10 Amazing Things To Do On A Weekend In Oxford
This is a guest post from Katerina and Maria of It’s all trip to me. Currently living in Athens Greece, Katerina and Maria travel the world part-time and, among others, plan amazing 2-day itineraries to popular and lesser-known destinations.
Home to the oldest English-speaking University in the world and recently known as Harry Potter’s playground, Oxford is an utterly charming city with a compact historical centre. The latter is abundant in beautiful buildings and quaint narrow alleys which offer unique opportunities for superb long walks and spectacular cycling routes alike. Most travellers visit Oxford on a day trip from nearby London. However, the lively university city can keep visitors busy for more than one day. Therefore, here’s our list of the top things to do on a weekend in Oxford.
Join a walking tour
Joining a guided walking tour is the best way to start a weekend break in Oxford for two reasons. First of all, a walking tour is always a great way to get one’s bearings and become familiar with a new destination. Secondly, it is important to know how the University functions and how this system has affected and formed the city itself. There is no better and more interesting way to learn all this than experience it in real time during a walking tour. Moreover, seeing some of the most iconic buildings of the University of Oxford, such as the Radcliffe Camera, the Bridge of Sighs, the Sheldonian Theatre and the Bodleian Library is part of any Oxford walking tour.
Visit a University College
Once you know that the University of Oxford is made up of 38 colleges and hear a funny story or three about student life and the rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, you will most likely want to visit one of the colleges. During our recent trip to Oxford, we visited Balliol College. It is one of the University’s oldest ones and we loved it for both its architecture and the incredible stories that narrate its legendary rivalry to neighbouring Trinity College. Most of all, we were taken aback by its grand dining hall which literally looked as if it had sprung out of the pages of a Harry Potter novel.
Have a pint at the Turf Tavern
This ancient pub in Oxford, although well-hidden and difficult to find, is very popular among locals and visitors alike. Mostly frequented by students, the Turf Tavern dates back to the 12thcentury and has been a favourite hangout for many celebrities. From Stephen Hawking and Ernest Hemingway to Elizabeth Taylor and Bill Clinton.
Visit the Museum of the History of Science
The museum houses an amazing collection of old scientific instruments. However, the most exciting exhibit is a blackboard with Einstein’s own handwriting on that should not be missed.
Take a guided tour of the Oxford Castle and Prison
You thought that Oxford is all about the University and nothing but? Wrong! A visit to the Oxford Castle is only available by guided tour which means that visitors learn a lot about the city and its history. The guided tour gives access to impressive sites within the castle such as the Mound, the austere prison and St George’s Tower which offers panoramic views to Oxford’s charms.
Cruise the river
We always like to see a city from the best vantage point: the water. Oxford is the perfect destination to enjoy a cruise up or down the river Thames. There are many cruise options available. From 30’ highlights tours to leisurely 2,5h long ones as well as dinner and tea party cruises, you will be spoilt for choice.
Enjoy punting, the quintessential Oxford pastime
Now, if you feel slightly more adventurous, why not try punting and partake in the most typical Oxford activity? A punt is a boat designed for use in shallow waters. Most of the punting in Oxford is done on the River Cherwell and it is an utterly relaxing and tranquil experience. That said, if maneuvering a boat sounds intimidating to you, you can always hire a chauffeured punt. This way you can sit back, relax and take in the beautiful scenery as carefree as a baby.
Picnic at Port Meadow
Speaking of idyllic scenery, Port Meadow is a large and ancient piece of grazing land by the River Thames. It is ideal for some relaxing moments as well as spectacular walks in nature. On a nice day, Port Meadow is perfect for a wonderful picnic that could only be outshined by a day spent in nature found in one of Jane Austen’s novels. Keep in mind that the area is still a grazing meadow which means that you may have unexpected but super cute guests like horses, ponies and cows at your picnic.
Feast on a traditional English Breakfast at the Vaults and Garden Café
Back to the city of Oxford, you definitely want to make time to have breakfast at the Vaults and Garden Café at least once. The café is housed in a superb building which dates back to 1320 and it is literally a stone’s throw from the Radcliffe Camera. The area is mesmerisingly peaceful very early in the morning. The real protagonist, however, is the food itself. The traditional English breakfast as well as scones, jams and clotted cream are all prepared with fresh and organic ingredients and they are hands-down delicious.
Visit the Covered Market
Last but certainly not least, a visit to the Covered Market in Oxford is a must while in the city. The colourful market enjoys a lively ambience and it is an excellent place to hang out, especially when the weather is either rainy and cold or excruciatingly hot.
So, we hope we managed to give you a taste of the beauty that is Oxford and an idea on how to spend a fantastic weekend there. Compact, fairytale-like and rich in history, Oxford is the ideal destination for a weekend break filled with unique experiences and unforgettable moments.