Experience Oxfordshire For The Great Outdoors
From idyllic meadows and rolling hills to sprawling palace estates and beautiful Cotswold villages, Oxfordshire is a hot spot for outdoor pursuits. Make sure you leave time to explore the hidden outdoor treasures in and around Oxford, offering leafy sanctuaries from the bustling city. This 3 day itinerary will then lead you through the tranquil North Oxfordshire countryside, then west to the Oxfordshire Cotswolds – an area with a wealth of natural beauty. Get ready for some fresh air, and discover Oxfordshire’s countryside character in The Great Outdoors.
Day 1 – Oxford
Start your day in the fresh air at Waterperry Gardens. A 20 minute drive east of Oxford, Waterperry is nestled in Oxfordshire countryside. The gardens feature a spectacular 200 foot herbaceous border along with rose and formal gardens, as well as a riverside walk.
If you have time, drive 20 minutes around Oxford to the University of Oxford’s Harcourt Arboretum – 140 acres of tranquil British woodland, open wildflower meadows and trees from around the world. Visitors can also meet their pigs, peacocks and sheep or catch a glimpse of deer, hare or red kites.
In Oxford, visit the historic Oxford Covered Market and choose from a mouth-watering choice of places to eat and drink.
After your lunch, take the opportunity to discover Oxford’s special riverside habitats with a river cruise. Departing from the jetty outside the Folly Restaurant, Oxford River Cruises offer a range of luxury boat trips, sightseeing tours and picnic cruises along the Thames.
Salter’s Steamers, on the other side of the Folly Bridge, also offer cruises along the Thames, and have done for over 163 years. During the summer their scheduled trips can take you between Oxford and locations such as Reading, Henley and Windsor.
After your afternoon exploring the river, stretch your legs on land with a stroll around Oxford Botanic Garden – an oasis of green in the city centre. The UK’s oldest botanic garden, founded in 1621 as a physic garden, Oxford Botanic Garden features a formal walled garden, exotic plants in glasshouses and lush herbaceous borders.
If you want to explore Oxford on foot, join an award-winning Oxford Official Walking Tour and learn about the city’s fascinating history.
Take a moonlit walk around central Oxford and see the historic University buildings from a different perspective. Stroll along the winding lanes often used as shortcuts by students dashing to classes.
Stop for a relaxed drink or dinner at one of the bars and restaurants on Westgate Oxford’s rooftop terrace and take in the panoramic views of Oxford’s skyline.
The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels: The Randolph Hotel is an iconic landmark in the heart of Oxford, located directly across from the world-class Ashmolean Museum and within walking distance of the university buildings and colleges.
Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre: For a stay just minutes away from Westgate, Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre offer castle views from a spacious roof terrace. It’s a great base to explore Oxford, with comfortable rooms and a welcoming restaurant.
Day 2 – Banbury/Woodstock
An optional bolt-on to your itinerary is a walk along the Oxford Canal from Oxford to Banbury, which would take approximately 2 days, taking in the picturesque scenery of the Cherwell Valley.
Don’t miss the historic Broughton Castle, an ironstone manor house which was built in about 1300 by Sir John de Broughton. Now the family home lived in by Lord and Lady Saye and Sele and their family, Broughton Castle is surrounded by delightful gardens particularly beautiful in summer.
Journey south to the beautiful town of Woodstock and grab some lunch at one of its many unique restaurants. Discover the stunning Blenheim Palace just a few minutes walk from the town centre. Home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting magnificent Baroque architecture, 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and stunning formal gardens. Visitors can explore Blenheim Palace’s vast landscape by taking one of many recommended Park walks or free trails to see a wide variety of wildlife.
Day 3 – Cotswolds
In the morning, visit Crocodiles of the World, the UK’s only crocodile zoo near Witney. Enjoy plenty of photo opportunities, feeding displays, crocodile talks and much more. Not to mention meeting all the amazing crocodiles, alligators, caimans, lizards, snakes, meerkats and even a Komodo Dragon!
You’ll find fabulous lunches, afternoon teas and cakes in Batsford Arboretum’s Garden Terrace Café where you can soak up the sun from the wooden deck.
Alternatively, venture further into the Cotswolds to find lunch in a quaint Cotswolds village, such as Moreton-in-Marsh, Chipping Campden or Stow-on-the-Wold.
If you’re a family with younger children, spend an afternoon in the beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswolds, visiting the historic grounds at Cogges Manor Farm. With over 1,000 years of history, Cogges is a 13th century manor house and farm with over 15 acres of grounds, walled garden, picnic orchard and moated islands. Children love to feed the farm animals, and there is also an adventure play island, sandpit and soft play area.
If you’d prefer to make the most of your time to explore the Cotswolds, pre-book a guided Cotswolds tour to see as much of the rolling hills as possible in one afternoon.
StayCotswold: For a self-catered stay, StayCotswold has a fantastic range of cottages, barns and family homes to hire. Their wide portfolio of luxury self-catering properties can cater for couples looking for a romantic bolthole, to larger family or friends groups looking to get together in Oxfordshire. From secluded rural locations, to village and town properties the StayCotswold portfolio has something for everyone.
Snaptrip Holiday Cottages: Home to the largest collection of self-catering accommodation in Oxfordshire, Snaptrip is a trusted marketplace for travellers to discover cottage, apartment and lodge holidays online. With hundreds of professionally managed cottages from big-name partners across Oxfordshire, you’ve got plenty of choice for your next break.
Day 4 – The Ridgeway or Bicester
An optional bolt-on to your itinerary is to explore the Ridgeway Trail in the south of Oxfordshire. The Ridgeway itinerary can be done in 3 days walking, or in 2 days by car. Travel south from the Cotswolds to Faringdon to begin the trail.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable escapade in the county, Finest Hour Experiences provides flying experiences in Tiger Moth vintage biplanes and the adrenaline-pumping CAP10 aerobatic machine.
You can also visit Bicester Heritage, a unique former RAF site dedicated to historic motoring excellence. It’s home to the nationally known, laid-back Sunday Scramble open day event and more.