A weekend guide to Oxford
Set on the fringes of the beautiful Cotswolds, Oxford is a city of two worlds. Wonderfully rich in heritage and history it is fondly known as the 'city of dreaming spires'. Yet thanks to its large student population, Oxford has a very lively and internationally dynamic air about it too, home to everything you'd expect to find in a modern metropolitan city. And with the fastest train from central London taking just one hour, it is a great place for a short break away from it all. So with that in mind, we've put together our ideal plan of the best way to spend a weekend in this world-famous city.
The University of Oxford
Start your day exploring the University of Oxford, one of the oldest and most famous universities in the world. Its different colleges are scattered throughout the centre, each with their own heritage, outstanding architectural buildings, and historical attractions to explore. Highlights include Sheldonian Theatre, the Botanic Gardens and Bodleian Libraries. As well as the Ashmolean Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum, both home to wide collections of archaeological and anthropological artefacts from around the world.
It may be a regular student haunt, but don't let that put you off. Hidden at the end of one of Oxford's many cobbled lanes, the Turf Tavern is one of the most historic pubs in Oxford, welcoming many famous guests throughout the years. Inside, the pub is every bit as cosy and traditional as you'd imagine, yet Turf Tavern's main attraction is its wide range of ales and craft beers on offer behind the bar.
Head back to Christ Church Cathedral at around 6 pm for Choral Evensong. Led by the college's choir, this service is almost entirely musical and is a wonderful experience for anyone regardless of faith, offering an insight into the college's long traditions. Although the service is held every evening during term time, the atmosphere can be particularly special on autumnal and winter nights.
Hire a punt
Take a wander down to the River Thames, where you can try your hand at punting (British weather permitting of course). A popular pastime in Oxford since the early 1900's, you'll find plenty of places along the banks to rent a punt and even a punter if you like. Set off down the river and out of the centre to explore the very same countryside that inspired Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland stories.
The Covered Market
Next, it's time for some retail therapy in Oxford's busy shopping district. Make sure you pay a visit to the Covered Market, a unique indoor market set in a historic 18th-century building. Home to a collection of over 40 independent shops, the market showcases the best of local craft and includes food & drink, fashion, jewellery, bespoke gifts and souvenirs.
End your weekend with early dinner and drinks at the Cherwell Boathouse. Set on the banks of the river, this restaurant has a great local reputation for its creative food and good wine. With a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, it is the ideal place to relax before heading home.
Where to stay:
De Vere Oxford Thames
Just outside the heart of Oxford, De Vere Oxford Thames has everything you need to unwind at the end of the day; comfy modern bedrooms, the award-winning River Room restaurant, a medieval style bar, and pretty grounds to explore.
Oxford Spires Hotel
Or alternatively choose our partner property, the Oxford Spires Hotel. This modern hotel blends Cotswold stone and contemporary interiors with a modern restaurant & bar and comfy stylish bedrooms. All set just a short walk from the city centre.