Oxford is so much more than sandstone and Harry Potter dining halls (though you’ll see both of those too…)
Back when I was completing my undergraduate degree in journalism I had the privilege of heading to Oxford to study for the summer. Since my three weeks there many years ago I have wanted to return. Oxford has history around every corner, the colleges are beautiful and people from all over the world gather in the pubs (where incidentally the food is delicious). Here are some tips for visiting this city that’s just two hours from London by train.
You can’t visit Oxford without visiting at least a few of the colleges. The buildings are breathtaking, the gardens perfectly maintained (don’t step on the grass!) and at some colleges you really will feel like you’re in Harry Potter. Christ Church college is particularly popular for Harry Potter fans. You can walk up the steps where students were sorted into their houses and see the dining hall that served as inspiration for the recreated studio version in the Harry Potter films. It is also worth seeing the Divinity school, which you might recognise as the hospital wing from the earlier films.
If there’s one thing Oxford does well it is pubs.They are everywhere and the food will not disappoint. It’s often typical British fare: think pies and mushy peas, fish and chips or a Sunday roast. A favourite pub of mine is the King’s Arms for a delicious roast with Yorkshire pudding bathed in gravy. It’s also worth checking out the Eagle and Child, best known for being the pub of choice for CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. If you can find the Turf Tavern (it can be a windy path to get there), Aussies will enjoy seeing signs that pay tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke who set a Guinness world record for sculling a yard glass of ale in just 11 seconds. Impressive!
Some of the colleges rent out their rooms to tourists and if you’re able to it really is worth staying for a night or two. The rooms though basic will give you a real taste of what it’s like studying at one of the most respected universities in the world. You also can’t beat taking breakfast in “Hall”.
For a fun afternoon give punting or rowing a go. You can hire boats from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse and paddle along in the sun. Be wary, punting can be hard work, but it is great fun. If you’d prefer to just sit back and relax you can even hire a chauffeured boat complete with picnic basket.
Have you ever visited Oxford? What are some of your must see spots? Leave a comment below!