Renowned for its world-class university and steeped in British culture and history, Oxford is a city of many facets. Tenderly dubbed the City of Dreaming Spires, its rich history and stunning architecture have made it one of the most iconic cities in England. While tradition reigns supreme in much of Oxford, it’s sharply juxtaposed with the modernity and diversity its young students have gradually brought with them.
Tempted to pay Oxford a visit? Here are ten very good reasons why you should.
You can’t talk about Oxford without paying homage to centuries of British culture. Oxford University (often in competition with Cambridge for the highly esteemed title of best university in England) has origins tracing back to 1096. Aside from its reputation for excellent education, Oxford prospered further in the 20th century, becoming an important manufacturing center for cars in 1930. It’s since blossomed into a charming student city – even a brief walk through Oxford will take you through cobbled streets, old-timey sweet shops and beautiful pieces of British architecture.
Along with iconic British culture comes, of course, the English language. Oxford’s friendly locals and laid-back student culture mean there’s always someone about to chat to, making it a perfect place to study English, put your skills to daily use refine that British accent of yours.
3. Bodleian Library
If reading’s your jam, get ready to enter the Disneyland of books when you walk through the doors of the Bodleian Library. Second only to the British Library, it’s one of the biggest libraries in Britain, housing over 12 million items. Even if books don’t get your pulse racing, the stunning building makes it an absolute must-see.
Oxford is home to some of the country’s most traditional pubs, many of which are popular with local students. The King’s Arms, the Turf Tavern and the White Horse are all noteworthy and make for the ideal setting to unwind with a pint of beer in hand.
If you prefer your evenings booze-free, fear not! The pubs in Oxford also happen to have some pretty stellar food options. Head to the White Rabbit for a selection of delectable pizzas or take a stroll through the greenery to dine at The Perch, where the chips are as big as your hands! Thanks to the city’s increasingly diverse population, there are also countless ethnic restaurants to choose from, boasting some of the best dishes in the city.
6. The Canal
The picturesque Oxford Canal maunders through the peaceful countryside, providing onlookers with both a beautiful view and the opportunity to go punting. If picnics by the river are your kind of thing, Oxford won’t fail to set your heart aflutter.
7. Ashmolean Museum
Oxford wouldn’t be the cultural hotspot it is without its many historical museums. The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology is the world’s first university museum. Built in 1678, the museum is home to world-famous collections, with items spanning thousands of years.
8. Gigs galore
Once proclaimed an “unlikely musical hub” by The Telegraph, Oxford has nurtured the talents of the likes of Foals and Supergrass. With over 110 live music venues in the city, it’s unsurprising that there is a well-established music scene in the city. Whether you go to a bigger gig or settle in for some musical entertainment at a local pub, prepare to be serenaded the British way.
Musical talents aren’t the only ones that find their place in Oxford – the city is also home to a lively drama scene. Many different locations set the stage for plays, comedy and dance shows. Whether it’s a bit of drama or a good laugh that floats your boat, you’ll definitely find it in Oxford.
There’s a little more magic in this city than you may have expected; Christ Church college stood in for the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in multiple Harry Potter movies. Taking a tour of the famous halls comes at a small price (£8, to be precise) but if you’ve ever wanted to get a closer look at the iconic, high-ceilinged dining hall that inspired the one seen in Hogwarts, it’s well worth the investment.