Where and What to Hire
The nearest airport to Oxford is London Heathrow Airport. Car hire companies that are located at London Heathrow include Sixt, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise and National Car. Alternatively, it is possible to hire a car in Oxford city centre. Enterprise, National Car, Europecar, Nova, Thrifty and Budget are all located within Oxford, close to the main train station. All types of vehicles are available for hire including two-door hatchbacks, family four-door and people carriers, luxury cars and vans.
Oxford is known as ‘the cycling city’ with thousands of commuters choosing bicycles over cars. It is also the mode of transport of choice for most of Oxford University’s student population. If driving in the city centre, be aware of the many cyclists on the roads. Driving into Oxford city centre is very limited. Not only are there many one-way streets but many streets are closed to vehicles apart from buses, taxis and bicycles. The High Street has no access to cars between 7.30am and 6.30pm while Magdalen Street East and George Street are permanently closed to cars. There are also strict enforcements when it comes to bus lanes so be sure not to drive in one inadvertently or a fine will be incurred.
Parking in Oxford is restricted in the city centre. The best way to park and get around is to use the ample Park and Ride facilities. There are five in the city centre. Parking there is free provided visitors pay for the bus fare into town. The Westgate car multi-storey and overground car parks are the principal places to park along with Gloucester Green underground and Worcester Street car parks. On-street parking charging hours are from Monday to Saturday 8am to 6.30pm and evenings from 6.30pm onwards. On Sundays charging is from 10am to10pm. (This information is correct as of 9 April 2015) Charges are approximately £1 per half an hour.
Where to Go and What to See
While having a hire car in the centre of Oxford may not always be convenient, it is well worth having to explore the nearby countryside and sights. One of the best architectural wonders to see in the area is spectacular Blenheim Palace. Just 20 minutes by car from the city centre, this Palace feels like a world away with its 2000 acres of beautiful gardens and parks and breath-taking 18th century Baroque facade and interior. Just an hour North West of Oxford are the Cotswolds, designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. Here, visitors can walk, hike or cycle through the picturesque countryside, amble through pretty honey-coloured limestone villages, haggle for bargains in the lively local farmers markets and spend evenings cosied up by a roaring fire in one of the areas many snug pubs. For those travelling with children, there is plenty to do in the surrounding area. Just 5 miles from Oxford, in Abingdon, is the lovely Abbey Meadow Open Air Swimming Pool, ideal in the summer, with water features, a learner’s pool, tennis court, mini golf course and playground. Animal loving kids will enjoy a trip to Cogges Manor Farm, just 10 miles from Oxford in Witney. Here children can feed the farm animals, pet miniature Shetland ponies, take a wellie walk, fly down a zip wire and play in the adventure fort. There is also soft play and a wonderful area for picnics. Just over an hour away from Oxford is Legoland which children of all ages can enjoy, plus there is the added bonus of Windsor Castle for a great family day out.