Oxford, England

Oxford, England

Where to stay: There are some really amazing Airbnb hosts in Oxford, and I would definitely recommend checking one out.  As far as I’m aware, there’s only one hostel in the city, but it doesn’t have a very good rating on hostelworld.com, so I avoided it by going with Airbnb.  Fortunately, Oxford isn’t a huge city, and there’s a great bus system, so even if your Airbnb room isn’t in the city centre, you’ll still be able to either walk there or take the bus when it’s raining.  Some Airbnbs in Oxford even offer the use of a bicycle, so if you’re provided with that option, I’d definitely take it- Oxford is a very bike-able city!  Just watch out for cyclists if you’re walking around the city, they were described to me as “silent assassins”, and I whole-heartedly agree- they will not stop for you if you get in their way, and you probably won’t be able to hear them coming!

Where to eat: ​As with most other English cities, there are some great pubs in Oxford to check out.  If you’re looking for a famous pub, try the Turf Tavern, located down an alley just by the Bridge of Sighs.  There are a ton of rumors and historical scuttlebutt associated with this pub, and they serve great beers/ciders and pub food!  Additionally, within the university, there’s a great little café/restaurant called The Vaults and Garden which is a great place to grab lunch or tea while touring or exploring the university buildings.  There are also some great artisan cafés located around the city, especially near the college, so on a rainy day stop in one to get a cappuccino or tea!

What to do: ​The biggest and most well-known attractions in Oxford all have to do with the university, and rightly so!  I would first recommend walking around the old part of the city in which the university is centered to just admire the beautiful architecture.  The buildings in the city are absolutely spectacular, and they’re worth some time.  If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there are a few other things that you’ll want to check out as well.  Head over to the Bodleian Library early in the morning to sign up for a tour.  There’s only a limited amount of spaces on these tours, and they regularly sell out!  This will allow you to go into the Divinity School (where the hospital wing and other Harry Potter scenes were filmed), as well as the Duke Humphrey’s Library, where the restricted section scenes from Harry Potter were filmed.  Even if you aren’t interested in the Harry Potter films, I would recommend taking this tour, as it will teach you a TON about the history and inner workings of the library system at Oxford (which is seriously impressive), and it will give you an inside look into one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen.  After you sign up for that tour, you may have some time before your tour actually starts, so check out one of the free walking tours that leave from Broad Street.  I took the Footprints 2-Hour Free Walking Tour, and thought that it was definitely worth the time.  The guide was super informative, and I was able to get a much better idea of the history of the city.  Also be sure to check out some of the other colleges in the city because they’re all super beautiful.  The cloisters in New College were also used in some of the Harry Potter films!

Overall Opinion: Oxford is one of my favorite cities in England- I absolutely love the history of the city and university, as well as the architecture of the buildings.  You can easily spend a couple of days in Oxford exploring the city and university, and enjoying the truly unique atmosphere that the city offers.  Make sure to spend some time wandering through the buildings, grabbing an afternoon tea, and having a pint in a traditional pub to thoroughly enjoy the “Oxford experience”!  Also remember, if you’re a university student in the United Kingdom, especially if your school is in the Russell Group, you’ll be able to gain access to all of the resources in the Bodleian Library.  It’s a fairly easy process, so if you think it’s something that you’ll be able to use, I highly recommend checking it out!

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