Oxford is home to 1,500 listed buildings from every major period of British architectural history from the 11th century onwards. The centre looks like an enchanted fairytale city – no wonder Oxford is a firm favourite of filmmakers from all over the world. The city is flat and compact, with many of its major attractions, such as the University of Oxford and its 38 colleges; Bodleian Library, the museums, and Oxford Castle Unlocked right in the centre. Just a little out of the centre, you can find large green spaces like Christ Church Meadows (with excellent views of Oxford’s spires), University Parks, the riverbanks and Port Meadow. Experience Oxfordshire website.
Oxford Parkway is near one of the UK's biggest villages, historic Kidlington, which has a beautiful early mediaeval church, while you'll also be able to spot plenty of narrowboats along the banks of the Oxford Canal. The station is convenient for London Oxford Airport and is a short bus journey from Blenheim Palace. Kidlington Parish Council's website has a wealth of information about the village.
Attracting more than six million visitors every year, Bicester Village designer fashion outlet has more than 130 boutiques to choose from. It has become a global destination – so much so that rail announcements are also made in Mandarin and Arabic! The town of Bicester goes back over a thousand years. Visit the medieval church of St Edburg’s, or take a stroll around the Market Square which comprises parts of the historic town trail. Experience Oxfordshire website.
The pretty town of Winslow dates back to 792. There’s plenty of pubs and restaurants on offer, while nearby is the beautiful Georgian country property, Claydon House. A National Trust estate, Claydon is set in spectacular unspoilt countryside and has a rich history associated with the Civil and Crimean Wars; indeed Florence Nightingale resided there for much of the time she was in the country. Winslow Town Council website. Claydon House website.
Aylesbury Vale Parkway is near Waddesdon Manor, one of the jewels in the National Trust’s crown with nearly 400,000 annual visitors. From March to October a free shuttle bus takes visitors from the railway station to the Manor. Waddesdon Manor website.
Aylesbury mixes old with new. It has a picture perfect, cobbled Market Square and clock tower, and a beautiful Old Town. Aylesbury celebrates its connections to legendary author Roald Dahl through the Story Centre at the Bucks County Museum, while Stoke Mandeville Hospital is the spiritual birthplace of the Paralympics. The opening of the landmark Waterside Theatre in 2010 marked the start of Aylesbury’s regeneration, which very soon will include a new town square and restaurant quarter. Visit Aylesbury website.
Princes Risborough lies on the route of the pre-Roman Upper Icknield Way. It is dominated by a chalk hill carving, the Whiteleaf Cross, which can be seen for many miles on the approaches to the town. Passengers at Princes Risborough will soon be able to board a steam train to Chinnor in Oxfordshire, as part of works being carried out by the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway. And car enthusiasts are catered for by the incredibly successful Kop Hill Climb. Visit Chilterns website.
Bletchley Park, Home of the Codebreakers, is a heritage site and vibrant tourist attraction. Visitors can explore and experience the top secret world of iconic WW2 Codebreaking Huts and Blocks set within the atmospheric Victorian estate. The National Museum of Computing is also located nearby, as is the home of the MK Dons and the Blue Lagoon local nature reserve. Bletchley Park website.
Whether you’re coming for the shopping, culture, food and drink or family fun, Milton Keynes has something for everyone. Fancy skiing, bowling, body-flying or rock climbing? Head straight for Xscape. Shopping? Highlights include centre:mk and intu Milton Keynes. There’s also loads of restaurants, the National Badminton Centre and even the theme park at Gulliver’s, which is located near Willen Lake. Destination Milton Keynes website.
Woburn Sands has beautiful heath and woodlands on its doorstep; cyclists will enjoy the trails at nearby Aspley Woods, around a mile from the station. The older part of Woburn Sands is now a Conservation Area and its station is just over four miles away from Woburn Abbey and Gardens, housing one of the most significant private art collections in the world. Woburn Sands Town Council's website has information about the town and heritage walks.
Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre is built in the distinctive Victorian Gothic ‘Cottage Orné’ style, and its restoration has won a number of awards. The heritage centre is home to tasty tea rooms and a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Heritage Centre webpage.
Bedford’s historic town centre, based on the banks of beautiful River Great Ouse, has a wealth of wonderful places to explore and discover. Spend time cruising down its tranquil river, explore one of its museums or historic sites, see a show, join a guided tour or simply relax in the town’s beautiful parks and gardens. The cultural diversity of Bedford ensures that you’re never far from an amazing curry, fabulous Italian coffee, Polish delicacies or traditional afternoon tea. Love Bedford website.
In Cambridge you can go punting on the River Cam, enjoy a picnic in the park, join a walking tour of the city or explore further afield from the seat of a bicycle following the excellent network of cycle paths in and around the city. At King’s College Chapel, Choral Evensong is sung most days during term time. The University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum houses world-class collections of art and antiquities, while Kettle’s Yard is one of the country’s finest galleries. Visit Cambridge website.
Ipswich is East Anglia's waterfront town, where a world of discovery awaits as you explore the historic town, glorious waterfront and picturesque surrounding areas. Historic highlights include the glorious Tudor Christchurch Mansion, set in a beautiful park close to the town centre. It is now a free museum housing period rooms and a stunning art gallery, home to the most significant collection of Constables outside London. All About Ipswich website.
Nestling under the big skies of the Fen countryside, in the shadow of its magnificent cathedral, Ely offers a wealth of attractions. Known locally as the 'Ship of the Fens' the cathedral is famous for its unique Octagon tower, which when lit can be seen for tens of miles. As the second smallest city in England, Ely is compact enough to explore on foot, but large enough to fill a full day and more. Visit Ely website.
Norwich is a city to suit many tastes. It's filled with hidden gems and winding alleyways nestled among the more well-known attractions, and it's compact size makes wandering around both easy and enjoyable. Explore the city's incredible heritage sites which rub shoulders with modern technology and experience compelling architecture spanning 1,000 years. Pretty green spaces and parks, riverside locations and outdoor art, as well as an all-year-round calendar of productions, music and special events make Norwich a city for all ages and interests. Visit Norwich website.