When studying at Oxford it can feel like there is no time to explore the dreaming spires. Between meeting new people, afternoons in the libraries, enjoying the night life, societies, and sports, appreciating the rich history and beauty can fall down the list. Now going into my final year, I’ve realised that the pandemic slowed life down to an extent and gave me chance to discover each corner of this beautiful city. With restrictions and lockdowns hopefully coming to an end, there’s still chance to start the tour by the end of your degree. This list is by no means complete but if you’re in Oxford make sure to enjoy how much it has to offer.
The Radcliffe Camera- Oxford’s most iconic building is stunning inside and out. There’s also a passage running underneath Radcliffe Square linking the libraries!
University Church- in the same spot on Radcliffe square, with the Vaults and Garden café offering tables outside to admire the view. Make sure to visit the tower so you can climb to the top and have a breath-taking view of the whole city skyline.
Bridge of Sighs- this is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane. Its nickname comes from its supposed similarity to the better-known Bridge of Sighs in Venice. There’s also a false legend that decades ago a survey of the health of students was taken and as Hertford students were the ‘heaviest’, the college closed off the bridge to force them to take the stairs for more exercise…
Punting- there’s lots of places you can hire a punt or rowing boat from, the most popular being from Magdalen boat house. Make sure to go and you can enjoy the views through Christ Church Meadow or the University Parks.
2) Literary Tour
St Mary’s Passage- just to the right of the University Church, this tiny alley is said to have inspired elements of CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia with the perfectly situated lamp post and a door with a lion on that looks suspiciously like Aslan!
Alice’s Shop- on St Aldate’s you can visit the shop where the real Alice Liddell bought her sweets 150 years ago. The shop is now full of Alice in Wonderland inspired souvenirs. If you take a walk down the River Thames via Christ Church Meadows, you can also see where Lewis Carrol began his tale.
Harry Potter Sites- Oxford is full of spots of inspirations for the films and there are some actual filming locations too. The dining hall in Christ Church famously inspired the Hogwarts dining hall and two of the Bodleian library’s rooms were used.
Merton College- here you can see a round stone table where Tolkien wrote parts of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings series at, and it is alleged to have inspired Elrond’s table.
Botanic Garden- the gardens offer perfect picnic spots and also hosts ‘Will and Lyra’s Bench’ from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.
There are so many hidden gems that could be added to the ‘things you must do in Oxford’ but this is a starter kit to making the most of your time in such a lovely city...
Part 2 coming soon!