Oxford is a city of ornate, gothic, and medieval architecture, as well as being one of the oldest seats of learning on the planet. The world-renowned University dominates the area, with its arches, quads, colleges, bridges, and towers creating the eye-catching character of this bustling city. It’s not just about expanding your grey matter, however, with covered markets, a modern shopping center and, of course, the flowing Cherwell and Isis where you can test out your punting prowess.
Things to see
The oldest of the Oxford colleges, University College was founded by William of Durham, who died in 1249, and even its New Building is over 170 years old. With famous alumni including Bill Clinton and Stephen Hawking, it’s been at the center of global affairs for centuries. If you want to visit its wisteria-filled gardens, you’ll need to arrange permission in advance. If you’re feeling bookish, the Bodleian Library holds over 11 million printed items, and, despite being in continual use since 1602, has kept up with the times to remain one of the world’s finest learning resources. After all that swotting up, you might need to clear your head with some fresh air – in which case a picnic on Christ Church Meadow, which borders the river, could be an ideal way of spending an afternoon. The herd of Longhorn cattle who call it home can find their own lunch…
Hotels in Oxford
As many visitors will be looking to escape into England’s past, some of the most popular Oxford hotels cater to this family-friendly rural ideal, with country manors and luxurious lodges doing a roaring trade. Able to hark back to a golden age, these upmarket, historic hotels are stocked with modern conveniences, from WiFi to flat-screen televisions, and all only a few minutes’ walk away from the city center. If you’re looking for a more romantic stay there are plenty cosy candle-lit spa options. Likewise a number of budget hotels and guesthouses are available, usually further from the colleges of Oxford.
Where to stay
Oxford is a compact city, so you’ll most likely be staying close to the center, although hotels in the heart of Oxford during summer months book up quickly. If you’re planning a family trip, you may want to look into the guesthouses and lodges within easy walking distance in the leafy, chiefly residential areas of the city. For a real slice of country living, you might decide you want to opt for one of the country house hotels in Iffley, which has a village feel and is possibly the quietest of the neighborhoods in Oxford, so ideal for romantic getaways.
How to get to
Most visitors to Oxford will arrive at Oxford Central Station, which is a 1 hour train ride from London’s Paddington, and within about 20 minutes’ walking distance from the city center. Regular buses run from London, with the Oxford Tube being the most popular, and a slightly cheaper alternative to the train. Once in Oxford, you’ll notice many people choose to get around by bike, with reasonably priced bike hire available. It’s not a city geared up for motorists, but the combination of its easy-to-walk size and the central location of most of its attractions means you won’t miss your wheels.