As a self-proclaimed part-time traveller, I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to venture far to discover new and exciting places.
So I’m rather ashamed to tell you that, despite growing up within 50 miles of one of England’s most historic and frequently visited cities, it took me until last summer – yes, my 28th year on this earth – to finally get out and explore the beautiful city of Oxford.
Tourists flock from all across the globe to get a glimpse of this world-famous university city, known for its medieval architecture and striking English charm. I had less than 12 hours to explore the sights but this was just enough time to take in some of the city’s main tourist attractions.
So without further ado, here’s 5 reasons why Oxford should be on your travel wish-list this summer…
Get a birds-eye view
There’s no better way to appreciate the beauty of a new city than seeing it from above. Start your day with some of the most impressive views of Oxford’s skyline and sweeping countryside from the top of University Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
A small £4 fee will grant you access to the church interior and up the long, winding staircase to the top of the 13th century tower, where you’ll be greeted with stunning panoramic views across the city. This is a great place to spot the city’s myriad of colleges, from above, and to appreciate the grandeur of Oxford’s iconic Radcliffe Camera.
Try your hand at punting
There’s nothing quite so quintessentially British as punting along a river in the summer-time. Throw in a glass of Pimms and you’ve got yourself the perfect summer treat.
Head straight to Magdalen Bridge Boathouse to hire yourself a punt (or a row-boat, if balance isn’t quite your thing) and grab some friends while you’re at it. The price is a little steep at £22 for an hour but it’s worth it, on a sunny day, to cruise past some of Oxford’s world-famous colleges and pretty English gardens.
Picnic in the Botanic Gardens
If all that punting has made you peckish, Oxford Botanic Garden makes for the perfect picnic stop. It might be the oldest botanical garden in the world but it’s certainly retained all of its old-world charm and beauty. With over 8,000 different plant species, it’s a beautiful spot for a summer-time wander and an oasis of calm within the buzzing tourist city.
Admission will set you back by £5 but your ticket grants you all-day access to the gardens, for you to come and go as you please.
Explore the colleges
You can’t come to Oxford and not peek inside at least one of its world-famous University colleges.
Christ Church is a favourite amongst tourists – not least because its dining hall provided the backdrop to Hogwarts in the beloved Harry Potter films. But be prepared to pay an extortionate admission fee in return for the privilege.
Many of the other colleges are free to visit (and just as beautiful). It’s a good idea to take one of the city’s free walking tours if you want to get a better feel for what’s on offer – Footprints Tours will expertly lead you around 13 of the city’s colleges and they even offer separate Harry Potter tours for the truly devout among you!
Relax with a drink (and a view)
Whenever I visit a new city, I’m always on the lookout for a rooftop bar and Oxford did not disappoint.
TVC The Varsity Club hits just the spot with its summery drinks menu and rooftop views across the city. Be prepared to queue as this is a popular hangout with tourists and locals – but it’s totally worth it for a seat in the sun and cocktail in hand, after a long day’s sightseeing .
Have you explored Oxford? What are your top-rated attractions? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below!