Travel Guide: Plan a Perfect Day Trip to Oxford, the Historic City of Dreaming Spires

Oxford: The City of Dreaming Spires

A view of Oxford

Oxford Buildings: Image Credit:

Located in central southern England, Oxford is one of the most scenic locations in the United Kingdom.  The poet Matthew Arnold, nicknamed Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires and it is a historical place of interest.  Furthermore, it is home to the prestigious Oxford University and its monumental architecture.  Why not take a quaint and peaceful walk in this charming city?


Vaults and Garden

Image Credit:

Beginning of Trip to Oxford: 9am

There is no doubt that you will have a rather long and tiring journey to reach Oxford.  That is why there is no better way to start off your day than having a fresh cup of tea or coffee.  Why not treat yourself to a lovely breakfast at a local cafe?

Vaults & Gardens is one of many cafes in the surrounding area.  It is situated next to a central landmark, which is the Radcliffe Camera Library.   Whilst it is a rather small cafe, it is charming and has a lot of character.  Not to mention the food, which is simply delightful.  They serve everything from breakfast and lunch, to scrumptious cream tea.  Additionally, from the menu alone, it can be said that the Vaults & Garden has much to be proud of.

Morning Walk

Streets of Oxford

Image Credit:


Nothing is better than a quiet and peaceful walk along the roads of Oxford.  Even if you only have an hour or so to spare, make sure to take in the beauty and splendour of this breathtaking city.  Before you even start sightseeing, explore what Oxford has to offer by roaming the streets.  On your way, you can walk past the Bridge of Sighs, the Radcliffe Camera and even the Bodleian Library.

It is the perfect way to start the day and to prepare you for a long and eventful time ahead.

Central Oxford

The Bodleian Library

Image Credit:


No matter the type of transportation, you should arrive at the centre of the city.  If so, it is best if that is where you start your sightseeing adventure.  A tour of the Bodleian Library is the perfect way to start.  Fans of the Harry Potter films will recognise this library in many scenes from the iconic films.  You can have a guided or self-guided tour of this historic building and take in all it can offer.  This can take up to one hour but it is well worth the time and money spent.  The splendid architecture and classical literature transport you back in time to a different era.  It is truly an experience you will never forget.

Ashmolean Museum

Ashmolean Museum

Image Credit:


Whilst there are numerous museums within Oxford, none is more famous than the Ashmolean Museum.  The Ashmolean Museum is Oxford University’s museum of art and archaeology.  It is one of four university museums.  This is along with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the History of Science and the Pitt Rivers Museum.

You will learn much about history, art and archaeology.  It is unlike any other museum, holding treasures from the ancient world and beyond.  It is a cultural experience that must not be missed and is one of my recommended places to visit in Oxford.


The Ivy Oxford Brasserie

Image Credit:


Of course, you can have lunch anywhere you like.  You can simply have a takeaway sandwich or burger.  Anything you like.  However, if you wish to get the true Oxford experience, I would recommend dining at The Ivy Oxford Brasserie.  From seasonal dishes to decadent desserts, this elegant restaurant is certainly a culinary destination.

Whilst it is important to take the time to enjoy your lunch, it is also important to leave more time to sightsee.  Hence, I would recommend taking no longer than one hour to eat and relax.

Exploring Oxford

Oxford Botanic Garden

Image Credit:


Now it is time to become more adventurous and venture further away from the centre of Oxford.  To explore the wildlife Oxford has to offer, there are many activities that people can do.  The main two options people normally opt for are either punting or visiting Oxford’s Botanical Garden.  This will obviously be dependent upon what individuals prefer, but both are incredible options.

Punting is perfect for sunny weather.  You can either take a self-guided boat ride or have a tour guide take you.  Either way, it is a very relaxing activity and what is better than gliding through the quaint rivers with a chilled drink in your hand.  You can not ask for anything more!

For those who prefer plants and the beauty that lies within nature, you can visit the wondrous Botanical Gardens.  Why not venture through this extensive garden with beautiful and rare plants?  It is 10 steps ahead of any garden and garden centre.  It is the perfect place to visit for those who are plant enthusiasts.  The wonderful aroma that wafts from this garden is truly extraordinary and is an activity that is quite breathtaking.

Gothic Oxford

Oxford Castle and Prison

Image Credit:


If you are one for gothic architecture, castles and history, then this is for you.  The Oxford Castle and Prison is one of the most historical places in Oxford.  In 1066, William the Conqueror invaded England.  He won the Battle of Hastings and, as a result, the Normans claimed the castle to be the ideal location for the motte-and-bailey castle.  Robert O’Doyly built the castle from scratch on the land.  However, over time, it became the location of a prison and, 1000 years later, it is a tourist attraction with a rich history.

There are numerous activities up for offer in this mysterious castle.  You can climb the Saxon St George’s Tower.  This is one of the oldest buildings anywhere in Oxford.  The view from the top is simply breathtaking.  Take in the 360° panoramic view of the historical city and its wondrous spires.  Then, descend underground into the 900-year-old crypt.  It holds the only surviving remains of St. George’s Chapel.  It is said that this is where the start of education began, which is what Oxford is known for.  You can also take the time to explore the confines of the 18th century Debtors’ Tower and Prison D-Wing.  Before you go, why not take the time to marvel at the Mound of the 11th century motte-and-bailey castle.

Afternoon Tea

Browns Restaurant

Image Credit:


Afternoon tea is one of the best times of the day by far!  Luxurious cream cakes, delectable sandwiches and a variety of aromatic teas.  A beautiful cafe that offers afternoon tea is the Browns Brasserie & Bar.  From as little as £16.95 per person, this is an afternoon tea that is affordable and delicious, with a relaxing and elegant atmosphere.  Browns was founded in 1973 and has 27 different venues worldwide.  It serves delicious and high quality food in a beautiful setting.

Browns offers a delicious afternoon tea which includes a lovely selection of sandwiches and mini brioche rolls.  There are warm and buttery scones paired with strawberry jam and clotted cream.  Furthermore, there is a range of mini desserts and a wide choice of loose leaf teas.  If you wish, you can even add a glass of Champagne or Hendrick’s gin and tonic for only £7 more per person!

A memorable afternoon tea in a wondrous city.

Oxford Colleges

Oxford Colleges

Image Credit:


A trip to Oxford is incomplete without visiting some of Oxford University’s colleges spread around the city.  There are over 40 that one can visit but there is certainly not enough time in one day to visit them all.  However, there are a few that I would recommend visiting.

Christ Church College resembles the architecture and structure of a castle.  With a beautiful fountain in the middle of the quad, it is one of the most impressive colleges within Oxford.  It is also one of the most popular for tourists to visit.  This is because it is where some scenes were filmed for the making of the Harry Potter films.  It is increasingly becoming one of the most visited colleges within Oxford.

New College is one of the most beautiful colleges in Oxford and is perfect to visit during the summer.  It also contains the oldest dining hall in England and, with gorgeous gardens and cloisters, it is no wonder that it is on the visit lists of many.

Magdalen College is one of the largest Oxford colleges.  The grounds surrounding the college are huge and extremely spacious.  Even before you arrive at the main building, you pass by the deer park, where you can look over the grounds and watch the majestic deer pass by.

Balliol College is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford.  It was built in 1263 and holds a stunning chapel and beautiful gardens within the grounds.  With a tranquil and calm atmosphere, who wouldn’t want to relax in this college when they have time to spare?  Also, they hold a collection of prized tortoises.  Very unique.

Dinner in Oxford

Quod Restaurant and Bar

Image Credit:


After at least two hours visiting the colleges of Oxford, I think it would be time for a well-earned dinner.  Whilst it is completely up to you where you have your dinner and your preference of cuisine, I would highly recommend the Quod Restaurant & Bar.  It is refined, elegant and, most importantly, has delicious food.  With a wide variety of dishes, you are spoilt for choice.  There is nothing better after a long, tiring day, than to sit back, relax and enjoy a superb meal.

Their decor screams Oxford.  From the beautiful foliage to the bare brick walls, you get a feeling of a rustic and homely restaurant, filled with old world history and heritage.  Then again, that is what Oxford is known for … history.  In fact, it is one of the most historic places in the whole of the UK.  Not only is it recognised for being home to one of the oldest universities, but also for its beautiful landscape and wildlife.

Why not treat yourself to a delectable dessert after your main course?  After all, you will have walked miles and miles through the streets, colleges and parks.  Either way, you probably would not be able to resist their salted caramel cheesecake with caramel ice cream and honeycomb or their creamy strawberry pavlova.  Gosh, I am truly hungry now.  I had better stop talking about delicious desserts.  You can check out their array of desserts and other dishes on their website.

Visit the Cinema

Curzon Cinemas

Image Credit:


After that filling meal, you are probably not in the mood to continue sightseeing or travelling, so why not take this opportunity to watch a film at Curzon Cinema.  Of course, there are a few cinemas in Oxford, but this one is in Westgate Shopping Centre, where you can do some shopping before watching your film.

Grab some popcorn and a drink (if you have room) and immerse yourself in the world of film.  Escape to a mysterious land or into another dimension with an array of film options.  A trip to the cinema is the perfect way to end your day in Oxford.  A way to relax and unwind, not to have a care in the world.

Travel Home/ Stay Overnight in Oxford

Hotels in Oxford

Image Credit:

End of Trip to Oxford: 10pm

Of course, you have the option to start making your way back home, but it will probably be late and if you are travelling in winter, it will be extremely cold and dark.  You could spend the next hour or so travelling in the car, bus or train, in the chilling cold breeze or, better yet, you could spend the night in a warm and cozy hotel room.

You have a wide range of hotels that you could stay in.  They range from the more expensive, high-class hotels, to the more affordable but just as comfortable hotels.  Plus, an additional bonus of staying overnight in Oxford is that you can continue your adventure in the city the following day.  Why not travel to Oxford on Saturday and make this a weekend trip?

It is not possible to see all the sights that Oxford has to offer in one day.  It would take at least a week to see most of the sights, but an extra day makes your journey even more worthwhile.



Image Credit:

To conclude, whilst I have given some ideas about what you can do in Oxford and how long you should spend on each activity, it is your trip and your preference.  There are many activities that you can do in Oxford and no matter what you decide to do, you will have a spectacular time in the city of dreaming spires!

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out my other articles?

Interested in Indian cuisine?  Click here to find out more.

Leave a Reply