Looking to do a London day trip to Oxford? I’ve got you covered. From transport to costs and things to do, here’s how to do the perfect day trip from London to Oxford — from a Londoner!
Although London is entirely fabulous in its own right, sometimes it’s good to get away.
This year I traded the bustle of London for the curious calm of Oxford — and it was a beautiful day trip.
Whether you’re visiting London and looking for some places to add to your UK trip or a London local in need of a change, here’s how to do the perfect London day trip to Oxford.
Including my opinion on if Oxford is worth a day trip from London, the best way to get from London to Oxford, how much it costs to do a day trip from London to Oxford, how to spend one day in Oxford, the best Oxford attractions, tours and experiences, the best places to stay in Oxford and a final London to Oxford day trip FAQ. Shall we?
How to Do the Perfect Day Trip From London to Oxford
Is Oxford Worth a Day Trip From London?
The first thing you’re probably wondering is “Is Oxford, England worth visiting?”.
The famed university city is well-known for having the crème de la crème of education systems, with a little place called the University of Oxford.
But beyond its educational allure, there’s tons for tourists to get up to here too.
From discovering its 12th-century history to doing some Harry Potter movie scouting or simply basking in its unique mix of old-world and modern — a day in Oxford is a day well-spent.
So, yes Oxford is 100% worth visiting. You may also be wondering…
How many days do you need in Oxford?
I definitely think you can see a lot in a day here if you’re sticking to the city centre. But for the full experience, I’d say 2 days is enough (i.e – a weekend trip).
How does the city of Oxford compare to London?
I don’t think you’ll find too many similarities. Oxford is much smaller than London and really gives you a ‘small town’ vibe.
However, both cities are seeped in history and the green spaces here can sometimes be reflective of London’s smaller parks.
But I wouldn’t go to Oxford expecting it to be like London. They’re completely different!
What’s the best season for a day trip from London to Oxford?
Autumn in my opinion, seeing the leaves scattered on the cobbled streets of Oxford is pretty magical, plus the weather is still fairly reasonable, and the summer tourist crowds have died down.
Which is a better day trip — London to Oxford or London to Cambridge?
Understandably Oxford is often compared to Cambridge. But having taken a day trip from London to Cambridge as well, I would say both are worth visiting.
Unlike London and Oxford, I definitely noticed similarities between Oxford and Cambridge. However, I still think both offer something unique and are worth exploring individually.
P.S – There’s plenty of tours that will take you to both Oxford and Cambridge on the same day from London if you’re short on time!
How Do I Go From London to Oxford?
Now that you know you want to go to Oxford (yay!), it’s time to actually get there.
London is a little under an hour from Oxford and is best reached by train — which is by far the fastest way to get from London to Oxford, leaving most commonly from London Paddington Station.
To make sure you get the best discount on tickets I highly suggest using Trainline.
Their entire platform is dedicated to finding the cheapest train tickets on the internet, with tickets from London to Oxford for just £10!
To get your ticket, just head to Trainline.com, enter your departure and arrival date & time and watch the magic happen. Click here to book.
How much does it cost to travel from London to Oxford?
As you saw above, travelling from London to Oxford can be as cheap as 10 quid! With the average ticket cost being anywhere from £2.70 to £29.90 each way (unless you opt for first class).
This makes it a very affordable day trip from London, but you’ll still want to book the earliest you can to get the best deal on seats — those £5 tickets go fast!
Is Oxford cheaper than London?
Anything’s cheaper than London, lol.
But in all seriousness, Oxford is cheaper than London in many regards. But as a tourist, you’ll find a lot of the tours and attractions still cost about the same amount as London’s attractions would.
How much to plan to spend for a day trip from London to Oxford
Of course, how much you spend when you’re actually in Oxford will vary. But for my London to Oxford day trip I spent around £100 for the whole day including travel, eating, and activities.
I honestly think you could spend even less than this if you’re very budget-conscious, or more of course if you’re doing a weekend trip, want to splurge on attractions and experiences, or have a really nice meal in the area during your day trip.
How to Spend a Day in Oxford: Oxford Day Itinerary
8-9am: Catch the train to Oxford from London
If you’re only spending one day in Oxford from London, then it’s best to get a head start on your day and leave around 8 or 9am from Paddington Station (psst, make sure you’ve bought your tickets in advance).
10am-11am: Breakfast at the Handle Bar
Once you get off at Oxford train station, it’s a little over a 10 minute walk to the city centre.
You won’t need to drop off your luggage, so use the opportunity to take in Oxford by stroll until you reach The Handle Bar.
It’s an unassuming local cafe and kitchen tucked behind a bike shop, and is the perfect introduction to Oxford living.
I suggest digging into their HB Full House with Mayfield eggs, sausage, and bacon from local butchers, roasted provençale tomato, garlic and herbs field mushroom, black-eyed beans, and fried potatoes with seeded sourdough — giving you all the energy you need for a day of exploring Oxford.
11am – 12:30pm: Visit the Oxford Botanic Garden
From The Handle Bar, take a brisk 13-minute walk to the Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum.
Founded in 1621, it’s officially the oldest botanic garden in Great Britain, including 5,000 different plants from around the world.
Outside of the beautiful photo ops here, I suggest visiting The Glasshouse, The Walled Garden, The Herbarium, and The Lower Garden.
12:30pm – 2:00pm: Walk Around the City Centre & Explore Oxford’s Libraries and Museums
As morning turns to afternoon, now’s your time to take in Oxford like a local.
If you’re doing a day trip from London to Oxford, you won’t have time to go inside all of the museums and libraries.
But I at least suggest having a peek at the Bodleian Library (one of the oldest museums in Europe and Oxford University’s main library) and the Ashmolean Museum, the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology — founded in the 1600s.
Other notable museums & libraries in Oxford include:
- The Story Museum
- Oxford Museum of Natural History
- History of Science Museum
- Pitt Rivers Museum
- Museum of Oxford
If museums aren’t your thing or you’d rather spend the time simply roaming the city centre of Oxford, then I highly suggest visiting The Covered Market — a local traders market founded in 1774 with over 50 independent shops, cafes, and bars.
After which, you can visit The Alice Shop, one of the real visiting places of Alice Pleasance Liddell — Oxford student Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll’s) inspiration for the Alice in Wonderland series. Right in Oxford!
2:00pm – 3:00pm: Tea at the Grand Cafe
It wouldn’t be a London day trip to Oxford without a tea at The Grand Cafe .
The first (yes, first) coffee house in England sits right on the high street and is a fabulous place to watch Oxford life go by.
Sit down and grab a coffee or tea here before continuing on your day trip. Or if you have the time, enjoy…
- High Tea – filled with egg and smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, and your choice of tea
- The Grand High Tea – accompanied by all of the above, plus a glass of champagne
- Cream Tea – with two scones and tea if you’re looking for something light
P.S – It’s walk-ins only here, so don’t worry about making a reservation! You can check out their full menu here.
3:00pm-4:15pm: See Harry Potter at Christ Church
After tea, it’s time to do some Harry Potter scouting. And Christ Church is a must-see.
The Oxford institution was used in the magical film several times. Including the Bodley Staircase, used in Philosopher’s Stone when Harry, Ron, and Hermoine become new first years; the cloisters in Sorcerer’s Stone as the hallway Harry Potter sees his father’s Quidditch trophy; and The Great Hall, the same room where students eat and congregate in the film.
Visiting the Great Hall in Christ Church in particular was my favourite, as it literally felt like stepping into a Harry Potter movie set.
The grand hall, with its large wooden doors, magnificent staircases, and iconic stained glass windows will transport you instantly. So be sure to take some pictures!
Other Harry Potter movie locations in Oxford include:
- New College: Cloisters
- New College: Courtyard
- Bodleian Library: Duke Humfrey’s Library
- Bodleian Library: The Divinity School
Tickets to Christ Church are £16 online or £18 at the door and can be purchased directly on their website.
As this is quite a popular Oxford attraction, I suggest booking online before your London to Oxford day trip to avoid disappointment!
Other Christ Church & Harry Potter Tours in Oxford:
4:15pm – 5:00pm: See the View from the Tower of St Mary the Virgin
After you’re all Harry Potter’d out, it’s time to take in some last-minute Oxford views.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is smack dab in the centre of Oxford and has been a place of Christian worship for over 1,000 years. Talk about history!
At the top is the ‘Tower’, dating back to 1280.
Brace yourself for the steep 127-step climb (no lift, unfortunately), and you’ll be awarded with views like this.
Trust me — it’s worth it.
Tickets are £5 and can be purchased directly from the church shop on arrival. Last admission is at 4:30pm.
P.S – This means you’ll be cutting it quite close if you’re going straight from Christ Church, so keep an eye on the time!
5:30pm – 7pm: Cosy down for Dinner in Oxford
Once the evening sets in Oxford, it’s time to indulge in some pub grub.
Although it’s still closed as of writing, Eagle & Child is where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien used to take up a drink (or two) in Oxford and have what I’m sure were the most intellectual of discussions.
But for dinner spots that are actually open in Oxford, I suggest heading to St Aldates Tavern — a historic pub right in the city centre specialising in homemade and seasonal plates (see menu), Gees Restaurant & Bar for higher-end Mediterranean dining in an elegant glass conservatory setting (see menu)or Lamb & Flag if you’d just prefer drinks.
P.S – If you’re looking for other options, my lovely travel blogger friend Rose is an Oxford local and wrote a fabulous guide to all the best restaurants in Oxford.
7pm-8pm: Catch the train back to London
And just like that, our London day trip to Oxford has come to an end!
It’s time to take the train back to London Paddington, reminiscing on our sweet, sweet trip to Oxford for years to come.
Map of the Best Things to Do for a Day Trip from in Oxford: What to Do for One Day in Oxford
Best Oxford Tours, Attractions & Experiences
The Best Places to Stay in Oxford
If you decide to make your London to Oxford day trip a weekend affair, then you may need a place to stay. Here are some options:
- Newton House Oxford – a classic Victorian B&B with takeaway breakfast (from £114 a night)
- Holiday Inn Oxford – has all the amenities you’d expect from a reputable hotel chain, including a complimentary shuttle to bring you straight to the city centre (from £84 a night)
- Courtyard by Marriot Oxford – a 4-star hotel in the city centre with contemporary rooms, breakfast, restaurant & bar (from £161 a night)
- Vanbrugh House Hotel – posh Oxford-style rooms featuring a bar & brasserie and terrace (from £131 a night)
- The Randolph Hotel – a 5-star Oxford hotel offering unique-styled rooms, spa, and bar — spitting distance from the Bodleian Library (from £188 a night)
Final Tips for Your London Day Trip to Oxford: London Day Trip to Oxford FAQ
What should I pack for one day in Oxford?
I’d suggest packing no more than a light backpack, including a portable charger, water bottle, umbrella, and perhaps a good book for the train journey.
What should I wear for my London to Oxford day trip?
Layers and comfortable shoes. We all know how unpredictable UK weather can be, and nothing will ruin your day trip more than finding yourself freezing on an Oxford afternoon!
As you’ll be walking from place to place, you’ll definitely want to go for comfortable walking shoes and above all, dress comfortably.
Can you visit Oxford University for free?
Outside of Christ Church, there are dozens of Oxford colleges to explore. Admission varies by college, some are free, and some require a small donation. For a full list of Oxford colleges and admission prices, click here.
Will I need to use public transport while I’m in Oxford?
Unless you despise walking, you really won’t need to use public transport during your day trip from London to Oxford.
Everything you’ll be doing will pretty much stick to the city centre, which is completely walkable.
If you would like to use public transit in the area, make sure you check out Oxford’s transport guide before you go.
Should I book my Oxford tours and experiences in advance?
Yes! Oxford is a very popular day trip destination, so to avoid disappointment (and dealing with booking admin on the day), I highly suggest booking all your Oxford tours and experiences in advance. I personally use GetYourGuide.
Thanks for reading my London Day Trip to Oxford Guide. If you enjoyed it, please let me know on Instagram!
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