It is always my aim to see more locations in the UK, there are so much history in this country and I definitely won’t ever see it all! After visiting Cambridge a couple of years ago, we have been meaning to visit Oxford for a long time. Luckily, the best option came along recently as we had to head to Oxford for one of Paul’s friends 30th birthdays. So we decided to make a trip of it and spend the weekend there.
As I knew we only had limited time, I did a bit of research into what I wanted to see and eventually whittled it down to the top 5 things to see in Oxford over the weekend. It was easy for us to get there – about 90 minute drive from London or there are a heap of train and bus options from all over the country. We wanted somewhere to stay near the city centre so decided to stay at the Oxford Osney Arms a guest house nearby. It was a great option – cute little rooms up in the eaves and it definitely did the job of giving us somewhere where we could walk to and from. Now, onto the sites!
1 Christ Church Cathedral and Meadow
Arguably one of the most famous places in Oxford, Christ Church is not only one of the colleges which makes up the University of Oxford (and was founded by Henry the 8th!), but also doubles as the Oxford Cathedral. It is stunning from the outside, with impressive architecture. You can also go inside and do a bit of a tour on most days, it was used for filming in some of the Harry Potter so as you would expect, it gets pretty busy!
Out the front of the college is Christ Church meadow which is a huge park that runs down by the river. You can have a good walk around in about half an hour and it gives you awesome views back across the meadow to the college. We had a good wander around here in the sunshine and I bet it would be awesome for a picnic in the summer!
2 Punting on the Isis
The part of the Thames which runs through Oxford is known as the Isis. And of course to rival Cambridge it is the centre of rowing and when we were walking round the meadow it was awesome to perch on a bench and see all the rowers streaming past. You can also punt on the tamer parts of the river, and even if you don’t do it, I recommend giving it a watch as it was hilarious to watch a lot of people struggle to stop hitting into each river bank. They also have some row boats and pedal boats which looked a lot easier to navigate!
3 Climbing the Carfax Tower
You can’t blame me here, I always like a good view! Carfax tower is in the centre of Oxford and allows you to climb up the 99 steps to peer over the rest of the city. It only cost about £3 to go up the very windy spiral stair case but it was worth it when we squeezed our way to the top. The Radcliffe square and church all looked beautiful from this view and it gives you a good sense of the area and what it was once like! Plus, you can do some people watching here too, looking at all the people streaming about and doing their shopping.
4 Radcliffe Square
This is the square you are probably thinking of when you picture Oxford – definitely the most picturesque bit of the city! It is surrounded by a heap of old buildings with the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe camera in the centre and then the St Marys Church at one end. It is a gorgeous square and the buildings are really lovely. You can go in some of them but as most of them are University buildings, they are sometimes closed for students but that doesn’t stop you have a good look from the outside!
Radcliffe Camera is probably the building I loved the most, round and imposing in the centre of the square and surrounded by cobblestones. It is actually a Uni library and I can just imagine how impressive it must be to go in there to do your study!
5 Bodleian Library
Finally, we all know that I love a good library! The Bodleian is the second biggest library in the UK and the main research library at Oxford. It is a huge building and you can wander in and around the courtyard and check out the different styles that you can see as it’s been built. Inside is also impressive, you can do a guided tour or hire a good old audio guide for under £5 and have a wander around by yourself.
Overall, we enjoyed Oxford! It definitely attracts a lot of tourists and on a Saturday with sunny skies, the tour groups were out on mass. I didn’t get that feel as much when we were in Cambridge, though we did go when it was colder. The buildings are really impressive in Oxford though but I still think Cambridge has more of a town feel, and somewhere that I can picture the history a bit better compared to Oxford which in some parts is very modern.
So I do think that Cambridge wins out in the battle, but only just. I would still recommend a visit to Oxford check out the things above. They also have a castle which I didn’t make it to, and Blenheim Palace nearby which is on our list as somewhere I really want to visit as soon as possible!
So there we are, Lake District and Oxford ticked off this year. I’m off to York soon too so I’m building up a few good trips this year. Let me know where else you think I should visit in the UK this year!
Have you been to Oxford? Who wins in the Oxford versus Cambridge battle?
Pin this for later!