Situated in the heart of England, Oxford is a gateway to some of Britain's most beautiful and historic places. With its ease of access to stunning countryside, picturesque villages and magnificent stately homes, why not spend a day in one of these must-see locations?
Blenheim Palace & Woodstock
Home to the Churchill family since the 18th century, Blenheim is so much more than just a palace. As well as exploring the baroque interiors of Winston Churchill's birthplace, you can enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant, stroll through the formal gardens, feed the geese by the lake or have a picnic in the extensive, landscaped park. As well as all this, Blenheim Palace frequently plays host to prestigious events including concerts, art exhibitions, food festivals and horse trials - there's something for everyone.
While visiting Blenheim, don't forget to take a look around Woodstock, one of Oxfordshire's most beautiful towns. Take a walk around the Woodstock Historic Trail, enjoy a drink in a traditional pub, and do a spot of shopping in some of the town's exclusive boutiques and galleries.
To experience the best of the English countryside, look no further than the Cotswolds - officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here ancient monuments rub shoulders with scenic hills and meadows, and there is another breathtaking view around every corner.
Experience the great outdoors with walks along the Cotswold Way and Thames Path, or cycle down hidden bridleways and quiet country lanes. Admire the traditional honey-coloured stone cottages of idyllic villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water or Castle Combe, or enjoy a spot of shopping and afternoon tea in the quaint market towns of Burford or Stow-in-the Wold.
The world-famous shopping outlet Bicester Village is a premium shopping experience unlike any other. Taking only ten minutes from Oxford, the train whisks you directly to the centre of the Village, so you can get straight off the train and straight into the boutiques. Browse luxury brands such as Dior, Burberry, Balenciaga and Gucci (all at bargain prices, of course) and when you've shopped until you've dropped, revive yourself with lunch at Itsu or a cocktail at Cafe Wolseley.
Coming from abroad? No need to wait until the airport for your tax refund - pop into the Change Group onsite to receive your money back straight away. And for those looking for a more exclusive touch, Bicester Village offers hands free shopping, valet parking and a personal shopping service.
Another designated area of Natural Beauty, the limestone hills, ancient woodlands and chalk streams of the Chilterns are only a half hour journey from Oxford by train or car. Fans of the unspoilt villages of Midsomer Murders can tour its filming locations, while those of a horticultural persuasion have a multitude of beautifully landscaped gardens to choose from, including Stowe and Cliveden. Henley-on-Thames is just one of the fascinating towns on offer - visit in July to indulge in a Pimm's by the Thames at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta.
You might not think you've heard of Highclere Castle, but as soon as its distinctive towers come into view, any TV fan will recognise it by its other name of Downton Abbey. Even if you have never watched the show, this remarkable castle is well worth a visit, with its extravagant state rooms, exquisitely tended gardens and fascinating Egyption exhibition. The permanent residence of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Highclere hosts many exciting events throughout the year; enjoy a picnic concert with fireworks in summer, or visit in winter to experience traditional English decorations, carol concerts, and a trip to Santa's grotto.