London to Oxford

Jan 16th, 2013, 06:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 8
London to Oxford

Next summer, I will be traveling, and I have a connecting flight through Heathrow Airport in London. My flight is supposed to get in around 5:15 a.m., and my flight leaves about 12 hours later, around 5:20 p.m. I realize that it isn't ideal, but I would like to try to go Oxford during that time, just long enough to visit the Eagle and the Child and C.S. Lewis' grave, and anything else I have time for (and not have to sit in the airport for 12 hours).
My question is this: Do I have enough time to do this and still make it back to the airport and through security?
What is the simplest and most cost-effective way to do this?
I looked online and saw that there is a bus ("The Airline") that goes from Heathrow to Oxford, and then buses that travel around Oxford.
Recommendations and advice from more seasoned travelers would be much appreciated!
Karachka is offline  
Jan 16th, 2013, 09:35 PM
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The bus - which doesn't need booking - typically takes an hour, leaving roughly half hourly from 0540. You'll probably be out of baggage claim by 0615-0645, so should get to Oxford (depending which Heathrow terminal you arrive at) by eightish.

Assuming you've already got an ongoing boarding pass and no need to recheck bags, you need to be back at LHR by 1600, which means leaving Oxford no later than 1400.

The Eagle & Child doesn't open till 1100, and most other things don't open till 0900. The conventional way of killing time from 0800 to tennish is breakfast in the Covered Market (Brown's, which is no relation to a much poncier place half a mile north, opens at 8). I'd recommend against the bus tour: most of historic Oxford is inaccessible to vehicles, so the bus spends most of its time around the relatively boring, 19th and 20th century, newer colleges, suburbs and laboratories.

Oxford, for most people, is all about walking, with virtually everything within a square mile box.Resources for organising yourself at and at, which is a set of plaques around the city best used by scanning their QR code into your smartphone.

CS Lewis' grave is trickier. It's at Holy Trinity church, Headington, the suburb to the east through which the airport bus passes - but a bit over a half mile from the nearest airport bus stop. The easiest way to deal with this is arriving (churchyards don't close - ever): ask the bus to drop you at Headington shops, then follow the map you've created by inputting OX3 8LH into google maps and printing it off. Then walk back and get a city bus into town (every couple of minutes, taking about 10 mins to Queen's Lane, but you'll probably want to see Magdalen College, for which you want the Plain bus stop). More Lewis sites at

You should easily manage all this.
flanneruk is offline  
Jan 16th, 2013, 09:38 PM
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Its too bad your free hours don't match up better w/ the E&C's hours. They don't open until 11AM. But yes it is doable.

There is an express coach- takes about 1hr 45min each way. You could be on the coach by about 7:30 or 8AM and would want to be back on the bus by about 1:30.

Be sure to allow enough time at both ends at LHR to queue at left luggage.

You don't need a bus to travel around Oxford since the pub is walking distance from the bus station
janisj is online now  
Jan 16th, 2013, 09:41 PM
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was posting the same time as flanner.

(flanner -that's great if the coach only takes 1hr --but I did check the National express site and it said 1hr 40mins)
janisj is online now  
Jan 16th, 2013, 09:43 PM
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Oh - I plugged in T1-3 - is it maybe faster from T5???
janisj is online now  
Jan 16th, 2013, 10:07 PM
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90 minutes, 80 from T5
alanRow is offline  
Jan 16th, 2013, 10:38 PM
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It typically takes an hour from T5 to Headington by bus (and 45 mins if we're driving), at practically any time of the day.

The website naturally errs on the side of caution, but it describes journey times into Oxford. The highly unpredictable potential killer is the bit from Headington into Oxford almost all day, and from Oxford to Headington between about 1500 and 1900. That's why I recommend Karachka starts at Headington, pays his respects to the cranky old bigot, then goes into town.

Personally, I wouldn't leave central Oxford at 1330 for a 1720 flight: I wouldn't even leave my own house much before 1430 and we're a good drive from the nearest airport bus stop. But others might prefer the added cushioning.

Starting the day in Headington, Karachka should still be in the historic centre by 1000. That gives him three hours to walk the centre, hit the pub for an early lunchtime pint and walk over to Magdalen for its 1300 opening time. Quick look at the place then get the 1340 or 1410 bus from the Plain stop, about 100 yds east of the college, across the bridge.
flanneruk is offline  
Jan 17th, 2013, 07:58 AM
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The bus ( Airline) that previous posters are talking about leaves T-5 at sign post ( Bay) 10 or (11) can't remember which. As you exit customs just find Costa Coffee and head straight out the doors. There are fountains so you'll need a slight detour to one side then you'll see the sign for Oxford. It departs about every 30 minutes and as Alan said takes about 80 minutes from T-5. There are several stops in Oxford but get off at Gloucester Green as this is pretty much the center of Oxford and where you'll catch the bus back to LHR.You'll want a single day return.

If not arrriving at T5, you'll catch the bus at the Central Bus Staion. I believe it's Bay 14A . From here about it's a 90 minute trip.

As suggested nix any bus tour. A walking tour through the TI would work better. You can, as Flanneruk pointed do, it on your own. Getting there so early, I might stop at Pret A Manger( the one near St. Michael's Church if you prefer a quick meal. Great architecture. It used to be a Laura Ashley store, then a shop selling phones. I think it's best used as it is now. I like to go upsatirs and find a cozy nook to drink my coffee and eat my raisin pain. The News Cafe on Ship Street usually has a decent breakfast menu too.

Like janisj I would probably leave Oxford at 1:30. A later departure is doable, but I always assume if I tried it we'd encounter some kind of awful traffic delay. If the extra time didn't mean I missed my flight, the stress would be almost as bad.
historytraveler is offline  
Jan 17th, 2013, 10:56 AM
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A CS Lewis tour will take you to several key destinations. I took it a few years back and enjoyed it a lot.
Keith is offline  
Jan 17th, 2013, 10:57 AM
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This was my trip report on the tour:
Keith is offline  
Jan 17th, 2013, 05:19 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 8
Thanks so much for everyone's responses! I appreciate the help to allay my traveling anxieties. I will more than likely print out the information and use whatever seems most convenient when I am there.
Karachka is offline  
Jan 17th, 2013, 09:02 PM
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This is one of those threads that I hope Fodors gloms onto and uses in a guide (more freebies for Flanneruk and janisj). When I first read the question, I thought, oh dear, tight squeeze. But the OP got detailed, and frankly brilliant comments from all of these posters that makes the request more than feasible. You guys rock!
Surfergirl is offline  

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