Oxford, how I love thee! Oxford (in the UK) is one of my favourite cities in the world. Yep, the whole wide world. I realise that’s a big statement, but I’ve explored many cities on my travels and Oxford always manages to pull at my heart-strings. I guess I should admit that I did live there for just over three years, met the man in my life and even got married there. In actual fact, it is my first wedding anniversary today (where does the time fly by?!), so what better excuse to showcase my seven pearls of wisdom for an amazing sightseeing adventure in this ever popular city.
♥ The Bodleian Library
Yes, I may be biased as this was my wedding venue, but the endless tourists that visit every day can’t be wrong. This building, right in the centre of Oxford, is an absolute stunner. Even if buildings aren’t your thing, I’m pretty sure that the intricate ceiling of The Divinity School (one of the rooms in the Bodleian Library) will catch your attention.
Aristocrats contributed to the build and in return had their family coat of arms/emblem worked into this magnificent ceiling. During the summer the courtyard is usually home to some traditional plays, such as Shakespeare’s work. See here for more details of the plays, including pics. It is the second largest library in Britain and one of the oldest in Europe; the combined collections of the Bodleian Libraries number more than 11 million printed items.
♥ G&D’s Ice Cream
Okay, you may have heard me talk about my urge to visit San Fran Creamery in the States (see the blog here), so it’s probably no surprise that my second recommendation is to an ice cream parlour. The UK isn’t the best for ice cream parlours (probably due to our lack of sunshine), but G&D’s is definitely the leader and a flippin’ great one at that. They only use the finest ingredients and you can really taste it. In addition to the central one on St Aldate’s, you’ll also find them on Little Clarendon Street and Cowley Road. This was my breakfast of choice for my first full day as a Mr & Mrs. DELICIOUS.
♥ Little Clarendon Street
I love this street because it really reflects one of the true aspects of Oxford. It is so quaint, pretty and intimate. It is a narrow street about ten minutes walking distance from the city centre. It’s full of little boutiques (clothes, gifts and homewares), small and stylish cocktail bars (you must visit Raouls), as well as a few tasty sandwich bars. If you follow the road down you’ll hit the neighbourhood Jericho. I spent a year living in this area and it is almost like a little town of its own. You’ll find pretty buildings (Freud is a favourite), restaurants and some lovely pubs, such as The Jericho Tavern.
Yes, it may be a bit touristy, but it is so much fun and such a part of Oxford. You’d be silly to be too cool for this. What you can be too cool for though is the punting at Magdalen Bridge. This location is so central it can get packed out. Act like a local for the day and head to Cherwell Boat House – it’s only a ten minute drive from the city centre and is usually much quieter. I’d highly recommend taking a picnic with you so long as you’re confident in steering the punt (a narrow boat directed with a pole) and not falling in. If you’re a newbie then I’d definitely recommend a slow trip down the river to the nearby pub for lunch.
♥ Cowley Road
Take a casual twenty minute walk from the city centre down towards The Plain and you’ll hit Cowley Road. It is an eclectic mixture of shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants. It is one of the most diverse and vibrant places in Oxford. You’ll find every kind of food you could ever imagine. It’s one of my favourite spots for people watching – you’ll probably see every race, age and fashion that exists. There are also quite a few bohemian shops, some selling my favourite incense sticks. Oh and if you have time for a night out in your trip, then hit this road.
♥ The Covered Market
This little treasure of finds is a lovely little gem smack bang in the middle of the city centre. It’s cute, bustling and full of quirky gifts. More importantly though, it’s home to Ben’s Cookies. OMG. They are THE best cookies ever. You must eat at least one on your trip to Oxford. They even featured in my engagement photo shoot as I’d told our photographer how much I loved them. Now there’s obsession for you. If you’re after a spot of lunch, then the Covered Market is a great place to try. In particular, I’d recommend Georgina’s Café. It’s a tiny “secret” café accessed via a little door down one of the aisles. The nachos are pretty noteworthy.
As like most of the buildings in Oxford, this one is some serious eye candy. I’m not really a museum kinda girl, but I have to admit I find The Ashmolean pretty interesting. The collections are well spaced out and there’s loads of them; eastern art, antiques, Anglo-Saxon discoveries to name but a few. It can get pretty busy, so if you want to pull the cool card I’d recommend Pitt Rivers. It houses some pretty quirky things. Don’t believe me? Check out the shrunken heads. Considering the unique finds in Pitt Rivers, it is surprising that admission is free. Can’t grumble at that.
I could write masses about Oxford (in fact I’ll probably do some more write ups for you), but the above seven are a pretty good place to start for your visit.
What do you think? Have you checked out all of these places or are you now planning on going? X