Adventures around Oxfordwith PlusBus

book trains

Oxford is a city of stories. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, part of a literary group called The Inklings, created their fantastical worlds among its ancient libraries and honey-stoned colleges. Later, Philip Pullman set his novels about Lyra in a version of Oxford and scenes from Harry Potter were filmed here. The River Thames runs through Oxford and has inspired more literature than almost any other geographical feature in Britain. Jerome K Jerome’s comic masterpiece Three Men in a Boat and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows are both set on this river. Arrive by train and buy a PlusBus ticket and you can explore stretches of the Thames Path, the pubs and churches, meadows and museums.

  • County: with PlusBus
  • Great for: art | boat trip | family fun | flowers | gardens | history |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated in January 2024. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 3. Magdalen College and the Botanic Gardens

    At the far end of the High Street from Oxford railway station, Magdalen College tower rises above the traffic. Across the road, the Botanic garden has inspired Oxford’s writers over the years, from Tolkien’s Ents to Philip Pullman’s meeting-place bench for Will and Lyra. You can now follow a Woodland Walk and literary trail around the garden.

    • Take a stroll round the deer park and cloisters in Magdalen College. In April, look out for the rare snake’s-head fritillaries growing in the area known as Addison’s Walk. You can buy joint tickets for Magdalen and Oxford Botanic Garden.
    • Besides flowerbeds and walled gardens, the Botanic Garden has several greenhouses, which are particularly lovely to visit in winter when the world outside is cold and grey. The Water Lily house has giant lily leaves spreading across a pond while the Carnivorous Plant house has a collection of Venus flytraps, pitcher plants and other intriguing specimens.
    • How do I get to Magdalen by bus? If you’re already in the Radcliffe Camera area, simply turn left along the High Street for a few minutes. If you’re coming from the railway station, bus 1 towards Blackbird Leys runs to the Queens Lane bus stop near Magdalen every 15 minutes and gives you a scenic tour of the city on the way.
    • Look out for Oxford Castle with its spiral-pathed grassy mound. The bus loops round onto St Aldates with a good view of Christ Church College, where scenes from the Harry Potter films where shot. Look out for Tom Tower over the entrance. Finally, bus 1 turns right by Carfax Tower at the city’s ancient crossroads and rolls along the High Street, past the market, colleges and University Church.