I had wanted to visit Oxford for a while; I think since I first studied English at school. It has always appeared as a fascinating place to me. And it is indeed. I spent twice one day in Oxford when I was living in England back in 2006. To summarise how I felt: if you have clichés in mind about Oxford, they’re probably true.
Oxford is very famous for its universities, the most ancient ones in England. They are incredible! I felt like being in a Harry Potter movie. I didn’t join one as I don’t think it existed back then, but there are tours organised to see the filming locations of the movie*.
Most of them are in or next to the town centre and very easy to get to.
However, I would highly recommend checking opening times and information before you go or at the tourist information when you arrived to avoid disappointment and wasting time! Indeed, it varies a lot from one institution to another and from one day to another! Some schools are opened to visitors but can exceptionally be closed for some events; some are free but for others, you have to pay (and price can be x5); sometimes you can only see the building, at times you can walk in the garden or visit the chapel…
Other activities I did in Oxford
Walks in the town centre
It is great to walk in Oxford: you can walk for a long time without going far away from the city centre, there is so much to see just by watching buildings around. Architecture in Oxford is impressive. You can also walk in the garden or along the Tames, or go on a walking tour to learn more about the city.
I enjoyed the tower of the cathedral. It is possible to climb to the top, and you have lovely views of the city!
This is the most ancient English museum with works by famous artists such as Raffaello, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, John Constable, Pablo Picasso… And for free! If you love art, you must not miss it!
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The museum is in a pretty building, in a gothic style and presents skeletons of dinosaurs and others stuffed animals.
Very surprising, the museum is a collection of objects from everywhere in the world.
I regretted not having spent a night in Oxford; I imagined the student city would be very animated and full of life.
Where is Oxford?
Oxford is on the Thames River, 80km from London; it takes less than 1 hour to get there by car if there is no traffic. It is also easy to reach by train or bus from different cities in England. If you come from overseas, there are direct buses from London airports.