Charming, Oxford’s fame gravitates around its prestigious university and brilliant student population. A beautiful day trip destination from London by bus or train, Oxford welcomes visitors with fabulous old architecture and a sophisticated ambiance. It may feel stuffy at times, but just stroll down its pretty streets and you’ll discover an enchanting city rich in history and wonderful attractions.
Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, Oxford carries the weight of more than eight centuries of academic history and has been home to highly-esteemed names like Lewis Carroll and JRR Tolkien. However, romantics too will fall in love with the city and get caught in the magic of its cobbled streets, bohemian cafes, and melancholic spires.
Explore the colleges
The University of Oxford dates back to the early 12th century and is the oldest university in England. It includes 38 different colleges and has shaped the minds of geniuses like Stephen Hawking and Walter Raleigh. Each college has its own interesting stories to share and displays superb architecture, but if you want to visit some of the most popular colleges in Oxford, plan a tour of the Magdalen College that boasts a splendid bell tower dating back to the 1500s and continues to cherish its traditions. Moreover, literature fans will have the opportunity to discover Oscar Wilde’s room on the college’s corridors and admire romantic water meadows dotted with deer.
Founded in 1525, Christ Church College enchants with a remarkable history and stories about alumni like Lewis Carroll and WH Auden, as well as several UK prime ministers. The college is also known as the muse for the Hogwarts banquet hall in the Harry Potter movies. Brasenose College resides in one of the most attractive quarters of Oxford framed by libraries, domes, and spires. The college was founded in the 1500s and mesmerizes with a fairy tale architecture.
Visit the museums
One of the most visited museums in Oxford is the phenomenal Museum of Natural History, a magnificent “cathedral to nature” that displays a vast collection of items gathered from the natural world, including dinosaur skeletons and fossils, rocks and stones, and the remains of the extinct Mauritius dodo. Kids will certainly love the “Please Touch” policy of the museum. Out in the back of the museum, connected through a rather invisible doorway, you’ll discover the Pitt Rivers Museum, a frenzy of archaeological and anthropological collections, as well as oddities, including totem poles, weapons, and shrunken heads.
The oldest public museum in the UK, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology has something for everyone. The museums houses impressive collections of art, archaeology, and antiquities, displaying pretty much everything from Picasso to Egyptian mummies and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask. The museum’s size is overwhelming and you can easily spend a day here if you’re determined to see everything.
The Story Museum is dedicated to literature fans curious to discover a fairy tale universe within the walls of what was once a telephone exchange. Since Oxford has been a muse for stories like Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and Middle Earth, there’s no surprise that Oxford houses this quirky museum with fancy dress rooms and a splendid reading space.
Stroll down the streets
Adorned with idyllic streets lined with honey-colored buildings, college towers, and church spires, Oxford is a treat for the romantics. One of the most photogenic cities in the UK, Oxford adds the touch of blooming magnolias in the spring and beautiful foliage colors in the autumn, creating a picturesque urban scenery. Start your journey of exploration from Radcliffe Square and explore the streets and alleys of Oxford. You’ll unavoidably encounter chic cafes and hip pubs along the way, superb architecture and views, all stepped in history. The city’s student population ensures the presence of a vibrant nightlife and all the English pubs you can wish for await throughout the city center.
Oxford is dotted with lovely parks and gardens, ideal spots for picnics and relaxation. Christ Church Meadow and Port Meadow are among the most popular green spaces in the city, but if you want to visit a truly extraordinary oasis of greenery, head to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in Britain. The city is crossed by both the Cherwell and Thames rivers, which means you’ll also have the possibility to enjoy long walks along the canals while admiring some of England’s most beautiful countryside.For spectacular views of the city and countryside, climb the 127 steps to the top of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin’s tower, while for an incursion into the violent, romantic, and intriguing history of England since the Norman times, visit the “hidden” Oxford Castle that awaits behind a manmade motte, and has been a prison from 1071 until 1996.