There are some cities that need no introduction – centuries of history and tradition means they’re instantly known all around the world. Oxford is one of those cities.
There is so much to see and do here, and in the rolling green hills of the surrounding county. Your best bet is to set up base at the Travelodge Oxford Wheatley Hotel, or the Travelodge Oxford Peartree Hotel, then plan an itinerary that takes in as many of the sights as possible.
Oxford is arguably most famous for its iconic University – the oldest in the English-speaking world – but it’s also the birthplace of the fantastical Alice in Wonderland tales.
Lewis Carroll (real name, Charles Dodgson) was actually an Oxford professor, and Alice the real-life daughter of his Dean. Carroll often wove reality and fantasy together; a grocery store where Alice used to buy sweets appeared in Through the Looking Glass. Today it still stands as a must-see tourist and souvenir store, known simply as ‘Alice’s Shop’.
Impress younger visitors with a guided tour of Christ Church College’s stunning Tudor dining hall – the inspiration for Hogwarts’ famous Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies.
These are just two of the dozens of walking tours you can join, which uncover every nook and cranny of Oxford, from medieval beginnings, to its rich history of magic and mystery.
Oxford is fascinating from the ground, but magical from above. To truly admire the famous ‘Dreaming Spires’ you need to elevate yourself. There are several towers dotted around the city that you can climb for a vantage point. For the cost of a few pounds, you’ll get a view that’s simply priceless.
If you’re travelling with little ones, you’ll know there’s only so much sightseeing they’ll tolerate before putting their little feet down. Keep them happy with a visit to the Barefoot Books Oxford Studio. While you enjoy a bite to eat in the Storyteller’s Café, your children will be enthralled by face painting, crafts, puppetry and dance classes.
And if you feel like venturing a little further afield, don’t miss a visit to the stunning Blenheim Palace. The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, the palace houses one of the finest art collections in Europe. Its intricate Baroque architecture has seen it recognised as a World Heritage Site, and it is truly an unforgettable attraction.
Of course no visit to Oxford would be complete without a punting trip. Rental will set you back around £15-£20 an hour, and choose to navigate the gentle waterways yourself, or pay a bit extra to hire a ‘chauffeur’. Some companies will even provide you with a picnic lunch, so you can spend the whole day meandering down the river. Is there a more quintessentially English way to spend a summer’s afternoon?
Oxford is a city where centuries of history blend seamlessly with contemporary life, making it an exciting and fascinating destination for the entire family.
Five fab things to do in Oxford
• Visit the historical Oxford Covered Market. Dating back to the 1770’s, today you’ll find everything from bakers and grocers, to flowers and fashion.
• Hire a bike and cycle the cobbled streets. Admire the beautiful architecture, and the towering spires, and see if you can find Oxford’s very own ‘Bridge of Sighs’.
• Take a step back in time at Oxford Castle Unlocked and explore the salacious history of this prison, which held criminals, traitors and murderers from 1071, right up until the 1990’s.
• Take a trip to Bicester Village where you’ll find dozens of designer outlet stores, and unbelievable bargains from labels such as Cath Kidston, Gucci, Diesel and Jimmy Choo.
• There’s fun for the whole family at the Hinskey Heated Outdoor Pool. A popular local attraction since 1934, the pool is open between 2 May, and 28 September, and also includes a café and grassed area.