A Beautiful Weekend in Oxford, England

Looking for somewhere new to spend in a weekend at in the UK?

How about a fun weekend in Oxford? It’s an ideal weekend getaway from London – easily accessed by catching the X90 bus from London Victoria to the city of Oxford in OxfordshireEngland.

I did this recently with my sister and we had a really fun and interesting weekend in Oxford, exploring this beautiful and historic university city.

Weekend in Oxford, England
A Beautiful Weekend in Oxford, England

The start of a weekend in Oxford: Arriving on a Friday evening

We arrived at about 9.30pm and checked into the Best Western Linton Lodge, a lovely Edwardian style hotel about 20 minutes outside of the city centre. Wanting the make the most of our first night, we dropped off our bags quickly and headed to the Natural History Museum for a special night time ‘Museums at Night’ event. It was lovely seeing the displays at night, and I particularly liked the life sized animal displays. Only issue was, the museum ran out of booze! What an atrocity!

Just joking, we were actually secretly pleased, because it meant that we could wake up on Saturday as fresh as daisy’s.

How to spend a Saturday in Oxford

On Saturday we had a big day planned for sightseeing, and we decided to take the scenic route into town along the river and university parks. It was absolutely beautiful, but BEWARE – ballet shoes are NOT appropriate for nature walks – particularly when it has recently rained!

Arriving into town with muddy feet, but relatively unharmed, we bought some sensible shoes and started exploring a few of the museums around town.

The museums in Oxford came highly recommended, and you can see why – the city is extremely cultural, educational and historic. My favourite would have to be the Ashmolean – I love ancient history, and the Egyptian section was super impressive! I had never seen a real mummy before, and it was amazing! 

After the Ashmolean and the Science Museum, we visited the Covered Markets, which have been around since the 18th Century! There were many lovely little stores and food shops, and we sampled one of the BEST freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from a little shop called Bens!

We also watched saw some seriously skilled bakers making some extraordinary looking cakes…all so intricate and detailed. I felt very untalented watching these crafty cake-makers, I must say!

Do an Oxford city walking tour

After a quick lunch break, we joined the City Walking Tour from the Visitors Centre, and it was definitely a must-do in Oxford. We learned a lot from this tour – most importantly, how influential the University has been in the past, and also in the present.

To be honest, I ‘made an ass out of u and me’ and assumed that Oxford University would be one large campus, but actually the Uni is scattered all over the city in seperate colleges. We were allowed into the Keble College, and our guide Monica told us all about student life (past and present).

We even had a peek into the dining hall, which is apparently the cheapest place for the students to dine, and looked exactly like the hall in Harry Potter!

Exhausted from all the walking, we returned back to our comfy beds at the Linton and had a little nap before heading out to Cowley Street for dinner. We went to a place I found online called Door 74 (it’s unfortunately closed down) and enjoyed a delicious meal, washed down by some Pinot Grigio. I had the lamb which was delish, but my favourite part would have to be the dark chocolate semifreddo for dessert – such delicious goo!

We met an old friend at a couple of funky Middle Eastern bars before heading home to the 24-hour hotel bar before midnight. 

Perfect first day, with perfect company!

Oxford University, UK
Oxford University, UK

Sunday: How to finish off a weekend in Oxford

We woke up at about 9am on Sunday and headed down to the hot buffet at the Linton Lodge.

The breakfast was just what we needed to start another big day of sightseeing (I love a good hash brown on a Sunday morning!). 

The Linton is located about a 20 minute walk out of the main town, and it’s perfectly enjoyable to stroll past the museums, colleges and student housing. If you’re not up for the walk however, it only £5.50 in a cab – bargain!

A tour of the Oxford Castle

We walked into the city after breakfast and enjoyed some fresh air before checking out Oxford Castle. The site was once home to the Norman Oxford Castle, and then the infamous Oxford Prison since the 11th Century.

We did the ‘Oxford Castle Unlocked’ tour, and were escorted around by ‘Mary Blandy’ – a prisoner that I personally believe was wrongly accused of killing her father. She told us all about the history of the prison, and let me tell you – English people were BRUTAL back in the day! Thank goodness I wasn’t an everyday person in debt  during these times, that’s all I can say!

Exploring Blenheim Palace

After the tour, we caught the S3 bus to Blenheim Palace. Like the X90, we found all the Oxford buses to be really regular. We jumped straight on, and travelled for about 15 minutes through the countryside to the famous Palace.

It was a toss up between Blenheim and the walking tour, but I have to say that this was my favourite part of the weekend. The Palace is HUGE and full of history, most noteable being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The ticket includes entry into the palace and access to all the surrounding gardens. You could spend a whole day exploring.

Since I have arrived in London, the countryside surrounding Blenheim Palace is the most beautiful that I have seen in England.

The Palace is surrounded by rolling hills, lakes and 2000 acres of beautiful parkland. Ange and I took a long walk from the formal gardens, past the Italian Garden and eventually came to a beautiful cascading waterfall. We even managed to see some bunny rabbits on the way! How English is that?

Blenheim Palace in Oxford, UK
Blenheim Palace in Oxford

On that note, did you know that the real Alice from Alice in Wonderland was from Oxford?

After taking about a zillion photos at Blenheim, we headed back to town and spent our last hour eating lunch and drinking a pint at the Eagle and Child (also known as the ‘Bird and Baby’) pub, near the town centre. The pub was a famous meeting point for the ‘Inklings’ – a Oxford writers group that included C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien! It was amazing to think about those men writing such famous novels in that very pub.

The history in Oxford was just amazing. We were very sad to leave on Sunday. What a fantastic place!

I would recommend going for longer than one weekend, because there is just so much to see. But if you have limited time, you can squeeze it all in, just like we did.

Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Looking for the best Koh Tao diving sites?

Lucky for you, there’s a lot of them! It’s one of the top places to go scuba diving in Thailand.

This travel tip will probably make it harder for you to choose a diving spot… as there are so many. Best is to try them all!

Go scuba diving in Koh Tao with Nava Scuba Diving. They offer Discover Scuba Diving, 3-day PADI open water dive, 2-day PADI open water dive, refresher dives and fun dives. Book here.

Top Koh Tao Diving Sites
Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Mango Bay

Located to the north of Koh Tao the area around Mango Bay makes a nice relaxing dive. With depths ranging from 2 to 15 meters its ideal for beginners and snorkelers. Hard and soft coral formations here are plentiful along with a variety of sponges and clams. The bay is only accessible by boat and makes a popular snorkelers day trip. Drop in further around the northwestern tip of the island and drift into the bay area to avoid the crowds.

Sail Rock

One of the more famous Scuba diving sites in the Koh Samui archipelago. It is an iceberg shaped pinnacle that rises from the sandy sea floor at 40 metres and rises 15 metres above the surface. It is a suitable dive site for all levels of diver, from Discover Scuba up.

Its surface consists of small patches of hard and soft coral. Common fauna that may be seen include barracuda, batfish, jacks, occasional whale sharks, and many other species of tropical fish. The currents can vary considerably, but generally are mid to strong. Visibility is usually in the 10-30 meter range. For more advanced divers, there is a vertical ‘swim through’ on the northwest side of the rock. Commonly called “The Chimney”, it begins at a depth of 18 meters and exits the rock again at depths of 12 and 6 meters. There are no associated fees as yet with diving Sail Rock.

Chumphon Pinnacles

Widely regarded as the Gulf of Thailand’s premier dive sites, 5 km Northwest of Koh Tao. The site is comprised of one huge granite pinnacle with some smaller pinnacles rising from the bottom. 40 Meters. Bull Sharks, schooling Barracuda. Batfish, Giant Gropers, Pacific Lionfish, occasional Whalesharks.

Southwest Pinnacles

Consisting of seven granite pinnacles ranging from 5 to 30 metres deep and located around 12km off the south west coast of Koh Tao is one of the islands best dive sites. The shallower sections of the pinnacles are covered in anemones, whip corals and sea fans. Big groupers and barracudas can often be seen here and you may be lucky enough to spot even larger visitors.

Green Rock

Green Rock offers several small swim throughs, caves and crevices where marine life can be seen sheltering. The boulders range in depth from 5 metres down to around 32. There is often a strong current here that you can use to drift around the submerged pinnacles so its not really recommended for inexperienced divers. You will certainly encounter Yellow Margin and Titan Trigger fish here as it forms a popular breeding ground for them … so approach with caution.

White Rock

Two large granite boulders make up the White Rock dive site. An expansive coral garden can be found here at around 10 meters that’s teeming with schools of butterfly fish and angelfish. Blue spotted stingrays are also a common sight on this dive. White Rock is also a popular night dive spot where feather stars, and an array of crustaceans can been seen hunting for food.

Red Rock

This Koh Tao diving site is also referred to as Nang Yuan Pinnacle. It starts at around 2 metres and drops to 22. The pinnacle itself is nothing special and the main attractions to this site are the swim throughs. The entrance to the swim through can be found if you leave the pinnacle and head west towards Koh Nang Yuan. This is usually done as a drift dive down to Japanese Garden where you can relax for the safety stop.

Scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand
Scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

Twin Pinnacles

On the far side of Koh Nang Yuan starting at around 5 meters below the surface and dropping to a depth of 18 metres is Twin Peaks or just “Twins”. This is an ideal site for beginners due to its depth and ease of navigation. The rocks are embedded into white sand and there is no shortage of marine life here. A friendly pair of rare saddleback clownfish and be found to the western side of the larger of the Twins.

Japanese Gardens 

This dive site is named after the ornate arrangement of coral boulders here. Situated on the east side of Koh Nang Yuan and with depths ranging from 2 to 12 meters it is suitable for snorkelers & beginners. Plenty of staghorn and plate coral can be observed in the shallows. A popular drift dive can be done from Red Rock through a series of swimthroughs and emerging into Japanese Gardens for a relaxing safety stop amongst the myriad coral formations.

Hin Wong Pinnacle 

Situated on the east side of Koh Tao is Hin Wong Pinnacle. This site comprises several large granite boulders covered with sea fans and whip corals, as well as filefish, shrimpfish, coral grouper and many other reef fish. You may encounter the resident Green Turtle if you’re lucky. The summit is a tabletop rock formation within about 10 meters of the surface and the maximum depth at Hin Wong is around 32 meters.

Laem Thien Pinnacle

Laem Thian Pinnacle is a great rocky dive site near Mao Bay full of swim throughs, caverns and small caves. There are a few steep walls with some predators hunting for smaller prey. Some excellent white soft coral and sea whips can be admired along the wall at depths between 18 and 5 meters. It is possible to combine this cave dive with the beauties of shallow reef diving inside Mao Bay or Aow Mao.

Shark Island

Named after its resemblance to a dorsal fin, Shark Island is a twin rock outcrop situated to the southeast of Koh Tao. Each side of the islet offers a different array of marine life and features making it almost two sites in one! On the east side you’ll find myriad soft corals, gorgonians and sponges while the west offers hard coral formations that are home to moray eels, nudibranchs, sting rays and the odd Leopard shark. Titan triggerfish can be very aggressive here so approach with caution. Maximum depth at this site is 25 metres.

Unicorn Wreck

It was rumored at the time of sinking in 1989 that the Unicorn was sunk on purpose as an insurance scam. The 60 meter long cargo vessel was reported to have a hold full of expensive tuna fish which turned out to be inexpensive dog food, hence the nickname it later acquired – the “dog food” wreck. Lying around 12km off Mango Bay and in 50 meters of water it is also a technical diving site. Still mostly intact with the majority of the obtrusive fishing nets now removed some penetration is possible. The wreck is now home to some big red snappers and patrolling groupers.

Torpedo Wreck

The Torpedo is a 70 meter Japanese cargo vessel sitting upright in around 55 meters of water an hour north of Koh Tao, she sank in the mid 1970’s. Due to the depths involved this has been classified a technical dive for experienced divers only. There are three areas of penetration however visibility is usually poor at depth. The deck is at 45 meters and the cargo holds are still full of teak logs, with a few scattered on the seabed.

Hin Ngam

Same wider bay as Aow Luek, shallow training or sheltered dive dive.

Hin Pee Wee

Next to White Rock, 30m.