Only an hour and half bus ride away from central London, Oxford is the perfect place to visit to escape for a few days. Known primarily for its famous University, the city has so much more to offer than simply a world class education. Unlike London, which is scattered with modern architecture, Oxford prides itself on its beautiful, old architectutre; the abundance of old buildings, parks and rivers creates a dreamlike setting for a weekend getaway.
How to get there:
Oxford is extremely easy to get to, as well as fairly cheap, especially for a student. The X90 bus, probably the most convenient method of travelling, operates from London Victoria, and runs 24 hours a day. The journey takes between an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the time of day and amount of traffic. As a student, a ticket is £14 for a same day/ next day return. If you travel after 3pm, you may get a “night owl ticket,” which reduces the rate to £11. If you wish to purchase a one-way ticket, suitable for a longer stay, the price is £11 each way. The bus is air-conditioned, and provides free wifi and plug sockets. The bus stops at several locations in Oxford, so be sure to check the stop closest to your accommodation. All in all, I have found it to be an extremely simple and comfortable means of travel.
Places to visit:
• Oxford University Campuses
Many Oxford University colleges are definitely worth a visit for their impressive buildings and gardens. A few of the most notable colleges are Christ Church, Magdalene, New College, and Worcester. Each are spectacular in their own way, with impressive architecture and immaculate gardens.
• Magdalen Bridge Boathouse
Perhaps best saved for a sunny day, taking a boat trip down the Oxford river is an incredibly relaxing way to spend an hour or more in Oxford. A punt, rowing boat, or pedalo can all be hired from the boathouse, depending on your desired method of travel. Punts and rowing boats offer the added bonus of an extra workout, and can each be hired for £22 during the week and £24 on the weekends. The boats take up to 5 people, and thus the price is very reasonable for an hour’s experience. If you’re looking for a more relaxing journey, pedalos can be hired for the same price, and can accommodate the same number of people. The river runs past the Botanic Gardens, and through Christ Church Meadows. It then winds past a number of beautiful gardens, and thus offers picturesque scenery to enjoy on the way.
• Pitt Rivers Museum
Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW
The Pitt Rivers Museum is unlike any museum I’ve ever been to, holding an impressive collection of artefacts in a small space. The objects collected in this museum span all time periods and come from all over the world. Object displayed include masks, costumes, weapons, full-sized and model boats, amongst a huge variety of other things. My personal favourite are the shrunken heads made by tribes from the Upper Amazon region of South America. This museum truly holds things that will interest everyone, and with free admission, is definitely worth a visit.
Places to eat/drink:
• Buongiorno e Buonasera
102 Gloucester Green, Oxford, OX1 2DF
Buonasera is a little gem in the middle of Oxford, offering genuine Italian pizzas for reasonable prices. This friendly restaurant caters to all, including vegetarians and vegans, and is therefore the perfect spot to pick up lunch during a busy day of exploring. Full size pizzas range from £7-10, but half-size pizzas are perfect for a lighter lunch. The quality of the ingredients is evident in every dish, and the welcoming atmosphere is an added bonus.
• George Street Social
35 New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, OX1 2DH
A mix between a pub, café and board games bar, this place offers a little something for everyone. With a selection of different coffees, craft beers and cocktails, George Street Social is the perfect place to relax with some friends over a board game or two. I was impressed to discover that they also serve Lagunitas on tap, which is difficult to find. The food menu consists of healthy and indulgent brunch foods, which can really be enjoyed at any point in the day. Items include delicious pancakes, smashed avocado on toast and wild mushroom risotto. Overall, George Street Social has established a wonderful atmosphere to spend a couple of hours with friends and family.
All in all, Oxford is a vibrant city with a lot to offer, whether you’re looking for an action packed trip, or a relaxing weekend away.