Day trip to Blenheim Palace from Oxford

Day trip to Blenheim Palace from Oxford

When I was studying at the University of Oxford, the first time I came outside the city was to go to Blenheim Palace, 10 miles north of Oxford. A day trip to Blenheim Palace is the perfect escape from Oxford, especially during the summer months when it’s very crowded with tourists. Because I opted for an annual pass when I visited the palace for the first time, I returned many times. Because the palace and grounds are huge, I could explore something new during every visit.

How to get to Blenheim Palace

Getting to Blenheim Palace is quite easy. By car, it is 10 miles north of Oxford. There are sufficient parking spaces at the entrance to the palace. Since I didn’t have a car, I opted for public transport, which has some benefits as well. You can take the S3 or 7 stagecoach service buses or the 500 park and ride. It takes around 30 minutes to get from the city centre of Oxford to the palace. However, if you decide to go by bus and show your bus ticket at the ticket office, you’ll receive a 30% discount on your admissions ticket!

If you’re visiting Blenheim Palace from London, it will take you 1.5-2 hours by car. For travellers by public transport, travel to Oxford Parkway and take the bus from there. If you take this route, you’re still entitled to the 30% discount on your admissions ticket!

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim was built between 1705 and 1722 and named after the Battle of Blenheim which was fought in 1704 as part of the War of the Spanish Succession. Nowadays, it is still the primary residence of the Dukes of Malborough. It is the birthplace of the famous Winston Churchill, the British prime minister. If you’re interested in the history of the palace and the people who lived here, make sure to take one of the free audio tours.

If you’re in Oxford for a longer time, for example, because you’re studying there, you can get an annual pass by donating your ticket. This won’t cost you anything more than the normal admission price. Click here for more information about the annual pass.
Library of Blenheim Palace
Room where Winston Churchill was born
Harry Potter tree
Column of Victory

The palace is enormous, with high ceilings, and every room is lavishly decorated. My favourite room was probably the library, which curiously enough also displayed an organ in the same pink/white style as the rest of the library. Inside, there is also an exhibition about Winston Churchill, which ends in the room and bed where he was born. They even have a lock of his hair on display.

Interior of Blenheim Palace
Interior of Blenheim Palace
Fun fact: Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal (and non-religious) country house in England that is allowed to call itself a “palace”.

The gardens of Blenheim Palace

The gardens are as beautiful as the palace and are also enormous. On your first visit, it is practically impossible to discover every secret the gardens have to offer. You simply cannot skip the gardens on your day trip to Blenheim Palace. Immediately when you exit the palace, you enter the “formal gardens”. Although it is a classic example of the English landscape garden, it still reminded me a little of the gardens of Versailles.

One of the attractions in the gardens you shouldn’t miss is the Harry Potter tree. If you cross the bridge opposite the palace gates and turn left, you’ll arrive at the bank of the lake. Here, you’ll find a tree that was used in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was used in a flashback where Snape was dangling upside down from the tree through the magic of James Potter and his friends.

Fan of Harry Potter and trees? Make sure to visit New College, one of the most beautiful colleges in Oxford. In the cloister, you can find the tree that they used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the location where Mad-Eye Moody turns Draco Malfoy into a ferret.
Harry Potter tree of Blenheim Palace
Column of Victory
Harry Potter tree
Column of Victory

The gardens are so massive that you can take a miniature train to the other end of the gardens! (Did we take this little train which was designed for kids? Yes, of course, we did. Best 50p I’ve ever spent.) The train leads to the Pleasure Gardens and the Malborough Maze. The maze was a lot of fun and was actually harder than we thought! And, if that is not enough, the gardens also include a massive lake.

View of Blenheim Palace from the Harry Potter tree
View of Blenheim Palace from the Harry Potter tree

How to get into the gardens of Blenheim Palace for free

Contrary to what you might guess, getting into the gardens of Blenheim Palace is possible without paying for a ticket and is not illegal. Some sections of the gardens are part of the public right of way. Everyone is entitled to walk there.

Moreover, getting into the gardens for free is actually quite simple. Go to Woodstock, the village where Blenheim Palace is situated. Next, walk 5 minutes to the Causeway. Here you’ll find a green gate (NB on google maps the gate is dark green, but in July 2019 it had recently been painted and had a lighter colour). Go through this gate and the next. Don’t worry if they’re closed, you’re allowed to open them. And there you are, into the gardens of Blenheim Palace!

Some parts of the gardens are only for visitors with tickets. However, they don’t check if you have a valid ticket. Only if you enter the palace grounds you need to show a valid admissions ticket. Nevertheless, even if you only check out the parts that you don’t need a ticket for, you can easily spend a few hours here.

In the free part of the gardens on a day trip to Blenheim Palace
In the free part of the gardens

Best time to visit Blenheim Palace

Since the palace and grounds are massive, it’s still perfectly doable to visit the palace during peak season. Since there are enough parking spots, this is also not something you need to worry about. However, if you love roses, then I would recommend visiting in June since this is when the rose garden of Blenheim Palace is in full bloom.

How much time do you need to visit Blenheim Palace

If you’re short on time, I would advise against visiting the inside of the palace. The tickets aren’t cheap, and if you visit the interior of the palace, you might as well make the most of it on your day trip to Blenheim Palace. I would stick to the free part of the gardens. If you have more time and would like to visit the interior of the palace, I would recommend taking at least 2 hours (up to 4 if you really want to explore everything) to visit the palace and a sizeable part of the gardens.

Include Woodstock in your day trip to Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock. After your visit to Blenheim Palace, make sure to visit Woodstock. Woodstock is a lovely small village with houses that remind you of the Cotswolds. It is also the perfect starting point if you wish to explore the Cotswolds. There are also plenty of cafes and pubs in Woodstock, such as The Woodstock Arms.

Where to stay if you’re planning a day trip to Blenheim Palace

If you’re on a short weekend break. I suggest staying in Oxford and visiting Blenheim Palace by public transport. Although sometimes pricy, there are many Airbnbs in Oxford. There are also various hostels in Oxford. If Blenheim Palace is part of a longer UK itinerary including the cotswolds, treat yourself and stay in one of the lovely bed and breakfasts Woodstock has to offer for the ultimate experience.

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Day trip to Blenheim Palace from Oxford
Day trip to Blenheim Palace from Oxford

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