ziptours oxford

As much as some urbanites may think sometimes, big cities and their surroundings are not all that Britain has to offer. With Zipcars also in Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford, more of what this great country has to offer is within easy reach. Here are our top picks of things to see and do near Oxford.

Feel free to suggest your own ideas below, the best ones may even be rewarded.

Look out for these icons for advice on the trip's suitability:

 = dog-friendly     = young family-friendly

(Just remember to put your dog in a carrier when you take him or her in a Zipcar, them's the rules.)

Plus we've indicated the destinations' nearest Zipcar city and the closest Zipcar to the train station for Londoners making a real break away from metropolis.


Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 

Distance from Oxford: 23.5 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

From drama to comedy to musicals, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre has it all. Less than 25 miles from Oxford, it is an ideal evening out for the whole family. Whether you want to be absorbed in the drama of a West End production, or want your eyes watering with laughter, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre has something for everybody. Check out it's rolling architectural design - inspired by the Chiltern Hills.

Exchange St, Aylesbury, HP20 1UG

Thruxton Kart Centre

Distance from Oxford: 59 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

Burn some rubber at Thruxton Kart Centre and see if you can set their highest lap time ever. With go karts that can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, boasting 13 BHP, your inner racer will be elicited with each corner you navigate!

Thruxton Circuit, Andover, SP11 8PW; adult entry: £25 for 15 minutes track time

Upton House 

Distance from Oxford: 35 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford station

At grand Upton House, once owned by Lord and Lady Bearsted, you'll be transported back to the jazzy glamour of the 1930s and the lavish house parties the family frequently threw. Get up close to this past life by reading guests' journals, sitting on the sofas and listening to genuine 1930s programmes on the wireless. Lord Bearsted was the chairman of Shell and one of the world's wealthiest men; discover more about his life (and his connections to MI6) with an introductory video as you enter the house (created by a fellow Zipcar member). And if the weather holds out, enjoy a long stroll and a picnic in Lady Bearsted's beautifully crafted gardens, and don't miss the mesmerising Mirror Pool.

Banbury, Warwickshire, OX15 6HT; adult entry to whole property from £7.20 (off-peak)

Copyright National Trust

Blenheim Palace  

Distance from Oxford: 9.5 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

Blenheim Palace is not just the only non-royal palace in the UK, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, making it a must-see on a day trip in an Oxford Zipcar. Make the most of your visit to the expansive palace with the 'Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story' walking tour, and find out what life was like at the palace from the servant's perspective (in fact, this tour was devised and directed by a Zipcar member, so you know it's good!). If the weather stays dry be sure to enjoy a stroll around 2,000 acres of stunning parkland and the award-winning Formal Gardens surrounding the palace.

Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP; adult ticket to palace, park and gardens: £21.50

Uffington White Horse 

Distance from Oxford: 24 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

Emblazoned into the Oxfordshire conutryside, this 3,000 year old White Horse leaps across the ancient chalk valley just outside the village of Uffington. At 110m long, you'll need to take more than a few steps back to take in this Bronze Age beast carved into the chalk. Besides this giant chalk creature, you'll find plenty of legendary and ancient sites close by in the valley (known as The Manger). For one, White Horse Hill is part of the 87-mile Ridgeway National Trail, an ancient chalk ridge stretching from Avebury to the Chilterns. You'll also find remnants of the last Ice Age in the rippled hill of the Giant's Steps, carved out by the retreating permafrost. Be sure to visit flat-topped Dragon Hill, where England's St. George slew the dragon (we know it's just a legend, but we still had fun re-enacting it). If you've got your walking legs on, then climb to the highest point in Oxford, crowned by an Iron Age Fort. It may only be 262m high, but on a good day you can view the surrounding six counties.

Signposted off the A420 between Oxford and Swindon; free entry

Harcourt Arboretum 

Distance from Oxford: 7 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

Enjoy taking artsy photographs of trees (we won't tell if it's just on Instagram)? Then you should definitely head to Harcourt Arboretum near Oxford. Spread over 130 acres, including 30 acres of wildflower meadows and over 13,000 native British trees, you're sure to get your fill of nature with a day trip here. For first time visitors to the Arboretum, or those visiting with kids, pick up an Arboretum Explorer's Backpack at the ticket office, packed full of activities and guides to make the most of the site. If you haven't had enough of the plant world after your visit, then you'll be glad to hear your ticket will also get you into the oldest Botanic Garden in the UK, back in Oxford.

Oxford Lodge, Peacock Gate, Oxford, OX44 9PX; adult day ticket: £4.50

Rousham House and Garden

Distance from Oxford: 13 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

One of the only intact landscape gardens from the 1700s left in the UK, Rousham House and Garden boasts acres of stunning topiary, ponds and gardens. It is open to the public every day of the year, although the house is only open by prior arrangement. A perfect picnic destination.

Bicester, OX25 4QU; adult garden day ticket: £5

Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve  

Distance from Oxford: 7 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

Cuttle Brook is an award winning reserve, described as a ‘green lung’ in Thame. Just a short walk from the town centre it is simply bustling with wildlife, with over 32 species of bird calling it home, just to start with.  You can meander for hours along its network of paths or take a brisk circular stroll around the reserve in 20 minutes.

Thame, Oxfordshire; entry is free

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