The Golden City might be a sightseeing place in itself, but there is loads more treasures than just the attractive outside! Here is some of the places I always show people coming to visit me:
The colleges – As many wrongly think, Oxford University is not just one big college, but actually 38 individual colleges! The oldest colleges date back to the 1500’s and most of them still look the exact same way as they did back in the good, old days! Many of them have a great story, and those you can explore by visiting the colleges on your own. Many of them are open for visitors – some for free, some not. I recommend visiting New College, Christ Church, and Magdalen College. All used in the Harry Potter movies – if that can help you imagine how stunning they are.
The University Parks – Talking about the colleges, every college has their own park. Most of them only for use by the students, but some are open for visitors as well. Here the University Parks, which is a massive green whereon a lot of thing are going on, always! During the summer, a theatre group performs Shakespeare plays, just to mention one thing! Another place to go, is the Christ Church Meadow! During summer, this is filled with the most beautiful flowers (see above) and is the most photographed place in Oxford followed by the Bridge of Sights! Last, but not least, there is the Botanical Garden of Oxford, which has the most beautiful flowers from all over the world!
River punting – A must-do in when visiting Oxford is to go “Punting”; Going on a little boat, which are moved around by putting a long pole in the water. You can do this several places around the city, but I recommend going by the Magdalen Bridge Boat house. Herefrom you get to punt around the just-mentioned Botanical Garden!
The Covered Marked – Right in the centre of Oxford you will find a covered market with stores from everything from a confectioner to a leather shoe shop!
Head of the River – Old, nice place just by the river side! During the summer, the place it filled with colourful flowers that really give the place a nice touch and adds to the brilliant atmosphere!
The Turf Tavern – A historic pub, well-hidden in a little lane. It date back the the late 1300’s and has loads of special beers for you to try! Great, but small place, so make sure to come early if you would like a good table!
St. Aldates Tavern – Another great pub! As the two pubs above they have a lot of great beer, but this one has something special that no other pub in Oxford has! A door to Narnia! It has been locked the times I have been there though, so I can not tell you what is behind it, but it is definitely a funny thing to see doing your pub crawl!
The Varsity Club – Not really a pub, but more of a lounge, but still a place I would definitely recommend! It is a bit (read “a lot”) more expensive than the pubs named above, but go to the top floor and I am sure you find it worth paying for one drink. Because from the top floor you have an stunning view upon the Oxford University spires!
I have been to a lot of brilliant food places in Oxford, and still have a lot of places I still have not ticked off my list yet. Hence this, this is not the final list, and I will make sure to make a more covering list for you once I have made it thought my must-try-places list.
Swan and Castle – On the old Oxford Castle premises, lays this brilliant old pub. Locals from all over Oxford come here to gather around pints of beer or to have a nice bite of food. Do not be fooled by the cheap prices, the food here is proper pub food and absolutely amazing!
Queens Lane Coffee House – This 350-year-old shop lays between the most beautiful university buildings and has the all the best things a coffee house can offer. Nice coffee, good tea, and brilliant comfort food!
Art Cafe –I have been here so often that they ask if I want the “Regular”; a hummus and falafel sandwich, and a super fruit smoothie! I absolutely love this place! Go there!
The Organic Deli – As the name hints, everything in this shop is organic! They sell everything from organic sparkling rhubarb and strawberry cider to organic veggie lasagne! Definitely worth a visit!
The Missing Bean – One of the students’ favourite. It is a bit more expensive than Art Café and the Organic Deli, but that do not stop the students queuing to get a table in this little, but nice café with a great atmosphere!
Vault and Gardens – One of my favourite places for an afternoon tea during summertime! It is located in a church room from 1320 and from the garden there is a wonderful view to the Radcliffe Camera and several of the old colleges!
Enjoy the Golden City!