A little while ago, and as a way to start crossing over places to visit in the UK from our bucket list, I talked Sam into going on a short weekend day trip to Oxford. Travelling from London to Oxford is actually fairly easy. Trains to Oxford run regularly from Paddington Train Station and you can be at the historic university city in less than an hour.
Visiting a place for only 24h can be tricky, especially if don’t know when to start! Luckily, we have prepared a list of must-see places to make the most of your visit to Oxford.
Here is our guide to ‘Things to do in Oxford in a day’.
MUST SEE & DO
The Covered Market
Our first port of call on arrival was visiting this historic world-famous indoor market in the Oxford city centre. Unlike most markets, the Covered Market opens seven days a week, perfect for visiting on a weekend escape. A plethora of goods from produce to local crafts, clothes and shoes cover the permanent stalls that have been actively up since the 1770s.
Do not leave this place without checking out “Moo-Moo’s”, a favourite among students, residents and tourists. Our hardest moment was picking a flavour from the long list of milkshakes and fruit smoothies! After a good five minutes of staring at the menu, Sam went for the Oreo and Peanut Butter special. Needless to say, I chose my all time favourite Carrot Cake flavour 🙂
University Church of St. Mary the Virgin and The Radcliffe Camera
Just a short 5-minute stroll from the Covered Market and along Oxford’s cobbled streets lies the impressive University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. With impressive arches and stained glass windows, it was the first building of the University of Oxford back in the XIII Century.
Climb up the narrow stone stairs for a better perspective of the church – and, if you are lucky enough, to a nice choir practice! Up on the balcony, the church windows offer a nice view of the Radcliffe Camera and the heart of the historic University City. Unfortunately, the Radcliffe Camera hosts the Science Library and limits its access to the University’s students and employees. However, it is still an imposing circular building on the outside and a must-see sight in Oxford!
Hidden gem: A true crown jewel, the Vaults & Garden café lies just underneath the Church, in what was once the Oxford University’s Old Congregation House of 1320. It now offers a delicious selection of healthy homemade food under the beautiful vaulted ceiling, a great cosy lunch spot!
Bridge of Sighs
The Hertford Bridge (more famously known as the Bridge of Sighs due to its similarity to the one with the same name in Venice) is the characteristic covered footbridge connecting two parts of Hertford College. This distinctive Oxford attraction provides a popular photo spot which, of course, we did not miss.
Trinity College, University of Oxford
No trip to Oxford would be complete without a nose around the many college grounds of the world-famous University – of which we picked Trinity College. If you’re clever and lucky enough to be a student at the University of Oxford you can enter for free; otherwise, you need to pay a small fee to get in. However, it is a price worth paying to enjoy the XVI Century college and its beautiful gardens.
Over the years, the Christ Church College has become a greater attraction to visitors after being featured in the Harry Potter films, making it one of the essential things to see in Oxford.
The Hall, decorated with long elegant tables and chairs, fireplaces and old paintings, was the inspiration for the creators of Harry Potter when designing the Hogwarts Great Hall. You may also recognise the grand looking stone staircase leading to the Hall when walking up the Bodley Tower, as it was used on many of the shots of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”.
Walking down the staircase, past the “NO PEEL” nails in the old treasury door, you can see the impressive Tom Quad and its clock tower. It was designed by Christopher Wren, whose other works include one of our favourite buildings in London – St. Paul’s Cathedral.
FOOD & DRINKS
Stop for a cider and beer at this historic pub, a favourite of many famous faces including Elizabeth Taylor, Stephen Hawking and the crew members of Harry Potter.
Originally just outside the Oxford city walls, the Turf Tavern is now hidden amongst the buildings of the University of Oxford. While having a refreshing drink in the garden, you can spot many chalk boards with stories of the Turf’s past. It was apparently the place where Bill Clinton infamously “did not inhale” and an Ex-Australian Prime Minister broke a World Record for consuming a yard of ale in 11 seconds! No chance we’d be beating that record today.
The Varsity Club (TVC)
Located in the heart of Oxford city centre, TVC shows a more unique perspective of Oxford from its rooftop terrace. It is the perfect summer hotspot to soak up the views of Oxford with a good cocktail or beer in hand. On gloomy days, snuggle up on the old comfy chairs and sofas that decorate this four-storey building.
The White Rabbit
A little bit of Italy comes to Oxford through the hand of The White Rabbit. This small but charming pub is often full, and you may need to wait for a table; you can see why once you are sat down and try their excellent pizzas! A cosy pub with great food, an excellent place to eat in Oxford. Definitely the perfect end to an amazing trip to remember!
Have you been to Oxford before or are lucky enough to live there? Let us know in the comments below your favourite places to visit in Oxford.
Dare to explore a little further,