"Oxford in one afternoon - an itinerary" Top 5 Page for this destination Impressions Tip by King_Golo
Impressions, Oxford: 13 reviews and 22 photos
Favorite thing: Let's suppose that you stay in London and have spontaneously, although perhaps a little late in the day, decided to go to Oxford. You take the Oxford Espress or Oxford Tube and get off at High Street on a bright early summer afternoon. What to do now? How will you use your 6 hours in Oxford?
1. Climb the spire of St. Mary the Virgin to get an overview of the city
St. Mary's spire is the highest point in the city centre and you will have the whole city spread out below you. In the immediate vicinity of the church are All Souls College, Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, Exeter College and Brasenose College, further away you can see Magdalen College, Merton College, Christ Church, Carfax Tower, Sheldonian Theatre, New College and many other points of interest. Climb down again and if you are hungry, check out the Vaults Garden Cafe for some excellent organic cakes.
2. Walk across Radcliffe Square to the Bodleian Library
This is your logical next step, the square being just behind the church. Enjoy the magnificent views on Radcliffe Camera (designed by Christopher Wren's student Nicholas Hawksmoor, built by James Gibbs), which is - incredibly - a library! Just next door you can catch a glimpse of All Souls College and its perfectly kept front quad. Enter the Bodleian Library and marvel at its beautiful perpendicular style inner courtyard. Take a tour through the library or just take a look at the 500 year old lecture theatre Divinity School. You may find it somehow familiar: It was used as the hospital wing and the ballroom in the Harry Potter movies. Coming out again, don't forget to pay the souvenir shop a visit - in my opinion one of the nicest in Oxford.
3. Just a little bit of shopping in Blackwell's
Blackwell's is the largest book shop of Oxford and a heaven for bookworms. If you are one, browse through the millions of books - but set yourself a time limit, or your Oxford afternoon will be over in a jiffy. Don't forget to peep into the Norrington Room!
4. ...and now for some colleges!
Oh, those Blackwell's bags are heavy, aren't they? Who would have guessed that you needed 17 new books that very afternoon? Anyway, grab them and prepare for some of Oxford's nicest colleges. Let's start at Exeter College on Turl Street: Built in 1314, this college was home to J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman and has a nice neo-gothic chapel, Oxford's most beautiful college garden and a fascinating conglomeration of gargoyles and grotesques at its front wall. Just across the road is Jesus College, a small but likeable college. Follow the street and cross High Street. Keep left until you reach a square with Oriel College, Corpus Christi College and the back entrance to Christ Church where we will go to later. Follow the cobble-stone road to Merton College (which along with two others claims to be Oxford's oldest college). Enjoy a visit there.
Just next to Merton College is a narrow passage which will lead you to Deadman's Walk and Christ Church Meadow. Squeeze through the gate and follow Deadman's Walk to your left. The name of the path derives from the processions of mourners and coffin bearers as the path originally lead to the city's graveyard. Nowadays it's a pleasant walk which will eventually bring you to Christ Church Meadow if you turn right at its end. This huge inner-city strip of wilderness has never been subject to mowing or fertilizing and is only "cared for" by a herd of cows. If you've got enough time, circle the meadow once following the course of the River Cherwell. If not, turn right again and walk up to the visitors' entrance of Christ Church.
6. Christ Church
Christ Church is Oxford's most famous college and one of the richest as well. It is a must in every Oxford itinerary if you want to grasp what the city is all about: academic life and slightly weird rituals. You can see that for example in the fact that Christ Church has its own time: Greenwich lies quite some miles further east so that Christ Church decided to introduce Oxford time which is 5 minutes past Greenwich time. If it's 4pm on your watch now, you should change it to 3.55pm. Discover Christ Church's magnificent hall (which, again, was used in a Harry Potter movie), the gigantic Tom Quad with Christopher Wren's Tom Tower and the cathedral. While other colleges have a chapel, Christ Church has a cathedral... You can see what I mean.
7. Time for some food
You are probably one of the last visitors to leave Christ Church, and as the evening approaches and the soft sun bathes the city in an extra-beautiful light, you can hear your stomach rumble. It's time for some food (and a nice, cold beer). The most popular place in Oxford's centre for getting both of that is Turf Tavern. Walk back to the Bodleian Library and enter the street with the Bridge of Sighs. Immediately behind it, turn left into the small alley until crowds of people and the smell of some great pub food welcome you to the Turf. Believed to be Oxford's oldest pub, it is an institution nowadays - and one that must not be missed.
8. Back to London
All good things come to an end, and so does your Oxford visit. Leave the pub the way you've come in and turn left into New College Lane. As it is probably dark by now, you should enjoy the atmosphere of Oxford's most medieval street. Were it not for the two yellow lines that underline the fact that parking is strictly forbidden here, you could feel as though you were in a different century. Follow the gloomily lit street to its end, turning around once to see the outlines of All Souls' towers in the night sky, and turn left at the end of the street. You've reached the High Street bus stop again where a coach can take you back to London.
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