The English city of Oxford is best known for its world-famous university but it’s also a wonderful place to visit in its own right. Standing 54 miles northwest of London, Oxford offers old student pubs, tours of historic colleges and fascinating shopping alongside bustling streets and a vibrant arts scene. The city is easily reachable by private or public transport from London Heathrow Airport (LHR), London’s busiest airport and the arrival point of many transatlantic flights.
The Oxford-based Airline bus company (oxfordbus.co.uk) is by far the simplest way to travel between Heathrow and Oxford. The bus stop from LHR is from Stand 14A in Heathrow’s Central Bus Station and from Stand 10 outside airport Terminal 5. It runs every 30 minutes between 8.20 a.m. and 7.50 p.m. and less frequently outside these times, including approximately every two hours overnight. The travel time is around 90 minutes but might take longer during peak traffic times. Free wi-fi is often offered on these bus services. Once you reach Oxford, you can get out at a variety of locations, including Oxford Brookes University, High Street and Gloucester Green Bus Station. Buy your ticket on the bus or book in advance online at the Oxford Bus website. Adult one-way bus tickets cost £23 ($37) at the time of publication.
Megabus and National Express also run lines from LHR to Oxford City Park and Rides.
It’s also possible to make the journey from Heathrow to the Oxford city centre by train, although it’s more expensive and less convenient, as you’ll have to change trains in central London. If you arrive at Heathrow Terminal 1 or 3, go to Heathrow Central Station to take the Heathrow Express train; if you arrive into Terminal 5, go to that terminal's dedicated train station. Both stations are on the same line heading for Paddington Station. This service operates every 15 minutes and, at the time of publication, Oxford train ticket prices cost £18 ($29) one-way. From London Paddington you can take a train to Oxford. First Great Western operates this route between 5 a.m. and 11.30 p.m., with a more direct train service for a shorter journey time that stops at Slough and Reading. Buy your ticket in advance online at the First Great Western website (firstgreatwestern.co.uk) or from the ticket desk in Paddington Station.
If you are not flying into LHR, similar public transport services are available from the Gatwick Airport to Oxford.
If you have a lot of luggage or can share the journey with other passengers, you could consider taking a taxi. Heathrow Taxis is the only taxi service authorized by the airport, offering fixed-fare journeys to a variety of destinations, and one can be booked in advance via the company website (heathrowtaxis.org). The fixed fare takes account of your precise destination, but as an example, the ride from Terminal 5 to Oxford High Street costs £174 ($280) at the time of publication.
A rental car is another option, but bear in mind that we advise against driving in London due to the heavy traffic you’re likely to encounter and the fact that the British drive on the left. However, if you’re a confident driver you can rent a car from any of the major companies in the airport, including Hertz, Avis, National and Alamo. From the airport, take the M25 until you reach Junction 16, take the exit and follow the signs for the M40. Once on the M40, drive 28 miles until you reach Junction 8A, which will be signposted for Oxford. From there you can follow the signs to the city center.
Personally, I have driven throughout England and Scotland, through the roundabouts and small towns, and London is one I'd avoid and use the train or taxi to get around safely.