After studying abroad there in college, Oxford is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve made several trips back to the UK, and visiting Oxford feels like coming home. Oxford is an easy day trip from London, so if you haven’t already, add Oxford to your next UK vacation. The Oxford Tube runs buses every 24/7 from London Victoria and the Marble Arch.
Oxford Day Trip
The Bodleian Library
The University of Oxford has over 100 libraries and one of the most extensive book collections in the world. Since the libraries were designed for university students, many of them are closed to the public. The Bodleian offers public tours. The basic tour lasts an hour and costs seven pounds. This tour also takes you to my favorite library- the Duke Humphrey’s Library, which is the oldest English library and has gorgeous bookcases and ceilings. For Harry Potter fans, the Duke Humphrey’s is the library in the Harry Potter films. The tour also begins in the room that was used as the infirmary in the Potter films.
Christ Church College
Christ Church is one of the largest colleges of the Oxford university system. The great hall of the college contains portraits of famous alumni, including the Wesley brothers (the founders of the Methodist church), Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland), and philosopher John Locke. Look at the stained glass windows to find characters from Alice in Wonderland hidden in the windowpanes. This was also the filming location for the Great Hall in the first two Harry Potter films. Fans of the films may be surprised to find only three tables in the room. Filmmakers used camera angles to make it seem like there were four.
Ashmolean Museum or Pitts Rivers Museum
It may seem daunting at first to walk up the stone staircases of the Ashmolean, but this museum’s extensive collection is too impressive to just walk by. The museum has original sketches from Rembrandt and Da Vinci, but my favorite piece is the ceremonial robe of Pocahontas’ father, Powhatan.
A hidden gem, few tourists hear of Pitts Rivers, but it has many interesting historical artifacts. The museum has one of the few remaining skeletons of a dodo bird. It also has shrunken heads, Lewis Carroll memorabilia, and a T-Rex skeleton on display. Admission is free to both museums.
The Kilns was C.S. Lewis’ home. Located in Headington, it is a short bus ride from the city centre of Oxford. The C. S. Lewis Foundation allows visitors to tour the house on a daily basis for a 10-pound admission fee. The house is styled in the same fashion as when Lewis lived there in the 1950s. There is a nature trail behind The Kilns that leads to a pond where Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to skinny dip.
This meadow has been the inspiration for many literary classics including Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and Phillip Pullman’s Golden Compass. The meadow is beautiful year round for a quiet stroll. Grab a bite to eat at the Trout Inn, which is said to be the inspiration for the Prancing Pony pub in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you do decide to eat at the Trout Inn, you may want to pay for a taxi. The meadow is a couple of miles from the city centre.
While many of Oxford’s buildings are closed to visitors, public areas provide much to see. Take a walking tour and explore the Radcliffe Camera, the Bridge of Sighs, Broad Street, the University Parks, and the Covered Market. For 15 pounds, visitors can punt down the Isis River. Novices might struggle with the boats at first, but it is a lot of fun and gives a different view of the city..