A few weekends ago I decided a day trip to the University of Oxford was in order. It’s only an hour from London Paddington (Bear) station by train and definitely worth the commute. Visiting the campus made me realize Oxford is much, much bigger than my alma mater Gonzaga University. It’s huge! As in 38 colleges and 22,000 students. Beyond the sheer size of it, there’s so much history and prestige it just makes your jaw drop. It was founded in the 1200s and has been home to the likes of famous politicians (Bill Clinton, Tony Blair), influential authors (JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis), and numerous winners of the Nobel Prize.
I was there on a Sunday so the campus was quiet and relaxed. As in, students were in the library studying or in bed hungover. Except for these music students (Type A’s – gotta love ’em) who were set up outside one of the colleges to practice and would play along to anyone who wanted to conduct for them. Geniuses.
Prior to arriving I booked a walking tour on the official Oxford Visitor Information Center website for £8.50. There are also free tours that leave from the same spot so be sure to connect with the right tour guide. The tour lasts about 2 hours and includes a visit to one of the colleges. We were able to tour the dining hall and chapel of Queen’s College. Let me just point out the obvious and say it was much classier than any dorm room I ever lived in.
In addition to all the historical buildings and traditions of Oxford, our tour guide pointed out places where Harry Potter scenes had been filmed. It was a nice mix of old and new. Here’s a few stops we made along the tour:
And no tour of Oxford is complete without seeing where Bill Clinton smoked but didn’t inhale marijuana. Behold, the Turf Tavern. Also famous in its own right for being founded in the 13th century and still open today!
For your visit to Oxford I’ve enlisted the help of my brilliant friend Katy of KatyandLaney.com who studied at Oxford. She recommends:
- Oxford University Museum of Natural History FREE
- Ashmolean Museum FREE
- The Eagle and Child Pub where JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet up
- The Bear Inn Pub
- Touring Christ Church College
I hope you enjoy Oxford as much as I did. Now I need to visit Cambridge to compare!