U.K. day trip: Oxford

by Emily Alvarenga
Stripes Europe

Being stationed at RAF Croughton means that you’re centrally located in England. It also means that Oxford, known all over the world as one of the most historic and beautiful cities on earth, is just an easy day trip away. Only a 40-minute drive, a day trip will give you more than enough time to explore the stunning architecture of the prestigious University of Oxford. And while many of the spectacular buildings are connected to the university, there is definitely more to the city than just the colleges. With beautiful churches, a castle, leafy parks and stunning spires, Oxford has something for everyone.

University of Oxford

Nicknamed the “City of Dreaming Spires,” Oxford is best known for housing the world’s oldest English-speaking university with its beautiful towers and turrets dotted throughout the city. With 38 colleges, almost all of which are open to the public, choosing a handful to visit is a must do. Spend a few hours wander the grounds, admiring the architecture and walking the halls that once educated prominent former students like C.S. Lewis, Bill Clinton, Stephen Hawking and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Christ Church

As the largest of the Oxford colleges, Christ Church cannot be missed. It’s often named one of Oxford’s most beautiful colleges, but more recently it has also become famous for its dining hall, which you may recognize from the Harry Potter films. In fact, many locations from the college were replicated for the set of Hogwarts including the famous moving staircase. As you leave the college, you will emerge into the Christ Church Meadow, which is the perfect place for a stroll along the river or a picnic in the sun. Here you can find picturesque views of the colleges and, sometimes, even some grazing cattle.

Bridge of Sighs

The Hertford Bridge often called the Bridge of Sighs because of its resemblance to the famous bridge in Venice, is a skyway connecting two parts of Hertford College. Its distinctive design makes it a popular stop and well worth finding.

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

For great views of the city, you can pay €4 to climb the tower at the University Church and enjoy the magnificent views of Oxford from above. The tower dates back to the 13th Century and while the stairs are quite narrow and steep, it’s definitely worth the effort and expense.

Oxford Castle

This Norman medieval castle situated near the city center is filled with over 1000 years of history. While most of the original castle was destroyed over the years, the surviving parts were converted into a prison that remained in use until 1996. You can climb St. George’s Tower for great views of Oxford, descend deep underground into the crypt and explore the old prison wing.

Oxford Covered Market

Dating back to 1774, the market is a great place to explore. It takes you back in time with its maze of over 40 boutiques and food stalls where you’ll find everything from restaurants, bakeries and cafes to florists, jewelers and clothing shops.

There is so much to do and see in Oxford, but sometimes it’s best to just wander around. It’s a small city and easily walkable, so you’ll have plenty of time to get lost among the buildings and immerse yourself in its beauty and history.

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