I have a vague memory of being in a Facebook group with a name like "You know you grew up in Oxford when...". One point really struck a chord: "It only takes you 20 minutes to get from one side of Oxford to the other and you don't understand why". Which is basically true.
Since Oxford is a city in miniature, the best ways to get around are by foot, bus or, best of all, by bike. Oxford has the second-highest proportion of cycling commuters of any local authority in the UK and some very pretty buildings, so cycling here is both accessible and pleasant (and, it turns out, you won't absorb as many fumes as drivers). Read more about bikes and cycling in Oxford here.
Car parking is notoriously difficult, though possible if you are determined. A good alternative is to use one of the city's Park and Ride facilities: buses from these into town (as well as along the other major bus routes) are frequent and run quite late. There isn't really a night bus service, but then Oxford is a lot smaller than London and doesn't really open late enough to warrant one. For any late-night needs there are taxis in abundance.
Getting to London from Oxford and back is very easy. There are regular direct trains to Paddington and Marylebone and two rival direct coach services (one of which runs 24/7). Stagecoach's X5 service to Cambridge, via Bicester and Milton Keynes, is reliable if a bit slow. To and from anywhere else in the UK when starting at Oxford you will need to proceed via Reading/London (the east, south east and north east), Bristol (Wales), Birmingham (the midlands and north east) or Basingstoke (the south). Links to all the info you'll need are below.
The ultimate in journey planning.
Partnership of transport operators and local authorities, aiming to advise you on any journey by public transport. Can only cover journeys within regions.
Tel: 0871 200 2233
Individual's database of national public transport. Also gives info on hospitals / supermarkets served by public transport and many other useful things.
Extremely useful cycle journey planning site, where you can choose the fastest route, or the quietest route, or a balance of the two. It'll tell you how much CO2 you're saving, and how many calories you'll burn, as added incentives.
Oxford has the UK's first integrated transport system outside London! The handy SmartCard allows you to use buses from any operator within the Oxford Zone (encompassing Kidlington, Cumnor, Kennington, Garsington and Wheatley). And you are allowed to lend your SmartCard to someone else when you're not using it. Unlike London, you can still pay in cash on all Oxford buses, but these days you can use contactless too.
You can get a SmartCard from one of the Oxford Bus Company's travel stores (in Gloucester Green and on the High Street). There are options covering different time periods, zones and multiple/single bus operators.
A site detailing the whereabouts of all Oxford Bus Company and BrookesBus and some Stagecoach buses in excitingly real time, so you can work out exactly when it's worth leaving the house. It's quickest to use if you know your service number, stop number and postcode, but you can also navigate with a map.
The Oxford Bus Company
Local routes, the X90 London express service, Park and Ride services and Airport transfers to Heathrow and Gatwick. They also run the Brookes Bus service - this can be used by anyone but links up the various Brookes campuses.
Tel: 01865 785400
Oxfordshire regional services, including Bicester, Wantage, Didcot and Abingdon. Also runs a local Jericho route.
Tel: 01865 785400
In addition to its own routes, you can book Oxford Tube and X5 services through Megabus for ridiculously low prices (can be as little as £1 if you do it far enough in advance). Seats must be pre-booked, but you can do so on the day of departure.
Tel: 0900 160 0900 (beware: 60p per min!)
Pick Me Up Bus Service
Almost a hybrid of bus and taxi travel, this is an on-demand ride-sharing service, run by Oxford Bus Company and covering the Eastern Arc of Oxford. (That's roughly from the railway station, out to Oxford Science Park, Blackbird Leys, Headington, Barton and Thornhill P&R). Sign up for the app, and then summon a ride. They'll sort out a route involving a bit of walking at either end usually, and it can be very useful for journeys that are not well covered by existing bus services. Beware - it gets very busy at peak times, and there is no option to book a journey in advance, though this is rumoured to be coming.
Oxford recently got a shiny new out-of-town train station! Apparently it's the first new link to run from a major British city to London in more than 100 years. There are now two trains per hour running from Oxford Parkway to London Marylebone, each with wifi and plug sockets. Also stops at Bicester Village, where the announcements are in English, Mandarin and Arabic.
The Train Line
Timetables and booking for all train operators.
National Rail Enquiries
Everything The Train Line does, but a slightly less user-friendly website.
Tel: 03457 48 49 50 (24 hour info)
Oxford is now the proud host of only one Boris-bike style schemes Donkey Bikes, and many app-based dockless bike schemes. For more information about these see our specialist Bike Hire page.
And There's much more information about cycling in Oxford on our bikes and cycling page.
Oxford Airport, cheekily renamed London Oxford Airport, is at Kidlington, 6 or so miles north of Oxford. It handles air taxi and other private charter services (as well as being a centre for pilot training). Full details on their website.
The Oxford Bus Company also has an airport service running to Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham. To get to Luton or Stansted, National Express has regular direct services. And many local taxi firms offer airport transfer as a specialist service, which can be cheaper if you're transporting lots of people (and easier if you have lots of luggage).
Oxford is notoriously unfriendly to cars. With a fiendish one-way system, permit-controlled parking and good Park & Ride options, many choose to live without a car in the centre of the city. So when you're trying to get outside the ring road you might need use of a car occasionally. Car- and lift-sharing can be the ideal solution, and as ever there are plenty of options!
For info on Car Sharing schemes / Car Clubs in Oxford see here.
Nationwide journey-sharing website.
Similar to Liftshare but with ratings based on how sociable your driver is. With ladies-only and other security options. If you fancy a sudden trip but don't care where you go, put in Oxford as your starting destination and leave everything else blank. You might be surprised at your options!
Airport taxis and other automobiles can be found here.