Oxford is located in the southeast region of England with a small population of 160,000 people (give or take a few). The city is known for being home to one the most prestigious and longest running universities – University of Oxford. But the city has other diverse industries too, such as car manufacturing and other science-technology based businesses.
With all the beautiful architecture, Oxford is an interesting city wander through. There are plenty of sights, pubs, libraries, parks, and even a meadow to relax in and have a picnic. The best way to take in the history of Oxford is to go on a guided walking tour. This is truly a unique city with a long history of famous people and old traditions and you’ll want to hear all about them first hand. Plus there are so many types of tours you could take: literary tours (JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis), a tour of gargoyles, a medieval tour, or a Harry Potter tour (where filming took place).
Places to Visit in Oxford
- The Ashmolean Museum
- Hertford Bridge
- Oxford Colleges, Exeter in particular!
- Sheldonian Theatre
- Oxford Castle
- Oxford Town Hall
Unique Things to See and Do in Oxford
- Enjoy a pint in the Eagle and Child pub where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien sat
- Watch the university boat races
- Listen to a public university talk at Oxford
- Explore the bookshelves of the Bodleian Library – one of the oldest libraries in Europe
- Savour high tea at The Macdonald Randolph Hotel
- Stroll through Oxford Botanic Garden
- Hire a punt for cruise along the Oxford waterways
Oxford, Museums and Pubs – How Perfect!
Oxfordshire (the region) was founded in the 8th century and became a city by 1542. The founding date of The University of Oxford is unknown, but the earliest record of teaching began all the way back in the year 1096. A little tidbit for those who are not familiar with Oxford, it is a collegiate university with 38 colleges all running independently under the umbrella of the University of Oxford. All colleges are self-governing and control who is admitted. Even with the separation of colleges, they all maintain high levels of scholastic achievements and honour the older traditions. For example, academic dress is strictly adhered to and is required for events such as examinations, hearings, and ceremonies.
In addition to lecture halls, Oxford maintains several museums and galleries which are free to the public. The oldest one is the Ashmolean Museum, founded in 1683, which houses some important artworks by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Picasso. Other museums well worth the visit are: The University Museum of Natural History, The Pitt Rivers Museum, and The Museum of the History of Science.
Cafes, restaurants, and pubs have their own claim fame with quite an extensive “Oxfordian” history. Of course, historic pubs are common throughout England, but those that are able to boast that C.S. Lewis wrote sections of “Chronicles of Narnia” in “that particular chair” gives more meaning to the clatter of beer mugs. Here’s a couple to check out: Kin’s Arms, Lam & Flag, Eagle and Child, The Turf Tavern (13th pub in a narrow alley off of Holywell Street), and The Bear.
Another popular spot, especially in the summer time, is The Trout Inn – with a picturesque riverside location, outdoor seating and peacocks wandering around – it makes for a perfect afternoon spot to relax.
Getting Around Oxford
Oxford centre is fairly compact and is easy to walk around. Having so many visitors and new students each year, the city has really catered to tourists by providing well-marked signposts to make it easy to get around.
There are plenty bikes on the roads in and around Oxford so watch out when crossing the streets, and if you prefer to tour by cycle it’s a great way to get around quickly, and there are tons of bicycle lockups available.
Did you know…?
There are gargoyles that stare you down as you walk around Oxford. Make sure you look up and spot ill-behaved ones!
Did you ALSO know…?
It wasn’t until 1878 that women were first admitted into the colleges, but it took till 1974 before all colleges opened their doors to women.
Driving in Oxford is doable but not the best way to get around and see the sights. The streets are narrow with tons of restrictions, there’s little parking in areas, or it’s really expensive. If you do need a car, park it while you’re in Oxford and take public transit. Taxis are great for short jaunts and are easily accessible, but can be pricey.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Oxford
Summers are definitely a great time of year to visit. The weather is warm which draws in more travellers and all the parks and waterways fill up with people. In the summer months, the temperature ranges from a low of 7˚C to a high of 22˚C. During the height of the summer months, the streets can feel a bit bare comparatively to when the university is in session. By August, the student population is returning and all the hot spots become a buzz of activity.
If you go around May and June the atmosphere is lively with all the students finishing their final exams and making the mass exodus. The temperatures in Oxford are pretty mild, with the possibility of showers at any time of year but manageable.
And of course, Oxford is unbelievably picturesque in the winter months and around Christmas, but by January and February the weather is pretty grey and dismal.
Ready to plan your visit to Oxford? Check out these popular guides and trips.