle

What To Do In Oxford In One Day

Close by you can easily find the Carfax Tower, a tower which in the past used to be part of a church and is all that remains from this 13th-century church. It’s open to the public you can get a bird view of the city from the top.

Take a punt 

Punting is a prevalent activity in Oxford. While it’d have been to take a punt since we had some spare time, it’s an activity that’s more suited for spring or summer. It was freezing when we visited Oxford (mid-February). Needless to say, neither of us fancied the idea of being sat in a boat with the cold winter wind beating up our faces. That’s why we decided to skip it. If you’re visiting during a warmer season, you should consider it to see the city from a different point of view.

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Oxford is truly a gem of Britain, perfect for architecture and history lovers, Harry Potter Fan, Alice in Wonderland lovers and much more!

It’s a vibrant city with a lot to offer. I’m already thinking of coming back for more than a day trip to be able to explore the city more in-depth. If you do have more time you should consider visiting the Blenheim Palace, it’s on my list for next time!

Overall on a day trip to Oxford, you can manage to visit enough without feeling rushed as long as you stay in the city centre, however, if you would like to explore more in-depth and see the surrounding area then you need at least a weekend or a few days.

But if you’re okay with only the main bits, then a day trip to Oxford will be great for you!

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Enjoy,
Lyne

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34 Comments

  1. 09/08/2018 / 16:49

    The architecture looks beautiful! I’ve been to Cambridge and it seems to have a similar feel but I guess it’s only fair I visit Oxford too one day. Would love to try a punt, but agree the winter probably wouldn’t be the most fun.

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:52

      I heard it’s pretty similar, I need to visit Cambridge next 🙂

  2. 09/08/2018 / 18:29

    A very comprehensive guide. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:49

      Thank you!

  3. 09/08/2018 / 21:05

    Oxford is such a beautiful town, I mean look at the architecture! I went only once but I had such a lovely time. I enjoyed the botanical garden and had a try at punting too.

  4. 09/08/2018 / 23:19

    Oxford looks so beautiful. I havent been yet but after reading this I might need to visit.

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:49

      Definitely! 🙂

  5. letsgettripsy
    09/08/2018 / 23:40

    I have been to England several times, love it more every time I go but have never made it to Oxford, unfortunately. It looks enchanting, would love to book that library tour and the city centre sounds fun just to wander around in with its pubs and shops! I love a good college town as well, always has a great vibe – thanks for sharing this indepth info!

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:49

      I feel the same everyime I visit too!

  6. 09/08/2018 / 23:58

    I’ve been to Oxford a couple of times, it’s just so beautiful. I also checked out the Alice in Wonderland store and did a bit of a hunt for Alice references as well. It was great!

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:48

      I need to do this next time!

  7. 10/08/2018 / 00:31

    We skipped over Oxford last fall and now I am really wishing we didn’t! All of those buildings are just INCREDIBLE! I will have to make it a priority next time I am in the UK

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:47

      Oxford is a must-visit! It’s a beautiful city 🙂

  8. 10/08/2018 / 03:15

    This post makes me remember all over again why I have a soft spot for England. 🙂

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:45

      I know right?! England is awesome!

  9. 10/08/2018 / 15:38

    I’m a sucker for beautiful libraries and picturesque pedestrian walkways. The “Bridge of Sighs” and Radcliff Camera would consume my whole day alone.

    • Lyne
      Author
      12/08/2018 / 16:44

      Beautiful libraries are the best!

  10. thegetawayjournals
    06/09/2018 / 20:00

    Such amazing architecture! All so beautiful! The Oxford City Centre area looks especially gorgeous – very German actually!

    • Lyne
      Author
      07/09/2018 / 14:11

      Yes it has a German touch to it, and it’s truly beautiful! 🙂

  11. 03/10/2018 / 21:33

    You know I’ve been to Oxford several times but haven’t done half of these things! Informative post 🙂

  12. 03/10/2018 / 22:13

    That architecture looks amazing! I didn’t know there were that many colleges in Oxford. The bridge of sighs looks so charming.

  13. weatthesea
    03/10/2018 / 22:49

    Wow! I want to visit and do exactly as you did. Your pictures are stunning and your one day guide is incredibly exhaustive! We will be in London in a couple of weeks and I’m wishing I had time to add in Oxford. We might just have to after all.

    Thank you for sharing!

  14. 03/10/2018 / 23:40

    I’ve had a few friends go to Oxford for masters programs and undergraduate programs but had no idea how lovely it was!! I’ll have to visit those who are still there with this post in hand, ready to explore the wonders of Oxford!!

  15. Jennifer Jane
    04/10/2018 / 20:19

    I’ve heard great things about Oxford. Hopefully, I get to visit soon. The photos look amazing! Love the architecture.

  16. 04/10/2018 / 20:37

    I wasn’t aware just how many universities were in the Oxford area other than the obvious. I suppose it really is a college town. I’d love to pass through for the architecture alone.

  17. umiko
    04/10/2018 / 21:36

    Fall in love with the architecture around Oxford. Surely will make a stop here when I get a chance to visit UK.

  18. 04/10/2018 / 23:34

    Great post! England was never on top of my bucket list… Couple of years ago I went there to visit my friend who studied at Cambridge. Walking through the campus there made me realize I totally underestimated England. We are planning a trip there soon, so thanks for an awesome guide to Oxford. I love the view from Radcliff Camera!

  19. 05/10/2018 / 00:00

    Oxford is so beautiful! I love visiting university towns when I travel, especially in the UK and US. I remember eating at The Eagle & Child when I visited Oxford as a kid. I got such a kick out of it at the time—the young Tolkien fan I was! Your photos are making me nostalgic!

  20. 05/10/2018 / 19:00

    I had no idea there was so much to do in Oxford. Had no idea parts of Harry Potter were filmed there. So wonderful to see the stunning architecture of the different schools. The Oxford Divinity School is one of the most impressive. Glad you were able to finally visit!

  21. 13/10/2018 / 14:25

    Beautiful photos! Haven’t been to Oxford in ages, and was thinking of planning a day trip, so finding this post was very fortuitous! Love the photos of the pint shop awnings!

  22. 13/10/2018 / 14:35

    You guys sure packed a lot into a short trip. The pictures are stunning and architecture is amazing. When I went to England I only made it to London. Would be great if I could visit again and go here.

  23. 13/10/2018 / 14:59

    I’m trying to explore more of England so enjoyed reading this. Love the look of the view from Radcliff Camera!

  24. 04/12/2018 / 12:40

    What a nice post, the architecture of Oxford is amazing!

    • Lyne
      Author
      05/12/2018 / 16:26

      Thank you! It truly is 🙂

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