Think of Oxford and you immediately conjure up an image of one of the world's leading universities, its able students and its magnificent, looming buildings. Oxford University has a collegiate system, where students not only reside, but attend seminars and meet with tutors. Mostly interlinked by quadrangles or courtyards, there are 38 colleges belonging to the learning institution. However, there is more to Oxford than its student body; the city houses many attractions, museums, shops, pubs and bars, to name but a few. A heterogeneous blend of old and new, Oxford is a short journey away from England's capital, London. Often referred to as the 'City of Dreaming Spires', due to its remarkable architecture, Oxford was historically a key Saxon town in the war against the Danes under Alfred the Great. Occasionally spurned for being pretentious and overly bookish, Oxford's community is nonetheless impressive for its achievements and archaic traditions.
Although not the only thing to do in Oxford, visiting the university's colleges is certainly worthwhile. The Great Hall at Christ Church College was reproduced in a studio as Hogwarts Hall in the Harry Potter films. Other locations, such as its staircases and cloisters, were also used in the filming of this world-famous movie. One of the most beautiful, and also the most visited, is Magdalen College. Its name, often mispronounced, is actually said 'Maudlin' and comes from one of Jesus's disciples, Mary Magdalene. The college counts among its alumni pre-eminent figures such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Oscar Wilde and Louis Theroux. Theatre productions are on regularly at the Oxford Playhouse and other attractions include going to the cinema, sampling the shopping and relaxing in the University Parks.
Attractions include the renowned Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera. The former was founded 400 years ago by Sir Thomas Bodley and houses over 9 million printed items. The Radcliffe Camera is arguably the most famous building in Oxford and has an iconic English Palladian style. The Ashmolean Museum re-opened in November 2009 after a £61 million development. 39 new galleries were opened, but the centre for art exhibitions and archaeological collections remains England's oldest museum. Other notable places of interest include the Museum of Oxford and the Museum of the History of Science.
Oxford lies about 60 miles north-west of London and therefore the capital city is easy to reach by train. The connection to London Paddington takes about 1 hour by train, but there are also regular coach services.
If you are thinking of driving to Oxford, remember that many streets are closed to traffic and parking spaces are few and far between. Visitors are encouraged to make use of the Park and Ride system, which has parking areas at Pear Tree, Water Eaton, Seacourt, Redbridge and Thornhill.
Among the traditional British restaurants, cafes and pubs, there are plenty of places to go for pie and chips, steak or, coffee and cake. However, if you're looking for something a bit different, Moo-Moos, in Oxford's historic covered market, is a milkshake bar that has almost every combination of flavours imaginable and is popular with students and residents alike.
Unsurprisingly, Oxford is noted for antiquarian and new books. You'll find Blackwell's Books on Broad Street is a veritable tourist attraction in itself. With a vast range of fiction and non-fiction, position yourself among Oxford's elite and bring back a pertinent souvenir from the city which inspired Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien!
Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons has one of the most reputable restaurants ...