Let’s talk a little bit about my love-hate relationship with one-day trips. I’ll compare it with studying for a math test the night before the exam. You will go through 90% of learning matter, concentrate on 50 % of it and keep your finger crossed on the next day. The same thing is with planning a day trip and having it afterwards. Before travelling to England, I knew that I’ll visit Oxford for sure, as the country town is located not far away from the capital. Of course, I was passing through a good amount of blog posts, articles, some travel books (as I always do) about Oxford, saved the most interesting “must see” attractions on my Google Maps, put some extra “must do” things on my daily checklist. And kept my finger crossed on the day I was travelling to the University City, hoping for a nice weather and manageable daily schedule.
So before starting with the best attractions (from my point of view), you may want to check my last blog post with 30 fascinating facts that you probably didn’t know about Oxford:
How to get there?
The easiest and most convenient, but probably not the cheapest, way to get from London to Oxford is by train. The main train station in London which connects the cities is Marylebone [MYB]. The ride takes about 1 h and costs between £ 25 and £ 29 for one-way ticket. I would recommend using the Trainline Application: you can easily buy your ticket online, save the ticket code on the smartphone and track any of your journeys.
The Ashmolean Museum
Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm (Closed Mondays) Free Admission
Although there are many historical museums through which you can stroll in Oxford, I decided to visit 2 of them – the world oldest Ashmolean Museum and the Museum of Natural History.
Ashmolean Museum is the oldest purpose-built museum in the world. The Museum officially opened his doors to the public in 1683 and since then it houses a great collection of art and antiquities from all over the World. The Ashmolean building represents a neoclassical architecture with four flours and several levels with different themed exhibitions and art displays.
Pitt Rivers Museum
Tuesday to Sunday10 am – 4:30, Monday 12 pm – 4:30 Free Admission
The Pitt River Museum was founded in 1884 and named after General Pitt Rivers – an influential scientist in the field of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology. During his research career, General Rivers had collected more than 26.000 objects in his artefact collection which he gave to the University of Oxford. These objects of scientific and cultural interest include also some photographs, film and sound collections, ethnic artefacts and spooky items like shrunken human heads and mummies.
The Museum of Natural History
Every day: 10 am – 5 pm Free Admission
The Museum of Natural History, built between 1855 and 1860, has one of the best natural science collections nowadays. Well, I absolutely adore the gothic architecture of the Natural History Museum – soaring stained glass ceilings and narrow cast-iron segments! But of course, the real reason on why you should visit this museum is the significant collection of more than 5 million exhibits, which include geological and zoological specimens such as exotic insects, rare fossils, T-Rex skeleton and the leftovers of the very first dinosaur who was mentioned in a scientific article in 1677.
Often mentioned as the heart of Oxford, Radcliffe Square is the meeting point of three main architectural jewels: the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera.
February to November: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 5:30 pm; During November, December and January: Monday- Saturday: 10 am – 3 pm £3.50
Sheldonian Theatre was built in 1664 by Sir Christopher Wren, a professor of astronomy. The theatre is now used for public concerts, as well as for graduation and degree ceremonies. The building is located next to the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera. You can enjoy one of the best indoor 360 degrees panoramic views of Oxford from its Cupola!
Monday – Friday 9am-10pm, Saturday 10 am – 4 pm, Sunday 11 am – 5 pm £8 Standard Tour
The Bodleian Library of Oxford is one of the oldest public libraries in the world. After the Duke Humfrey of Gloucester donated 281 manuscripts and ancient texts to Oxford, the library was built in order to house them. Nowadays, the Bodleian Library is home to some of the rarest books in the World, such as the Bay Psalm Book, Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio, the first book printed in Arabic with moveable type and even some papyri dating back to the 3rd century B.C.
Monday – Friday 9 am – 10 pm, Saturday 10 am – 4 pm, Sunday 11 am – 5 pm £8 Standard Tour
The Radcliffe Camera was built between 1737 and 1749 by James Gibbs in grand Palladian style. The major investor for the project was the royal physician Dr John Radcliffe who left £40.000 after he passed away. The term camera comes from Latin and it means chamber and has nothing to do with the modern word “camera”. The Radcliffe Camera was built as a library but now serves as a private reading room of Bodleian Library. The building is one of the best knows Landmarks of Oxford and one of the most photographed places in the city.
14th October 2017 – 11th March 2018: Open 2 pm – 4 pm; 2th March 2018 onwards: 11 am – 5 pm
14th October 2017 – 11th March 2018: Admission Free; 2th March 2018 onwards: £4
The New College of Oxford is anything, but not new. Actually, it was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham and is one of the oldest and best-known colleges in Oxford. Its official name is “The Warden and Scholars of St. Mary’s College at Winchester”. And, you would probably ask, why “new”? Because it was the second college of Oxford named after St. Mary. New College Chapel is one of the earliest and most beautiful of the college chapels in Oxford. What I liked most, was the garden! The Garden Quadrangle meant to be inspired by gardens of Versailles.
Hertford Bridge “The Bridge of Sighs”
The Bridge of Sighs is one of the “newest” landmarks in the city of Oxford, as it was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson and finished in 1913 (probably Jackson was inspired by the Venetian Rialto Bridge – here? What do you think?). The bridge connects two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane in Oxford. There is a legend about the bridge that says that during a study about the health of Oxford students, the Hertford College’s students were found to be the chunkiest. So the University decided to close the bridge, so that the students use the stairs, exercise more and have a healthier lifestyle.
January – June: 1 pm – 6 pm, June – September: 10 am – 7 pm, October – December: 1 pm – 6 pm £6
Magdalen is an artistic college (pronounced by the locals as ˈmɔːdlɪnˈ or Mawd-lin) which was built outside the walls of Oxford in the year of 1458. Nowadays, the Magdalen is one of the wealthiest and most beautiful colleges in the University City. Among the most famous students who were living and studying here are CS Lewis, Julian Barnes, and Oscar Wilde.
10am – 12pm and 2 pm-5.30 pm £2
Trinity College is a small college founded in 15th century by Thomas Pope, who purchased the building from the former Durham College. Its small but exquisite chapel is meant to be the most beautiful chapel of Oxford and an excellent example of English Baroque. Some of its most famous students are Cardinal Newman and William Pitt.
Christ Church College
Mondays – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm; Sundays: 2 pm – 5 pm £7 – £9
Many people decide to visit only one college during their stay in Oxford and many of them choose the Christ Church College. The college also known as “the House” is one of the largest and best-known universities in Oxford. It was founded almost 500 years ago by Cardinal Wolsey and re-built after its crisis by Henry VIII. This institution is the only college in the world which is also a cathedral that was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Christ College is where Lewis Carrol, the author of Alice in Wonderland, studied Mathematics. Harry Potter was filmed here too. In case you’re an art lover you can visit the Christ Church Picture Gallery which houses more than 300 master artists and 2000 drawings.
Christ Church Cathedral
Mondays – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm; Sundays: 2 pm – 5 pm Free Admissiom
The Christ Church Cathedral was built during the 12th century as it was originally thought to be the abbey church as well as the college chapel at the same time. Three centuries later, England broke it off with the Catholic Church. Henry VIII declared the chapel as a cathedral, and in 1546 Chris Church Cathedral gave its name to the college, formerly known as Cardinal’s College.
10 am – 4:20 pm £10.95
Oxford Castle is not England’s most impressive fortress of all times, but it is the oldest building in Oxford for sure! The Castle has more than 1000 years of history, as it was built in 1071. If you want to have a different kind of experience in Oxford, you can book a room in a real prison at Malmaison Hotel and spend your night in one of its cells.
All Souls College
Monday – Friday: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm; Weekends: closed Free Admission
All Souls College was funded in the 14th century by the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury as a centre for student prayers. Today, the All Souls is probably the wealthiest of all Oxford’s colleges. But to me, the most interesting fact about it is that the college accepts up to two new (graduated!) members per year. All Souls College is the most mysterious institution in the city as it has a total of 76 members, because of the “easy” application process – just be a genius and unique! It’s said to be the hardest entrance exam in the world. So you won’t be surprised by the fact that the fellowship of All Souls is one of the highest academic honours in England!
Harry Potter was here!
If you’re are a Harry Potter Fan like me, you can make your Harry Potter tour on your own and visit the filming locations. My quick tips:
- The “Tudor Great Hall” in Christ Church College was the inspiration for the dining hall of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
- The stairway inside Christ Church College is where Harry first arrives at Hogwarts.
- The hallways of Christ Church is where Hermione shows Harry the Quidditch trophy his father won.
- Another place is the Divinity Hall in Bodleian Library for filming the Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.
- Also, the Duke Humphry Library of Bodleian Library was the place where Harry walked through the Hogwarts library hidden underneath his invisible cloak with the intention to steal a book.
- The New College Cloister was a filming place in the “The Goblin of Fire” where Harry faces Malfoy who is sitting on a gigantic oak tree. Than Malfoy was into a ferret by Mad-Eye Moody.
Enjoy the day!