A city like no other! With its compact size you can experience most of it in a day, but there is enough to keep you excited if you want to stay for longer! So many beautiful places can be discovered behind closed doors, no wonder it inspired famous writers to feature just that (Alice in Wonderland and Narnia were both conceived partly in Oxford).
University and Colleges
Instead of primarily studying at a university, each student is assigned to a “College” – think Harry Potter Houses, but over 40 of them! While the university is responsible for the examinations, the colleges cover both tutorials and student life. Hence, each college has a library, a hall for dinners, and often a bar as well! Colleges are thigh knit communities, some more famous, older, or bigger than others, but each with a vibrant character! While they are usually closed to the public in the evening, you can often visit them during the day for free. Just nicely ask the porters and you might be able to have a stroll through the college grounds.
Some of my favourites colleges are:
- Christ Church: have a walk through Christ Church Meadows (free!) along the Thames and watch the rowers practice! The queues into the college itself might be long, but it is really worth it — check the opening times! The architecture is second to none, no wonder parts of Harry Potter were filmed here! The hall even served as an inspiration to the Great Hall!
- Keble: extraordinary architecture, very grand hall!
- Worcester: underdog, but definitely one of my favourites! It features stunning greenery and even a lake for a relaxing stroll!
- St Peter’s: very very central, cosy, with a beautiful church (disclaimer: College of yours truly)
There are so many beautiful colleges scattered throughout the city, just have a peek inside wherever you can!
Have a wander through the city, go shopping (the Westgate shopping centre even has a Uniqlo and a beautiful roof top), maybe have a coffee at Society. Make sure to take a wander down the High Street featuring some old colleges and the Sheldonian Theatre, the Radcliffe Camera, and the Bodleian Libraries (tours are available for the latter). Check the opening hours of the lovely Covered Market and treat yourself to Ben’s Cookies or a Moo Moo’s milkshake. For dinner, I can recommend Mowgli (on top of the Westgate) for authentic Indian food.
The area in the north is home to some of Oxford’s finests establishments! Enjoy the art at Ashmolean museum, as well as food at its rooftop cafe. For lunch, catch the I am Japanese van in front of the Maths building for some delightful ramen, salads, and rice dishes. Coffee and tray bakes are best consumed at Taylor (an Oxford original with a few stores throughout the city). An absolute highlight is the Freud Bar, located in an old church that serves quite delightful cocktails. There is no better way to end a day in Oxford!
Bits and Bobs
- To the east you find Cowley, a fun and diverse neighbourhood with lots of vintage shops and Big Society, a great pub.
- The Bear Inn is a cosy pub in the city centre – make sure to glance at the ceiling full of school and college ties!
- A few days a week you can find a market in Gloucester Green, featuring both food and second hand goods.
- For delicious ice cream make sure to visit G&Ds, they are even open late!
- The Breakfast Club can also be found on top of the Westgate!
- If you want a stunning view, climb the stairs of St Mary’s Church (University College) if the weather is good.
- If you want to purchase some university stash, you can distinguish official merchandise from knock offs by taking a careful look at the phrasing. Official merch features “University of Oxford”, while its cheaper counterparts have “Oxford University” written on it.