Written by: Alice Salive and Ambre Poibeau
We started our day at Oxford Train Station, where you can easily pick up your City Sightseeing tickets for the bus tour. You can choose between a 24 hour ticket or a 48 hour one. The 24 hour ticket is sufficient to discover the main sights of Oxford, but the 48 hour ticket gives you the possibility to go back and revisit places you perhaps wanted to see a little more of.
The tour will take you one hour but you can stop wherever you want to and hop back on without having to wait more than 15-20 minutes at each stop. Your ticket will allow you to catch the red or green bus and they are easily identifiable because they don’t have any roofs! So checking the weather forecast before you hop on the tour might be a good idea. On top of that, you have the possibility to combine your ticket with Oxford Castle & Prison, Carfax Tower and Oxford walking tour tickets to create a full day of sightseeing.
Along with our tickets we were also given a map and some headphones, so you can listen to a live guide during the tour who explains the different stories and provides interesting anecdotes about Oxford life. There are eleven languages available, so everyone can enjoy! Moreover, there are some commentaries tailored towards kids so that children can also enjoy the tour. On top of that, there is also wheelchair access on all tour buses. Everyone, from all walks of life, is totally welcome.
Now, let’s talk about the tour itself: You can jump on at 20 bus stops all around the city, but we started right from the beginning at the Park Street stop (which is directly in front of Oxford Train Station). This area has a lot to offer in terms of food, so perhaps you can grab a bite for lunch before you hop on, and the tour guide will explain a bit of history about this area too.
Back in the bus, don’t miss the chance to hop off at the New Road stop to explore Oxford Castle & Prison (a fascinating tour of the old castle and its history as a prison) and visit the gift shop. The castle is an unmissable destination for anyone visiting Oxford.
After that, you will be able to go to the new Westgate Shopping Centre, which will allow you to shop in more than seventy stores, with plenty to eat and drink along the way. We have been shopping there and it is very pleasant to walk around the place, which is covered and very modern and clean. Moreover, there is a gorgeous city view at the top of the building.
The next stop sees you visiting Christ Church, one of the oldest and most recognized colleges of the University of Oxford. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you have to visit it – numerous scenes were filmed there! Christ Church is a very relaxing place. You can walk around the beautiful college grounds, all the way down to the river front to watch the boats drifting past. Nearby, you can also find Alice’s Shop, a little shop where you can be immersed into the Lewis Caroll universe.
Your experience could continue by visiting the Covered Market, which is in the middle of the city and where you’ll find local crafts, food and drink.
Afterwards, get a brief respite from the busy city by visiting the Botanic Garden, which is the oldest in England. The next step of your journey will be to listen to the guide who will regale you with stories about the University Science Area and University Parks.
Our favorite discovery has been the Sheldonian Theatre and Bodleian Library. This area contains a lot of splendid buildings that you can stop to visit, including the Bridge of Sighs where graduating University of Oxford students famously toss their caps into the air. After that, the bus will drive you outside of the city center where you can observe the historic architecture of local houses. Otherwise, if you prefer to warm up a bit, you can have a tea and some snacks at the Macdonald Randolph Hotel. In front of the hotel, you’ll find the Ashmolean Museum, which has world-famous collections ranging from Ancient Egyptian mummies to modern art.
So there you have it – A bus tour is perfect for family and friends of all ages, and we think it is the best way to discover Oxford and its secrets.