Our top sights, highlights, and exclusive tips
Oxford: the city of dreaming spires. Enjoy a walk through winding streets between the colleges of the world’s second-oldest university, dodging tweed-clad professors, known as dons, on their way from tutorials to lectures. Follow in the footsteps of Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde by lounging on a punting boat on the River Cherwell before taking a high tea of sandwiches and scones on Merton Street. End the day in a cosy pub with a pint of amber ale, listening out for eccentric conversations in this most English of cities.
The Ashmolean Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum
Established in 1683, the Ashmolean is the world’s first university museum. Take a moment to look at the ornate classical exterior from Beaumont Street before venturing inside and climbing the modernist atrium. Prepare to spend hours wandering the different levels. Look out for a full suit of Samurai armor, an ancient bust of the Egyptian crocodile-headed god Sobek, and J.M.W. Turner’s iconic The High Street, Oxford.
If you want to see the splendor of Oxford from one central location, come to Radcliffe Square. Take a moment to admire the intricate masonry of the Radcliffe Camera, part of the University’s Bodleian Library, which has stood since 1602. Cross the square to ascend the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, where the 13th-century spire offers the best views of the city and its glorious architecture.
Oxford’s center is dominated by the 39 individual colleges that make up its university. Start at Christ Church’s Tom Tower, designed by Christopher Wren, to Worcester College’s wisteria-clad Georgian buildings and its very own lake. Finish an afternoon of exploration by listening to Evensong in the New College chapel, where the choir has been a fixture of the college since it was founded in 1379. Just remember to stay off the grass!
Port Meadow is where the city meets the Oxfordshire countryside. Get your wellies on for a walk up the River Thames, sharing the meadow with English Longhorn cattle and students on their way to the boathouse. Enjoy a jug of ale at The Trout Inn after your walk, listening out for the shouts of the coxes as the rowers race down the river.
There’s no museum in the world quite like the Pitt Rivers. Unlike most museums, the Pitt Rivers is organised by categories rather than locations, meaning that the sections range from “Medicine and Surgery” to “Blowpipes and Darts”, each spanning various cultures and centuries. Keep a lookout for the Japanese Noh theater masks—these masks, dating back as far as the 14th century, show different facial expressions depending on where you stand.
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