Also known as The city of Dreaming Spires, Oxford is renowned for its University, being ranked the 6th best educational institution in the entire world. Exploring the streets of Oxford will reveal over 800 years of history. Throughout the years, this flourishing city has been home to royalties, scholars and some of the world's greatest minds. Nowadays, Oxford is a vibrant city bustling with the voices of bright students, independent boutiques and quaint shopping streets. Here's how to spend 24 hours in Oxford.
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24 hours in Oxford
What I loved most about Oxford is its incredible amount of English gardens and green spaces. Wooden benches tucked away in secret gardens within the University quarters lured me to sit on them and spend my afternoon reading. Each University building is perfectly preserved and each entrance leads to a corridor which will take you on a historic journey.
Retracing the footsteps of some of our most respected scholars, brought me great joy and honour.
What to do in Oxford
Oxford is not just a student city, but a residential area and a beloved tourist destination. During the summertime, many future students come to visit Oxford, yet throughout the year, tourists from all around the world explore the city's streets, capturing its ancient and modern sides alike.
Many come just for a day, as a side trip from the capital city, London. As such, I created your best travel guide on how to spend 24 hours in Oxford.
The University of Oxford
No trip to Oxford can be complete without a visit to the University of Oxford. A prestigious institution ranked as one of the best Universities in the world, it's easy to understand why countless students work very hard to study here. There are many university buildings dotted all around the city, yet the main campus is the most stunning. It's gothic towers, iconic courtyard and perfect architectural details, make The Oxford University one of the most visited attractions in the city.
Moreover, for the Harry Potter fans, this university will make you feel as if you stepped into a real-life Hogwarts.
Did you know: Many Harry Potter scenes were filmed in Oxford. There are plenty of Harry Potter tours offered by local businesses. With a guided tour you can visit Duke Humfrey’s Library: Do you remember when Harry Potter wandered through the Hogwarts restricted sections in order to steal a book? It all happened in this very library.
It was in this very building where Hogwarts students were taught how to dance by Professor McGonnagal. The interior was also used as an infirmary for the Harry Potter movies. But beyond fantasy, this incredibly beautiful library is the University's epicentre of research. It features a tremendous collection of books and it is, in fact, Britain's second largest library after The British Library in London.
Oxford Radcliffe Camera
Technically this neo-classical style building is part of the Bodleian Library. The Radcliffe Camera is an Oxford icon, one of the most photographed buildings in the city. It received much attention from all over the world being featured in many books (e.g. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, Gaudy Nights by Dorothy Sayers, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova) and several movies (Young Sherlock Holmes , Opium Wars, The Saint, The Red Violin, The Golden Compass, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis and Endeavour)
Oxford Pitt Rivers Museum
Enrich your knowledge with a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum located a stone throw away from the University of Oxford. It belongs to the University and it displays archaeological and anthropological collections of great importance. It is family friendly and offers free admission at all times. This 1884 museum will show you its quirky and macabre side, but it will also offer you the chance to dig deep into several cultural aspects of our past.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
If you love the British style architecture, then you must visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. This beautiful building reminded me of my trip to the Natural History Museum in London. Although much smaller and compact, it features an array of skeletons, insects and birds. There are plenty of artefacts which you can freely touch, many interactive activities for children and several glass terrariums with exotic bugs and a huge tarantula.
University Church of St Mary the Virgin - Although there is a £4 admission fee to visit the tower of the Church, you will be rewarded with great views of the Radcliffe Camera and the city of Oxford. Don't forget to admire the Church's interior architecture too, as it features a variety of intricate details.
Where to eat in Oxford
Now that you learned so many new things, it's time to reward yourself with some of the greatest sweets you will come across in Oxford. This traditional sweet shop has an array of chocolates, bonbons, jellies and candy. My favourite things were the cherry nougat bar, rock candy and handcrafted chocolates with banana foams. Don't forget to buy an Oxford lolly as a souvenir.
For a lovely lunch, I recommend trying the Thaikhun, one of the best Thai restaurants in Oxford. They offer a variety of dishes to suit all tastes and budgets, all served in a very cool Thai atmosphere, with Asian décor all around.
Punting in Oxford
If you still have time and energy, head over to the Magdalen Bridge in Oxford, where you can do a bit of punting over River Cherwell. It can get busy during the weekends, but otherwise it's a super fun experience for as little as £22 for up to five people.
Out of Oxford
Due to its awesome location, you can take a trip outside of Oxford to the nearby quaint villages, or better yet, you can spend your next 24 hours in London.