Famous for its collection of colleges, Oxford, nicknamed the ‘city of dreaming spires’, is a pleasant collection of ancient buildings and lovely parks. Being a student town, it is has a lively atmosphere and can be easily explored on foot.
Oxford, as a university, is a bit of an anomaly, since it’s a collective term for a number of prestigious colleges that are loosely associated. Among the best known are Corpus Christi, Balliol, Christ Church, Jesus, Merton New College and Magdalen. Many of the buildings and quiet courtyards are over 500 years old and grant limited access to the public.
You might recognize Christ Church College if you’ve seen the Harry Potter movies, it’s one of many superb Gothic buildings in the city. There’s a good view from the Carfax tower, and the Saxon Tower of St Michael at the North Gate is also worth seeking out. The Ashmolean Museum gives a good insight into Oxford’s history, and the Bodleian Library, a Samuel Pepys creation, has an extensive collection.
The Museum of Modern Art houses a collection of 20th century works. Two other museums, the Oxford Story and the Museum of Oxford tell the history of the city and university. Oxford has plenty of quiet tranquil backwaters to relax in, including the River Thames bordering Port Meadow.
There is no shortage of famous pubs and inns, each with its own claim to fame; there are many good restaurants, and the city center market is also commendable. West of Oxford lie the Cotswolds, full of quaint villages and yellow stone houses. There are many historic buildings in Oxfordshire, including Blenheim Palace, the home of Winston Churchill, and Sulgrave Manor, the home of George Washington’s family.
The best way to reach Oxford is to catch one of the hourly trains out of Paddington Station in London. Conveniently, the Heathrow Express arrives from the airport at Paddington Station. Alternatively, the A40 is a main highway from London, though it is sometimes congested.