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"The city of dreaming spires."

Matthew Arnold

Just over an hour away from London is the beautiful city of Oxford. Famous for the second oldest university in the world and its ancient architect, most visitors squeeze in a day trip to experience the best of the old. Over the years it has maintained much of its old-school atmosphere in its buildings and way of life. Life in the city centre of Oxford was captured in these paintings by JMW Turner in 1810, and in 2015 David Fisher captured photographs of the same streets to demonstrate how it has remained, amazingly, unchanged.

Oxford is a place that is close to my heart. I spent my childhood and teenage years along these streets with my family and friends. And it never gets old. So, from an Oxford local to you, I've highlighted the best parts of the city to see.

Bodleian Libraries

The second oldest university in the world houses the largest academic library in the UK, and is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! Many famous scholars studied in its reading rooms, such as writers like Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

The university holds several different libraries, but the most interesting one is the oldest. The only way to gain access to see the libraries is via a guided tour (unless you're an Oxford uni student), which will show you around the original wooden structures, and leather bound pages, whilst light shines through the tall windows.

30, 60, and 90 minute guided tours are available in English. You can book online at the official website.

Radcliffe Camera

Named after a famous Oxford physician, Radcliffe Square perfectly holds the circular Radcliffe Camera. Upon his death in 1714, John Radcliffe left a hefty sum of £40,000 to build a library. Only members are allowed to enter but the classical building can be admired from outside, in the square.

Bridge of Sighs

Incorrectly said to be based on the Venetian bridge, on New College Lane, is the Bridge of Sighs. The bridge connects two parts of Hertford College. It’s real name is actually, simply Hertford Bridge.

This bridge is now a favourite spot of tourists, but even before Instagram, it regularly appeared in the TV program Inspector Morse, and has also starred in X Men First Class!

Christ Church

Made annoyingly famous by the Harry Potter movies, it now costs £18 (£16 online) to enter Christ Church. Once upon a time, it was free.

Legend has it, that the lands upon which the church was built, originally held the Saxon priory built by Frideswide, a Mercian Princess. In 1525, Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, dissolved the priory and founded Cardinal College in its place.

When Wolsey failed to negotiate an annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, he fell out with Henry and lost his government titles. In 1532 Henry VIII rescued the college and renamed it Henry VIII’s College. Years later, it became a Diocese (the group of churches that a bishop supervises) and was promoted to the status of cathedral. In 1545 Henry VIII combined it with the college and renamed it Christ Church.

In the Harry Potter stories, all meals and important announcements are held in the Great Hall. Inspired by the Great Hall in Christ Church, the film makers created the set with similar characteristics in the Warner Brother’s Studios. You won’t be able to see anything related to Harry Potter in Oxford’s Christ Church. If you want to see the Great Hall from the films, you’ll have to go to Warner Brother’s Studio in Watford near London.

Multimedia tours and guided tours are available, with more information on how to book on the website here.

If it’s a nice day, you can take a stroll around Christ Church Meadow which is next to Christ Church College. The meadow is a beautiful open space where you can stretch your legs along the rustic paths. For more information and a suggested route, check out this link.

Punting on the Thames

If you’re lucky enough to be in Oxford when the sun is shining, floating down the River Thames among the sweeping branches of the banks, is a great way to spend a couple of hours in true Oxford spirit.

From an hour to a full day, you can choose an option that suits your time schedule and budget. If you don’t fancy punting yourself, you can always opt for a chauffeured boat!

There are also various locations from which you can rent a punt.

Magdalen Bridge Boathouse is a good place to start. From here you can head south which will take you past the Botanical Gardens, and Christ Church College Meadows. Or if you punt north, you’ll pass Magdalen College and into the Oxford countryside. Either direction will be a great experience!


If you’re a book worm, you’ll love a visit to Blackwell’s. It’s not the prettiest bookshop in England, but it’s the first ever Blackwell’s bookstore. Founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, it’s now the largest academic and specialist bookseller in the UK with 18 branches.

This original branch contains thousands of books spread out on two floors to keep you browsing for hours!

The last time I was there, I overhead a senior shopper explain how the bookstore had expanded since he had worked there many years ago!

History Hit

If you’re looking for a historical hit during your time in Oxford, you can check out these museums:

  • Oxford Castle & Prison (from £15.50) - visit the medieval castle and prison exploring 1000 years of Oxford’s history

  • the Ashmolean Museum (free entry) - Oxford University’s museum of art and archaeology

  • Museum of Natural History (free entry) - Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History

  • Pit Rivers Museum (free entry) - Oxford University’s Museum of archaeological and anthropological collections


15 minutes away on the train, is Bicester Village, a shopping outlet made popular after visits from Victoria Beckham in the 90’s. Since then, this shopping outlet has had a make over, and has grown to accommodate bigger and better brand names over the years.

A trip to Bicester Village is a must for all shopping and designer brand fans! The site also has cafes and restaurants to keep up shopping-energy levels. You can easily spend an entire day there!


Whether you’re in Oxford for just a day, or a few days, there’s plenty to explore, and something for everyone! If you’ve visited, let me know your favourite places in Oxford!




You can easily visit Oxford without a guided tour. You’d save money, and have more flexibility with what and how long you’d like to see certain things. However, as mentioned above, with certain places you’ll have to book a guided tour to visit the interior of certain sites, such as the Bodleian Libraries.


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