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Visiting Oxford City

What to expect on a visit to the University City of Oxford

Oxford Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs, Oxford

The big draw for most visitors to Oxford is of course the world famous University of Oxford and its colleges, the largest and most famous being Christ Church.

Situated only 55 miles west of Central London, Oxford is an easy day trip independently with frequent bus and coach services.

The River Thames runs through Oxford in the early stages of its flow down to London through the Thames valley. At Oxford, for a distance of some 10 miles, it is known as the Isis.

Today, Oxford is also famously known for its Harry Potter and other literary connections.

Oxford City attractions   Blenheim Palace   Getting to Oxford from London   Oxford and Cambridge Tour  

Oxford City attractions

Most things to see are directly or indirectly associated with the University. Once you have arrived in Oxford the only practical way to get around is to walk, though many of the locals prefer bicycles.

Everything you will want to see is in a compact, well sign-posted central area and it's also easy to pick up a street map to find your way.

Oxford University building
Many University buildings to explore
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
Oxford skyline
Famous Oxford skyline
Oxford Alice shop
Alice Shop

Oxford University

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford University is an historic institution and the single main draw for visitors to Oxford.

The 38 colleges are spread throughout the city but the oldest and most historic are clustered together in the ancient centre of Oxford.

Christ Church is the largest college and is the single most popular destination with its connections to Harry Potter and Lewis Carroll.

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BOOK: OXFORD HARRY POTTER WALKING TOUR

 

Bodleian Library

One of the great libraries of the world since the 17th century with every new book published in the UK here. A total of nearly 6 million books clearly needs a great storage area, much of it spreading underground.

Radcliffe Camera

Camera is the medieval name for a room. The earliest example of a round reading room and still in use today as the reading room of the Bodleian Library. Over 600,000 books are stored alone in its underground store. Can be visited by prior arrangement.

 

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Historically this is at the heart of the start of the University. Built in the 14th Century, the early colleges started up within and all around this church. The earliest library for example was within the church.

Today the most popular attraction is climbing to the Tower for panoramic views of the City of Oxford.

 

Museum of History of Science

Home to an unrivaled collection of scientific instruments from medieval times to the 17th century. Its collection of 18th and 19th-century instruments is also substantial. It is the world's oldest surviving purpose-built museum building. Notable exhibits include Einstein's blackboard.

 

Sheldonian Theatre

The Theatre, built in 1664-9, was the very first work of Sir Christopher Wren. The Theatre is much used today for University occasions, including degree ceremonies.

 

Oxford covered market

Today Oxford is a regional shopping centre meeting the every day needs of the local population. It is little different to other similar sized cities with the usual chains and mix of retail outlets.

The Covered Market takes you back in time and is worthwhile even if shops aren't your scene. The Covered Market was opened in 1774 and is very atmospheric with a thriving community of stall holders covering a wide range of subjects.

 

Blackwell’s book shop

Blackwell's main bookshop is comprised of four old shops in Broad Street: Nos. 48, 49, 50, and 51. All four are Grade II listed buildings. The resulting retail shop is a maze to negotiate.

Stocking more than 200,000 titles this is Oxford's largest bookshop. It includes as part of its basement the Norrington room which gained a place in the Guinness Books of Records with the largest single display of books for sale in the world.

 

Alice's Shop

In Oxford a popular place to visit is the world famous 'Alice's Shop', selling all sorts of Alice related souvenirs. Located just opposite Alice’s childhood home, just across the road from Christ Church College, Alice's Shop is in fact the actual shop where the real life Alice would have gone for her sweets and groceries.

Lewis Carrol wrote the shop into his story Through the Looking-Glass, (the little dark shop run by an old sheep?), and it soon became a place for tourists on the 'Alice trail' to visit. At some point it moved on from being an ordinary grocers to a shop specialising in all things Alice related.

A real gem of a place.

Blenheim Palace

Just a few miles north of Oxford is Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage Site, home of the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Frequent public buses run out to Blenheim from Oxford City Centre. Be warned, you can easily spend most of the day here.

Getting to Oxford from London

For a day trip to Oxford from London, its a choice between cheap and frequent bus services operating a 24x7 service or taking the train from London's Paddington Station.

Trains leave broadly every 30 minutes (60 minutes Sunday) and take approximately 60 minutes to perform the journey. The alternative is by the Oxford Tube or Oxford Express coaches from Victoria Coach Station. Scheduled time by bus is 100 minutes, but clearly you are at the mercy of London's traffic. Frequencies are very high, every 10-15 minutes for much of the day and the service is 24 x 7.

Oxford by train

Oxford Station is about ten minutes walk to the west of the city centre. It is on the line for express trains from London Paddington to Hereford via Worcester. It also has local trains to Reading, Worcester and Bicester Town.

For fares and timetables use 'The Trainline' website where you can also order tickets for delivery to your home address or collection from a self-service ticket machine on the day of travel.

The Oxford Tube bus service from London Victoria

The most popular bus service between Oxford and London is the Oxford Tube bus service. The Oxford Tube buses are large double decker buses that run a 24x7 service from London's Victoria Coach Station.

The buses also pickup at Marble Arch and Notting Hill Gate. In Oxford, the bus terminates at Gloucester Green Bus Station, 5 minutes walk west of the centre. The buses also pick up and drop off in the High Street at Oxford. The buses are air conditioned, have reclining seats and have washrooms on board. The service is true 24x7, with hourly services in the very early hours and frequencies every 10-15 minutes much of the day.

Trainline

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Oxford & Cambridge Tour

Oxford, Cambridge tour from London

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