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Street crime in the center of the city is low, though proper precautions as would be followed in any other city should be taken. Avoid getting caught up in drunken revelry or street fights, and, remember, traffic is on the left (so look both ways).
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Street crime in the centre of the city is low, though proper precautions as would be followed in any other city should be taken. Avoid getting caught up in drunken revelry or street fights, and, remember, traffic is on the left (so look both ways).
  
 
==Contact==
 
==Contact==

Revision as of 12:52, 19 March 2013

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
Christ Church (Meadows Building), one of the largest colleges.
For other places with the same name, see Oxford (disambiguation).

Oxford [1] is the oldest university city in the United Kingdom, situated some 50 miles (80 km) to the west of the capital London in its own county of Oxfordshire, and located on the rivers Thames (the section of the Thames in Oxford is known as "The Isis") and Cherwell. Together with Cambridge (the second oldest university city and Oxford's great rival), Oxford has long represented the English academic establishment and élite ("Oxbridge"), a haven of tradition and endeavour. Oxford's famous "Dreaming Spires" refer to the medieval churches and colleges that dominate the bustling modern town in all their Gothic splendour. Picturesque architecture and a vibrant modern life (driven by students, light industry and technology) set in the rolling countryside of Oxfordshire make this a great destination.

Contents

Understand

History

Oxford was first occupied in Saxon times, and was initially known as "Oxanforda". The settlement began with the foundations of St Frideswide's nunnery in the 8th century, and was first mentioned in written records in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 912. By the 10th century Oxford had become an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and was on several occasions raided by the Danes.

The University of Oxford [2] was founded in the 12th century and therefore constitutes the oldest English-speaking university. Oxford, like Cambridge, differs from many other universities in that there is no 'campus' as such, and no central university building. Instead, the University consists of approximately 40 colleges and associated buildings, such as the Exam Schools (on the High Street, closed to the public), the world-famous Bodleian Library (main buildings in Radcliffe Square, off the high street - limited access to the public), and several world-class museums. Each college has its own individual character, some date from the 13th century, others are merely a few decades old. Many of the colleges are closed to the public, particularly during term times; some, however, are open at different times. For example: Christ Church (the college of "Brideshead" fame) is mostly open, and has the added bonus of having a (small) cathedral attached, where excellent music is performed at Evensong everyday, it also has an excellent art gallery [3]. Some of Christ Church's buildings are used in films such as "Harry Potter". Other colleges of note are Magdalen (pronounced 'maudlin'), which has a deer park, and those along the High Street, all of which have an impressive list of alumni. Shelley fans should visit University College. Former women-only colleges such as the pretty Somerville (Woodstock Rd) further to the North of the centre are interesting to get a feel for the range of colleges in Oxford.

Orientation

Central Oxford is built around two intersecting throughfares which cross at Carfax:

  • the High Street, or "the High" [4] - running east-west, this is the main road coming in from Headington and the London road
  • running north-south is another road, essentially continuous, but with separate ancient names for its various stretches - St Aldates and St Giles [5], separated by the Cornmarket (now a pedestrianised shopping boulevard)

One of the best online resources for planning a visit to Oxford is the Virtual Tour of Oxford [6], hosted by the university's chemistry department...

Get in

By plane

While Oxford has an airport of its own at Kidlington,[[7] it is used mainly for private and charter aircraft and has very few scheduled domestic or international flights; it is useful only if you fly your own plane, or are able to charter a small aircraft, though flights to and from Geneva are currently in operation in the summer with Air South West, who operates a flight to and from Guernsey.[8] [9]

The nearest commercial airports to Oxford are those around London, to the south-east, or Birmingham, to the north, with most foreign travellers preferring the former.

Heathrow is certainly the closest major airport to Oxford, followed by Gatwick in terms of size and popularity. Road access from both Heathrow and Gatwick (fastest) is by M25 (heading north and west respectively) and then the M40 to Oxford's outskirts (follow the signs).

Oxford Bus Company [10] runs several airport bus services to Oxford Gloucester Green bus station (running in from Headington and up the High with several convenient stops: check web pages below):

  • between London Heathrow and Oxford [11], £23 single, £27 return, frequency: every twenty minutes 5AM-10AM and 2PM-7PM, less frequently at other times
  • between London Gatwick and Oxford [12], £22 single, £29 return, frequency: hourly 6AM-8PM, less frequently thereafter

National Express Bus Company runs airport bus services to Luton Airport and to Stansted Airport: [13]

Birmingham Airport has few destinations as the London airports (it still has quite a lot), but it is definitely the closest to Oxford in terms of public transport travel time. Birmingham International Airport has its own railway station, which is connected to the airport terminal building via the free AirRail Link cable car shuttle, taking 1-2 min. From the railway station, trains depart to Oxford every hour between 06:14 and 22:14 and take about an hour to get there. A non-advance, non-rail card single costs £25.50, a return £28.80 off-peak or £51 any time. You could do a lot cheaper by booking an advance ticket though (but be careful as tickets are valid only on the booked train, so if your flight is late and you miss the train, you will have to buy another ticket).

By road

Oxford is linked to London, the capital of England, by the 50 mile (80 km) south-eastern stretch of the M40 motorway (depending on traffic, which can be heavy, the journey varies between 50-90 min). The north-western continuation of the M40 also conveniently links Oxford with England's second largest city, Birmingham, and the West Midlands.

Parking and access restrictions are very stringent in the narrow streets of central Oxford, policed both by wardens and by cameras, with heavy fines applicable. The council has also implemented circuitous and confusing one-way traffic systems, making it difficult to get around by car. Visitors driving to Oxford from the south have easy access to the Westgate multi-storey car park on Oxpens Road near the city centre, which is handy but expensive.

An alternative is to use one of the five municipal Park and Ride National Park and Ride Directory [14] services which are located in the city outskirts on all sides of Oxford (these are well signposted). They offer free parking and, on the park and ride bus, take about 12 minutes to reach the city centre. However £2 is charged for the return bus trip to the city centre. Forget about using the Thornhill Park and Ride on weekdays, it is invariably full.

By train

Wikitravel has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

Oxford has a large railway station in the western part of the city (immediately west of the city centre and south of Jericho). Fast First Great Western trains run to and from London Paddington every half an hour, taking about an hour to complete the journey. Commonly, these trains call at Reading, Slough (for Windsor Castle), and Didcot Parkway though not all trains call at each of these stations. Tickets to London cost £20 off peak without a railcard and £40 at peak times without a railcard, although you can buy tickets for about £4 if you book in advance and online. There are also stopping services to London calling at a large number of stations, which run every hour and take about 90 min to complete the journey. First Great Western also runs approximately hourly trains on the Cotswold line to Worcester and also to Bicester.

Cross Country Trains also run through Oxford, mostly running to/from Manchester and Southampton. These trains run approximately half-hourly in both directions but stop at about 9PM. All of these trains stop at Reading going south, and Leamington Spa for Warwick and Warwick Castle, and Birmingham going north.

By bus

Frequent and comfortable coach services run from several convenient bus stops to Gloucester Green coach station in Oxford, normally starting at London's Victoria Station, running westwards via Marble Arch, Notting Hill and Shepherd's Bush and then onwards to Oxford. Stops in Oxford include beside others Thornhill Park and Ride station, Headington, Brookes University, St Clements, High Street (Queens Lane) (which is best for daily visitors, as it it right in the middle of the majority of University Colleges) and finally Gloucester Green, which is also well situated. Bus companies between London and Oxford include Oxford Tube [15], Oxford Bus Company [16] and the low-cost Megabus [17] (which one must book in advance via the website or by phone. The service uses the infrastructure of the Oxford Tube, but is much cheaper - as little as £1 if booked in advance).

Prices range between £10 and £13 for an adult day return ticket. It costs slightly more (£20) for an adult return that lets you return at any point within three months) and the journey time is usually 100 min. The Oxford Tube and the Oxford Espress both cost the same and run very frequently. They take slightly different routes in London, so the place that you want to go to/from may influence where you board the coach. If you wish to travel late at night, only the Oxford Tube runs 24 hours a day: the Oxford Express stops services between 2.30AM and 6.30AM.

There are regular bus services between Oxford and London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports with The Airline. [18]

There is also an X5 bus between Oxford and Cambridge, taking approximately 3 h 20 min, as well as buses to Bicester and Banbury run by Stagecoach. There are also several coaches to other parts of the country that are run by National Express.

Get around

On foot

Oxford city centre is very compact and easily walkable. Many areas of the city centre are pedestrianised, and all major tourist sights are well-signposted. The main hazard is that less-considerate cyclists will routinely ignore pedestrian crossings and often take shortcuts along the pavement. Remember to look both ways when crossing the road, though, as pedestrians suddenly striding out into the road from places other than designated crossings equally constitute a major hazard for cyclists.

That the narrow streets of the city centre are pedestrian-friendly, difficult for cars and full of beautiful buildings that will draw your attention upwards (rather than onto a more horizontal plane) does not mean that the roads of the city are overspill pavements. You will find most cyclists quite forgiving on this point as they are used to it and are often themselves pedestrians tempted to do the same as long as you suppress the urge to pass comment on any near-misses actually arising from your standing in the middle of the road.

By bicycle

The preferred mode of transport for the university student is the bicycle and like Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Beijing, there are hundreds of them. Most trains into Oxford allow bicycles to be carried for free. Fortunately, there are cycle lanes on virtually ever street near the centre; however, you will sometimes be sharing the road with other motorists. Though the bus traffic can be daunting, the familiarity of cyclists to local drivers makes cycling safer than it seems at first. The best option is to follow the locals as they know what they are doing. It is illegal for cyclists to run red lights (although many do) and you must use lights at night, local police frequently set up checkpoints and there is a fine for cycling without lights. Bike parking is available everywhere, but make sure you get a strong lock as bike theft is common. Avoid cable locks as they are cut through frequently.

By car

Avoid driving in central Oxford. Traffic is heavy, the one-way system is very confusing, the streets are often very narrow with restrictions, and parking is very expensive. Use the park and ride system, or forget the car and come in by public transport. If you have a motorcycle or a scooter, things are a little easier.

By bus

Local urban buses are mostly operated by the Oxford Bus Company and by Stagecoach. Fares are expensive (although somewhat resonably priced compared with other British Cities) and a flat single rate within the city was recently introduced. (pay the driver when boarding: change is available), but if you plan on making more than two trips in one day, buy an all-day pass to save money. The main hubs for local buses are the rail station, St Giles and St Aldates. If you are in town a while, there is also a rechargable smart-card that gives discount on bus fares. Single Fares within the city (for an adult) are 1.90 and return fares are 2.10.

By taxi

Oxford has both metered taxis which can be flagged down from the street or taken from taxi stands located around the city as well as 'minicabs' which must be ordered by phone. Meter taxis are quite pricey but are convenient for short hops if travelling in a big group. Minicabs are much cheaper for long-distance journeys - the fare should be agreed over the phone when booking or should be bargained with the driver - never get in a minicab without agreeing the price.

See

Visitors to Oxford should definitely visit at least one museum, visit at least one college and - if possible - hear one of the world class college chapel choirs. A walking tour (see 'Do' below) is a good way of achieving this.

Landmarks

Hertford Bridge
  • Bodleian Library, [19]. The main research library of the University of Oxford, The Bodleian is one of the oldest libraries in Europe (opened in 1602, based on the collection of Thomas Bodley), and in the UK is second in size only to London's British Library. The Bodleian now possesses numerous branches throughout the university; visiting bibliophiles will be most keen to peruse the central site, which includes Duke Humfrey's Library above the Divinity School, the Old Schools Quadrangle with its Great Gate and Tower, the Radcliffe Camera, Britain’s first circular library, and the Clarendon Building. (51.754703,-1.257331)
    • Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square. . Built 1737-1749, the round Camera functions as a reading room for Oxford students and so is not generally accessible. The grand exterior, however, is well worth viewing. (51.754448,-1.257503)
  • Hertford Bridge (Bridge of Sighs), (Hertford College). A quaint pedestrian bridge for the students of Hertford College which has popularly become known as the "Bridge of Sighs" of Oxford. (51.754490,-1.253737)
  • Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, [20]. This unusual building was Sir Christopher Wren's first major architectural commission. At the time he was a Professor of Astronomy at the University. There is a series of busts outside the theatre facing Broad St with strange expressions and facial hair. (51.754391,-1.255070)
  • Taylorian Institute (also known as The Taylor Institution), St Giles' Oxford OX1 3NA, [21]. was established in 1845 and is the University's centre for the study of modern European languages and literature. Its library contains the largest specialist collection in its field in Britain. It is in a neo-classical building designed by Charles R. Cockerell and erected between 1841 and 1844 by the University to house the Institution and the Randolph Galleries (now the Ashmolean Museum)[22]. It is on the corner of St. Giles and Beaumont Street, opposite the Randolph Hotel [23]. (51.757640,-1.260542)
  • University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High Street (entrances from the High and from Radcliffe Square), +44 1865 279112, [24]. Some of the best views of Oxford are afforded from the tower of the church, dating to 1280. The church itself, rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries (with various additions after this time), is full of architectural and historical interest. The church has a coffee shop, "The Vaults and Garden", now re-opened under the management of Will Pouget (already known for his 'Alpha Bar' in the Covered Market) and specialising in organic food and fair trade tea and coffee.

Colleges

Many Oxford colleges allow tourists to visit their grounds during certain hours and certain seasons, although some are closed to tourists at all times. Keep in mind that those that are open will generally prevent tourist access during certain times of the year, especially during University terms (approximately October/November, January/February and May/June), particularly in May/June, which is when exams are taken. It is advisable to visit the College's own website before visiting or to enquire at Oxford's local tourist information office to be certain you are not disappointed.

Each college has a unique history and something interesting to offer in terms of striking architecture or historical notoriety.

Balliol, University, and Merton Colleges each claim to be the 'oldest' in the University, with founding dates in the 13th century, although the exact year may unclear or contested. They are fine examples of the collegiate Gothic architecture for which Oxford is renowned.

Exeter College on Turl Street is an example of one of Oxford' smaller colleges. Built in 1314, it is also one of the oldest and in its front quad exemplifies collegiate architecture in Oxford. The Victorian neo-gothic. chapel is modelled on the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and houses 'The Adoration of the Magi': the famous pre-Raphaelite tapestry by William Morris. The Fellows' Garden neighbours the Divinity School and the Bodleian Library and offers one of the best views in Oxford, over Radcliffe Sqaure.

New College on Holywell Street is interesting for being the only college to be built straddling the ancient city wall, which cuts through the center of the grounds. It also has a beautiful cloisters with an ancient elm tree situated in the middle (which incidentally appeared in the Harry Potter franchise).

The Queens' College along High Street, founded in 1341, is renowned for its grand 18th century Classical style architecture for which is unique among the ancient (medieval) colleges, which have otherwise each been rebuilt or expanded over the years in a largely Gothic or neo-Gothic style. Tourists are not admitted to this college.

All Souls, also along High Street, is famous not only for its striking towers, but also in that it does not accept undergraduate members, but rather elects only a two graduate fellows each year based upon their performance in what has been described as the 'hardest exam in the world'(see the Wikipedia page concerning the College).

Worcester College on Worcester Street, near the railway station, might not be the most famous of the colleges but it certainly rivals them for the most beautiful grounds. The only college with a lake, it also has a beautiful main quad with 15th C architecture and quaint medieval cottage buildings.

Finally, two colleges (some of the largest and most famous in Oxford) that have somewhat established themselves as tourist destinations are Magdalen and Christ Church. You're as likely to see a tourist inside as a student, but they do offer regular visiting hours, tourist facilities, meticulously manicured and beautiful grounds, and ticket booths for charging admissions fees.

  • Christ Church, OX1 1DP, [25]. The college of Brideshead Revisited fame, Christ Church is an Early Modern period college founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey as "Cardinal College". Noted for associations with Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and was a location for the filming of the first Harry Potter film. The Christ Church Meadows south of the college is a beautiful green space offering nice views of the spires and quiet corners to relax. Admission is a bit steep at Adults-£6; Seniors, Children, and Students £4.50. (51.750182,-1.256661)
  • Magdalen College, eastern end of High St, +44 1865 276000, [26]. 1 October-21 June 1PM-6PM or dusk (whichever is earlier), 25 Jun-30 Sep noon-6PM, closed 22-24 June. Founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, Magdalen is frequently the first college seen by many visitors if coming into Oxford on the London Road, its high tower serving as a much-loved landmark. Significant Magdalen alumni include CS Lewis, Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney and Edward Gibbon. Visitor gift shop and afternoon café. Maximum 20 people in a group. Adults £5, seniors, children, students £4.. (51.752055,-1.247502)

Museums and galleries

  • The Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street (between Worcester and St. Giles), +44 1865 278000, [27]. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. REOPENED AFTER RENOVATIONS. Vast, impressive, and recently undergone major redevelopment, the Ashmolean is Britain's oldest public museum, having been founded in 1683. The museum displays ancient art from Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome, a fine collection of Western art and artifacts and a sizable Eastern Art collection. Highlights include the Amarna Princess Fresco and the Alfred Jewel. A restaurant and gift store also feature. Admission free. (51.7551,-1.2611)
Inside the Natural History Museum.
  • Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road (opposite Keble College), +44 1865 270949, [28]. Daily 10AM-5PM except for Easter and Christmas. . Houses the University's scientific collections of zoological, entomological, geological, palaeontological and mineralogical specimens, accumulated in the course of the last 3 centuries. The exhibits occupy a large central court with elegant Victorian cast-iron columns supporting the great glass roof, and surrounded on four sides by upper and lower arcades. They are devoted to the history and diversity of life on Earth and the rocks and minerals that form it. Highlights include the famous Oxford Dodo, the largest display of dinosaur remains outside London, a great collection of skeletons, and the nesting swifts in the Museum's main tower. Admission free. (51.75923,-1.25643)
  • The Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, [29]. Daily noon-4:30PM. . Oxford's museum of anthropology and ethnology, still largely arranged in Victorian style, making this a rare museum experience. The Pitt Rivers requires time and effort but gives great satisfaction. Look out for the shrunken heads! (Entrance to the Museum is through the Oxford University Museum Natural History (OUMNH) on Parks Road - the entrance is at the far side of the lobby from the main entrance to the OUMNH; visitors therefore need to walk across the ground floor to reach it). Admission free. (51.75850,-1.25502)
  • The Museum of Oxford, [30]. The museum tells the tale of the growth of the city and University. (51.751288,-1.257221)
  • Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, [31]. An art gallery often showing temporary exhibitions of art and photography by renowned contemporary artists, which are accompanied by well designed talks and workshops. Excellent cafe with cheap and great quality eats. Admission free. (51.750849,-1.259260)
  • Christ Church Picture Gallery, (Entrance via Oriel Square), +44 1865 276172, [32]. Houses an internationally renowned collection of Old Master paintings and drawings – some 300 paintings and almost 2000 drawings. The paintings include works by Carracci, Tintoretto, Filippino Lippi, Van Dyck and Frans Hals. Christ Church’s collection of Old Masters drawings is one of the most important in the country and includes work by major artists such as Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Durer and Rubens. For reasons of space and conservation, it is not possible to show the entire collection but a selection of drawings is always on view. £3/£2. (51.751779,-1.254158)
  • Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AZ, [33]. Monday Closed, Tuesday to Friday 12 to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 2 to 5pm. Located in the Old Ashmolean building, the Museum of the History of Science houses an unrivaled collection of early scientific instruments. The Old Ashmolean building is the world's oldest surviving museum-purpose building. It is a department of Oxford University as well as a public museum. Their website offers an online database of their collection here: [34]. Admission to the museum is free. (51.754506,-1.255097)

Parks, gardens, open spaces

Many of Oxford University's colleges have parks and gardens to walk through that are open to the public.Angelanace 23:22, 8 April 2010 (EDT)

  • University of Oxford Botanical Gardens, Rose Lane and the High Street (opposite Magdalen College), +44 1865 286690, [35]. Daily 9AM-4:30PM (Nov-Feb), 9AM-5PM (Mar/Apr/Oct), 9AM-6PM (May-Sep), last admission approx 30-45 minutes before closing. Admission £3 for adults, £2 concessions during peak season, free during weekdays out of season. (51.751272,-1.248516)
  • Oxford University Parks, (entrances at Parks Road, Norham Gardens, and South Parks road, near Linacre College), [36]. Closing Times vary according to the season. Large expanse of park along the Cherwell River with paths running from Marston to the City Centre. (51.76209,-1.25455)

Do

Walking tours, that last about two hours, from St Aldates, near the centre, are an excellent way of visiting some of the more famous colleges, such as Christ Church and Merton. A number of independent general and ghost tours also start nearby in Broad Street.

Sport and Recreation

The Oxford Dodo - Not as lively as the swifts
  • Punting - in the summer, punting is an ever-popular activity, involving propelling a wooden boat along the river with a pole. You can also hire someone to do the punting for you, although it is easy and fun to do it yourself. Bring a bottle of wine and good balance along for a more interesting trip (although it helps to have a sober crew member along!) Punt rental available at Magdalen Bridge [37], from Salter's [38] at Folly Bridge, and from the Cherwell Boathouse [39] in North Oxford.
  • University Boat Races (usually Weds-Sat of Week 7 of Hilary Term and Weds-Sat of Week 5 of Trinity term - check www.ox.ac.uk for term dates) Twice a year, the river is taken over by the inter-college boat races. The races are a great way to experience the Oxford obsession with rowing first-hand. The river is full of people and there is a great atmosphere of college spirit. Races take place south of the city centre on the Isis, between Donnington Bridge and Christ Church Meadows. The best places to watch are either the towpath along the side of the river, or at the bottom of the meadows - both accessible by foot from the centre (about 10-15 minutes). Word of warning however for those watching along the towpath, the towpath is likely to be swarming with marshals and bike riders while the crews are racing. The towpath does however offer the best vantage points, particularly for the bumps races where crews will often 'bump out' halfway along the course. Most college boathouses will also be serving food and drink throughout the week of racing. Races take place 11am-6pm, with the better boats racing later in the day.
  • In the summer, check out the nesting Swifts (birds) at the Oxford Museum of Natural History [40] - these elegant little birds have been nesting in ventilation flutes in the tower of the University Museum for many years, providing a wonderful opportunity for scientists. Visitors to the Museum can watch live pictures from three of the nests in the tower on a television monitor, from May to August.

Stage and screen

Oxford has four city-centre cinemas, screening mainstream (Odeon) and art films (Ultimate Picture Palace, Phoenix Picturehouse). The latter sometimes has showings at 11:30PM for night owls.

Oxford also hosts a number of London productions on tour, as well as playing host to a large number of student productions each year. Oxford has a lively student-drama scene. The following theatres put on amateur student productions during term-time, which are often very good value for money:

  • Burton Taylor Theatre - tickets sold at the Box Office of the Oxford Playhouse (see above)
  • Old Fire Station Theatre (OFS), George Street
  • The Oxford Playhouse [41] - worthwhile plays
  • New Theatre - popular shows, musicals and ballets.
  • Oxford Show Details [42] - Show Details

Concerts

  • The Sheldonian Theatre. Recently voted the most uncomfortable concert hall in England, the Sheldonian never has a shortage of both professional and amateur classical music concerts.

Learn

Most lectures are only open to members of the university; however, a variety of public talks and lectures are organised throughout the year [43].

It is possible for those wishing to experience what life might be like as an Oxford student to get a taste of college life by enrolling on a summer course in Oxford [44].

Buy

  • Covered Market, High Street. [45] Oxford has the oldest covered market in England. Unusual small shops, including a chocolate shop, cake shop, fine butchers, hat shop, florists, glassware, and charming cafes.

A large number of shops in the city centre specialise in selling the ubiquitous Oxford University range of souvenirs. One is official, the others less so, but all do a roaring trade in T-shirts, sweaters, calendars and paraphernalia:

  • the University of Oxford Shop, 106 The High Street, +44 1865 247414, fax +44 1865 724379. [46] M-Sa 9AM-5.30PM, Bank Holidays and Sundays in June 11AM-4PM, Sundays in July and August 11AM-5PM. Since 1990, the official outlet for official university souvenirs and gifts

Books

Blackwell's book shop

Unsurprisingly for a university city, Oxford is noted for both antiquarian, specialist and new books.

  • Blackwell's Books, 48-51 Broad Street (opposite the Sheldonian Theatre) - founded in 1879, Blackwell's main Oxford shop is a veritable tourist attraction in itself, the vast 10,000 square foot Norrington Room excavated beneath Trinity College Gardens laying claim to being the largest space dedicated to book sales in Europe. Another 9 speciality branches of this Oxford institution dot the city.
  • Oxford University Press Bookshop, 116 High Street, +44 1865 242913, fax +44 1865 241701 [47] - stocks a wide variety of books published by Oxford University Press.

Eat

  • Alpha Bar, 89 Covered Market, Avenue 3, +44 1865 250499. 9-5(ish). One of the healthier options inside the Covered Market, Alpha Bar serves up organic, fair-trade food. Sandwiches are reasonably priced, at around £3.50, and you can choose from their many interesting fillings, including baked tofu, seaweed and roasted vegetables. Their salads are priced by the pound and you can fill your recyclable container with good-for-you grains. A favourite among students for lunch, but make sure you get there early - they tend to run out of the more popular ingredients by around 3:30. £.
  • G&D’s (George and Davis), 55 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX1 2HS, +44 1865 516652, [48]. 8AM-midnight). £.
  • G&D’s (George and Danver), 94 St. Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BT, +44 1865 245952, [49]. 8AM-midnight). £.
  • G&D’s (George and Delila), 104 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JE, +44 1865 727111, [50]. 8AM-midnight). The original G&D’s was opened in Little Clarendon Street by an Oxford University student and soon became an Oxford institution. No other ice-cream themed shop has survived long in Oxford due to the fierce loyalty of G&D’s customers. Popular flavours include ‘Oxford Blue’ (blueberry), Crunchie bar, Turkish delight and InLight Delight (white chocolate with chocolate chip cookie dough). G&D’s also offers bagels, salads and baked goods, all extremely reasonably priced and extremely tasty. £.
  • Café Zouk, +44 1865 250499. 12 noon – 2:30PM; 5:30 – 11:30PM. Café Zouk serves up authentic, traditional Indian and balti dishes at fair prices. Starters are generally between three to five pounds, with mains priced between five to ten pounds. Service can be unpredictable, but the food is good enough to excuse the occasional offhand waiter. £.
  • Georgina’s, +44 1865 249527, [51]. Mon–Fri 9–4.30, Sat 9–5. Georgina’s is tucked away on the upper floor of the Covered Market, and this small café has a fairly groovy, hippy-ish décor and atmosphere. You’ll pay more for your sandwiches and wraps here than you would at other places, but portions are huge and, for the most part, healthy. An exception to the latter is their loaded potato skins, which are slightly spiced and come with a heaping of sour cream. Delicious! £.
  • The Nosebag Restaurant, +44 1865 721033. Tuesday – Thursday 9:30AM - 9:30PM; Friday - Saturday 9:30AM - 10PM; Sunday 9:30AM - 8:30PM. An Oxford institution, The Nosebag is a favourite among students who come for the huge portions of their tasty, wholesome food. It’s worth paying the extra couple of pounds for the leftovers you’ll be heaving home – the varied menu includes Hungarian goulash, served with tagliatelle and green salad, spanakopita, pea, asparagus and salmon risotto, and blackeye bean curry. Or you can just pick up one of their delicious cakes. £.
  • Noodle Nation, 100-101 Gloucester Green, Oxford, OX1 2DF, +44 1865 201400, [52]. Mon & Tues: 11.30AM-10PM; Wed - Sat: 11.30AM-11PM; Sun: 12noon-10PM. A cheaper, less ubiquitous version of Wagamama, Noodle Nation is useful for its location on Gloucester Green, near the bus terminal. A blend of Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisines, the menu is almost overwhelmingly large and dishes are fully customisable. 10% student discount with card. £.
  • Combibos Coffee, +44 1865 250072, [53]. 7AM – 8PM. Doing its best despite the location of a Caffe Nero just a few doors down, Combibos is an excellent place for a cup of coffee and a pastry. Sandwiches are unspecial but the pictures of rock ‘n’ roll stars and quotations on the walls provide a hip setting for a chat with a friend. £.
  • Olive's Delicatessen, High Street ((next to Queen's Lane Cafe)). 8am-7pm, closed Sundays. Gourmet French/Italian delicatessen, this is without a doubt the best sandwich shop in Oxford. The sandwiches and paninis range from around £2.40-£4, but the sheer quality and variety of options available makes it great value for money. The shop also sells high end French and Italian deli produce, and often has weekly sandwich specials and soups.
  • Meltz, +44 1865 202016. 7AM – 8PM. Great for sandwiches – their hot toasties come with salad, dip and tortilla chips, and other lunch options are large and tasty, including pastas, baked potatoes with all sorts of fillings and spaghetti and meatballs. £.
  • Jamie’s Italian, +44 1865 838383, [54]. Monday – Friday 12noon – 11PM; Saturday 10AM – 11PM; Sunday 10AM – 10:30PM. Offering traditional, simple Italian food at reasonable prices, Jamie Oliver’s venture opened recently and has been a huge success. One drawback is that no reservations are accepted, so be prepared to put your name on the wait-list and endure a growling stomach. Favourites include the crab spaghettini, wild mushroom ravioli and the exquisite truffle tagliatelle. You can order a starter-sized portion of any pasta dish, and mains include grilled steak, yellow fin tuna salad and, unusually, lamb chop lollipops. Nothing on the menu is over £17 and most dishes hover around the £10 mark. ££.
  • Brasserie Blanc, +44 1865 510999, [55]. 11AM – 11PM. Raymond Blanc’s French brasserie is intimate and full of charm. Considering the quality of the food, prices are extremely reasonable – a rack of lamb, potatoes and cabbage will set you back £17.50, and for vegetarians the grilled Crottin goats’ cheese and beetroot tart is an exquisite choice. A great place for a date or to bring your mother. ££.
  • The Grand Cafe, +44 1865 204463, [56]. 9AM – 8PM. Lunch options include Waldorf salads, oak smoked salmon and varied sandwiches, but the real draw here is the afternoon tea. For £16.50 you get a couple of sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, handmade chocolate truffles, tea or coffee and a glass of champagne. True extravagance! ££.
  • The Randolph Hotel, +44 1865 791678, [57]. Afternoon tea at the Randolph is world-renowned, but a sit-down dinner in the beautiful dining room is an experience. Mains include roast loin of Highland venison, served with chestnuts and sprouts at £26.50, and fillet of wild seabass, fennel puree and langoustine sauce at £25.50. Their cheese trolley is an indulgent way to end the meal. £££.
  • The Alternative Tuck Shop, 24 Holywell Street, [58]. One of the best sandwich shops in Oxford. Cheap, lightning-fast service, high-quality food. Offers a great selection of sandwiches (warm and cold), paninis, pastys and cakes. Friendly and efficient staff. £.
  • The Mission, 8 St Michael’s Street (off Cornmarket), +44 1865 202016, [59]. Delicious California style burritos for about £5.
  • The Mission (King Edward St), 2 King Edward Street (off High St.), +44 1865 722020, [60]. The King Edward St. location of the Mission chain. Delicious burritos at a low price.
  • Spice Lounge[[61]] 193 Banbury Road, Oxford Spice Lounge has a delicious Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine with a very friendly staff. They offer a lunchtime buffet on Sundays from 12 noon to 3pm. At the Spice Lounge the emphasis is on organic and creative dishes. Ethnic recipes are used to provide a diverse, unusual menu, while focusing on healthy eating.
  • Gees Restaurant (Gees), 61 Banbury Road, +44 1865 553540, [62]. Gee's is an Oxford restaurant serving traditional British food with an emphasis on seasonal food, simple, good cooking and value for money
  • Quod Brasserie, 92-94 High Street, +44 1865 202505, [63]. Quod Brasserie & Bar on the famous High in Oxford, with its terrace and bar forms the hub of The Old Bank Hotel
  • The Mitre, 17 High St (the corner of High St and Turl St, city centre), +44 1865 244563. Su-Th 10AM-11PM, F-Sa 10AM-midnight. One of the oldest and biggest pubs in the city centre, it has been serving the public since 1261. It is a listed building with a pub and restaurant on three levels with lot of nooks and crannies which allow guests to have some privacy if they wish. Main courses are predominantly meat (succulent steaks, mixed grill, ribs), but the menu has something for seafood lovers, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. A fantastic deal 5.99 on some meals before 6:30PM (including famous and popular rump steak with chips and salad).
  • Carfax Chippy, 135 High Street, Oxfordshire, Oxford OX1 4DN, United Kingdom. Oxford original and traditional fish and chips. The interior is similar of a school canteen. Very fine fish and chips. Prepare and cook the traditional way from the finest freshest fish and potato that you can taste it. Usually made to order, so can take longer than the average chippy.
  • Carl's Oxford DIner, 291 Main Street, phone. url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">A small, vintage diner set up inside a old-style boxcar. This venue serves home-style, freshly cooked breakfast foods at an affordable price. A family-friendly, casual dining experience.

Drink

Cafés

  • Combibos Coffee, Gloucester Green (by Gloucester Green bus station), [64]. 8:00-18:30. Probably Oxford's best coffee shop, has a very loyal following, is family run and unusually for a coffee bar, offers table service. A very mixed crowd of students and locals choose here as it has a number of tables outside. Lyrics and poems on the walls make it quite a cool place. It was recently featured in the Independent newspapers' Top 50 Coffee Shops. They also serve a fantastic Full English cooked breakfast every day, before 11am.
  • The Missing Bean, 14 Turl Street (only 1 minute's walk from the main quadrangle of the Bodleian), [65]. 8:00-18:30. Hidden halfway down Turl Street is this little gem of a coffee shop, it only opened in October but already has a reputation for the best coffee in Oxford. Laid back atmosphere & friendly staff. Ask for the famous flat white!

Pubs and bars

Oxford has many old pubs, as well as newer nightclubs.

  • Turf Tavern, 4 Bath Place (off New College Lane), +44 1865 243235. 11AM-11PM, Su 12noon-10.30PM. A well-hidden pub, but also well known by locals. Good range of beers. Nice beer garden with coal fires where you can roast marshmallows on chilly evenings in spring and autumn. This ancient pub (a favourite with Inspector Morse) is an unmissable Oxford institution that many consider to be the best pub in the city - in the summer watch out for drenched students enjoying the end of their exams. Pint £3.50.
  • the Eagle and Child, 49 St Giles. Popularly known as "the bird and baby", this pub was the frequent haunt of the Inklings, a group of Oxford literary dons that included CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Very atmospheric, with a great range of ales and the best pork scratchings you've ever tasted!
  • The Jericho Tavern, Jericho. Great place for a drink and maybe some food. Also famous for being the place that Radiohead played their first show.
  • the Lamb and Flag, 12 St Giles, +44 1865 515787. A big old pub, long, with lots of nook and crannies
  • Royal Oak, Woodstock Road (opposite Radcliffe Infirmary). Graduate and North Oxford local, offers Schneider Weiße from Germany, popular with scientists and doctors working in the area.
  • The Bear, Blue Boar Street. A small pub, but curiously full of old school ties. The oldest pub in Oxford by its own description, founded in 1492, and probably has the lowest ceilings of any pub in Oxford.
  • King's Arms, (opposite Broad Street and the Sheldonian Theatre). A popular student pub - selection of beers and reasonable food although perhaps prices are a little high. Excellent location.
  • Hobgoblin, St. Aldates. Small and traditional but with adequate seating, with drinks varying in price depending on how early you get there.
  • Hobgoblin, Cowley Road. Lively student pub. Staff are friendly until 11PM, at which point you'll be rudely kicked out.
  • The Old Bookbinders' Arms, hidden in the back streets of Jericho (go down Great Clarendon Street, turn right into Canal Street). Has eccentric decorations, but friendly and with lots of beers.
  • Freud's, Jericho. This bar and restaurant occupy a grand church building producing a unique, slightly austere atmosphere. When buzzing with people, this becomes a great place for an evening out; the restaurant area is cleared to become a dance floor later in the evening. They serve a range of cocktails from about £3 upwards.
  • Raoul's, Jericho. A trendy and upmarket cocktail bar. Often very busy at weekends.
  • Sugar Brown's, Jericho. Cocktail bar.
  • The Duke of Cambridge, Little Clarendon Street. Fashionable for young students wanting great cocktails with some cheeky bar staff. Swisher than you might expect.
  • The Bullingdon, Cowley Road. Lively and unpretentious with a mixed clientele. Live music and club nights in the back room. Jazz club on Tuesday nights. Blues on Monday nights.
  • Half Moon, St. Clement's. Ignore the plastic faux-Irish outlets in the city centre and head out along the High St and over Magdalen Bridge and enjoy the relaxed vibe in this small, friendly pub.
  • Angel and Greyhound, St. Clement's. Popular with Friday evening after-work crowd, letting their hair down. In quieter moments good for board games. Food is average.
  • Head of the River, Folly Bridge, 44 1865 721600. Perfectly located, right on the Thames. Follow St Aldate's down past Christ Church college until you reach the river (the pub's on the far bank). This place buzzes on summer evenings, when the large garden gets extremely busy.
  • The Gardener's Arms, Plantation Road. Very pretty with a beer garden, and an excellent all-vegetarian menu.
  • The Fir Tree, on the corner of Bullingdon Road and Iffley Road. Good beer, open till 2AM most nights, friendly atmosphere.
  • The Kite, Mill Street, west Oxford. Close to the railway station, this tired and run down pub for locals and their dogs is best avoided.

Nightclubs

Certain weeknights are student-only at some clubs, so you should probably check before going.

  • The Bridge, 6-9 Hythe Bridge Street, +44 1865 242526. [66] Nightclub frequented by students. Two floors - R&B on one, dance on the other. Plenty of acceptable seating, long bars and quite importantly clean bathroom facilities! Drinks can be a bit pricey: bottled beer £3 (no draught), double vodka coke £2.70, entry £4-£5. VIP room.
  • Maxwell's, 36-37 Queen Street, +44 1865 242192. [67] 11:30AM-2AM daily. Bar and restaurant by day; cocktails and nightclub by evening. Claims to have the longest bar in Oxford. £3-£5 cover (after 10PM).
  • Park End, 37-39 Park End Street, +44 1865 250181. [68] M-W 21:00-02:00, Th-Sa 21:30-03:00. Nightclub frequented by students and locals. Come here to drink heavily and dance to uninspired pop tunes. £1-£5 cover, £3 pints, £3 mixed drinks (some nightly drink specials). Monday is Brookes student night, Wednesday is OUSU student night (many bottled drinks £1.50). Student ID required for both.
  • Baby Love, (3 King Edward Street - Just off the High Street). Open until 2AM M-Sa, closed Sunday. Small venue but spread out over two floors. Varied music. Home to one of Oxford's most popular gay nights (Tuesdays).
  • O2 Academy Oxford [69] (previously Carling Academy and The Zodiac) Live music venue and stop-off for many a band's UK tour, turned nightclub after hours.
  • Po Na Na's, 13-15 Magdalen Street. Don't be put off by the inconspicuous entrance - below is a relatively small, mysteriously decorated (apparently its Moroccan), funky cave, with great not-too-loud music, and an unusual and relaxed atmosphere. Cocktails 2 for 1 between 9 and 10:30.
  • Thirst, 7-8 Park End Street, +44 1865 242044. [70] M-W 18:30-02:00, Su 18:30-01:30. Cocktail bar, drinks from £1.75.

Sleep

Oxford has a large number of B&Bs and guesthouses, located both centrally and in the suburbs. Check the website of the Oxford Association of Hotels and Guesthouses [71] to get some ideas of available options.

Most hotels in the city centre are pretty expensive, and you pay almost London prices. Be advised to book in advance if you are travelling in summer since free accommodation can be rare during high season. The tourist information office in the city centre can help find available accommodation for a small fee.

Budget

Travelodge [72] and Premier Inn [73] have budget hotels on the outskirts of Oxford, although one will need to take a twenty minute bus ride to get to the centre. Alternatives in the centre include:

  • YHA Oxford , 2a Botley Road, (in UK) 0870 770 5970, (outside UK) +44 1865 727275, fax +44 1865 251182, [74] [75] Housed in newish, purpose-built building next to the railway station and minutes from the city centre, prices from £20.50 adult, £15.50 under 18s. Prices are a bit steep, and unfortunately no longer include breakfast. Location is convenient although avoid getting a room facing the train station as the sound of passing trains and station PA announcements can become annoying after a while.
  • Central Backpackers Hostel, 13 Park End Street, +44 1865 242288 [76] Only recently opened and situated close to the city centre. Clean and airy. From £14.
  • Oxford Backpackers, 9a Hythe Bridge Street, +44 1865 721761, fax +44 1865 203293. [77] [78] Cheap and a little dingy. Conveniently located for both the rail and bus stations (2 mins walk). Dorm beds from £13.
  • Victoria House Hotel [79] Popular hotel located in the heart of Oxford on Georges Street.
  • Dial House 25 London Rd | Headington, Oxford OX3 7RE, England Bed and breakfast from £91.

Mid-range

  • Oxford University Rooms, some of the colleges rent out rooms out of term time, providing a B&B like experience, [80]
  • The Old Bank Hotel, 92-94 High Street, +44 1865 799599, [81], [82]. £150 (single).
  • Burlington House Hotel 374 Banbury Road, Oxford $157
  • Ethos Hotel (£130) 59 Western Road | Grandpont, Oxford +44 1865 245800 | www.ethoshotels.co.uk |
  • Weston Manor £135 Northampton Road | Weston-on-the-Green, Oxford OX25 3QL, England

Splurge

  • Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Beaumont Street, Oxford 0844 879 9132, Fax: +44 1865 791678, [83]. Oxford's only 5* hotel. Plush English accommodation experience and is centrally located directly opposite the Ashmolean Museum. Can be hired for conference also if required.
  • Malmaison Oxford Prison Hotel,Oxford Castle, OX1 1AY [84] Set within the old prison this modern quirky 4* hotel also allows pets.

Oxford has a small gay scene and a gay area - which is accepting and friendly. The city is suprisingly gay-friendly for Middle England - evidently helped by a huge student population(and when compared to places like Birmingham and Coventry). The city's LGBT population is not as high places like Manchester, Brighton, London, Blackpool; but it is safe and comfortable feeling for gay visitors.

Stay safe

Although perceived to be a very affluent university city, there are also some areas that suffer from unemployment and poverty. It is not unheard of for Oxford to report higher rates of violent crime than many larger cities in the UK.

Blackbird Leys is possibly the most well-known locally. The area suffers some instances of drug dealing and anti-social behaviour, although is no worse than any other large housing estate across the country.


Street crime in the centre of the city is low, though proper precautions as would be followed in any other city should be taken. Avoid getting caught up in drunken revelry or street fights, and, remember, traffic is on the left (so look both ways).

Contact

Oxford public library in the Westgate Shopping Centre has free internet available. The hostels near the train station all provide the Internet to residents.

There are also internet cafes in the city. One to try is located above the baguette (sandwich) shop on the far south end of New Inn Hall Street (the little lane running perpendicular to George Street, right across from Gloucester Green bus station and immediately parallel to Cornmarket Street). They also offer international telephone calls, international fax, and printing.

Get out

  • Blenheim Palace [85] - located 8 miles north-west of Oxford in the picturesque and historic town of Woodstock on the A44 Evesham Road - well worth a visit
  • Bicester - 10 miles north of Oxford, a nice little town with last seasons designer shopping at discounted prices from the outlet stores at Bicester Village.
  • Waterperry Gardens, [86]. Gardens & Garden Shop 10.00 - 17.30 (March - October) / 10.00 - 17.00 (November - February). A lovely wander through manicured gardens. Adults £4.95 (March - October)/ £3.50 (November - February).
  • Gloucester Green - this bus station offers buses to locations all over England and make it very convenient to get out of Oxford. Buses leave from here to London, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and other national destinations. Most buses do not take credit cards so make sure you have enough cash.


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