Oxford, a city in central southern England, centers around its prestigious university, that was established in the 12th century. There are 38 colleges in that small countryside town filled with gorgeous old medieval architecture which led to its nickname, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. The river Cherwell runs through the city and several huge parks and botanical gardens making this a very green peaceful respite from the busy city of London. The amount of learners that live in this city is such a different culture and environment. I really loved Oxford and its small charm. This is a great day trip into the suburbs from London.
Taking the Train from London to Oxford
The train is the quickest and cheapest way to get to Oxford from London. It is a direct train which makes the journey very simple and is faster than driving because of the traffic realities in the city. The train takes 1 hour and 10 minutes between the two cities and 52 miles. There is a faster train that only takes 52 minutes and is more money that you will see in the purchasing options. The first train is at 5:12am and the last train from London to Oxford is at 12:07am. There are two train operators, Chiltern Railways and Great Western Railway.
- Train Adult one way far: £5.40 so about £11 for a roundtrip adult ticket
- Depending on if you buy tickets during peak times they are more expensive
- an average round trip between Oxford and London will more realistically cost between $25-$30 for one adult.
- Booking tickets at least a week to 2 in advance saves money with the cheapest tickets of 5 pounds being reserved one month in advance. Also season tickets save money if you will be taking the train more than once.
- Buy a National Railcard to save money! They give up to 1/3 off train tickets in the UK!!! They only cost 30 pounds for a year, which is what it takes to book one roundtrip train trip essentially if it is not 2 weeks in advance at least.
Trainline is the best online resource to see and book train tickets between the two cities.
Great Western Railway V.S. Chiltern Railway
Direct routes to London Paddington from Oxford of Great Western Railway come six times per hour. Stopping services run every half an hour at 07 and 37 taking around 2 hours. Fast trains are also half hourly at 01 and 31 taking about one hour less time. An indirect service, changing at Didcot Parkway is available every hour at 07.
The Express Café on Great Western Railway trains have snacks and drinks. There are specified Quiet Zones in Coach A for standard class and Coach G for first class passengers. Entertainment in Coach D is touch screen TV’s with comedies, documentaries, sports etc. The shows can be stopped, paused, fast forwarded and rewinded.
Technically Chiltern Railways has been voted the UK’s famous train operator as well as the most punctual according to the Rail Network. The study showed their trains are on time 85% of the time compared to 63% of other companies including Great Western Railway.
Things to Do
University of Oxford
Oxford university includes 38 colleges plus more than 22,000 students and 70 research departments. The whole town revolves around these colleges and their gorgeous medieval architecture. The old cobble stone streets and exploring throughout the different buildings were one of my favorite parts of walking around this town. This is a great and free way to explore and see the city and save money. They have beautiful lirbaries in each different building as well as cafes in different areas overlooking some of the most beautiful University buildings. OxfordUniversity.com
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Looking for something to read this #WorldBookDay? 📚 The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, first opening its doors to scholars in 1602. If you don’t have a library card, you can join one of the Bodleian’s daily tours to marvel at the stunning interiors and find out about its fascinating past. 📷: Bodleian Libraries
The UK’s second largest library, established in 1602 and has over 11 million works.
Each reading room has different hours. A safe average to assume is 9am-6pm daily. Full list of reading rooms and hours here.
This is a full list of every reading room and library in the town at every college. There are 38 libraries and this is a helpful resource for locations. There are five reading rooms in the Old Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera, and the two buildings are connected by a secret underground Gladstone Link, a further reader space. The lower reading room houses a lot of Theology and patristics as well as philosophy. Full information and lists of what is in each upper and lower reading rooms can be found and searched here.
The library cards are given by students, faculty, staff and other people associated and connected to the University with full access. It is possible to apply and pay for a membership if you do not belong to the schools or work there. If you are a traveller this could be a good investment even for a week if you are traveling through for 6 pounds to have access for a day to even more adequately tour the reading rooms. Other library card information and questions here.
Library Card Fees
- One week £6
- Six months £20
- One year £38
- Two years £72
- Three years £108
- Four years £142
There are 30, 60 and 90 minute guided tours to see the Divinity school, Duke Humfrey’s medieval library, Convocation House, Chancellor’s Court, Radcliffe Camera and Gladstone Link. Only the 90 minute tour has the Radcliffe Camera included. The solo tours are only 2 pounds cheaper so it is better to pay for an actual proffessional tour and you gain more access to the rooms with a guide.
30 minute tour
What you’ll see: 15th-century Divinity School and Duke Humfrey’s medieval library.
Length: 30 minutes
Times: Monday-Saturday: 12:30, 15:30, 16:00, 16:40
Sunday: 12:45, 14:15, 14:45, 15:15, 16:00, 16:40
How to book:Purchase selected tickets online up to two weeks in advance or on the day at the Great Gate ticket office.
60 minute tour
What you’ll see: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor’s Court and Duke Humfrey’s medieval library.
Length: 60 minutes
Times: Monday-Saturday: 10:30, 11:30, 13:00, 14:00
Sunday: 11:30, 14:00, 15:00
90 minute tour
What you’ll see: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor’s Court, Duke Humfrey’s medieval library, Radcliffe Camera and Gladstone Link.
Length: 90 minutes
Times: Wednesday and Saturday: 9:15. Sunday: 11:15 & 13:15
The Radcliffe Camera is a part of the Bodleian Libraries and hosts several reading rooms filled with book resources. This is in the central square of Oxford University next to University church. It is an 18th-century academic library, Palladian-style and reading rooms, was designed by James Gibbs. There is a great coffee shop and cafe both across the street with great views of this gorgeous library. Information about tours and gaining library access above.
Bridge of Sighs
The 100 year old bridge links quads of the university’s Hertford College officially called Hertford Bridge even though it is known as the Bridge of Sighs. It has been called the Bridge of Sighs because it looks like the bridge in Venice, Italy with the same name. The bridge was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson, the architect who designed other college buildings. The bridge has become a town landmark and historical site because of its central prominence and architectural beauty. This is another classic site to see and for free as you take a walking tour of the Unviersity.
University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
This is a place of worship with an ornate 14th-century spire plus regular musical recitals and events. There is gorgeous stained glass inside the church as well as glass windows overlooking the Radcliffe Camera from upstairs in the church. The floor is black and white checkered inside the medieval gorgeous architecture. There is a tower to climb and see amazing views of Oxford University campus and the city. That is the part of the church that is a paid experience with prices listed below. The church is open and free to the public to enter. The church hours for visiting: Other church information here.
Monday – Saturday • 9.30am – 5.00pm
Sunday • 12.00pm – 5.00pm
In July and August, the church closes at 6.00pm.
Gift Shop & Tower (ticketed)
Monday-Saturday • 9:30am – 5.00pm
Sunday • 12noon – 5.00pm
*Last entry to the tower are 30 minutes before closing.
September – June • 9.30am – 5.00pm
July – August • 9.30am – 6.00pm
Tickets are purchased from the gift shop at the base of the tower.
- Adults: £4
- Concessions: £3 (Children aged 8-15, seniors, students with ID, University of Oxford card holders)
- Family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children): £12
To climb the tower, you must be aged 8+.
Vault & Garden
This is the Cafe of University Church at Oxford University in a 1320 building with a vaulted ceiling and a garden outside, for breakfast and organic, global lunches. This is often called the best cafe in Oxford. The view of the Radcliffe Camera is certainly spectuacular along with the other University buildings surrounding. The cafe is open from 8am-6pm daily. Cream tea is 6 pounds for a homemade scone and a pot of tea. Their menu, site and events information here.
Jericho Coffee Traders
This is the craft coffee shop overlooking the Radcliffe Camera in the central square. Jericho is a roastery and espresso bar as well as delicious homemade pastries. They make special homemade pizza bagels with real pizza toppings melted onto bagels which are phenomenal. Jericho Coffee site here.
Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm , Sat 9am-5:30pm, Sun 10am-5pm
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Designed to appeal to the booklover, the Macmillan Collector’s Library is a series of beautiful gift editions of much loved classic titles. Macmillan Collector’s Library are books to love and treasure. https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/search/?keyword=Macmillan+collectors+ #macmillancollectorslibrary #classics #bookshelf #bookdisplay #bookshop #blackwellsbookshop #blackwellsbooks #blackwells #blackwellbookshop #blackwellbooks #bookstagram
This bookstore is at Trinity College on Broad street across from the History of Science Museum and Weston Library. This is a huge fun bookshop to gaze through and spend some of your day reading. It is a great resource in town and they have a huge collection of rare books as well. This is the main bookstore all across Europe located on most Academic University campuses. Check out this book store and find more info on selection here.
- Monday:9:00 to 18:30
- Tuesday:9:30 to 18:30
- Wednesday:9:00 to 18:30
- Thursday:9:00 to 18:30
- Friday:9:00 to 18:30
- Saturday:9:00 to 18:30
- Sunday:11:00 to 17:00
University of Oxford shop/ Bookshop
These two shops not too far down the street from each other each owned by Oxford University are a great spot to grab a souvenir of the town and University. There are lots of clothes and other normal University paraphernalia. There are also of course a great selection of books. You can get an Oxford hoodie for 30 pounds or a t-shirt for 10-14 pounds and a hat is 13 pounds. The shop is pretty evenly priced and has cool oxford quality souvenirs. Shop their website here.
Hours: 9am-5:30pm daily
Tea at the Rose Oxford Cafe
The Rose is a contemporary tearoom since 1985 serving breakfast and European dishes, plus homemade scones and cakes with tea. This is my personal favorite teahouse in Oxford. This is not as well known or visited as The Grand Cafe. This makes it less touristy, smaller, quieter and a more budget pick as well. This is a great place to bring a book and journal and enjoy a couple of hours in front of picture windows overlooking gorgeous architecture and enjoy some of the cities best tea and scones. See their site and menu here. My favorite is the cream tea. I normally don’t pay to eat lunch or meals at the teahouses but I love having their homemade delicious scones and a pot of fresh tea. Cream tea is a budget deal and pretty filling in itself as a snack.
Hours: Mon, Wed-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm, closed on Tuesdays
Cream Tea £7.50
Served with two fresh homemade scones, strawberry jam & clotted cream, tea or coffee.
The Rose Afternoon Tea £16.00 (for two £26.00)
Served with freshly made sandwiches*
( cream cheese & cucumber, home-cured salmon, egg & cress) fresh homemade cake & fresh homemade scone & tea or coffee.
Sparkling Afternoon Tea £22.00 (for two £32.00)
Served with freshly made sandwiches*
( cream cheese & cucumber, home-cured salmon, egg & cress)
fresh homemade cake & fresh homemade scone & tea or coffee, 20cl bottle of prosecco.
Tea at The Grand Cafe
This is the most fancy tea room in Oxford. This tea room is a gilded, mirror-clad institution serving cream teas, sandwiches and half-price evening cocktails. This teahouse serves high tea all day. Their cream tea is a lot more expensive than the Rose right down the street. This place is definitely the fancier place that is more expensive. Unless you have a desire to do a high tea and are willing to pay for that it is better to visit the Rose. See the Grand Cafe full menu here.
daily 09.00 to 6.30pm
Cream Tea 10.95 pounds
High Tea 18.95 pounds
Grand High Tea 26.45 pounds
The covered market & Oxford Cheese Co
This market is a legendary 1770s’ indoor bazaar packed with artisan grocers, boutique clothing and buzzing cafes. This is a great place to shop and walk around in the rain in Oxford. This is the market where the famous Oxford blue cheese is sold at Oxford Cheese Co. This is a great place to spend an afternoon to get some of the best local artisans in the area. See events, sales and meet the vendors here.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am – 5pm & Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Shop in the charming medieval architecture shops & explore the cute neighborhoods
The Eagle and Child pub
The famous pub since 1650. Best known for being a watering hole for CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and all of the best writers of the Inklings. The main courses on the menu range from 9-14 pounds for a meal. Book a table here.
Hours: 11am-11pm daily
All Saints Church & Lincoln College Library
The church was built in 1720 and is no longer a church but is now a library of Lincoln college. It is an extremely beautiful eighteenth-century building which was formerly used as a City church and was opened as a library in October 1975. Visitors are welcome with no admission fee! This library is free! Entrance is via the main gate on Turl St (between Broad St and The High); the Porters in the Lodge next the main entrance are able to provide information sheets for visitors. Library information here.
- Our opening hours for visitors are Monday-Friday 14.00-17.00 and Saturday-Sunday 11.00-17.00.8.30am-2.00am – Weeks 0 to 9.
- 8.30am-11pm – Vacations.
- Staff are available Monday – Friday 9am-5.15pm, though the Library may not be manned 12.30-2pm.
The Queens College Library
Queen’s college has a gorgeous library which is one of the largest college libraries in Oxford, with approximately 50,000 volumes in the lending collection and a vast antiquarian collection of nearly 100,000 volumes. Library information here.
- Current members may show guests the Upper Library between 12 noon and 12:45 pm on Saturdays during term.At all other times guests will only be admitted to view the Library with the prior permission of a member of Library staff. However, visits during Trinity Term should be restricted to the Saturday slot only.
Always report to the enquiry desk onarrival with your guest(s).
The Oxford Union Library
The Union Library of Oxford was built in 1857 and was originally the Society’s debating chamber. The Oxford Union Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world and a striking example of Victorian architecture. The murals on the walls were painted by William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and still retain the stunning vibrancy typical of Pre-Raphaelite art. This is absolutely another library that must be visited in Oxford. Their site and information are found here.
Monday to Friday: 09:30 to 19:00, Saturdays: 12:00 to 16:30
The murals and ceiling may be viewed at any time when the Library is open. There is a charge of £1.50 per person for visitors who are not members of the Oxford Union Society. The Debating Chamber may be viewed on weekdays when the Union Library is open, between 9.30 am and 5 pm. Please enter the main buildings and enquire at Library Reception. There is a charge of £1.50 per person for visitors who are not members of the Oxford Union Society.
University of Oxford Botanic Gardens
This is Britain’s oldest botanic garden, with plants from around the world, both indoor and outdoor. The garden is a gorgeous and large outdoor space in the University to enjoy the beauty of nature and go for a walk. The garden was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research. Today it contains over 8,000 different plant species on 4 1⁄2 acres. It is one of the most diverse yet compact collections of plants in the world and includes representatives from over 90% of the higher plant families. Timothy Walker has been the Horti Praefectus since 1988.
daily 9am-5pm (last admission 4:15pm) depending on the season closing is 4, 5 or 6pm.
Day tickets per Adult are £5.45.
Annual Pass (valid for 1 year from date of purchase): £20.00, or £16.50 for concessions.
You could also consider becoming a Friend of the Botanical Garden for unlimited entry to here and 12 other botanical gardens across the country for £35 a year.
Oxford University Parks
There are 70 acres of riverside parkland with areas for sport, plus a large collection of landscaped flora. This is a huge beautiful area to go for walks, go on runs, have a picnic and enjoy the river and where many take boats on the river on a nice day. This is a public free park.
The Oxford Castle is the remains of a large medieval castle, with tours by guides done in costume including the 900-year-old crypt. This is right by the train station.
daily from 10.00am-4.20pm (the last tour)
- Adult – £11.95
- Child (5-15) – £8.25
- Child (under 5) – FREE
- BOOK TICKETS
Modern Art Oxford
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This #throwback from the Modern Art Oxford archive is Gustav Metzger’s Liquid Crystal Environment (1965-1988) which was shown here in both 1998, and again in 2016 as part of our 50th anniversary year. This psychedelic installation is created using a series of colourful projections produced by directing light through glass slides filled with heat-sensitive liquid crystals which change colour as they shift in temperature. Originally staged as a live performance, the work drew on Metzger’s idea of ‘auto-creation’, where a computer programme generated the installation’s movement, removing the artist’s agency. #archive #gustavmetzger #crystal #colour #artandscience #installation #performance #archive
This is an art gallery that is cutting-edge exhibitions of international modern and contemporary visual art, plus an upbeat cafe. This is one of the first things you see when you get off the train and it was my first Oxford stop. I was not dissapointed and the art museum is free. Yes you heard it this is free and one of the coolest spots in Oxford! Art museum website here
Oxford boating on the canals & Cherlow River
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Another photo from our trip to Oxford on Sunday. Punting boats by Magdalen Bridge at the Oxford University Botanical Garden #whyiloveox #comp @experienceoxfordshire @oxfordmail #oxford #puntinginoxford #universityofoxford #universityofoxfordbotanicgarden #magdalen #magdalencollege #magdalenbridge #lovegreatbritain #oxfordshire #landscapephotography #weekendgetaway #mumsofinstagram #mumsofinstagramuk
There are miles of open public park trails along the canals of Oxford that connect to the river. There are lots of boats and this is a popular summer day activity in the city. The trails start before crossing the bridge to the train. The trails start across from Oxford Castle.
The Kings Arms Pub
This isa classic, ever-popular university hangout serving hearty British pub food and multiple cask ales. This pub is right next to Oxford University and is on Parks Road down from the Bridge of Sighs.
Hours: 10:30 am-12am daily