A spontaneous 48 hours in Oxford.
The medieval city centre is packed with years of literary history, with 38 colleges you are constantly surrounded by views of spires, botanical gardens and the River Cherwell.
Oxford is perfect for a weekend break. I have always wanted to spend some quality time here, previous visits have always been brief – unable to truly explore the city. The city is small enough to get around on foot or in true Oxford fashion, a bicycle, but there is still plenty to keep you busy.
We arrived early afternoon into Oxfordshire giving us some time to take a leisurely stroll and take in some of the sights. Luckily this particular weekend the weather was glorious, the city was bustling with gowned academics on their bikes finishing their working week.
We were feeling hungry so headed straight to the first of many eagerly anticipated coffee shops, The Missing Bean.
What an idyllic independent coffee roaster, nestled in the bustling Turl Street a perfect spot to stop and watch the world go by. Although we didn’t get the chance to, those passionate about their coffee can explore further by visiting their ‘Cupping Night’ at their roastery in East Oxford. Giving you the chance to see first hand how their lovely coffee is processed and roasted. Check out more here.
Caffeine-induced it was time for a wander into Radcliffe square, the centrepiece being the astonishing Radcliffe Camera. The building is actually a library, funded by John Radcliffe a wealthy physician, it’s part of the Bodleian Library, which can be found to the north of the square.
Still feeling peckish? Grab a scone at the Vaults Café, the oldest university building in Oxford built in 1320, it’s located right next to the Radcliffe Camera!
Starting the day off right we headed to George St Social, an awesome cafe/bar that serves local craft beers, great food and super coffee! The atmosphere in here was great, students studying, people enjoying their bottomless brunches and playing games. A great way to start the day.
Full and ready for the day ahead we thought we would check out some of the 38 different colleges in the city. It’s worth noting only some are available to the public. We visited, arguably the most popular, Christ Church. Popularised for its role in the Harry Potter films (You might recognise the Grand Hall) and its famous alumni (Which includes Albert Einstein!). Depending on the time of year you visit the entry fee ranges from £7-£9.
The trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting one or two of the historic pubs in Oxford. Passing the Bridge of Sighs, a skyway that connects two parts of the Hertford College over New College Lane, we visited the Turf Tavern. What a hidden gem this pub is, it can be found down a cobbled alley near the Bridge of Sighs, with a great outdoor garden bustling with students.
After we had spent some time at the Turf Tavern we headed to the Ashmolean museum, Oxford is full of museums but this is the biggest. It includes a real mix ranging from modern art to Roman Statues and Egyptian mummies. Well worth a visit, it even has a glassed-walled cafe on the top floor which has panoramic views of the city.
Back to exploring Oxford, we headed to Blackwell’s bookshop. This stocks more than 200,000 titles and includes one the most impressed rooms I’ve ever seen, the Norrington Room. This room is in the Guinness Books of Records for the largest display of books for sale in the world!
Did you know Oxford has two rivers? The Cherwell and the Thames, which is named the Isis in Oxford.
After a stroll along the river, we visited the Varsity Club a multi-floored bar/club that has an impressive rooftop bar with impressive views across Oxford. A perfect place to count how many spires you can spot over a Pimms…Or beer!
By this time we were worn out and ready to head back to the hotel to freshen up for that night.
We planned to eat at the White Rabbit, an independent pizza pub in the centre of Oxford. A great atmospheric place with incredible pizzas and local beers!
Time for just one more stop we decided to try one of Oxford’s bars. Tipped off by influencer marketer Nik Speller as a bar that can’t be missed, Raoul’s cocktail bar was a delight. A great way to round off a busy but enjoyable trip to Oxford. This bar had an endless list of cocktails from Bourbon Creme Brules, Giggle Juice, Chocolate Martinis just to name a few. We enjoyed a good few hours here listening to the live music before heading back to our hotel for the final time.
I’m sure we will return soon and when we do, we plan to go punting!
Top Tip – If you’ve got an extra day in Oxford, Bicester village is only a 20-minute drive from Oxford, well worth the visit to window shop high-end designers such as Gucci, Versace etc.
Until next time Oxford…
“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all—the colleges I mean—like an opera.” – William Butler Yeats