How to plan a road trip in Oxfordshire
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Oxford is extremely pretty and a must-see for most tourists and travellers when they stop in the UK. However, there’s more to the surrounding county than just its world-famous university city. Oxfordshire is home to quaint towns and villages, historical sites, and cool events all year round, just waiting to be discovered!
We’re going to help you plan your perfect road trip in Oxfordshire because, after all, the freedom of the open road is something that will truly make your trip to Britain memorable and special.
Pick the right car
We’ll start off with the boring stuff! If you’re visiting Oxfordshire and already have a car, great. However, if you don’t, you’ll need to rent.
Check out the British Highway Code
You don’t want to return home from your road trip to find a huge bill on your rental agreement, or a letter dropping through your door with speeding and parking fines. Check out the British Highway code to check out what you can and can’t do on UK roads.
And remember, speed limits in the UK are in miles per hour, not kilometres. If you stick to the speed limit with the wrong units on a windy country road, you’re going to get a queue behind you!
Now that we’ve cleared the car and driving laws up, let’s get onto properly planning your trip!
(And don’t forget to drive on the left side of the road!)
Visit a local market
A trip to a local market guarantees you a vibrant display of local produce, gifts, clothes and more with friendly traders always ready to help. This is a great way to stock up on delicious snacks before hitting the road again!
The town of Thame, for example, was granted a market charter in 1215 and markets have been held on a Tuesday since that time! You will be amazed by the variety of stalls available each week.
Thame’s iconic boat-shaped high street stands as testimony to the historic marketplace for which it was originally designed, but there is nothing historic about the markets which continue to thrive today!
Check out a country house and garden
There are a number of country houses and gardens in Oxfordshire, and they’re a great way to see how the British aristocracy once lived. Some country houses are tourist attractions run by the National Trust, but others are still home to actual people. For example, Bleinheim Palace in North Oxfordshire is currently the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. This UNESCO World Heritage site is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill, and well worth putting on your itinerary! If that sounds like your thing, head to Woodstock village.
Broughton Castle is another place where you should park up your vehicle. It’s not actually a castle, but a fortified manor and it gets its name as it’s surrounded by a moat! This is near the town of Banbury. Attached is the beautiful Ladies’ Garden, which is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll in summer.
Bletchley Park, once the top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers, is now a vibrant heritage attraction, open every day to visitors.
Take a break for Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea is a British institution. A tradition dating back to the 1840s, it consists of small sandwiches cut into fingers or triangles, scones (which were only added in the 20th century), jam, cakes, and of course, tea! And there’s nowhere better to enjoy this British tradition than in Oxfordshire.
Many of the stately homes and country houses mentioned above serve afternoon tea, and it’s easy to find places which have either stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, or by the River Cherwell or Thames.
Eynsham hall is a boutique country house North West of Oxford which offers a twist on the tradition as traditional jam and scones are served alongside delicious smoked salmon, lemon cream cheese fingers, and chocolate coconut. Served in the Brasserie, which was once the Mason family’s billiard room, or the south-west facing Champagne terrace.
You could also head to the Waterperry Gardens who have been delighting visitors for years with 8 acres of historic and inspirational gardens nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside. Their Teashop serves afternoon teas and some of the best cakes in the county!
If you are on your way to the Cotswolds, then why not stop at the Old Swan or the Minster Mill in Minster Lovell?
Make sure you check out afternoon tea places along your route before travelling though, as it may be necessary to book. Especially if you’re planning your road trip on a weekend!
Dine at a Cotswold country pub
Afternoon tea is something more for a special occasion. However, if there’s one thing British people love it’s heading to a country pub on a hot summer’s day and enjoying some traditional fare in a great atmosphere! If you want to head to a country pub with some absolutely stunning surroundings, check out the Cotswolds. It’s the second-largest protected landscape in the UK and as well as great pubs, it has a number of historical sites and family-friendly attractions.
Try Great British dishes such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, or a good old Sunday Roast. Then, round it off with a traditional dessert like Eton Mess or sticky toffee pudding. The perfect way to take a break from driving and fuel up for the next step of your journey!
The Lion at Wendlebury, for example, is warm, welcoming and the perfect place to enjoy British classic dishes next to their real fire and characteristic country pub décor!
Do be aware that drink-driving laws are strict in the UK, and while we heartily encourage lunch or dinner at a country pub, we would advise against drinking any alcohol at all if you’re driving.
Visit the only crocodile zoo in the UK
If you think of the British countryside, what comes to mind? Green hills, forests, picturesque little villages, right? Crocodiles, perhaps not so much. However, that’s exactly what you’ll find if you stop off in Brize Norton! The village is home to the UK’s only crocodile zoo, and it’s a great day out, especially if you’re travelling with the family.
Learn about not only rare crocodiles, but snakes, lizards, and Komodo dragons too!
If crocodiles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other animals to meet at Cotswold Wildlife Park!
Cotswold Wildlife Park
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
A fantastic day out for all the family. Stroll around the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, enjoying uninterrupted views of the animals, so it feels as though you are in a wild setting.
Do a spot of luxury shopping
When you’ve had enough of history, culture, and gorgeous landscapes (that might take a while), there’s still plenty to do. How about a spot of luxury retail therapy? Bicester Village is home to one of the largest luxury shopping outlets in the UK, and you could find some great bargains for yourself, or friends and family back home. And with free parking on site, there’s one thing off your mind!
The historic market in the centre of Bicester is also well worth checking out!
There are lots of places to stay in Oxfordshire as there are plenty of accommodations in this county. You may want to check the best vacation rentals in Oxfordshire that suits your needs in case you’ll need a place to stay.
So, there we have it. Those are our top tips for planning a road trip in Oxfordshire. So, get planning and Oxfordshire hopes to welcome you soon!
And if you’d rather have someone else do the planning for you, you can always go on an organised tour, check out our suggestions!