The Best Day Trips to Do from Oxford
There are so many things to do in Oxford, but if you’re staying for an extended period, it’s also an excellent base from which to embark on some great day trips! Its prime location between the Midlands and the South of England, with the countryside and many other cities nearby, means you’ll never be short of exciting activities.
If you’re looking for some easy day trips from Oxford, look no further than this list. Here are the 6 best day trips from Oxford, UK.
Windsor is most famous for its castle, one of the late Queen’s official residences in England and the place where she lived for most of the year. It dates back to the 11th century and the Norman invasion, although most of the fortifications seen today were developed by Henry III and Edward III in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is still the largest inhabited castle in the world and the longest-occupied palace in Europe!
In recent years, the castle made international headlines when it hosted the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the beautiful St George’s Chapel.
Although not all of the castle is accessible to visitors, as it still functions as King Charles III’s private home, there is still much to admire in the beautiful interiors. There are also seasonal exhibitions about the palace’s history or the modern Royal Family.
The castle sits beside the famous Windsor Great Park and its extensive Long Walk, a lovely place to stroll and admire the castle.
If you have time left after all of that, just across the River Thames is Eton, the world-famous boarding school whose alumni include everyone from Boris Johnson to Tom Hiddleston. Since it is still a functioning school, it isn’t usually open to tourists, but just wandering around the high street gives you a taste of its history and public school atmosphere.
On our Oxford summer school trips, students visit Windsor as one of the cultural day trips that form part of the programme. They take a tour of the castle’s state rooms and have the opportunity to watch the Changing of the Guard, before having free time to explore Windsor’s picturesque streets and shops.
Windsor is an hour from Oxford by car or train.
2. Bletchley Park
What was once just a late-Victorian country house became the epicentre of Britain’s efforts in World War Two. It was at Bletchley Park that notable mathematicians such as Alan Turing deciphered codes used by the Nazis and their allies to communicate, a watershed discovery that was critical in ending the war and experts believe shortened it by several years.
This fascinating slice of history is immortalised at the house today. It has been recreated to reflect what the estate looked like during the years it was occupied by the Government Code and Cypher School. Next door is the National Museum of Computing, where a recreation of the Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer that helped decrypt the code, is found.
Bletchley Park is an hour’s drive from Oxford, or two hours by train.
3. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace was built by the Duke of Marlborough on land given to him by Queen Anne to honour his victory over the French King Louis XVI at (you guessed it) Blenheim. Today it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture, which is an impressive example of the English Baroque style, popular in the early 18th century. Its magnificent facade and sumptuous rooms continue to draw the admiration of modern visitors. The Palace is also known for being the birthplace of Britain’s famous Second World War Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
This is one of the most accessible trips from Oxford, with the Palace being just 25 minutes from the city centre by car or bus. The price of admission also includes access to the Palace’s amazing grounds and gardens, including the Great Lake designed by Capability Brown, which serve as an excellent spot for a walk and a picnic.
The neighbouring village of Woodstock also provides a charming spot for lunch and a wander through a quintessential British town.
As part of our Oxford summer courses, students visit Blenheim Palace for an afternoon day trip. They experience a tour of the Palace, take in the gardens and grounds, and can even have a go at navigating their way through the maze! It’s the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in Oxfordshire.
4. The Cotswolds
To the north east of Oxford is the Cotswolds, one of the UK’s recognised Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a swathe of countryside famous for its pretty stone villages and rolling hills.
If you have a car, you can decide whether you want to village-hop between tranquil hamlets, take a leisurely country walk over the rolling hills, or visit the old Roman market town of Cirencester, home to cafés and a historic Norman church.
The Cotswolds are also accessible by train, with the village of Moreton-in-Marsh an easy 30-minute journey from Oxford. From there, you can spend a lovely day roaming the countryside before cosying up in a classic English pub, and you’ll be back in Oxford in time for dinner.
If you’re a literature or drama fan, Shakespeare’s birthplace is a must-visit while you’re in the Oxford area. Stratford-upon-Avon is a pretty Midlands town with appealing wattle-and-daub buildings and a myriad of attractions devoted to the importance of Shakespeare! The interactive Tudor World is a great way to immerse kids in 16th-century history, while Shakespeare’s Birthplace itself has been turned into a museum detailing his life and legacy. A short drive out of Stratford is Anne Hathway’s cottage, the family home of Shakespeare’s wife (not the twenty-first century actress!), which contains original furniture and features pretty gardens.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is also based in Stratford. This world-famous group stages productions at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre: naturally, these are often plays written by the Bard himself, but the theatre plays host to other works too.
Stratford-Upon-Avon is a little over an hour’s drive from Oxford and an hour and a half away by train.
It’s entirely possible to do a day trip to London from Oxford! It would be pointless to list the quantity of attractions available to visit in the capital – Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and the British Museum don’t even scratch the surface of possibilities – but if you only have a day to visit, try not to do too much. You’ll likely be surprised by how close together many attractions are, so pick a few places to visit in the same sort of area to make the most of the day without getting overwhelmed.
The Oxford Tube is a 24/7 bus service that runs between Oxford and Victoria Bus Station, with services departing every few minutes at almost every hour of the day. Journeys on the bus take around two hours, while the train can get you to London in as little as 50 minutes.
If you’re coming to Oxford, whether for an Oxford Summer School programme or a self-guided break, do make sure to plan in some time to explore one or more of these day trips.
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