Exploring the streets of Oxford will reveal over 800 years of history. It’s a city which exudes magic around every corner with a prestigious university dating back to the 11th century, punts on the river, gowned academics on bikes, Alice in Wonderland and now famed for Harry Potter.
Disclaimer: We were guests at the Mercure Oxford Eastgate hotel however, all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a copyright of the Curious Pixie.
Places to see in Oxford
With so much to see and do believe it or not 24 hours in Oxford is completely possible. You can squeeze in hundreds of years of academic and literary history, tour museums and colleges where famous scientists, philosophers, authors and politicians have studied. And still have time to explore and enjoy all the bars and restaurants the city has to offer.
Here are a few places from a recent whirlwind trip to the City of of Spires I enjoyed which you must include if ever on a whistle stop tour of Oxford:
Where to Stay in Oxford?
Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel
The historic Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel is a converted 17th century coaching inn and an old haunt of famous novelists J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis during their Oxford University years.
Centrally located off Oxford High Street overlooking Magdalen Tower, it’s a great base for exploring the city.
With 63 rooms spread over three floors, guests have choice of classic or privilege rooms. A palette of dark wood and an injection of colour with lime green soft furnishings adds a cosy feel to the decor.
73 High St | Oxford | OX1 4BE | WebsiteClick for availability at the Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel
Fore more hotel ideas, inspiration and latest prices check Tripadvisor.
Where to Eat in Oxford?
Keepers Kitchen & Bar Oxford
The honey inspired kitchen and bar calls itself the Champions of Urban Honey. Why? Well they produce their own homegrown honey from beehives which will soon be on site but currently being fostered by the British Honey Company. And of course the house honey features in signatures dishes and cocktails.
Keepers Kitchen & Bar Oxford is the chains third restaurant (there is one in London and Bristol) and serves a diverse, worldly menu – think edamame beans, fattoush salad, burgers, pizzas, loaded paninis and spicy arrabbiata. Something for every taste bud!
They even have their own Keepr’s infused spirits: Cotswolds honey spiced rum, honey infused London dry gin, English raspberry and honey gin and English apple and honey vodka.
Keepers Kitchen & Bar Oxford is a great place to dine and drink, morning, noon and night. With its cosy bee themed decor of honeycombed tiles, light fittings and quirky trinkets dotted around. Part of the Mercure Eastgate Oxford Hotel, you’re only a hop, skip and jump from your room if you choose you stay.
Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel | 73 High St | Oxford | OX1 4BE | Website
Where to Drink?
The Varsity Club
Off the High Street, nestled in the entrance of the Covered Market is The Varsity Club. Head up the endless flights of stairs and you’ll be rewarded with Oxford’s original roof terrace.
The Roof is open all year round, with a dedicated bar serving draught beers and cider, Pimm’s and Prosecco. Even with the unpredictable British weather the heated seats and gas burners will keep you toasty.
All there is left to do is sit back, sip your drink and enjoy the unparalleled 360 degree views of the City of Spires.
9 High St | Oxford | OX1 4DB | Website
What to see in Oxford?
Christ Church College
Harry Potter filming locations
In 24 hours you might only have the chance to see one college, if so make it the
On a self guided tour you can wander the grounds and spot the places which inspired Alice in Wonderland.
It will lead onto the Renaissance Great Hall, the college’s impressive dining room and that of Harry Potter fame.
Recognise the fan-vaulted staircase? It leads into the hall and appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Professor McGonagall welcomes Harry to Hogwarts.
It even has its own cathedral, albeit the world’s and founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey.
Christ Church | St. Aldates | Oxford | OX1 1DP | Website
And a trip to Oxford isn’t complete without a visit to the most photographed landmark. The impressive circular, sandstone columned library is one of the reading rooms of the Bodleian.
Non members can only enter when on an extended tour of Bodleian library. Topped by Britain’s third largest dome, it’s so beautiful from the outside hopefully not going in will make for it.
Radcliffe Square | Oxford | OX1 3BG | Website
One of the oldest and biggest libraries in the UK, the Bodleian is another breathtaking ancient building.
You can admire the central 17th century quad for free, but many will want to visit the 15th century Divinity School and the marvel at the majestic lierne vaulting ceiling, in other words a gothic style rib architecture.
Beware as the Divinity School can be closed for events as on our visit. One to revisit on my return to Harry Potter’s Wizardry school.
Broad Street | Oxford | OX1 3BG | Website
Bridge of Sighs
Hertford Bridge is quite often called the Bridge of Sighs like the famous bridge in Venice, but looks more like the Rialto Bridge. A skyway connecting two halves of Hertford College, its distinctive design makes it city landmark worthy of tourist photography.
New College Lane | Oxford | OX1 3BL
Oxford is the birthplace for Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll a mathematics lecturer at the University drew a lot of inspiration from the area.
A 150 years ago, the real Alice (Alice Liddell – Lewis Carroll’s muse) used to live across the road from the then sweet shop she regularly visited. It was written into the story and Alice’s Shop features in the original story written by Lewis Carroll. Today the shop is a treasure trove of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia and a step back into the Victorian days of Alice.
83 St Aldate’s | Oxford | OX1 1RA | Website
Oxford is small city, but with a lot to see and history to absorb. If you plan to spend more than 24 hours, it’s also a great place to base yourself to explore the county of Oxfordshire. You have the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, Bicester Shopping Village, Bletchley Park to name a few. Head to the Experience Oxfordshire for more information.
Have you been to Oxford? Do you have a favourite place? Let me know in the comment box below.
Here are some experiences which you can easily book to make the most out of your time in Oxford.
Where would we be without our Lonely Planet Guide!
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