Oxford is fortunate to be situated where it is - one hour from London, 15 minutes from Blenheim Palace, a little over an hour from Stonehenge, and a half hour from the nearest Cotswolds town. The possibilities are almost endless - even those who live here in Oxford probably haven't seen all there is to see nearby. But the Oxford City Guide will give you a couple of suggestions if you feel like getting out of the city for a little while.
You don't need to rent a car to visit any of these places, but if organized bus tours or long-ish taxi trips aren't your thing, and you're comfortable driving on the left side of the road, you can contact any of the following rental agencies:
1 Osney Lane, Oxford, 01865 724884
1 Abbey Road, Oxford, (0870) 153 9102
Thrifty Car & Van Rental
Electric Avenue Ferry Hinksey Road, Oxford, 01865 250252
Blenheim PalaceLocation and Opening Information:
Woodstock. Open Saturday 11 February to Friday 14 December 2012. Saturday 11 February to Sunday 4 November open daily; Wednesday 7 November to Friday 14 December, open; Wednesday to Sunday inclusive. Palace open daily from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm (last admission 4.45pm, with areas to be vacated by 6 pm). Formal Gardens open from 10am - 6pm (or dusk) , the Park open daily from 9 am to 6 pm (or dusk).Price Information:
All ‘Palace, Park & Gardens’ tickets include admission to Blenheim Palace, the visitor experience ‘Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story’ and entertainment except when separate admission prices are recommended. ‘Park and Gardens’ tickets do not include Palace entry.
Both tickets include access to two thousand acres of stunning parkland, the formal Gardens, free train rides on the miniature train to the Pleasure Gardens and all attractions at the Pleasure Gardens including the Marlborough Maze, Adventure Play Area, the Butterfly House (closed from end of October) the lavender garden, and the “Blenheim Bygones” exhibition. Tickets will also include entrance to the popular ‘Churchills’ Destiny’ - The story of two great war leaders’ exhibition. Palace, Park & Gardens Ticket: £20/£15.50/£11.50 Family £52. Park & Gardens Ticket: £11.50/£8.50/£6 Family £30. Blenheim Palace Annual Pass - Amazing ticket offer in 2012 - Buy one day, get 12 months free!
Set in the Oxfordshire Cotswold’s, Blenheim Palace is considered to be one of the finest baroque houses in the country, a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his famous victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Inside the Palace can be found a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture in the magnificent State Rooms.
Sir Winston Churchill was born in the Palace in 1874 and a permanent exhibition about him is located next to his birth room – both are included in the Palace tour. He is buried in a simple grave in the nearby church at Bladon. A separate exhibition, ‘Churchills’ Destiny – the story of two great war leaders’, celebrates the achievements of Winston and his great hero and ancestor, John Churchill.
A State-of-the-art visitor experience is open in the heart of the Palace called ‘Blenheim Palace: the Untold Story’, 300 years of exciting tales at Blenheim Palace are brought to life through animatronic figures and innovative film and projection technology, seen through the eyes of the servants.
Surrounding the Palace are over 2,000 acres of beautiful ‘Capability Brown’ parkland, lakes, fountains and formal gardens. A miniature train connects the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens, where, amongst a range of fun activities for children, can be found the Marlborough Maze, the Butterfly House, the Lavender Garden and ‘Blenheim Bygones’ exhibition.
A very busy events programme is on offer throughout the year, including jousting tournaments, half-term costumed entertainment, evening concerts and the Palace dressed for Christmas.Get There:
The number S3 to Woodstock runs from Oxford Train station and Gloucester Green to the gates of Blenheim Palace on Hensington Road in Woodstock. Please ask the bus driver to identify the appropriate stop. The bus runs every 30 minutes. For the timetable and prices visit http://www.stagecoachbus.com/timetables/S3 for more information on the route visit http://www.stagecoachbus.com/S3.aspx. Car - drive north from the city center on Woodstock Road, follow signs to Woodstock (10-15 minutes)
StonehengeLocation and Opening Information:
Amesbury. Spring: 1 Apr to 31 May 09.30 - 18.00 | Summer: 1 Jun to 31 Aug 09.00 - 19.00 | Autumn: 1 Sept to 15 Oct 09.30 - 18.00 | Winter: 16 Oct to 15 Mar 09.30 - 16.00 16Mar to 31Mar 09.30 to 18.00 | Boxing Day and New Year’s Day 10.00 - 16.00. Stonehenge is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.Price Information:
£7.80/£7/£4.70 Family £20.30 Children under 5 free. English Heritage and National Trust Members Free.Official Website: http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 2.0 miles (3.2 km) west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks. It is at the centre of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.Get There:
Take a mini-bus tour from Oxford - call 308300, or drive south from Oxford on the A34 to the A303 towards Amesbury. For more information about getting there, click here.
The CotswoldsOfficial Website: http://www.cotswolds.com/
The Cotswolds are a low-rise ridge of limestone hills that straddle the western edge of Oxfordshire and the eastern side of Gloucestershire. The Cotswold area has famous cities, such as Bath, well-known beautiful towns, and hundreds of little villages.
Throughout the area, the buildings were made using the local honey-coloured limestone - on everything from the stone floors in the houses to the tiles on the roofs - giving the area an incredible architectural tone. There are many places to visit in the Cotswolds, and one thing you can be sure of when wandering around the area - whatever villages you may stumble over, are sure to be absolutely stunning.Get There:
It would take days upon days to visit all the villages in the Cotswolds, but if you rented a car, head west on the A40, and start in Burford, making your way from there. It’s worth picking up a map or book of the cotswolds in your local news agent. Another option is to take a tour - Cotswold Roaming does half day tours of the nearest villages to Oxford, as well as full day tours that go deeper into the Cotswolds. Call for details 01865 308300.
LondonOfficial Website: http://www.visitlondon.com/
Getting to London isn’t a problem, it’s narrowing down what you want to do while you’re there! Once in London, the possibilities are endless - Eat! Shop! Sight-see! See a play! Take a cruise on the Thames! Whatever you do, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.Get There:
Get there: Getting to London from Oxford is easy. There are direct buses and trains that leave frequently. Buses take about 1 1/2 hours during off peak, and the train takes about 1 hour. See our How to Get Here page for more details on these modes of transport.
Bicester Village Outlet ShoppingLocation and Opening Information:
50 Pingle Drive, Bicester 01869 323200. Monday - Friday: 10am - 8pm, Saturdays: 9am - 8pm, Sundays: 10am - 7pm*.
*On Sundays Burberry Men & Women, Gucci, Hugo Boss and Polo Ralph Lauren open at 11.30am for browsing, 12pm for shopping and close at 6pm. Prada and Versace open from 12pm to 6pm for shopping.
Carluccio’s: open until 10pm (last orders 9.30pm)
Villandry: open until 10pm (Last orders 9pm)
Busaba Eathai: open until 10pm (Last orders 9pm)
Pret a Manger & Starbucks open 30 mins before the Village opens and close 30 mins after the Village closes.
Only about a 20-30 minutes drive from Oxford, Bicester Village is a large retail outlet, with everything from designer women’s and men’s clothing to homewares, shoes, jewellery, and lingerie for up to 60% off!Get There:
Bus - Stagecoach bus numbers 27 and X5 offer a daily service every half hour to Bicester Village from Magdalen Street in Oxford (outside Debenhams). Car - Take the M40 motorway to junction 9. Follow the A41 for 2 miles towards Bicester and continue to follow signs to ‘Village Retail Park’ and ‘Bicester’
Bletchley ParkLocation and Opening Information:
Wilton Avenue, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK3 6EB 01908 640404. Winter Opening: 1st November to 28th February 9.30am - 4.00pm; Summer Opening: 1st March to 31st October 9.30am - 5.00pm.Price Information:
Car parking is available on-site for £3.00 both on weekdays and at weekends.£12/£10/£6 Family ticket £26 Children under 12 FreeOfficial Website: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk
During World War II the German armed forces top secret codes were broken at Bletchley Park, providing the allies with vital information towards their war effort. The site played host to a diverse group of code breakers, including Alan Turing and Dilly Knox. Among the ciphers that were broken were Enigma and Lorenz. See a real Enigma machine, scores of WWII and Winston Churchill memorabilia.Get There:
Train - Take the train from Oxford to Milton Keynes Central, transfer to Bletchley. The journey should take about 1 1/2 hours. Check timetable here. Car - Take the M40 motorway to junction 10 (A43/B430 exit) to the A43 to the A421 (towards Buckinghamshire). Follow the signs to Bletchley Park. Journey will take about one hour.
Waddesdon ManorLocation and Opening Information:
Gardens, Aviary, Woodland Playground, Wine Cellars, Shops and Restaurants
28 Mar - 31 Dec
Wed-Fri only: 10am-5pm
Adult: £6.50, Child: £3.50, Family: £16.50
Please note: the wine cellars are open from 12.00-4.00
28 Mar - 31 Dec
Weekends & Bank Holidays: 10am-5pm
Adult: £8.00, Child: £4.50, Family: £20.50
Please note: the wine cellars are open from 11.00-4.00
House & Gardens, Aviary, Woodland Playground, Wine Cellars, Shops and Restaurants
28 Mar - 28 Oct
14 Nov - 31 Dec
Wed-Fri only: 10am-5pm
Adult: £15.00, Child: £11.00
Please note: the House and wine cellars are open from 12.00-4.00
28 Mar - 28 Oct
14 Nov - 31 Dec
Weekends & Bank Holidays 10am-5pm
Includes 10 Apr, 5 Jun and 17, 18 & 31 Dec
Adult: £17.00, Child: £13.00
Please note: the House and wine cellars are open from 11.00-4.00
Please note, we close the House from 29 Oct-13 Nov to decorate for Christmas.Official Website: http://www.waddesdon.org.uk
A magnificent house and grounds in the style of a 16th century French chateau built for the Rothschilds in the late 19th century. The Manor contains a world-renowned collection of French furniture, paintings and decorative arts. The manor is currently owned by the National Trust, and there are 45 rooms on view.Get There:
Bus - Take the Arriva the Shires & Essex #280 bus from Carfax towards Aylesbury. In Aylesbury, take the Arriva the Shires #16/17. The journey should take about 1 3/4 hours. Car - Drive north on Woodstock Road, take the 3rd exit onto the A34, enter next roundabout and take 2nd exit onto Oxford Road. Enter next roundabout and take 3rd exit onto Boundary Way. Enter next roundabout and take 3rd exit onto Aylesbury Road, which becomes A41. Follow signs. By car, the journey should take about 45 minutes.
Broughton CastleLocation and Opening Information:
Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 5EB. Open 8 and 9 April 2012 - Easter Sunday and Monday 2pm - 5pm; May and June 2012 - Wednesdays, Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays 2pm - 5pm; July and August 2012 - Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 2pm - 5pm; September (untll the12th) - Wednesdays and Sundays 2pm -5pmPrice Information:
Adults £8, Children (5-15) £4, Students and Seniors £7, Garden Only £4Official Website: http://www.broughtoncastle.com
This beautiful castle, a location for part of the movie ‘Shakespeare in Love’, is the home of Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, and has been owned by the same family for over 600 years. It was built in 1300 and 1550 and contains a 3-acre moat, medieval great hall, vaulted passages, arms and armour from the Civil War, beautiful gardens and parks, a tea room and a gift shop.Get There:
Banbury is on the M40, 23 miles north of Oxford. Enter Banbury and at Banbury Cross take the B4035 west signposted to Shipston on Stour then, after about two miles, turn right in Broughton village at the crossroads by the Saye & Sele Arms pub and follow the signposts to Broughton Castle. By car, the journey should take about 45 minutes.
Highclere CastleLocation and Opening Information:
Easter 2012 Opening: Open 7 days per week from Sunday 1st April to Sunday 15th April. May 2012 Opening: Sunday 6th May, Monday 7th May, Tuesday 8th May. June 2012 Opening: Sunday 3rd June, Monday 4th June, Tuesday 5th June, Wednesday 6th June, Thursday 7th June. Summer 2012 Opening: Open Sunday to Thursday inclusive every week from Sunday 1st July to Thursday 13th September. Opening Times: Open 10:30am to 6:00pm. Last admission 4pm.Price Information:
Castle, Exhibition & Gardens: £16.00/£14.50/£9.50/£48.00, Castle and Gardens: £9.50/£8.50/£5.00/£27.00, Exhibition and Gardens: £9.50/£8.50/£5.00/£27.00, Gardens only: £5.00,£1.00. Under 4’s are freeOfficial Website: http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk
Highclere Castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and also features as Downton Abbey, the hugely successful drama series with over 11 million viewers in the UK and now shown in over 100 countries around the world. From the pen of Oscar-winning (‘Gosford Park’) screenwriter, Julian Fellowes, now Lord Fellowes, it has an all star cast led by Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Jim Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton and many other leading actors and actresses.
Highclere Castle is one of England’s most beautiful Victorian Castles set amidst 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland. The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current Castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years.Get There:
Highclere Castle lies to the west of London, not far from the M4 and Newbury. Oxford and Birmingham are to the north, Winchester and Southampton to the south. Please do not use a sat nav but simply follow the brown signs from the A34. We have a one way traffic system for cars when we are open, approaching from the brown tourist signs off the A34 and leaving the Castle past a beautiful folly and along a drive from where the A34 or the A343 is signposted for you. Coming by train, there is a good service from London, Paddington, to Newbury, (taxis are usually to be found at Newbury Station to reach Highclere Castle). Or from London, Waterloo, to Whitchurch (Hampshire) where taxis usually need to be pre-booked. National Express Coaches also leave London Victoria for Newbury on a regular basis.
Harcourt ArboretumLocation and Opening Information:
Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire OX44 9PX. Phone: 01865 343501. April to October - 10.00am until 5.00pm, last admission 4.15pm. November - 10.00am until 4.00pm, last admission 3.15pm. December to March (Monday to Friday only) - 10.00am until 4.00pm, last admission 3.15pm. (Closed at weekends)
December 22nd to January 3rd - CLOSED.
Day Ticket - £4.50, Cons Day Ticket - £3.00, Annual Pass - £15.50, Cons Annual Pass - £13.00, Children in full-time school, accompanied by an adult family member- Free, Disabled and Carer - Free, Member of the University of Oxford, and Brookes University (conditions apply) - Free.Official Website: http://www.botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk/
Located just 6 miles south of Oxford in the village of Nuneham Courtenay, the Harcourt Arboretum is an integral part of the plant collection of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. With 130 acres of ornamental trees, woods and meadow, there is plenty of space to explore and a wide variety of things to see. The Arboretum’s colours and atmosphere change with the seasons, from the yellow daffodils and the purple haze of the bluebells in the spring, through to the glorious azaleas and rhododendrons. The summer brings out the flowers in the wildflower meadow, and the rich reds, oranges and golds of the maples provide colour throughout the autumn.Get There:
Car - From the ring road, get off at the A4074 towards Nuneham Courteney (south of the city). The arboretum is on your right, 4 miles from the ring road. Bus - Thames Travel provides regular bus services from Oxford stopping in Nuneham Courtenay. We are located just 2 minutes walk south of the village. See their website for more details. (Buses: X39 & 105/106) http://www.thames-travel.co.uk
Waterperry GardensLocation and Opening Information:
Nr. Wheatley, Oxfordshire, England. OX33 1JZ Phone: 01844 339254. We are open all year round except between Christmas and New Year, 10am to 5.30pm between March 1st and October 31st and 10am to 5pm in the winter. During Art in Action each July, Waterperry Gardens is only open to visitors attending the event.Price Information:
There is a charge to look around the gardens, but access to the rest of the estate is free. February 18th to October 31st 2012 £6.30. Children under 16 Free.Official Website: http://www.waterperrygardens.co.uk
A day out at Waterperry Gardens near Oxford is guaranteed to delight and inspire garden-lovers from across the country and the world. Founded by Beatrix Havergal more than seventy years ago as a School of Horticulture for Ladies, the gardens at Waterperry have evolved into an oasis of calm and beauty in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside within easy driving distance of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.
As well as meeting all your gardening needs as a garden centre, Waterperry Gardens also offers visitors the chance to savour a bygone age in the Country Life Museum and Saxon Church; events take place throughout the year, from garden-themed weekends to open air theatre; you’ll find hundreds of beautiful, affordable gift ideas to suit all tastes and budgets in our Art Gallery and Long Barn, and no visit is complete without a sumptuous, home-baked lunch or tea at the Pear Tree Teashop, all freshly made from locally-sourced produce. We offer Gardening Courses, Arts & Craft Courses and if you can’t make it here in person you can Buy Plants Online, Gift Vouchers and our own Apple Juice.Get There:
From Oxford: Follow directions for A40 East - London. On the A40 take the third exit, 2 miles after passing the Thornhill Park and Ride, signposted for Wheatley and Waterperry Gardens follow the brown signs. By Public Transport: From Oxford City Centre take the Arriva Bus 280 to Church Road, Wheatley (Call Travel Line 0871 200 2233 for an up to date timetable). From Church Road Wheatley you will need to prebook a taxi. Please call the taxi company Courtesy Cars on 01865 343575. All Waterperry customers are offered a special fare of £7.00 each way). Note: If you’re using Sat Nav, we recommend using the postcode OX33 1LG which will bring you to Waterperry Village. This is a no through road - and we are right at the end.
Kelmscott ManorLocation and Opening Information:
Lechlade, Glos. GL7 3HJ Phone: 01367 252486. Kelmscott Manor’s 2012 season runs from Wednesday 4th April until Wednesday 31st October 2012. Every Wednesday and Saturday, 11am to 5pm - with the exception of Sat 14th July 2012Price Information:
House and Garden: Adults £9.00; Children (8 to 16 years) £4.50; Students in f/t education and with a valid student’s card £4.50; one carer accompanying a disabled person FREE. Kelmscott Manor is a member of the Historic Houses Association. House and Garden - Admission by Gift Aid donation: Adults £10.00; Children (8 to 16 years) £5.00; Students in f.t. education and with a valid student card £5.00. (This is an option for UK taxpayers, whereby Kelmscott Manor claims 25p in the £ on your tax). Garden only: £2.50Official Website: http://www.kelmscottmanor.org.uk
Kelmscott ManorKelmscott Manor was William Morris’s summer home. The Grade 1-listed Tudor farmhouse was built in 1570 next to the River Thames on the edge of the village of Kelmscott. It contains work by Morris and his associates, including furniture, textiles, carpets and ceramics.Get There:
From Oxford: Stagecoach service no. 100, Oxford Gloucester Green to Carterton (approx. 1 hour), or Stagecoach service no. 200, Oxford George Street to Carterton (approx. 1 hour). At Carterton, pick up the Stagecoach (minibus) service no. 19 to Clanfield (approx. 10 mins.) Clanfield is approximately 3 miles from Kelmscott. Either a walk (south along the A4095 and then right along Langley Lane, signposted Kelmscott and follow the signs but note that most of this route is without any footpath) or a taxi ride.
Buscot Park & The Faringdon CollectionLocation and Opening Information:
Faringdon, SN7 8BU Phone: 08453 453 387. Opening Times: 2.00pm to 6.00pm Last Entry 5.00pmPrice Information:
House & Grounds: £8.00, Grounds Only: £5.00, Children: Under 5’s: Free, Under 16’s: Half Price, National Trust Members: Free (Entry Ticket Required)Official Website: http://www.buscot-park.com
Buscot ParkBuscot Park is home to the Faringdon Collection, an extraordinary array of paintings, furniture and objets d’art which includes paintings by Rembrandt, Reynolds, Rubens, van Dyck and Murillo, and a small but important collection of drawings.Get There:
Buscot Park lies between the small towns of Lechlade and Faringdon, on the A417. The nearest rail station is at Swindon (10 miles away), while a number of bus services operate to Lechlade: Thamesdown 67 Swindon––Faringdon (Fridays only); Carterton 64 Swindon––Carterton; Thamesdown 77 Swindon––Cirencester (both the last two services pass close to the rail station in Swindon). The 67 and 77 services only go to Lechlade: alight here – there is then a 2 3/4 mile walk to Buscot Park.
Stowe Landscape GardensLocation and Opening Information:
Address: New Inn Farm, Stowe, Buckingham, MK18 5EQ Telephone: 01280 817156Price Information:
£8/£4.10/£20.10Official Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe/
The scale, grandeur and beauty of Stowe has inspired writers, philosophers, artists, politicians and members of the public from the 18th century to the present day.
One of the most remarkable creations of Georgian England, Stowe was created by a family once so powerful they were richer than the king.
Since the National Trust acquired the gardens in the late 1980s, an ambitious programme of restoration has ensured that over 40 temples and monuments remain, gracing an inspiring backdrop of lakes and valleys with an endless variety of walks and trails, a delight to explore at any time of year.Get There:
3ml NW of Buckingham via Stowe Avenue, off A422 Buckingham–Banbury road. Motorway access from M40 (exits 9 to 11) and M1 (exits 13 or 15a). Approximately 30 minutes from Oxford.
One day coach toursOfficial Website: http://www.seaoxford.com
One day coach tours to Bath, Brighton, Cambridge, Cotwolds, Isle of Wight, London, Stonehenge, Wales, Warwick and Stratford, Windsor and Hampton Court, or even a weekend trip to Edinburgh
Sea Oxford Bus Tours provides guided tours to these fabulous destinations. For information about the tours, times, prices, and the guides (one of whom is the son of the Lord Mayor of Oxford!), visit their website.
Sulgrave ManorLocation and Opening Information:
Sulgrave Manor is open for general admission on weekends and Bank Holidays from April to the end of October and Tuesday to Sunday throughout August. Doors open at 11am with last entry at 4pm.Price Information:
Adult, £7.90; Child (5-16) £3.60; Family (2+2), £21; Seniors £7.40. Garden only - £3.60.Official Website: http://www.sulgravemanor.org.uk/
Sulgrave Manor is a Tudor and Georgian House which was home to George Washington’s ancestors and is now a tourist attraction, corporate and wedding venue and home to family friendly gardens and tea rooms. It is based in Sulgrave Village near Banbury, OX17 2SD.Get There:
Address: Sulgrave Manor, Manor Road, Sulgrave, Nr Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX17 2SD. By Road: 10 minutes from the M40, 20 minutes from the M1. Sulgrave Manor is in the village of Sulgrave just off the B4525 road from Banbury to Northampton. Sulgrave is about half an hour from Oxford, Stratford and Warwick and ninety minutes from London via the M1 or M40.
From the M40 (7 miles) - leave the M40 at Junction 11 and join the A422 before turning on to the B4525. Look out for the brown tourist sign.
From the M1 (12 miles) - leave the M1 at Junction 15A and join the A43 before turning on to the B4525. Look out for the brown tourist sign.
By Train: The nearest station is Banbury. There are regular direct trains from London (50 - 80 mins from Marylebone Station) and from Oxford (20mins), Birmingham (45mins) and Stratford-Upon-Avon (50mins) as well as direct links to other major towns and cities throughout the UK. There is a taxi rank at Banbury station and the journey takes about 15 minutes.