Out-of-town trips from London to Oxford

Travel from London to Oxford

Oxford is located 90km northwest of London. You can get there by train or bus.

The train takes an hour or ten and the ticket costs £20-32 one way. The train goes frequently, about every 10 minutes from Marylebone and Paddington stations. For timetables and prices visit http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/.

However, if you worry about train tickets in advance, you can buy them much cheaper. For example, two weeks before the trip you can find an option for £19 round trip.

Alas, our trip was hasty, and many had to decide on the spot.

In our case, the bus option turned out to be more acceptable. On the line London-Oxford operated buses company Oxford Tube. Buses from Victoria bus station leave every quarter of an hour (less frequently in the evening), the ticket costs 18 pounds round trip (return the same day or the next day). The journey takes an hour and a half one way.

London-Oxford bus timetable

London Oxford timetable

So, in the early morning we got off the Victoria tube and found ourselves in the middle of the train station. The station was in a morning rush.

London Victoria Station

We hung around the scoreboard and then asked the clerk how to get to the bus station. He pointed us to the guide lines painted on the floor of the station.

LONDON oxford

We happily stood on the correct line with the inscription “Coach station”, and this Ariadne’s thread led us straight to the bus station – a tall white building.

LONDON oxford

There we approached the employee again, and she started to explain something, and then just took us out of the building and showed us the bus stop (it was on the other side of the street, a little bit before the station building – no platforms, boards, just a stop for one bus).

There was a double-decker bus marked “Oxford Tube” waiting for passengers at the stop.

We bought a return ticket from the driver and went to the second floor of the bus, where we were lucky to get the first seat in front of the front window.

There were few people interested in going to Oxford. The cabin was barely a quarter full, and we set off.

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The bus made a few more stops in London itself, particularly at Marble Arch and Hyde Park.

There was free wifi in the cabin, as well as outlets for charging phones.

The road itself is not too interesting and the scenery is quite ordinary.

But we entered Oxford and immediately found ourselves surrounded by low old houses of yellow sandstone, extremely beautiful and stylish. The city seemed to me as if it had been carved out of a single piece of stone, so unified was it.

LONDON oxford

LONDON oxford

It got prettier as we went into town, and before we reached the terminus we jumped out near the tall Tom Tower, beyond which could be seen the wide courtyard of Christ Church College.

Christ Church College.

Christ Church, Oxford’s largest college, was founded in 1525. Thirteen graduates of this college later held the post of British Prime Minister. Its most famous graduate is Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson), who spent in the walls of the college 47 years, first as a student, then – as a teacher of mathematics. And the girl Alice, whom he sent to travel to Wonderland and Looking Glass, was one of the college dean’s daughters.

Tom Gate is named after St. Thomas of Canterbury (Thomas Becket, assassinated at the behest of Henry II).

oxford

The entrance to the college was not through the front gate of St. Tom’s, but a little farther to the right around the corner. We came around the corner and stopped, mesmerized by the flowery avenue and the row of Gothic buildings, overlapping each other with their turrets and spires.

oxford college chrys cherch

oxford

A ticket to Christ Church College cost eight pounds. The college is open from 10 to 17 (from 14 to 17 on Sundays).

A small part of the college buildings is accessible to tourists, so that tourists do not inconvenience students and do not distract from their studies.

First we went to the Capitulum, where the Great Hall is, where the students have their meals.

In the Great Hall there is a grand staircase.

oxford college chrys cherch

And what a beautiful ceiling in front of the hall!

oxford college chrys cherch

I would see many more Great Halls at other colleges (at Oxford and, especially, at Cambridge), but this one surpassed all the others in size and in some atmosphere of dedication, cohesion and inclusiveness in a chosen circle. It was not without reason that it was used for the filming of the Harry Potter movie.

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oxford college chrys cherch

The walls of the hall are decorated with portraits of prominent alumni and college professors.

oxford college chrys cherch

After the Great Hall, we walked to the Cathedral.

oxford college chrys cherch

oxford college chrys cherch

oxford college chrys cherch

oxford college chrys cherch

oxford college chrys cherch

The knight’s nose is popular for some reason – whether students wiped it that way or tourists, I don’t know. We wiped the sleeping knight’s nose, too, just in case.

oxford college chrys cherch

The big courtyard with Tom’s gate.

oxford college chrys cherch

The college has several courtyards.

oxford college chrys cherch

And in this courtyard, the buildings are strictly official.

oxford college chrys cherch

In the last of the courtyards is a small art gallery. To visit it, visitors to the college have to pay an extra two pounds. Those who come in from the street pay 4.

We were about to go to the gallery but the clerk told us that it was 20 minutes before lunchtime (from 13 till 14) and advised us to come after lunchtime.

Next to the exit from Chryce Church College is Corpus Christi College, the smallest of Oxford’s educational institutions.

oxford

Behind the colleges stretches meadows. The building that stands on the border of the college and the meadow is called the Meadow building.

Meadow building

We settled down on the meadow and ate our lunch of sandwiches we had saved. In England, I have noticed that it is very common to have a snack in nature: on a bench or sitting right on the lawn. Perhaps it’s because of the high cost of cafes. In any case, around us, too, people were having lunch on benches.

After eating, we decided to walk to the Thames.

The Thames, or Isis.

The Thames in Oxford is not wide, its banks low and covered with grass. By the way, the stretch of the Thames within the city is commonly called The Isis. There are two rivers in the city, there is a small river Cherwell, which flows into the Thames just below Christ Church.

The name of the city translates as “bull ford”. I don’t know exactly where the bulls were crossed. When we were there, the herd was grazing in a green meadow between two rivers. The local cows have very big horns.

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oxford

There are tour boats, boats with paddlers, even a kayak, and a boat station on the Thames. They say there is a constant rivalry between Cambridge and Oxford in all areas of student life, from science to rowing competition.

oxford

oxford

Incidentally, I read that Tsar Peter the Great arrived from London to Oxford by the Thames, a trip that took almost three days.

After gazing at the rowers and the Thames, we headed downtown.

From Carfax Tower to the Ashmole Museum

The city’s main intersection is marked by the Carfax Tower. The alleyway is lined with buildings of amazing beauty, all of which are a match for the rest of the city. The Town Hall is especially nice. Entrance to the Town Hall is free. It also houses the Museum of Oxford.

oxford

Lloyd’s Bank also looks good.

oxford

Unfortunately, there is a lot of traffic in Oxford, which prevents a close look at the details of the buildings. It’s such a historic city, they could have made the central part of the city pedestrian.

Carfax Tower itself is not very tall, only 23 meters. It was built in the 13th century and was part of a church. It costs £4 to climb the tower and the last entry is at 4:30pm. The tower is said to have a great view of Oxford and its Gothic spires. But we were in a hurry to see the city and decided to save the tower for later.

carfax oxford

Beyond Carfax Tower begins Cornmarket street, a pedestrian street. As the name implies, grain was traded here in the Middle Ages.

oxford

A 14th-century half-timbered building

On Cornmarket street is Oxford’s oldest building, the tower of St Michael’s Church at the North Gate (1000-1050). It was once the end of Oxford.

oxford

A little further away you can see the low, squat church of St. Magdalene. A wooden church stood here, just outside the city gates, a thousand years ago, but it burned down in the 11th century. The church was rebuilt in stone and was continually rebuilt, so it is now an articulation of multiple volumes.

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oxford

oxford

Behind the church is the parish cemetery,

oxford

and behind the cemetery is an obelisk. It is a memorial to the three Anglican bishops who were burned in 1556: Lathimer, Ridley and Cranmer. By order of Mary Tudor, they were executed for heresy. The monument resembles the spire of a Gothic church that went underground.

oxford

To the left of the memorial is Beaumont street. The first building on the left is the five-star Macdonald Randolf Hotel, a handsome Gothic-style building.

oxford

Opposite it is the Ashmolean museum, a massive building with columns.

oxford ashmole museum

Our plan was to have a quick tour around Ashmolean museum and then take a quiet walk around Oxford visiting nearby colleges. Not so! We went to the museum, but we couldn’t go for a run. The Greeks and Egyptians we passed quickly, but we got stuck at the Italian Renaissance. Then came the Dutch, the Impressionists, Constable, Turner, and the Pre-Raphaelites. And we weren’t in any hurry – what’s the hurry from such happiness!

We left the Ashmole Museum two hours later. Though it cost us a visit to some of Oxford’s iconic sites, it would have been a shame to miss it.

Nevertheless, we picked up the pace, as I assumed there were many more wonderful things ahead of us.

How to get from London to Oxford

Oxford

The university city of Oxford is about 90 kilometers northwest of London, so it’s easy, fast and inexpensive to get there.

Oxford by bus

Buses to Oxford

The most popular and cost-effective method is by bus. The Oxford Tube, National Express, and Oxford Bus Company all operate on this route. Buses leave from London Victoria Station every 12-20 minutes. They also stop at city stops such as Marble Arch, Baker Street, Notting Hill Gate and Shepherd’s Bush before arriving in Oxford.

Tickets bought online cost £4-5. On the spot you will pay about £20 round trip. The trip takes anywhere from 1 hour 10 minutes to 2 hours. Tickets can be ordered here.

Trains to Oxford

Trains to Oxford

Oxford is also conveniently accessible from London by train from Paddington Station. Trains leave every 20 minutes and the journey time is up to 1 hour and 24 minutes. Tickets cost £15-25 one way, but online they can be a few pounds cheaper. Check your options here.

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Cabs to Oxford

Cabs to Oxford

A London cab will help you get to Oxford in comfort. A car for four four travelers will cost £120, that is £30 per person. It is slightly more expensive than the train and, if you are travelling together, can be quite profitable and convenient. Travel time is 1.5 hours. Choose and book a car at this link.

Getting to Oxford on your own

If you are traveling in the UK on your own by car, take the M40 to the city of Oxford and then change to the A40. The drive will take 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can rent a car here.

Excursions from London to Oxford

Oxford

Travel to England’s alma mater as part of a tour group with a professional, energetic guide! Take a clean and comfortable coach to and from Oxford and see the beautiful medieval architecture of the city and one of the colleges of the world-famous university.

After visiting the students’ mecca, you’ll pass through the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Here you’ll see the great writer’s house and school and, over a pint of ale, you’ll hear the writer’s life story in one of the colorful local pubs. A group tour from London to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon costs £90 per person. Lasts 8 hours and is conducted in Russian. Book here.

If you have a good command of English, and this will not be a hindrance to learning new information – go on a one-day group tour with a foreign guide. Prices of such tours, with transfers to and from the place, and, as a rule, visiting also another interesting place besides Oxford, start from £40 per person. Choose your options at this link.

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If you decide to stay in Oxford for a few days or want to take a break from the road and move on (to Stonehenge, for example), check out available rooms at local hotels.

An interesting and quick sightseeing tour with a local guide can take you to the ancient university. Read more here.

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