Oxford is without a doubt one of the best cities in the UK. It’s stylish, easy on the eyes and loads of fun whether you’re spending a little or a lot of money.
I lived in the city for a few years and visit whenever I can, yet I never tire of it. There’s always something new to see. This weekend was no different. I loved every single second.
If you’re looking for your next weekend trip, Oxford is ready for you. If you need an excuse to get away Valentine’s Day is coming up…
Here’s just one of many ideas on how to spend 48 hours in the City of Spires.
11am: If you’re new to the city and want to see a bit of everything, you could hop on one of the red tourist buses. Sit upstairs for the best views – it is the City of Spires, after all. If you want to get up high, but would rather use your own two feet go to The Varsity Club for impressive views of the city. You can also get a drink and a light bite to eat.
If you’re a shopper, then you should hit Cornmarket Street and the surrounding lanes for a bit of retail therapy. I definitely took advantage of the shops!
Address: The Varsity Club, 9 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4DB
2.30pm: Go for afternoon tea at one of Oxford’s most stylish spots, The Old Parsonage. This 17th century place is full of rustic charm. There are vintage bicycles outside, beautiful doorways and roaring fires. In terms of tea, you have three options; Very High Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea or the Savoury Tea.
We went for the Very High Tea option. The spread is classically English, with the warm scones being the highlight. Delicious! Make sure you book ahead, as it can get busy on a Saturday.
Address: The Old Parsonage, 1 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6NN
4.30pm: Walk five-ten minutes to nearby Little Clarendon Street. The criss-crossing festoon lights make it unmissable. You’ll find cute shops, cafes and bars down this way, so enjoy a leisurely stroll down this street, popping into whichever places take your fancy. Head to The Duke of Cambridge if you want a late afternoon drink. It’s one of my fave places.
6pm: Head to your hotel to check-in and freshen up. You’ll probably avoid any queues by checking in at this sort of time. We stayed at the Mercure Eastgate Oxford hotel in a Privilege Double Room. This 17th century building has recently been renovated with a tasteful Oxford theme. Supposedly the famous novelists J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis frequented the hotel.
There are classy photographs of bicycles on the walls and our bed was framed with a big picture of punting boats. The view from our room was also very apt – incredibly beautiful limestone buildings.
This hotel has a great location – you’ll be able to see and do most things on foot (or wheels if you’re Nova!). There’s a chargeable car park at the back of the hotel, but it’s super compact and gets full very quickly, so use the Park and Ride if you can.
Address: Mercure Eastgate Oxford, 73 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BE
7.30pm: Go for dinner at Ashmolean Dining Room. It’s on the rooftop of the famous Ashmolean Museum. We couldn’t enjoy the view as it was dark, but I bet it’s super dreamy in the summertime.
The menu is a fairly simple fusion of classics. We went for the bread basket with a gallon of olive oil and balsamic syrup, thyme gnocci, and slow cooked pork shoulder. If you’re on a budget, eat a bit earlier and you can take advantage of the set menu – two courses for £15.50 at the weekend – bargain!
Again, make sure you book ahead. You can do that online.
Address: Ashmolean Dining Room, Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PH
9pm: Head back to Little Clarendon Street and the rest of Jericho for cocktails. Make sure you include Raoul’s. It’s won loads of awards and was listed as one of the top 50 bars in the world by the Sunday Times.
Address: Raoul’s, 32 Walton Street, Oxford, OX2 6AA
9am: Head to The Grand Café for breakfast. This adorable café used to be one of my regular spots when I lived in the city, but it’s served far more people than just little old me. It’s claimed to be the first English coffee house, dating back to 1650.
They serve cooked breakfasts (including a vegetarian one), as well healthier options like muesli. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the place to yourself by eating at this time, and if you stay in the Mercure Eastgate Oxford you’ll only have a short five-minute walk to get there.
Address: The Grand Café, 84 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BG
10.30am: Walk to the Radcliffe Camera. It’s an iconic building in the city centre, surrounded by other equally amazing ones. Visit the nearby Bodleian Library too. Jay and I got married in the Divinity School here, so we loved coming back with our new baby.
The Sheldonian Theatre and the famous head statues are also around here.
Address: Radcliffe Square, Oxford, OX1 3BG
11.30am: Take a walk to the nearby Covered Market. The building dates back to 1770. Only a few of the shops and stalls will be open on a Sunday so if you’re a big shopper you might want to visit on the Saturday. Make sure you get a cookie from Ben’s Cookies. Ask for a warm one for a serious gooey mouthful of goodness!
Address: The Covered Market, Market Street, Oxford, OX1 3DZ
1pm: Walk down St Aldates down to Christ Church Meadow. It’s a really pretty green space where you’ll see dog walkers, runners and rowers. It’s thought to be the site for some of the earliest balloon flights in England. If that’s not enough reason to visit, the cloisters (part of The Meadow Building) were used in a scene in Harry Potter, where Harry is shown the trophy his father won as a seeker.
If the weather is nice it’s a great spot for a picnic. I feel so lucky that Christ Church Meadow used to be my lunchtime walk.
Address: Christ Church Meadow, Oxford, OX1 1DP
3pm: Use your last hours to hit more of the shops on Cornmarket Street, grab a coffee or to visit one of the many famous colleges.
Pin for later…
Lux Dining in Oxford (Eating out at the famous Randolph Hotel)
The Trout in Oxford (Pub food)
Sleeping with Inspector Morse (A stay at the Randolph Hotel)
Big thanks to SuperBreak for sending Jay, Nova and I back to our favourite city as part of their #UKin48Hours challenge.