ADD TO LISTOxford is one of the leading university towns in the world and is also a rival to Cambridge within the United Kingdom. Located on the north bank of the Thames, Oxford has a university that was created in the 11th century and has graduated numerous people of historical importance.
Highlights within the university include Christ Church - the most famous of Oxford's colleges - having graduated thirteen British Prime Ministers to date. As well, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and the second largest library in the United Kingdom.
Travel Tips from people who've been to Oxford
The first thing you need to know is to go on a weekday because A. You won’t have a bunch of Chinese tourists to avoid and, B. the Covered Market and a lot of the shops will still be open.
1. The Original Ben’s Cookies: Possibly my favorite food place in all of Oxford. It’s in the Covered Market, which is open 9-5 M-F. If you ask someone where it is, they probably could direct you. They sell cookies by weight there. By weight! It usually costs around a pound twenty for a good sized cookie there, and they have a bunch of different original kinds. I usually got the double and nut – double chocolate chip with walnuts. Delicious.
2. The Radcliffe Camera/Bodleian Library: I still have a picture of this building on my desktop. It’s the most recognizable building in all of Oxford. You can take a tour of the Bod building, but unless you’re a student, you can’t get into the Camera. But if you take the tour, you can stand up on this balcony area and get a sweet view of the square. It’s a gorgeous, historic area.
3. Christchurch College: The attraction of this college is that the dining hall scenes in all the Harry Potter movies are filmed here (the library scenes are filmed in the Bod, but in a place tourists can’t go). It’s also a great representation of an Oxford college and it’s pretty awesome. It costs around 5 pounds I think for a non-student to tour it.
4. Magdalen College: This is where C.S. Lewis was a tutor. The chapel’s windows are black and white stained glass, which is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
5. University Parks: Gorgeous, gorgeous area. Take some bread and go feed the ducks here. It’s amazing. Also, you might randomly run into Thom Yorke here.
6. The Oxford Zodiac on Cowley Road (speaking of Thom Yorke…): Sadly enough, the club is closed for refurbishment until September, but if you can, go walk past it and relish in the fact that you are feet from where Radiohead filmed their video for “Creep.”
7. The Eagle and Child: Wonderful pub food, as well as being the place where the Inklings (Lewis, Tolkien, Williams and Sayer) would meet and discuss their stories. It’s a sweet little pub.
8. Kebab stands: At dusk, these vans come out of the woodwork, and sketchy Middle Eastern men sell meat and chips from the back of them. They’re licensed, so it’s safe, but it’s also sketchy as all get out. I think you would delight in the sketchiness of it all, so be sure to get some. But also beware, if you don’t specify, you’ll get mayonnaise all over your chips (fries) instead of the more traditional (for Americans) ketchup. My favorite one parks outside the Taylor Institute on St. Giles, just north of City Centre.
9. The Kilns: North Oxford – C.S. Lewis’ home. It doesn’t contain the actual wardrobe (that’s in Chicago), but it does contain his original desk and all sorts of cool stuff.
10. G&D’s Ice Cream: On St. Aldates (south of City Centre) there’s an awesome ice cream shoppe. It’s pretty fantastic.
11. Broad Street – There were a few martyrs in Oxford during the reformation, and there’s a small design in the street at the head of it, marking the spot where they were burned. It’s interesting to see how it’s a spot where a really important event happened and cars drive over it everyday.
12. Sheldonian Theatre: Gorgeous theatre near the Bod. I saw the archbishop of Canterbury speak here.
13. Blackwell’s Bookstore: Just down the street from the Sheldonian, Blackwell’s is an awesome bookstore that contains two levels of just regular book sales and the top floor has used books. It’s the place where Blackwell’s Publishing company started, and it is actually divided in the middle by a pub – the White Horse. It’s where part of the movie, “The Oxford Murders,” was filmed, while I was there. ☺ Also, it has a coffee shop in it.
14. Spend some time just wandering around in city centre and watching people. It’s really fun to sit on a bench with a sandwich and just watch students and tourists going to and fro and how they react to different things. Cornmarket street is the best place to people watch because there are buskers, and random crazy people. It’s awesome.
One of the most popular pastimes in Oxford is the sport of punting. A punt is a shallow boat that is propelled by a long stick manipulated by either yourself (or a rower of hire). There a several places along the river where you can rent boats and spend the afternoon on the water with a group of friends. It's an appropriate activity for a romantic date or rent several boats and go out with a large group. It's a fun way to spend a day in Oxford. Here are a few rental options:
Cherwell Boathouse - Open March through October (10 am to Dusk). "Chauffers" are available with a 2 week notice. £12 to £14 an hour or £60 to £70p all day
IPG Marine - Open April through October (11 am to 6 pm). £10 per hour.
Magdalen Bridge Boathouse - Open March through October (10 am to Dusk). £9 to £10 per hour.Other Contact: http://www.touristnetuk.com/wm/m
The Nosebag: Don't let the name scare you...
This great little restaurant in the heart of Oxford should not be missed. The food is cheap, and some of the best in the city. It's self-serve. The portions are healthy, the seating is plentiful and cozy and the price is more than right. Have a glass of Elderberry wine and dig in. Don't skip the dessert!
Favorite Dish: Did not have a bad meal there. It's my favorite plave to eat in Oxford.
Prices: less than US$10
Phone: 44 (0)1865 721033
Address: 6-8 St Michael's Street, OxfordWebsite: http://freespace.virgin.net/ian.hall2/nosebag/vaca
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