In and out of Oxford

Home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Oxford is well worth the visit if you find yourself in the UK.

If you are visiting from London, as we were, one of the easiest ways to get there is to jump on the train. Just a bit over an hour away, you’ll arrive within walking distance from the centre of town.

So what to do when you get there? We were blessed with blazing sunshine which made for a perfect day to go punting on the river. There are two options when it comes to the traditional Oxford punt: choose to have a crack at it yourself, or sit back and soak up the scenery while one of the experts does it for you. We went for option B and I can wholeheartedly recommend you do the same. Before you go, grab a bottle of prosecco and some cups, and then head down to Magdalen Bridge Boathouse – you can also purchase boater hats if you want to look the part. The punting route takes you behind some of the university’s 30 colleges, with no shortage of stunning scenery. Pop open your wine, and sit back and relax as you watch those who chose option A struggle with their poles – you can rest assured they are not having the same enjoyable experience you are.

Attended by many of the world’s leaders, writers, and artists, Oxford University’s colleges are famous in themselves. So, which ones should you visit? Christ Church College is known as the ‘Harry Potter College’, as it contains the Great Dining Hall which inspired the set for the Hogwarts Great Hall. Scenes from the film series were shot here too. Lewis Carroll’s real-life inspiration for Alice in Wonderland lived here too, as her father was the Dean.

Lincoln College was where Dr Seuss earned his education, and it has a particularly pretty front quadrangle. Magdalen College, attended by CS Lewis, Oscar Wilde and J. Paul Getty, is considered to be the most beautiful. For something different, New College has distinctive architecture that looks more like a castle, with famous alumni including Hugh Grant and Virginia Woolf.

For a panoramic view of Oxford, Carfax Tower overlooks what has been a crossroad for 1000 years. It’s the only surviving part of the medieval St Martin’s Church, and is a great place to visit (especially if you can climb the 99 steps to the top).

If you want a great view without all the effort, head to The Varsity Club, or TVC as it’s called. Spanning four floors, TVC offers everything from eating and drinking to partying. We opted for the rooftop, the perfect spot to soak up the sun and the scenery, and enjoyed a delicious mezze board accompanied by a bottle of rosé .

If you’ve got the time and wish to stay the night, it’s worth looking into the university’s accommodation, as you can stay in the dorms when students are away.

Have you been to Oxford? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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Written by SJ

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