Do you have a day to spend in Oxford and want to make the most of it? It’s surprising how much you can actually see and do in one day. There are people who can spend an entire day in one museum, but I’m not one of them. I want to see and experience as much as possible. If you’re not like me, you’ll think that what I’m about to suggest for one day in Oxford is really, really rushed. Even if you are a bit like me, you’re going to think that this is too much for one day. But this IS what I did in one day in Oxford. It was easy. It was wonderful. And it wasn’t rushed at all.
Here’s an itinerary for your day in Oxford:
A day in Oxford
Yep, that’s a lot. But if you want to see all that in one day, it can be done. This is the route:
- Oxford Train Station
- Alice’s Shop
- Christ Church College
- Christ Church Meadow
- River Cherwell (I didn’t have time for punting though)
- Magdalen College
- New College
- The Bridge of Sighs
- Pitt Rivers Museum
- University Museum of Natural History
- Ashmolean Museum
- The Covered Markets
- Oxford Train Station
Now, if you have two days then by all means divide it to two days (or even three…). And if you want to skip a college or a museum, you’re obviously free to do so. Here is however some information and pictures of these stops and sights:
Oxford Train Station
It is very easy to make a day trip to Oxford from London. It takes just one hour and has zero to one stop on the way. If you can, purchase you’re ticket well in advance. That’s because the prices vary a lot and the Advance tickets are a lot cheaper, especially if you are flexible with your timetable. You can get a one way ticket from London to Oxford for about 10 pounds. Check the timetables and prices at National Rail website.
The station itself is small but has a couple of shops so that you can buy a drink or little something to eat. It’s not in the city center but it’s just a 10 minute walk so you don’t need a taxi or other transportation.
Visit this nice little gift shop if you’re even a little bit interested in Alice in Wonderland. There is a lot of nice little things and books to buy. I fell in love with a huge pink book called Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories by Lewis Carroll. They only had one copy left, the one on display, so I had to leave empty handed… I bought it on Amazon afterwards 🙂
The first college on this route is one of the larger ones in Oxford, Christ Church. Christ Church opens at 10 am (Mon-Sat) but notice that the Hall is often closed from noon to 2 pm.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan you might notice that the staircase at Christ Church looks a bit familiar. The Christ Church Hall was also used as an inspiration to the Great Hall in Hogwarts.
Christ Church Meadow and River Cherwell
Once you step out you’ll find you’re on an alleyway, not sure exactly where. Just ask a porter for directions to the Meadow, which is just around the corner. From there it’s a nice walk to River Cherwell and what they call in England “punting”. A punt is a type of a boat that is typical to Oxford and when you boat in a punt it’s called punting. You can hire your own boat or a boat with a punter.
Magdalen College was in my opinion the prettiest college we visited so if you want to visit just one college, I’d recommend you make it to this one. It’s not nearly as crowded as Christ Church so it’s both peaceful and beautiful.
The opening times of Magdalen College vary a bit: it usually opens at noon or 1 pm. Check the opening times in advance.
New College is not new at all, it’s actually one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. And another favorite for Harry Potter fans: parts of the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, were filmed here.
The Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is situated on New College Lane and you can’t miss it as you walk from the New College towards Oxford city center.
By this time we were starving so we took a tiny alley to the right just before the bridge and walked to a restaurant called The Turf Tavern. It’s a well known pub / restaurant in Oxford and we had our lunch there. It was a really cosy place. The food was just OK, but with a pint of beer and cider good enough to keep us happy.
Pitt Rivers Museum
We found the University Museum of Natural History very easily but were wondering where the Pitt Rivers Museum is. It turned out you have to walk through the Natural History Museum to get to Pitt Rivers.
This was one strange museum. I’ve never been to anything like this before. The whole atmosphere of the museum was mystical and that was really the charm of this museum.
University Museum of Natural History
University Museum of Natural History in Oxford is one of the best museums I’ve visited. And I can’t even explain why. I was just so fascinated with everything I saw, and the place is beautiful.
This museum, Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, is one of the oldest museums in the world.
The Covered Market and back to the Train Station
By the time we made it to the Covered Market of Oxford most shops and stalls had already closed. So it might actually be smart to start your day with a stop at this nice little area if you want to take a look. We were tired – but happy with our day – at this point so we walked straight back to the train station and took the train back to London.
How much will a day in Oxford cost?
Well, you can really make it as cheap or as expensive as you wish. The great thing about Oxford is that the museums are amazing – and the museums are free. If you do everything I did on one day here’s what it will cost you (in 2016):
- £20 / Return train tickets from London to Oxford (if you’ve booked them well in advance)
- Free / Alice’s Shop – if you can manage to just browse 🙂
- £7-9 / Christ Church College (the entrance fee is higher in the summertime when there are a lot of visitors)
- Free / Christ Church Meadow
- Free / River Cherwell (Unless you want to go punting)
- £5 / Magdalen College
- £4 / New College
- Free / The Bridge of Sighs (free to admire from the outside)
- Free / Pitt Rivers Museum
- Free / University Museum of Natural History
- Free / Ashmolean Museum
- Free / The Covered Markets (free unless you buy something obviously)
- £13 / Lunch and a pint (The Turf Tavern)
So if you want to do all that I did in Oxford you’ll spend around £50 on this day trip. I don’t think it’s too bad considering this includes a lot of sights, the train tickets and a lunch with a drink. You can save ten pounds by visiting just one college and/or visiting smaller less known colleges.
After our visit to Oxford I keep pointing at the TV screen going “We were there” and “Remember that?” whenever we watch a series of Inspector Morse.
What a wonderful city.