DREAM AND REMEMBER: Oxford’s beauty inspires all who visit
Not just the home of its eponymous university – the oldest in Britain, Oxford offers an enormous variety of historic, cultural and contemporary attractions. A visit to the city, which dates back to Saxon times, is a trip into the brains of a nation. Tour the hallowed halls of the university and follow in the footsteps of Prime Ministers, poets and the one and only Harry Potter.
You likely already know that several scenes from the Harry Potter movies were shot here, and you can actually visit some of the locations. For instance, you can get a guided tour of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library – which will be familiar to fans as Hogwarts Library.
Oxford is well worth a visit and not just to the city itself, but to attractions, towns and villages close by.
Here are ten things to do in Oxford:
Explore the historic buildings of Oxford University
Don’t miss a visit to Oxford’s historic university buildings. Many are centuries old and have seen many famous figures pass through their doors, from Hugh Grant to T.S. Eliot. Take a tour, see the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Great Hall at Christ Church, and visit the Bodleian Library. No matter what part of the university you visit you will be surrounded by a wealth of beauty, history and knowledge!
Punting on the river
Become part of the Oxford idyll with a punt on the river, that’s steering a flat bottomed boat with a pole! It’s a great way to spend a sunny day, and lets you really absorb the Oxford atmosphere in a very traditional way. If you don’t feel like punting yourself, you can hire a professional punter to take you on a tour. The river winds through past many of the historic colleges of Oxford University,
The Ashmolean Museum
Visit the oldest public museum in Britain, and the first purpose-built public museum in the world: the Ashmolean. Its collection began with the donation of a cabinet of curiosities in 1677 which supposedly contained such wonders as ‘the hand of a mermaid’ and ‘a human bone weighing 42 lbs’. The collection now includes art and antiquities from across the world, from the Italian renaissance to 17th century Japan, Ancient Egypt and Greece to modern art.
If you prefer exploring on your own two feet, set off on one of the city’s walking tours, either guided, or using a map from the visitor centre. You can even pick a theme for your tour like science, stained glass, pubs, film locations, or ‘Alice in Wonderland’ which has literary links all over the city!
Parks and gardens
Oxford is full of beautiful green spaces that are perfect for walking or picnics. Head to the Oxford Botanic Garden, the great green expanse of South Park, or some of the colleges themselves: Worcester College has a lake, and Christ Church College has a whole meadow!
Take traditional afternoon tea in one of Britain’s most historic cities and The Randolph Hotel is definitely a good place to start! Afternoon tea at The Randolph is a tradition in Oxford, and it is well-known for the delicious treats you’ll be served. Be sure to try the homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream!
Tolkien’s favourite pub
Enjoy a pint in the favourite pub of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, famous authors of the Narnia stories and the Lord of The Rings, among other things. The Eagle and Child pub was their old haunt, so a great place to go if you’re looking for inspiration!
Visit Oxford Castle Unlocked
Dating back to Saxon times, or the 7th century AD, St George’s Tower at Oxford Castle is the city’s oldest building. Venture underground and explore the 900-year-old crypt, take a tour of the prison and then the castle itself for a day of spooky fun.
Farmers Markets and Bicester Village
Whether you’re a fan of farmers’ markets, luxury goods, art, or antiques Oxford has it. Head out to one of the weekly farmers’ markets and you’ll find some great fresh produce, or take a trip outside the city to Bicester Village where you’ll find all the top designer brands at discounted prices.
Go on a cycling tour
Oxford is famously a cycling city, and you’re no doubt familiar with classical depictions of Oxford students whizzing to lectures on bikes. For visitors, there are plenty of cycling tours to choose from. In a 2-hour tour you’ll get to see the pedestrianised central parts of the city that no bus will show you, along with beautiful trails along the river, between the colleges and beyond.
Not far away...
About a 20 minute drive from Oxford is Blenheim Palace. Famously known as ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace,’ Blenheim is home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The incredible, awe-inspiring palace has so much to offer, including a giant hedge maze and butterfly house, you’ll probably end up spending the entire day there.
Oxford is just 45 miles from Heathrow Airport travellers can choose to drive (a little over an hour by car) take a bus from the airport or from Victoria Station. National Express services from Stansted Airport also serve Oxford, taking just under two hours.
And finally a quote from William Butler Yeats
“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.”
First published at Travel Industry Today