Oxfordshire is no longer only about its famous university town. The county is becoming more and more popular among travelers for its rural countryside fit for walking, cycling and exploring the rich history of the region.
When planing your trip to Oxfordshire, you may very likely start with Oxford. The university town remains a major destination in the county. It has over 1500 heritage buildings and a host of excellent museums including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford.
Depending on where you are traveling from, you can choose how to arrive at Oxfordshire. If you’re taking a flight, you can fly to London Heathrow Airport and then take a train or a car to Oxford or Banbury. Gatwick Airport is also within easy distance of Oxford.
Oxford is also connected by regular train services from London Paddington, Birmingham New Street and Worcester. Thame and Bicester have direct connections to London Marylebone. On the other side, this line connects at Banbury with the Oxford-Birmingham train line.
If you are arriving via the M40 from the counties north of Oxfordshire, you can drive the M40 to Banbury and start your explorations from there.
There are also regular buses between Oxford and London’s Victoria Coach Station, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Buckingham and Cambridge.
Within the district of Cherwell, there are bus services that link the major villages. The big stagecoach and bus companies operating in the area include RH Transport Services, Stagecoach Oxford, Heyfordian Travel and others.
You can use this useful county council tool to find out the best route to travel between any two places on your itinerary. Oxontime also offers excellent real-time information on buses across Oxfordshire, including tweets of incidents, accidents, diversions etc. The website also offers an SMS service for easier tracking.
There is also a railway line called the Cotswold Line that connects Oxford with Hereford. There are several connections on the line within North Oxfordshire.
Many travelers prefer to take a cycle around the countryside. There are many excellent cycle routes that you can download for free. You can also join Cycling UK Oxfordshire, a group of locals who advocate cycling and have insider knowledge of the best routes. Several villages, like Bicester, have their own cycling club.
If you’re planning to stay at one of the villages and explore the countryside by foot, get yourself some maps of walking routes in the area. These GPS maps can be added to your devices or printed. A map of some of the popular Oxfordshire attractions can also help to get you started.
This site has more maps and links to walking groups
Plan where to stay. Will you prefer to stay at a holiday cottage over a hotel? You can find 17th century cottages, thatched cottages, thatched reclaimed barns, converted stables, accommodation on a working farm, Cotswold stone cottages and other options. These are usually self-catering options suitable for large families or couples who want to get away from crowds and stay at a home away from home.
On the other hand, if you prefer the service of a hotel, you can choose from some of the best hotels and inns in the region. These include The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, the Soho Farmhouse in Chipping Norton, the Wild Thyme Restaurant with Rooms also in Chipping Norton, the famous and lavish Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, The Kingham Plough in Kingham’s well-known B&B, The Lamb Inn in Burford, among others.
You must also decide on the type of holiday you want in North Oxfordshire. Ask yourself these questions before planning:
Where do your tastes lie: culture, kid-friendly, historic sites, museums, shopping, outdoors, romantic or relaxing?