Friday, 9 January 2015

Travel: Oxford Part One

Dreaming Spires.

This week I went to the city of dreaming spires to see my boyfriend who is studying there, and also to explore some of my favourite spots. I lived here for three years during my time at university, so got to know central Oxford pretty well and can honestly say it is one of my favourite places. It has several lovely museums (my favourite of which is The Ashmolean, a history and archaeology museum), a really wide range of restaurants and shops, incredible architecture wherever you look and a ridiculous number of bookshops and libraries. I think one of the things I have missed most about Oxford is the ability to walk out of my front door into libraries and bookshops – yes, London has some great bookshops and libraries too, but they are always a tube journey away! 

I have broken down a few things about Oxford to keep in mind if you fancy a visit!

Favourite things about Oxford:

- Being able to see the colleges has to be my favourite thing about visiting Oxford. Most of them are beautiful architecturally, and have really interesting histories. My favourite colleges to see are Brasenose, Christ Church, Magdalen, New College and Hertford, but everyone seems to have their own favourites and disagree on which are prettiest. Also if you ask Oxford students every single one will tell you their own college is the best (college rivalries are fierce here!). The colleges are also great to explore if you are a Harry Potter fan as much of it was filmed here.
- Everything is within walking distance!
- Really easy and cheap to get to from London if you use the Oxford Tube.
- Amazing range of independent bookshops and boutiques to explore – I will be doing a separate post on my favourite bookshops so look out for that.
- A really nice selection of cocktail bars if that’s your thing. Favourites include the Duke of Cambridge, Freuds, Raouls, Angels and House Bar.
- Also an incredible range of independent coffee shops to try out if you fancy a hot drink. I love Turl Street Kitchen, The Missing Bean, Combibos, Queen’s CafĂ© and Java & Co, but there are so many more. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to drink in Starbucks or Costa but love coffee drinking, visiting Oxford would be lovely.
- I should probably stop here because I could honestly go on forever with how much I love this place!

Things to watch out for:

- Oxford is the second most expensive city in the UK, after London, so not the cheapest day out. In saying that the museums and many of the colleges are free to look around so that’s not too bad. Food and drink however are pretty pricey, particularly in some of the more touristy pubs.
- If you’re driving to Oxford, there aren’t too many places to park, the places that exist are a bit pricey and there is a really irritating one way system that goes around the whole city! Try to avoid taxis because even if you seem close to somewhere you might end up having to pay to go round all of Oxford!
- It is quite a touristy destination in the summer so some of the attractions tend to get a bit busy!  If you’re someone who doesn’t like a place to be crowded then think about what time of year you want to visit. On the other hand Oxford is beautiful in the summer as all the college quads and gardens look beautiful.
- Finally, there are some ‘attractions’ such as the Radcliffe Camera (part of the Bodleian Library) and some parts of certain colleges that you simply will not be able to go into unless you are an Oxford student. You can go and see the outside and maybe even peek in, but I have seen quite a few people tourists really disappointed in Radcliffe Square when realising they could not see inside the libraries before.

That’s all I can think of for now! If you have any questions please ask, I would be more than happy to answer. Look out for my post (with lots of pictures) on my favourite bookshops! I also have loads of nice photos I may share at some point if anyone is interested - as you might be able to tell from the photo above, my boyfriend is really into photography! :)

Beth x


  1. Are you able to visit the libraries if you're with an Oxford student? My cousin's just got an offer for St Peters college so it could be a good excuse for a visit! A had a nosey round Christ Church and Magdalen while my friend was at St John's :) xx

    1. Ah congratulations to your cousin! What will they be studying? You would probably be able to see the St Peter's College library if you were with your cousin but you wouldn't be allowed in the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Camera or the faculty libraries as they check everyone's card on the way in and you have to swipe it, which is sad because they're so beautiful!

      Oh Christ Church, Magdalen and St John's are all so pretty aren't they? If you liked those you should go and see New College next time you're in Oxford as that is as big and grand as those three :) I really like the smaller cute ones around Turl Street :D


  2. Hii :) I love your way to describe your experiences and adventures. You are making me want to go back a lot!

    Much love xx
    Catarina //