Tips for visiting Oxford, historic university town

Once you have had the opportunity to make a  first visit to London , for subsequent trips it is advisable to make an excursion to some of the towns that are in the surroundings of the British capital .

And one of the first candidates for such an excursion, without a doubt, has to be the historic university city of Oxford . one of the most famous in the United Kingdom .

Hight Street in Oxford north of London
Hight Street in Oxford north of London


There are many people who agree that the greatest tourist attraction of Great Britain is in its small cities and its villages, where for its monuments and architecture you are easily transferred to several centuries ago.

Sheldonian Theater in Oxford north of London
Sheldonian Theater in Oxford north of London

That is my case, and after having had the opportunity to travel several times through that country, I can assure you that Oxford is one of the best examples.

On a splendid sunny day I got a first glimpse of Oxford and, above all, I visited the most important university colleges , the Christ Church , also famous for being the setting for the Harry Potter films .

But it has really been on my last trip to Oxford when I discovered its enormous appeal, much greater than I remembered.

This is due, no doubt, to the opportunity to visit him thoroughly during three days guided by a resident in the city, my daughter, who at that time was working as a nurse in her main hospital.

Gardens of Balliol College in Oxford
Gardens of Balliol College in Oxford

On this occasion I have been able to visit not only the main monuments, but also discover places not usually known by tourists and, above all, live the atmosphere of a historic university city .

How to get to Oxford

From this experience, here are some tips for your visit to Oxford .

How to go by train to Oxford

To get to Oxford from London , you have a train that leaves from Paddingtonstation  with a frequency of every 10-15 minutes, and which takes about an hour.

If you return on the same day, the price of the round trip ticket is 23.50 pounds, that is, not making the transfer coincide during the peak hours in which the rate is higher.

Saxon Tower of St. Michael's Church in the center of Oxford
Saxon Tower of St. Michael’s Church in the center of Oxford

How to go by bus to Oxford

Another cheaper option is to go to Oxford by bus .

The Oxford Tube leaves the Victoria station with a frequency of between 10 and 20 minutes and takes an hour and 40 minutes, and something else at peak times.

The round trip ticket price is from 18 pounds for adults.

If, as was my case, you fly on a low cost line  like EasyJet , and you want to go directly to Oxford without going through London, it is best to fly to Luton airport ,

From there you will take a National Express bus that will take you in two hours to the university city (21 pounds round trip).

Oxford High Street north of London
Oxford High Street north of London

Because of the distance, the airports of Gatwick and Stansted are totally inadvisable , while from Heathrow  the bus takes 90 minutes.

I tell you that the historic center of Oxford , that is, the area where almost all of the visits to be made are concentrated, is really small and, therefore, very manageable.

Therefore, with a full day you have enough to see the essentials in Oxford .

If you choose to go by train, in 7-8 minutes you will walk to the center, and if you go by bus, the station is in the same center.

What to see in Oxford

Oxford is a small city located between two rivers, one of them the Thames , although there it is known as Isis .

Its long university tradition dates back to the 12th century, with the educational activity of the monasteries of Augustinian monks.

Dining room of the Christ Church College in Oxford
Dining room of the Christ Church College in Oxford

What colleges to see in Oxford

The first colleges of Oxford were founded in the thirteenth century, and today there are 38 colleges , which have become the great tourist attraction of the city because most of them are visited.

It really requires visiting these student residences, from one of the oldest, Balliol College , to the largest, Christ Church College , with its buildings that exude history.

There you can find large chapels that are almost churches (you’ll even have the chance to see the smallest cathedral in the United Kingdom ), even charming dining rooms.

The highlight of these colleges is that all of them are full of life thanks to the presence of students throughout the year.

Radcliffe Camera in Oxford
Radcliffe Camera in Oxford

Monuments in Oxford

The most outstanding monuments of Oxford are concentrated around the great building of the historical Bodleian Library , being known as Radcliffe Camera , of 1749, considered as the monumental icon of the city.

Next to this majestic circular building is the main temple of the city, the Church of the Virgin Mary , whose tower you can climb to see the best panoramic views of Oxford .

In that area is also the historic Sheldonian Theater and the so-called Bridge of Sighs , which similar to the famous bridge of Venice with the same name, links two buildings of Hertford College .

Among the corners not so well known to tourists visiting Oxford, I will highlight Bill Clinton’s very hidden tavern , which the ex-president of the United States frequented when he was a student in the 60s.

Or the Blackwell Bookshop , the one with the most kilometers of shelves in the United Kingdom.

High Street from the Virgin Mary Church of Oxford
High Street from the Virgin Mary Church of Oxford

Cornmarket and High Street in Oxford

The axes of the historical center of Oxford are the pedestrian street Cornmarket , commercial center of the city, and High Street , to whose sides the main colleges succeed one another .

In Cormarket and surroundings you can see a beautiful building from medieval times, some of which are now occupied by commercial establishments.

In an apple located at the back of the aforementioned pedestrian street you should not miss the Covered Market , a charming market that will remind you of other famous markets of large European cities.

Oxford is a city where all the shops, restaurants and cafes have a great charm. in addition to a characteristic university environment .

Of course, it is an expensive city, with prices almost similar to those in London.

Covered Market in Oxford
Covered Market in Oxford

Cowley Road in Oxford

If you move a little away from the historical and commercial center, you will find other environments, such as the neighborhood of Jericho  with a central street through which several charming restaurants follow each other.

But, on the other hand, if you go down Cowley Road , the street that extends east after crossing the Cherwell River , you find a very popular neighborhood.

There you will see a large number of multiracial establishments and restaurants (going down that street has been the first time I’ve been to a Nepalese restaurant ).

All in all, Oxford is a historic city that should be a must if you are looking to take a trip from London .

Cowley Road in Oxford
Cowley Road in Oxford