Oxford is one of England’s most popular tourist destinations. It is also one of England's oldest centers for learning and it has served as either home or inspiration to several famous authors, such Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien.
The city is renowned for its elegant architecture and so called “dreaming spires”, which recently also served as one of the settings for the Harry Potter films.
Among the city’s numerous landmarks are the famous Ashmolean Museum and the colleges of Oxford University. The city is relatively small and can be easily explored on foot, as most of its attractions are clustered in the core of the medieval town.
<a href="/flights/cheap-flights-to/london">London</a> is a major international hub and features several major airports, including <a href="/TravelGuides/AirportGuides/Heathrow-Airport-LHR-London-UK">Heathrow</a>, <a href="/TravelGuides/AirportGuides/Gatwick-Airport-LGW-London-UK">Gatwick</a>, and <a href="/TravelGuides/AirportGuides/Stansted-STN-London-UK">Stansted</a>.
You can also fly to <a href="/TravelGuides/AirportGuides/Elmdon-BHX-Birmingham-UK ">Birmingham</a>, which is well connected to Oxford via public transport. There are hourly trains to Oxford available from the airport’s own railway station. The trip takes approximately 1 hour.
You can reach Oxford from <a href="/flights/cheap-flights-to/london">London</a> via the M40 motorway. The journey takes from 50 to 90 minutes, depending on the traffic situation.
Oxford has probably had a market since the late ninth century when the town was fortified. Today, it is regarded as the oldest covered market in England, featuring various small shops, such as a chocolate shop, cake shop, fine butchers, hat shop, florists, and glassware, among others. The market is also home to numerous charming cafes.
Oxford, being a University city, is famous for having numerous antiquarian, specialist and other bookstores.
Oxford has numerous pubs in which to take a break from sightseeing Traditional pubs are the cornerstones of communities in England and Oxford has lots to choose from.
The most popular activity during the summer is punting, where a wooden boat is propelled around a river using a long pole. Punts are available for rent and there is a choice of being punted around or doing it yourself.
Oxford University, with its long-standing tradition that reaches back to the 12th century, is England’s oldest university and one of the most famous in the world. It is not laid out as a homogenous campus, but rather exists as a collection of independently founded colleges spread throughout the city. Each has its own unique history and administration, boasting stunning architecture and well manicured lawns. Some of the most interesting to visitors are the Christ Church College founded in 1524, Merton College, and the Bodleian Library.
This is the main research library of the University of Oxford. It was opened in 1602 and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It has many branches in several buildings across the city. One branch, the gothic Divinity School, features a magnificent vaulted ceiling and is open to the public. Otherwise, the library is accessible to members only. The library holds a copy of every book ever printed in Britain since 1610.
The Ashmolean Museum was Britain’s first official museum, founded in 1683. It houses an impressive collection of art and archaeology embracing 4,000 years of history. Artifacts include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and musical instruments taken from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome and on up to the 20th century.
Christchurch is one of the most renowned colleges in Oxford. It has an impressive collection of around 300 paintings and 2,000 drawings by such Italian masters, as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals and Hugo van der Goes.
Oxford is home to Britain’s oldest Botanical Garden, comprising of over 7,000 species of plants. The cultivation of plants has been going on here for four centuries and today the park boasts a biodiversity greater even than that of a tropical rainforest. The beautifully sculpted and ordered premises feature a walled garden, exotic greenhouses, herbaceous borders, as well as rock and water gardens.
Address: conjunction of St. Aldate's, Cornmarket Street, Queen Street and High Street
The tower, located in central Oxford is a remnant of the 13th century St. Martin's Church. There are 99 steps leading to the top of the 22 meter tower. From here a splendid view of central Oxford, and all its architectural beauty, can be seen.
The historic and popular Oxford City Royal Regatta is held on the Isis - a beautiful stretch of the River Thames. It is held over a 1,000m course on the Saturday and a 500m sprint on the Sunday. There are a number of events and several hundred competitors take part in the activities. These include British Rowing Events (Juniors, Novices, Seniors and Veterans) Adaptive Sculls and Mixed Crew Events.
Oxford May Day
Date: May 1 (annual)
Oxford May Day is all about centuries old traditions. It starts the evening before, on April 30 when parties are held all over the town, with some pubs staying open long over its usual license hours. At six in the morning the night festivities are calmed down and large crowds gather to hear the boys’ choir of Magdalen College sing “Hymnus Eucharisticus” from the top of their chapel tower at dawn.
The festival brings over 350 writers to the beautiful Christ Church College for a week of talks, debates and discussions. There are always some very distinguished guests and topics discussed cover a wide field. In addition, there are walking tours and creative writing workshops available.
Date: Mar - Apr (annual) Venue: various, including the Old Library and the Oxford Playhouse Web: http://oxfringe.com/
Oxfringe runs alongside the more famous Oxford Literary Festival. It comprises of over 150 events covering literary talks, concerts, theatre shows and exhibitions.
Date: May (annual)
This annual race is the biggest rowing event in the year. Each of Oxford’s 30+ colleges competes against the other so the end yields the coveted honor of being the best college rowing team.