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
Table Of Contents
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.
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.
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 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.
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’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
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.
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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OXFORD IN ONE DAY ITINERARY