This guest post was written by Char Taylor.
Oxford has been a firm favourite with visitors for many years, so find out why you should visit too with these favourite spots.
A visit to Oxford is a must for anyone visiting England. It’s brimming with possibilities; from sprawling Harry Potter-eske colleges and historical architecture to secret passageways that lead to well-loved pubs and cute cafes. The shopping isn’t too bad either and there’s also the opportunity to go punting down the river if you’re looking for something a little more unique.
So, where to start? Plan your visit with my favourite spots in this beautiful city; the city of dreaming spires.
Punting has been loved in Oxford since the Victorian times. It’s similar to a gondola ride in Venice, except you do the ‘punting’. Most tourists opt to go punting at Magdalen Bridge Boathouse because it’s pretty central. However, if you want to visit like a local head to Cherwell Boathouse. Punts can be hired by the hour or day, and you can even pre-book a picnic to take with you. As well as the opportunity to punt, you can visit their onsite restaurant. It was voted Wine List of the Year 2014. Just drink the wine after you’ve been punting, otherwise you might end up falling in!
The Grand Café
This famous café is on the main high street in the city centre. You can’t miss its beautiful blue façade and big chandeliers. It’s actually the site of the oldest coffee house in England, but it serves more than just good cups of coffee. You can visit for breakfast, lunch and in the evening it becomes a favourite spot for glamorous cocktails.
Oxford is made up of distinctive neighbourhoods, all unique and special in their own way. Make sure you spend a few hours in Jericho. It’s about a twenty-minute walk from the main shopping street (Cornmarket Street) in the city centre or you could hop on a bike and be there in five/ten minutes.
Little Clarendon Street is a narrow street decorated with pretty lights and charming boutiques, cafes and bars. At the bottom of this street turn right to head into the heart of Jericho. It has such a lovely atmosphere, so it’s the perfect area for a lazy mooch about. Head into the Duke of Cambridge for a drink or light bite, and into Raoul’s for some of the country’s best cocktails. If you’re visiting in the evening make sure you pop into FREUD for a drink in this former church.
Oxford is filled with beautiful architecture that will make you swoon in the blink of an eye. There’s the Town Hall on St. Aldate’s, numerous colleges including must-see Christ Church, but a firm favourite and triple whammy is an area known as Radcliffe Square.
Here you can visit the Bodleian Library. Make sure you visit inside The Divinity School (one of the rooms) and look up to the ceiling. It’s decorated with various crests and carvings, and it’s stunning. In this same area of Oxford you can also see the impressive Radcliffe Camera (a beautiful domed building) and the nearby Sheldonian Theatre. The theatre is a Grade I listed building and is often used for graduations. Even if you don’t go inside it you’ll be impressed. Look out for the stone heads!
The Covered Market is a firm favourite with both visitors and locals. You’ll find over fifty independent shops to explore, selling everything from flowers, clothes, a big variety of food and lots more. It first officially opened as a market in 1774 and just oozes charm. Make sure you have your walking shoes on and a purse full of cash to burn!
If you want to discover more of the city’s gems, team up with a local for the best insider knowledge. This list is only a smidgen of what this fantastic place has to offer. There are lots of gigs, concerts and events on every week so no matter how many times you visit there is bound to be something new to see and do. So, what are you waiting for? Visit Oxford!
Showaround: Thank you, Char, for sharing your local insights and favourite spots with us.