Oxford is a city that sparks interest from people all over the world. Most people are aware of it, mostly thanks to it being home to one of the most famous universities in the land. When you say Oxford, people think about academic life, scholars, and a real sense of tradition. While Oxford University is definitely one of the focal points of this city, there’s also so much more going on that’s made it a top tourist destination in the UK.
If you’re keen to pay Oxford a visit, then we’ve got the perfect information guide written out for you. Here, you will learn everything you need to know about this lovely city, and it will provide you with handy advice that’s beneficial for both tourists and anyone thinking about moving here in the future. From learning about how to get around to some money-saving tips – and everything in between – we’ve got it all covered for you down below:
There are few places in the UK – or the world – that can boast a history quite like Oxford. This city has been firmly on the map for over 800 years as a real focal point in England. Many famous people have graced this city with their presence, including some of the most iconic scholars of the last hundred years, and many figures of royalty.
The exciting thing about modern-day Oxford is that it still retains a lot of its traditional charm, while at the same time developing into a 21st Century city. It may look like a town that’s stuck a hundred years or so in the past, but this is purely thanks to the ancient university buildings making their mark on the city. You have loads of different colleges that form different parts of Oxford University, along with the iconic golden-spired main university building itself. They set the tone for this beautiful city, but don’t be fooled, there is still plenty to do if you’re looking for entertainment and fun in this gorgeous place.
People from all walks of life come here, which has meant the city has adapted a lot over the years to accommodate the influx of both tourists and new residents. In fact, Oxford regularly makes it onto lists for the best cities to live and the best cities to visit in the UK.
A lot of people have this misconception that Oxford is a small and boring city for traditionalists. Again, this mainly comes from the fact that the most famous thing about the area is the university. They assume everyone here will be super posh and overly academic, meaning there’s not a great deal you can do to have fun if you either live there or are planning a visit.
Needless to say, this is entirely untrue. In fact, the university itself is a beauty to behold, and you can definitely spend some time looking at it and taking pictures or possibly even going on a tour. It’s arguably the most famous educational institution in the world, so you should definitely pay it some attention!
Aside from this, there are loads of other great things you can do, many of which are entirely unique to Oxford as a city. Here’s our pick of the top things to take up your time in this lovely town:
This is the primary research library for Oxford University, but we promise it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen in your life. The building is massive, and it feels like you’re in some absurd film set from a TV show like Game of Thrones, or a film like Harry Potter. There are over eleven million resources here, making it the second-largest library in the UK. It’s a wonder to behold, and definitely, something that should be high up on your list of things to do.
While you’re at the library, you may as well pay Radcliffe Camera a visit as well. This is a stunning building that has a very unique look and feel to it. Again, it’s almost as though you’ve been transported to a different century when you step inside it. It’s hard to decide whether it looks better from inside or out, so make sure you take loads of pictures either way.
Who needs Venice when you’ve got Oxford? If you’re a fan of wide canals and long gondola-esque boats, then book a trip on Oxford’s waterways. You can get someone to take you around the long canal and see the city from a different perspective. Or, if you feel up to it, hire a punt or steamer yourself to take charge of where you go and what you see.
As you can imagine, there is no shortage of museums in a city like Oxford. The Ashmolean is well worth your time as it includes findings from some iconic periods in history. Alternatively, if you feel like educating yourself on the history of Oxford, then the Museum of Oxford will have all the info you need.
Oxford is home to plenty of lush green gardens that are littered with beautiful flowers, shrubs, and grand old trees. If you only have time to walk around one, then choose the Oxford Botanic Garden. It’s located right behind the main university walls, and it will provide a relaxing reprieve from the cobbled streets that you’ve been walking around for hours.
It goes without saying that Oxford is home to many fine eateries that will leave you salivating for days on end. Whether you’re after a fine-dining experience, or just want a quick and simple bite to eat, there’s everything for you here.
You can’t really come to Oxford for more than a day and not have something to eat at The Randolph. What will you munch on? Well, traditionalists will say there’s only one option; high tea. Enjoy some fantastic scones and some quintessential British tea in a famous setting.
There are loads of great pubs here that really feel like proper old-school English pubs. The Eagle and Child is perhaps the most iconic – with many famous novelists gracing the stools with their presence. It’s the perfect place to go for an afternoon drink, and they do some lovely pub grub as well
These are perhaps two places you should absolutely visit without question if you want something to eat and drink during your visit. However, there are also a whole host of other restaurants and cafe’s to choose from as well. This includes commercial chains like Carluccios and Cafe Rouge, along with more local businesses like The Rickety Press, Cafe From Crisis, The Rusty Bicycle, and The Oxford Kitchen.
If you want something very quick to eat, then you will find no shortage of takeaways here either. However, there are two main places we recommend; Pieminister and Jimbob’s Baguettes. Both of these are local businesses, and they have a range of delicious takeaway treats that you can eat as you walk around the city.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that Oxford is one of the best British cities when it comes to shopping. If you’re looking to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, then there are so many options available for you. The nearby Bicester Village is a must-visit place if you’re a fan of high-end brands and more well-known shops. You could easily spend the whole day there shopping until your bank balance is no more!
There’s also Queen Street, Westgate Shopping Centre, and Cornmarket Street that are all full of both local and more widely known places to shop.
But, if there’s one place you should definitely go, it’s the legendary Covered Market. This is hands down the best shopping area for tourists coming to Oxford. You will find so many local businesses here that you can support by purchasing handmade souvenirs and unique goods that you won’t find anywhere else.
Getting around Oxford is pleasantly comfortable compared to other cities in the country. It’s easily accessible by train, and there are regular services direct to London Paddington, Birmingham New Street, and Reading. This means you can get here from pretty much any major city in the UK with a maximum of one train change.
In the city itself, you’re probably best off walking or renting a bike. Much of the joy of Oxford is seeing the city and marvelling at the amazing architecture and gardens, etc. So, driving around everywhere would just ruin the experience!
Alternatively, there is a local bus service and plenty of taxis to help you get around if you’re lost or looking to travel quite far.
The city of Oxford is unlike any other place you’ve been before. It combines old-school traditional vibes with a mixture of diversity and modern culture. There are loads of great attractions to look out for, plenty of fantastic places to eat and drink, and some wonderful shops as well. If you’re planning on visiting this city, then we hope this guide has helped you out!
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