The 10 Best Things to do in Oxford

Oxford Dreaming Spires

What are the 10 Best Things to do in Oxford ?

Here’s our suggestions for the best 10 things to do: with its golden stone buildings, academic heritage and chocolate-box appeal, Oxford – the city of dreaming spires – has long been a hit with tourists from around the world. Follow our pick of some of the best things to do in this historic city.

Visit award-winning museums

The Pitt Rivers Museum houses the official archaeological and anthropological collections of the University of Oxford. This atmospheric building was established in 1884 and is now considered to be an excellent example of middle Victorian neo-Gothic architecture. With an emphasis on learning, the museum also includes a series of shrunken human heads, made famous in the Harry Potter film franchise.

Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is the oldest public museum in the world and the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. Its collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art; current exhibitions include America’s Cool Modernism, which includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper.

Those seeking something more contemporary should head to the Modern Art Oxford gallery.

Take a wander in Port Meadow

Oxford welcomes tourists all year round, so if the hustle and bustle becomes too much, escape to the vast expanse of Port Meadow in the northwest of the city. Running alongside the river Thames, this is a perfect spot for a gentle summer stroll or wintery walk. Those wishing to venture further afield can continue their walk south alongside the Thames, cutting through Christ Church meadow to Iffley Lock and beyond. Fortuitously, there are a number of excellent watering holes at regular points along the way, including The Perch and the Head of the River.

Go punting

See Oxford from a different perspective while floating leisurely along the river Cherwell. This activity is best accompanied by a glass of something cold and a picnic; just don’t forget to keep a keen eye on the many swans and geese that congregate along the river’s edge.

Explore the city’s music scene

Music has always been at the heart of Oxford, with Radiohead, Foals, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Supergrass and Ride just some of the bands emerging from this city. While white boys in indie bands tend to dominate, there’s plenty more artists to discover if you look. The Young Women’s Music Project is a space for young women to make music and learn new skills, whose gigs are well worth your time and support. A weekly folk session, open to all, takes place every Sunday evening at the Half Moon Irish pub on St Clement’s and is a wonderful night out. On a larger scale, the annual Cowley Road Carnival offers an eclectic mix of music free of charge and takes place on 1 July this year. Bass and beats lovers should check out The Cellar and the Bullingdon (no connection to the infamous Oxford members club) which host a range of DJs throughout the week, from jungle to techno.

Check out an Oxford college

The University of Oxford is composed of 38 colleges, most of which are open to visitors and many of which offer guided tours. With some of the world’s greatest minds attending this hallowed institution, wandering among the ancient buildings and cloisters is a fascinating glimpse into a world denied to most.

Relax in the Botanic Garden

Founded in 1621, the Oxford Botanic Garden is the UK’s oldest botanic garden. Home to over 6,000 different species of plant life, this is an ideal spot for the green fingered and those craving some rest and relaxation.

See the Radcliffe Camera

Oxford’s most recognisable building, this neoclassical wonder was built in the mid-18th century to house the Radcliffe Science Library. It remains part of the citywide Bodleian Libraries complex and its distinctive circular dome can be seen for miles around. The only way to see inside this great building is to book a tour of the Bodleian Libraries. This is time well spent and booking in advance is essential.

Grab a bite in the covered market

While Oxford certainly has its share of top-end eateries – The Oxford Kitchen, Gee’s and The Parsonage, to name a few – a more democratic dining experience can be found in the city’s Covered Market: a permanent selection of stalls and shops. Family butchers sit cheek by jowl with gelato outlets, vegetarian fare, pies, Thai food and traditional greasy spoons. Although the market closes at 5pm most days, foodies will be spoilt for choice.

Watch the sunset from South Park

For one of the best views of the dreaming spires, head to South Park in the east of the city, a beautiful green space with excellent panoramic views – the perfect place to watch the sun set.

Discover its literary heritage

JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Iris Murdoch and Philip Pullman are all acclaimed authors who have lived in or been inspired by this magical city. Tolkien and Lewis used to meet regularly at The Eagle and Child pub on St Giles, which capitalises on this historic association. As you might expect from such an established seat of learning, the city is full of bookshops. Some of the best include Blackwell’s store on Broad Street, which has four floors of reading material, the first ever Oxfam bookshop (also on St Giles) and the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Jericho, which holds a series of musical and literary events.

New Westgate Shopping centre in Oxford

New Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford

New Westgate Shopping centre in Oxford

From The Oxford Mail:
The opening of the Westgate led to a rise in footfall in Oxford city centre this year, new figures have revealed.

Westgate Shopping Centre - Oxford
Westgate Shopping Centre – Oxford

Footfall counters in Queen Street, Cornmarket and St George’s Place recorded a 3.1 per cent rise compared to the previous year to date.

During the week of the Westgate opening, October 23-29, some 929,260 visitors were recorded in the city centre.

The busiest day was Saturday October 28 with 160,027 visitors, approximately 10,000 more than an average Saturday.

The increase compares to an average year to date change percentage of +0.3 in the South East Region, and -0.8% for the UK as a whole.

New Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford
New Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford

Cornmarket Street was still recorded as the busiest location.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The latest footfall figures reflect a vibrant city centre whose retail offer has been greatly enhanced by the opening of Westgate Oxford.

“The confirmation of Cornmarket as the busiest location is encouraging as this means that business continues to be brisk in other parts of the city centre.”

The city council also reported that there are currently 20 empty units – or 6.4% – in retail areas of the city centre.

Mr Price continued: “There is still a high demand for retail space in the centre of Oxford and the migration of some of the existing retailers to the Westgate provides a great opportunity for other businesses to secure premises in the heart of the city, and this demand will continue to be monitored.

“The Council is working with the landlords of all the vacant units to discuss future leasing plans.”

Easy to get to

The new Centre is easy to get to from the Olive Tree Suite, a convenient bus ride into the town centre takes typically 10-15 minutes.

Westgate Centre Opening Hours

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The Best Cafés And Coffee Shops in Oxford

Oxford Dreaming Spires

Where to go for a Coffee in Oxford?

Oxford’s café culture is on the rise. From the coolest brunch hangouts to the weird and wonderful world of the board game café, here are some of the best places to eat and drink in this beautiful city.

Vaults and Garden

This central café has got it covered whatever the weather. If it’s raining, cosy up inside under the stunning vaulted ceilings of the University’s Old Congregation House with a hot chocolate; if the sun is shining head out into the garden, and enjoy your tea with incredible views of Radcliffe Camera. Vaults and Garden serves breakfast and lunch, as well as a good selection of cakes and scone, but it’s the little extras – like offering picnic blankets in the summer and hot water bottles in the winter – that makes this place so special.

Opening Hours
Mon – Sun :

8:30 am – 6:00 pm

The Missing Bean

If you’re after a really good cup of coffee in Oxford, make The Missing Bean your first call. This buzzy, independent espresso bar was inspired by the cool coffee shops of Sydney, and serves up great coffee in a laid-back atmosphere. The owners are serious about their coffee – they even have their own micro roaster just down the road, where they roast their own beans on a weekly basis.

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon – Fri :

8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat :

9:00 am – 6:30 pm
Sun :

10:00 am – 5:30 pm

The Grand Café

No trip to Oxford is complete without a visit to the historic Grand Café. Sat on the site of the first coffee house in England, this elegant, gilded café is the place to head for a sophisticated high tea. Work your way through the delicious finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and petit fours, alongside a pot of tea. Or, if you’re the glamorous surroundings have left you feeling particularly extravagant, treat yourself to a salted caramel éclair and an espresso martini.

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon – Sun :

9:00 am – 6:30 pm

The Handle Bar

The ultimate breakfast spot in Oxford has to be The Handle Bar. From the cool, Instagram-worthy interiors and the friendly atmosphere to the top-class coffee and delicious menu (how will you pick between the coconut pancake stack and the smashed avocado on toast with tomato and wild garlic?), this popular café is the perfect place to spend a lazy Saturday morning. There are plenty of veggie and vegan options on the menu too.

Opening Hours
Mon – Tue :

8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Wed – Fri :

8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sat :

9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun :

10:00 am – 6:00 pm

The Natural Bread Company

If the smell of freshly baked bread doesn’t draw you into the café, the display of tempting cakes and pastries will! The Natural Bread Company is an artisan bakery in the heart of Oxford, with a small café inside. Here you can sample first-hand the delicious freshly made produce; whether that’s sourdough toast with your Full English or an afternoon pot of tea with a slice of homemade orange polenta cake. And of course it would be rude not to stock up on some warm loaves and pastries at the shop before you leave…!

Opening Hours
Mon – Sat :

7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sun :

8:00 am – 4:00 pm

The Jericho Café

Tucked away in Oxford’s coolest neighbourhood, The Jericho Café is a friendly, bustling café serving great food from morning ‘till night. Although it’s just minutes from the city centre, The Jericho Café feels a world away from Oxford’s main tourist trail; something that only adds to its appeal. Using mainly local suppliers, the food and coffee is excellent and the award-winning all-day brunch is well worth halting an afternoon of sight-seeing for.

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon – Thu :

8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sat :

8:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sun :

9:00 am – 8:00 pm

Thirsty Meeples

Something of an Oxford institution, Thirsty Meeples is the city’s first and only board game café. With over 2,500 games to choose from, you’re invited to grab a table, pick your game and get competitive over a cup of great coffee or craft beer. The food menu is small but perfectly formed, with a choice of freshly made sandwiches, hot snacks and bowls of nuts, crisps and sweets for when your attention is on the game! But it’s not really the food people come here for, it’s the nostalgia kick of spending an afternoon playing board games you forget, or never knew, existed. Thirsty Meeples can get busy very quickly, so it’s always best to book ahead if you can, especially if you’re coming with a large group of friends.

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon – Fri :

11:00 am – 11:59 pm
Sat :

9:00 am – 11:59 pm
Sun :

9:00 am – 11:00 pm

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OXFORD: One of the best places to live in Britain.

Oxford Dreaming Spires

OXFORD and Wallingford have been named as some of the best places to live in Britain.

Oxford Dreaming Spires
Oxford’s Dreaming Spires

As part of an annual survey by The Sunday Times, the city and market town were recognised as some of the most desired places to settle in two separate categories.

Oxford was placed 16th in the nationwide ‘Old Favourites’ category- behind the likes of Cambridge, Bath and Cheltenham.

The Sunday Times wrote the city has ‘everything going for it’ – so long as someone isn’t looking for an affordable home.

They wrote: “Great schools and lifestyle, improving transport links, extraordinary architecture and one of the best universities: Oxford has everything going for it, as long as you’re not looking for an affordable home.

“The pressure on prices, compounded by a lack of space for news homes, is turning incomers away from the favoured ‘villages’ of north Oxford and across the river in Old Marston, family-friendly Headington and traditionally studenty areas towards Cowley.”

Summertown and Jericho have still been deemed the ‘prized hot spots’ and the opening of Oxford Parkway is thought to have ‘enticed people’ north of the ring road.

Meanwhile, Wallingford’s links with Agatha Christie were noted as the town was placed 15th in the ‘Best Places To Live in the South East’ category.

The ‘genteel town’ was praised for its packed, ‘pretty brick and flint properties’.

The Sunday Times said: “Wallingford is a place where there’s always something going on, whether it’s a pancake race, the St George’s Day parade, swan-upping, the car rally, the rowing regatta, the Blues and Beer festival or Bunkfest.”

From The Oxford Mail

Luxury Rental Accommodation in Oxford - Olive Tree Suite

ROWING: Oxford University crews announced for 2017 Boat Race

Oxford University Boat Club - Boat Race - Women's Crew

OXFORD University will be the lighter crew for next month’s Cancer Research UK Boat Race as they bid to avenge last year’s defeat to Cambridge.

Oxford University Boat Club - Boat Race - Women's Crew
Oxford University Boat Club – Boat Race – Women’s Crew

The Dark Blues, who lost by two-and-a-half lengths in 2016, give way 25.9kg to their rivals for the 162nd running of the event.

President Michael DiSanto is seated at six for the race on Sunday, April 2, while there is an Abingdon School contingent with Oliver Cook, Jamie Cook and Vassilis Ragoussis named in the crew.

DiSanto, who competed in the men’s eight for the United States of America at the Rio Olympics, said Oxford have already put last year’s loss behind them.

The 27-year-old, who is studying a master of research degree in psyschiatry, said: “There are only two guys from the team last year.

“It’s about finding our own identity.

“That loss is something that can galvanise the crew by all means, but it would be wrong to force last year’s race on the current crew.

“It’s about this year and what we’re about.”

Meanwhile, the women, who are the lighter crew by 31.2kg, are eyeing a fifth successive win.

Twelve months ago, the Dark Blues stormed to victory by 24 lengths, with the Cambridge boat close to sinking.

President Isabell von Loga misses out due to a shoulder injury, but former Cheney School pupil and City of Oxford member Alice Roberts is seated at two.

Head coach Ali Williams says a lot of the preparation has involved being ready for the unexpected after the Light Blues’s misfortune 12 months ago.

She said: “We’ve taken a lot of time to educate the crew on the race.

“They know how to push themselves, but they needed an understanding because racing on the Tideway is a whole different beast.

“It’s a long race, there’s a lot of changes, so hopefully they will be able to handle any situation better than Cambridge.”


Men: Warr (bow, 94.2kg), O’Leary (74.8), O Cook (91.7), Bugaski (99.2), Siegelaar (101.2), DiSanto (89.9), J Cook (84), Ragoussis (stroke, 86.6), Collier (cox, 57.8).

Women: Pickles (bow, 60), Roberts (67.5), Esselstein (70.8), Te Water Naude (67.2), Austin (76.5), Laverack (75.3), Cameron (76), Hebert (stroke, 67.1), Shearer (cox, 46.9).

From The Oxford Times

Brexit: Heads of 35 Oxford colleges tell Theresa May to guarantee rights of EU workers

Oxford University Seal

From The Independent:

Oxford University Seal
Oxford University Seal

EU citizens must be allowed to stay in the UK after Brexit, the heads of 35 Oxford University colleges have said in a plea to the Government to prevent an exodus of valuable academic staff.

World-leading institutions like Oxford will suffer “enormous damage” if European lecturers, researchers and support staff lose the right to work in Britain, they warned.

Some academics already planning to leave due to uncertainty over their employment status after Britain leaves the European Union, said vice-chancellor Professor Louise Richardson and the leaders of all but three Oxford colleges in a letter to The Times.

The top scholars urged MPs to back a House of Lords amendment to the Brexit bill which guarantees the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

Oxford University
Oxford University

“Oxford University relies on EU citizens as lecturers, researchers and support staff. If they lost their right to work here, our university would suffer enormous damage which, given our role in research, would have reverberations across the UK,” they wrote.

“Our EU colleagues are not reassured by a government which tells them that deportation is not going to happen but declines to convert that assurance into law; some are worried, some are already making plans to leave.

“Many of our staff do not know whether absences abroad on research contracts will count against them. Others do not know, however longstanding their work and residence, whether their children will be able to remain in the UK.”

MPs are expected to reject the changes made to the Brexit bill by peers to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and ensure Parliament has a vote on any deal when it returns to the House of Commons on Monday.

The bill will then go back to the Lords and, providing peers allow it to pass, the Prime Minister could trigger Article 50 and Britain’s divorce from the EU as early as Tuesday.

Around a fifth of UK academics are from the EU, with more than 22,800 EU citizens working in Russell Group institutions alone.

According to a recent survey by the University and College Union, three quarters of EU academics working in Britain said they were “more likely to consider leaving” the country after the Brexit vote.

The Oxford college leaders said they were raising “real and immediate concerns”.

“There is no public or parliamentary intent to harm our EU colleagues: that can be translated into reassurance by accepting the Lords amendment. We ask MPs to vote accordingly and join us in pressing for reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals in the EU,” they wrote.

What’s is like to Live and Work in Oxford?

Living and Working in Oxford

It’s given us Stephen Hawking, Hugh Laurie, Radiohead and the world’s most famous university, but what else keeps Oxford’s 158,000 citizens sticking around? Let’s find out…

What types of industry are prominent in Oxford?

Understandably given the combined presence of Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, plus 32,000 students, the education sector is perhaps the crucial industry associated with the city. In fact, Oxford’s government notes that 67% of Oxford jobs are centred exclusively around knowledge-intensive industries. That said, there are many other key sectors, including health, publishing (specifically academic), tourism, hospitality, car-manufacturingand, notably, a world-renowned research sector.

What’s it like to live and work in Oxford?

Oxford University: The Radcliffe Camera

Which top companies are situated in Oxford?

According to Oxford’s official government statistics, Oxford is home to around 4,600 businesses providing 114,000 jobs. Just some of the top companies situated in the city include Oxford Council, the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University, NHS Oxfordshire, BMW, Midcounties Co-op, the Science & Technologies Facilities Council and BT. Additionally, Oxford is also a base to many companies including manufacturing, logistics and consulting experts Unipart Group and world-renowned charity Oxfam, who both have their headquarters there. It’s also worth mentioning Oxford’s ever-growing tech cluster that is defining itself by software and gaming development thanks to companies like Natural Motion, Brainomix and Onfido.

What’s commuting in Oxford like?

The ozone layer must love Oxford: commutes by bicycle, foot and bus have all increased lately, while car commutes have stayed roughly at the same level – that’s 68% of journeys within the city being made up from sustainable methods of travel. That’s also good news for congestion considering that, according to Oxford’s government, some 46,000 workers living elsewhere have to commute in by car, train and other means.

What’s it like to live and work in Oxford?

Image: iStock

What are the salaries like?

In the recent Best Places in the UK to Make a Living survey by Total Money (via the Independent), Oxford charted impressively – coming in at number 19 out of 64.

In terms of employment statistics, it does incredibly well with just a 3.7% unemployment rate and job growth standing at 7% – indeed, one of the unique things to bear in mind is that there are actually more jobs in Oxford than residents (it has a job density ratio of 1.08). The downside is that Oxford’s also the least affordable city in the UK with average house prices 16.2 times the average earnings. For example: Oxford’s median monthly take-home salary of £1,991 is balanced by an average monthly mortgage repayment of £1,423, compared to number 1-placed Blackburn’s £1,646 median monthly take-home salary against a £354 mortgage repayment.

How about Oxford’s nightlife?

Oxford is blessed with great pubs with real history. TV fans can head over to the Turf Tavern (as featured on the Morse TV series), or literature fans can head to the Eagle & Child (a local to JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, once upon a time). For a louder evening, music fans can visit the 02 Academy Oxford for a chance to see everyone from Public Image Ltd to Nelly this year.

Anything else?

Oxford doesn’t attract 7 million visitors per year for no reason. One of the most enjoyable things you can do – weather permitting – is go punting along the river Cherwell. Should the rain strike, however, get into the academic spirit of Oxford and visit the historic Bodleian Library – which was opened in 1602!

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Areas and Neighbourhoods in Oxford

A brief guide to Areas and Neighbourhoods in Oxford

Living & Staying in Oxford

Iffley Lock and River Thames
Iffley Lock and River Thames

As with any city in the world, there are neighbourhoods which may be more or less desirable to live in, and more or less affordable than the others. So what are the different neighbourhoods in Oxford, and what are the rents and housing like?

Our favourite:  Iffley Village is a 10 minute walk from our Olive Tree Suite in Oxford



A guide to the Areas and Neighbourhoods of Oxford City

  • Central North Oxford – This area is north of the city centre, primarily around Woodstock and Banbury roads. It is within walking distance of the University and city centre, has large individual houses, shared houses, and several apartment complexes. Rent tends to be highest in this area.
  • City Centre – There are few properties available for rent in the city centre, as most housing is owned by the University.
  • Summertown – Approximately two miles north of the city centre on the Banbury Road (near Marston Ferry Road) is the self-contained town of Summertown. There are many Victorian and Edwardian homes in this area, as well as several apartment complexes and shared houses. Summertown is on a direct bus route to the city centre. Rent is still fairly high in this area, but less than Central North Oxford.
  • St. Clements – East of the city centre, along St. Clements Street. This area is popular with students. Rents are lower than in Central North Oxford or Summertown.
  • Cowley Road – East of the city centre, along Cowley Road, and the side streets. This area is popular with students. There is a great ethnic mix in this neighbourhood, and many shops, restaurants, pubs, and clubs can be found here.
  • Headington – Headington is a town in its own right. There are many suburbs, with all types of housing, and a full shopping centre. Oxford Brooks University is located here, as well as the popular Headington High School (currently attended by Emma Watson – Hermione of Harry Potter fame). Rents vary greatly in this area. It is not walkable to the city centre, but there are buses that run often into Oxford.
  • Marston – Marston can be found along Marston Ferry Road, east of Summertown. Houses are much newer here, and so lack the character (and some say, the beauty) of many of the homes in Oxford.
  • Jericho – Very near the city centre (easy walking distance), west of St. Giles and along the canal is this lovely part of town which boasts narrow streets, century old cottages and townhouses, and a good shopping and eating area along Walton Street. Rent isn’t cheap here, but the housing varies greatly, so good rents can still be found.
  • Osney – Near to the railway station, it’s similar in look to Jericho, but not as appealing, and slightly further away from the city centre. And there is no equivalent to Jericho’s Walton Street.
  • South Oxford – Abingdon Road is the centre of this neighbourhood. Rents are less the further south you go from Oxford’s city centre. Many homes in South Oxford are walkable to the city centre.
  • Wolvercote – There is ‘upper Wolvercote’, which is just west of North Oxford (just before the Wolvercote Roundabout), and ‘lower Wolvercote’, which is over the bridge and down the hill. Upper Wolvercote is a ‘working class’ neighbourhood with many shared homes and flats, in addition to single family homes. Lower Wolvercote is next to Port Meadow and has a more rural feeling. Rents are lower here than in North Oxford.
  • Botley and Cumnor – West of the City, outside the ring road, and connected mainly through the Park & Ride system. There is a mixture of old and new homes and apartments here. Rents are lower the further outside the city you go.
  • Iffley – Iffley is a village within a city, with many lovely old homes and buildings and quiet neighbourhoods.

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Nearby Attractions

Nearby Attractions - Picturesque Iffley Church - built in 1170
Picturesque Iffley Church – built in 1170

Amenities, Transport and Nearby Attractions

The Olive Tree Suite is extremely well situated just outside historic Iffley Village within the southern region of Oxford City. Situated on a major road there are excellent connections for travel into the city by bus, bicycle or car as well as outside for work, travel, shopping and relaxation.



Well situated for transport and local nearby attractions

Olive Tree Suite Location Map
Olive Tree Suite Location Map

As well as excellent transport connections the Olive Tree Suite also has several nearby attractions including historic Iffley Village

  • Walking distance from the picturesque Iffley village – home to 12th Century Norman Church, Iffley lock,
  • Walks alongside the River Thames and beautiful restaurants and pubs.
  • 10 minute walk to local supermarkets including Sainsburys and Co-op
  • Nearby convenient bus stops with frequent 10-15 minute travel to Oxford City Centre and the Oxford Train Station
  • Easy driving access to the A40, M40 and A34 via the Ring Road
  • Plenty of amenities for your comfort, convenience and security

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Luxury Rental Accommodation in Oxford - Olive Tree Suite
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Living in Oxford

Making the Most of Living in Oxford

Living in Oxford
Living in Oxford – City of Dreaming Spires

Enjoying the City

Oxford is a youthful and cosmopolitan city with plenty to see and do. There are dozens of historic and iconic buildings, including the Bodleian Libraries, Ashmolean Museum, Sheldonian Theatre, the cathedral and the colleges. In the city centre you will find lots of shops, cafés, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, pubs and clubs. There are plenty of green spaces too: riverside walks, England’s oldest botanic garden, the University Parks and college gardens. Outside the city, the countryside is lovely with many stunning villages and other sights to visit.

An Ancient City

19th-century view of the High Street in Oxford
19th-century view of the High Street in Oxford

Oxford was first settled in Saxon times and was initially known as “Oxenaforda“, meaning “Ford of the Oxen”; fords were more common than bridges at that time. It began with the establishment of a river crossing for oxen around AD 900. In the 10th century, the city became an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and was on several occasions raided by Danes.

Originally of strategic significance due to its controlling location on the upper reaches of the River Thames at its junction with the River Cherwell, the town grew in national importance during the early Norman period, and in the late 12th century became home to the fledgling University of Oxford.

Oxford University Seal
Oxford University Seal

The University rose to dominate the town entirely, and by the middle of the 14th century the history of the town was effectively no more than a footnote to the history of the university. A heavily ecclesiastical town, the city was greatly affected by the changes of the English Reformation, emerging as the seat of a bishopric and a full-fledged city. During the English Civil War, the city housed the court of Charles I in 1642, after the king was expelled from London.

The city began to grow industrially during the 19th century, and had an industrial boom in the early 20th century, with major printing and car-manufacturing industries. These declined, along with other British heavy industry, in the 1970s and 1980s, leaving behind a city which had developed far beyond the university town of the past

The “Youngest City”

Oxford is rated as the youngest city in England and Wales and has two universities: Oxford University and Oxford Brookes. 35% of people who live here are aged 15-29 and 27% (40,000 of a total population of 150,000) are university students.   With a population of 159,994 it is the 52nd largest city in the United Kingdom, and one of the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse.

City of Beauty and History

Oxford is a beautiful city, with a compact centre, crammed with fine, old buildings, and some interesting urban villages, such as Jericho. As a major university town, it boasts lively nightlife, some great museums, plenty of good performing arts and a wealth of reasonably priced restaurants.

How to get Here

Oxford is about 60 miles from London, and slightly more than that from Birmingham. Both cities are accessible within an hour, traffic permitting, on the M40. Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon are also about an hour away by car. Trains from Oxford to Paddington take just under an hour. Buses are slower, but cheaper. They run all through the night – perfect for those boozy nights on the tiles in London. Another plus is frequent direct bus services to Heathrow and Gatwick.

Getting Away

If you ever feel like a change of scene, the bus to London takes around 90 mins and runs 24 hours a day and when Oxford Parkway station opens this autumn, Oxford will have not one but two railway stations.

The city is within commuting distance of London, just, but also close to the more rustic delights of the Cotswolds.

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