Oxford Tourist Information: The Basics
Getting around: Oxford and nearby villages and towns are serviced by buses from different companies. Bus routes connect Watlington, Abingdon, Wantage, Banbury, Wallingford, Carterton, Thame, Chipping Norton, Henley, Didcot and Faringdon. The city is mostly pedestrian-friendly, with many one-way streets and avenues that may be harder to navigate through in a car. If you are bringing your own vehicle, "park and ride" car parks offer a good alternative to driving around the city. To take in the most popular sights, special buses offer "round the city" tours with many stop-offs.
Language: Official language is English. (However, there are many regional accents in the area and visitors may even feel the need for an interpreter when interacting with the locals!)
Time Zone: GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).
Currency: Like the rest of England, the pound (£) is the official currency. Each pound is made up of a hundred pence, while notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 pounds. All major credit cards are commonly accepted and all towns have ATMs. You can have your currency exchanged at large hotels and bureaux de change, although banks usually offer the best exchange rates. If you are bringing travellers cheques, make sure they are in Pounds Sterling to minimise extra charges from conversions. These are accepted in areas usually visited by tourists.
Health: There are no health risks specific to travelling in the UK. Food and water is normally safe. Emergency treatment is free of charge to visitors, courtesy of the British National Health Services, although regular medical services will carry a fee. Countries such as New Zealand, Australia and EU-member countries have reciprocal health agreements with the UK. Nationals of other countries such as the USA, Canada and South Africa should take out a reliable medical insurance policy, although this is not a requirement for travel.
Customs: There is a no smoking ban on public transportation, although it is generally allowed in bars and eating places. It is customary to shake hands when meeting someone for the first time. When taking the escalator, be sure to observe the practise of either walking on the left side or standing on the right. Londoners are usually observed to be in a hurry when going about their business, and less amiable than their fellow Brits, especially when commuting. On London transport, the only people carrying conversations are usually the tourists.
Tipping: A service charge is sometimes included in the bill of hotel restaurants. A tip of 10 to 15% of the bill is customary in upscale hotels and restaurants. Taxi drivers will appreciate a tip, although it is not expected.
Safety: Travelling in the UK is safe, though it is always best to take extra care of any valuables when going through central London, one place where pick-pocketing is commonly reported. As for the possibility of terrorism, the level of risk is about the same as it would be in the US, for example.
Communications: The international dialling code for UK is +44. To make an outgoing call, dial 00 (or 48 when in Northern Ireland), followed by the code for the country you are calling. The mobile phone standard is GSM, and cellular networks generally cover the whole country. Public internet access is available from internet cafes in major cities and large towns, and train and airport terminals.
Electricity: 240V AC, 50Hz. Standard outlets accept square three-pin plugs.