From its humble beginnings as a small market town, Bicester has been growing in size and influence over the past few years. This is thanks to its easy access to both Oxford and London, and its attractiveness to shopaholics who want to find a designer bargain in the nearby fashion outlet, Bicester Village. Bicester also has strong links to the military, which date back to the Civil War, and continue to this day - MoD Bicester is the army's largest ordnance depot, with its own railway and a bomb disposal training base.
Bicester is best known as home of the Bicester Village shopping outlet. With hundreds of designer shops, there's something for every fashion fan, and plenty of restaurants and cafés to revive yourself after you've shopped till you drop.
For those who like their shopping a bit more low-key, Sheep Street, in the centre of town, is the place to go. With a range of high-street shops and a regular marketplace nearby, Sheep Street is a relaxed place to visit. Try a cake at Nash's Bakery!
Just off Sheep Street is Pioneer Square, Bicester's newest shopping outlet, which also boasts restaurants and a Vue cinema - everything you need for an evening out.
St Edburg's Church
For history buffs, St Edburg's Church, one of Bicester's many listed buildings, dates back to the 12th century. It has some Victorian stained glass designed by Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones, and contains memorials to local figures.
Pubs and Restaurants
The Farmshop Restaurant and Cafe in Bicester Village serves everything from breakfast to cocktails. They use locally sourced and seasonal food, and have a range of vegetarian options.
If you like an unusually-named restaurant, you won't find better than Trinity Cabbages and Condoms (yes, really). This is the UK branch of a Thai restaurant enterprise, and all profits go towards supporting Thai programmes in health, education, sanitation, and HIV/AIDS support.
Cafes and Coffee Shops
Nash's Bakery on Sheep Street is a Bicester institution. Nash's opened in 1930, and has won awards for its bread, cakes, and pies. The bakery is family friendly, with a whole range of cakes and biscuits aimed at younger visitors, who can try a delicious and retro (if slightly terrifying) Mr Blobby-esque gingerbread man.
Bicester Festival is an annual event including performances from local performing arts groups, as well as a market, exhibitions and workshops. OYAP Trust, a local community group, are very involved in the event, and host several of the workshops.
Because of Bicester's long-running military association, Bicester Carnival in association with Armed Forces Day is one of the largest events of the year. There is a parade from Sheep Street to Pingle Field, along with circus workshops and a fair.
By car: If you leave Oxford via the A34, it'll take you straight to Bicester. Be prepared for congestion and delays, however, particularly on the stretch of road leading up to the M40 roundabout.
By bus: The X5 bus, leaving from Gloucester Green bus station, stops at Bicester on its way to Cambridge. The S5 runs between Oxford and Bicester, and leaves from Magdalen Street and Summertown.
By train: There are regular trains between Oxford and Bicester. Trains run directly to Bicester Village rail station; you can also go to Bicester North station if you change at Banbury.