Destination Friday: Oxford

March 7, 2008 at 9:38 am 2 comments

Destination Friday continues the UK series (not too much longer – I swear!) in Oxford this week.  I loved visiting Oxford.  As the oldest university city in England, the place is beautiful and steeped in history.

Images from Wiki and WikiTravel.

Getting There
Again, this is an easy day trip from London.  If you have time, I’d recommend spending a whole day here.  You can come on your own via train or coach. 

Train: First Great Western has a lot of options from London’s Paddington Station (from £8 rt, single tickets are cheaper than returns).  Virgin can also get you there from Paddington (from £8 rt, single tickets are cheaper than returns).  Book well in advance for the cheaper fares.

Coach: The Oxford Express from London’s Victoria Coach Station is a good option (£15 rt).  The Oxford Tube even offers WiFi along the way (£15 rt).  MegaBus is a cheaper option (from £2 rt).  The buses will usually take longer than trains due to traffic, particularly during rush hours.

Tours: There are several tour companies offering trips to Oxford along with other stops.  Premium Tours has two options: Stonehenge/Windsor/Oxford and Warwick/Stratford/Oxford/Cotswalds.  Evan Evans has the same two combinations plus another – Oxford/Cambridge.

What to See/Do 
You really ought to get a guide for a walking tour of the college (options: Oxford Guild of Guides, Blackwell’s (check with store for tours and times), or download something from TouristTracks).  You’ll want to make sure you don’t miss anything and that you hear the history of the place.

Ideally, you’ll want to visit at least one museum, one college, and hopefully hear one of the college chapel choirs.

The Bodleian Library, which opened in 1602, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and second in size in the UK to London’s British Library.  You’ll probably have to view Radcliffe Camera, the reading room, from outside, but definitely check it out.

The Sheldonian Theatre was Sir Christopher Wren’s first major architectural commission.  Be sure to check out the busts outside the theatre.

The tower in University Church of St Mary the Virgin has some of the best views of the town.

The Ashmolean Museum, founded in 1683, is Britain’s oldest public museum.  Fans of Egyptian art and artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome will like this one.

Dinosaur bone fans will prefer the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  Those wanting to view shrunken heads should check out the Pitt Rivers Museum.  The Museum of Oxford provides information about the city and university.  Modern Art Oxford displays temporary exhibitions of art and photography. 

Christ Church is the most famous college.  It was founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolesly and is best known for associations with Lewis Carroll and Brideshead Revisited.  Oh – and Harry Potter of course!

Harry Potter fans will also love seeing Duke Humfrey’s Library, the Divinity School, etc.  If you’re traveling with an especially big fan, you might want to check into a special Harry Potter tour.  LondonTaxiTour has an option including time in Oxford.  British Tours has a couple of options as well.

Don’t forget that no trip to Oxford is complete without a trip to Blackwell’s Books.  Founded in 1879, this 10,000 square foot store claims to be the largest book store in Europe.

Where to Eat
Wiki Travel has a good list here.  Check that out to see what’s in your price range and might be to your liking.  Don’t forget about the pubs!

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Entry filed under: CenturyClub, Destinations, Europe, UK.

Grand Canyon flooding Take me to Australia!

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