There isn’t anything more fitting a visit to the medieval city of Oxford than seeing a Shakespeare play under the trees as the sun sets over the garden at the University of Oxford's Wadham College. I spent seven weeks traveling the United Kingdom with my mother last Summer. A night at Oxford with the funniest and most enjoyable characters of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was one of my favorite trip moments. The Oxford Shakespeare Company actors had superb comedic timing and gave a clear interpretation of the story. The atmosphere was truly enchanting.
A visit to Oxford is like stepping back in time when some of the world’s greatest authors, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, and C.S. Lewis roamed Broad Street and the halls of the University. Situated on the River Thames, 55 miles west from London; Oxford is a city full of layers of fun history. Here are some suggestions on how you can spend two days in England’s most literary inspired city.
Trains leave for the one-hour journey to Oxford from Paddington Station in London every 5-10 minutes. https://www.thetrainline.com
Once you have arrived in Oxford the best way to get around is to walk. Everything that you would want to do is within the city center.
A PLACE TO STAY
There are some unique options for accommodations in Oxford. I checked into the University of Oxford’s Christ Church for special access to explore the gardens, chapels and centuries old architecture not available to daily visitors.
TWO DAYS IN OXFORD
Seeking a quick two day London escape, look no further.
DAY ONE Head out your first day with a Walking Tour of Oxford along the cobbled streets in downtown. The highlights of this two-hour tour are: Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, Christ Church and some of the setting locations used for the Alice in Wonderland story and Harry Potter films.
Pop down a secret alley to one of Oxford’s oldest and most famous pubs Turf Tavern. Enjoy a hearty lunch and a pint from an extensive selection of beers in their beer garden. (Turf Tavern is also one of the destinations on the Walking Tour of Oxford.)
Spend the afternoon walking among mummies, Greek statues and thousands of years worth of paintings at the Ashmolean Museum. Then, head up to the rooftop dining room for panoramic views of the city and afternoon tea. Please note, if you are in town the last Friday of the month, the Ashmolean keeps its doors open until 10:30 pm for food, drinks, theatrical performances, music and exhibits at Live Fridays.
After an active day, enjoy a dinner of Fish and Chips at the White Horse. Another good British pub option, the Eagle and the Child, was popular among the literary greats who nicknamed themselves "the Inklings" while sharing ideas here. If you're lucky, like I was, you too can catch a Shakespeare play at Oxford’s Wadham College after dinner.
If you are staying in the residence hall at Christ Church, wake up to breakfast in the Great Hall and be transported from Oxford to Hogwarts' dining hall. The Great Hall was used as inspiration in the Harry Potter Series. If you are staying somewhere else, then Vaults and Gardens, is a tasty option for a farm to table traditional English breakfast.
After breakfast, head over to Oxford Castle for a guided Castle and Prison Tour. The tour is led by a character actor who takes you on a rousing 1,000 year history lesson that brings the castle’s previous inhabitants to life. The highlights are the view of Oxford from the top of the tower, interactive exhibits of the prison and the 900 year old underground crypt.
Take a break at the vibrant, colorful, and historic Covered Market. The Market is a smorgasbord of gifts, food and fashion. Everything from cheese to Thai food makes it the ideal place for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping here or at the stores on High Street. Looking for something more specific, visit Blackwell Bookstore, a book lover’s paradise on Broad Street. Alice’s Shop, on St. Aldate's, will not disappoint fans of this children’s story. A visit to the beautiful Oxford Botanic Garden that inspired many of the literary greats, is another late afternoon option. For the more adventurous try punting, a leisurely sail, along the River Cherwell from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.
Wind down your visit with dinner at the Quod. Popular for its broad menu and stylish atmosphere.
It will be an unforgettable two days in Oxford.