Oxford City guide, including Oxford Hotels

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 29th, 2010

Oxford, UK is a holiday destination to which the traveler can happily return again and again. One could spend days wandering through Oxford?s myriad cultural treasures which boast some of the world?s best exhibits. The winding streets are full of restaurants ranging from inexpensive local fish and chips shops to world class gourmet dining. Opportunities for recreational pursuits abound; all of this in a city which can easily be traversed on foot.

It should be noted that Oxford is a haven for the pedestrian. The center city is virtually car free. Public transportation is highly advised as it is frequent and inexpensive. Visitors who may be used to long commutes in many holiday towns will find that Oxford has literally dozens of interesting locales within blocks of one another and each side street holds its own jewels ready for discovery.

Oxford is a bonanza for the history lover. Museums and storied historical buildings sit on almost every corner. Trip after trip could be made here and there would still be cultural vistas to explore.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Architecture an arm of University of Oxford. Established in 1683 it is one of the world?s oldest and finest museums. Admission is free although donations are accepted and appreciated.

Sheldonian Theatre. This magnificent structure offers unparalleled views of the city. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built over a four year period from 1664-68. Self guided tours available at a modest cost.

Bodleian Library. Dating back to the fourteenth century and housing more than six million texts, the Bodleian is one of the premiere libraries in the world.

Christ Church. Founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1524, Christ Church is the oldest college in the Oxford University system and serves as Oxford?s Cathedral. The site is familiar to many tourists via its connection to Lewis Carroll and the Alice books and more recently its appearances in the Harry Potter movies. Lines can be long but the galleries and gardens are well worth the wait. Admission.

Museum of the History of Science. This unusual museum is devoted to the history of scientific instruments and its collection of almost 10,000 of these instruments is without peer. Rotating exhibits, many with free admission.
After mornings spent in cultural endeavors, a tourist will find a wide variety of activities to fill the rest of the day. No visitor should leave Oxford without at least a short water excursion.

Have a punt. Located on the Thames River, known as the Isis within Oxford proper, Oxford is home to legendary rowing teams. While rowing is a sport not learned in an afternoon, most people can manage a punt with a short lesson and a little effort. Try picking one up at the Magdelen Bridge Boathouse.

Picnic on the river. The banks of the Isis make for cool and inviting picnic locales and many shops are available for impromptu food purchases to fill a basket.

Self guided architecture tours. Walking the streets of Oxford is a feast for the eyes. Be sure and find the Bridge of Sighs on New College Lane and heads up for the gargoyles which can be found on almost every historic building.

Oxford Covered Market. Don?t miss this walk through center. It features stalls full of items from tourist kitsch to upscale as well as quick eats and groceries. Be advised that skinned animal carcasses hang from many meat market displays.

Hop a sightseeing bus. Although Oxford is totally foot travel friendly those who have only a short time in Oxford might enjoy a trek around town on a bus. This is also a good way to get an overview of the abundance of things to see and do in town. Tours are reasonably priced, easy to hop and make frequent stops.

Alice?s Shop. The small shop is the true inspiration for the shop in ?Through the Looking Glass? and the real ?Alice?, Alice Liddell, was a frequent visitor.

A quick stop at a pub will leave one refreshed for an afternoon spent on foot exploring Oxford?s side streets. Pubs can also be a fun atmosphere for an afternoon or evening spent watching football or rugby. Multi course gourmet meals of almost any cuisine are also readily available at fine restaurants throughout Oxford.

Eagle and Child. This pub was for years a favorite haunt of both C. S. Lewis and Tolkien and remains largely authentic.

The Exeter Hall. A lively venue further out than most, Exeter offers pool, two bars and a growing reputation for live music.

The Jack Russell. Open to both dogs and children this family friendly bar is also largely handicapped accessible.

Rosamund the Fair. This cruising restaurant specializing in distinctly British cuisine requires advanced booking but offers excellent food and a varied wine list.

Head of the River. This busy outdoor restaurant is a favorite of students. It has heat lamps for cool evenings and a few hotel rooms for evenings spent with beer in hand.

The Navy Oak. Located north of the Ring Road this restaurant may take a little effort to find but a reasonably priced and tasty menu make the hunt worthwhile.

Oxford Hotels & Accommodation
As a university town, Oxford offers lodging running the gamut from bed and breakfast to the most luxurious of accommodations. However, the wise traveler will begin booking early as the city is busy year round and any sort of hotel or self catering establishment can be difficult to find on short notice.

Westwood Country Hotel Ltd
The Oxford Hotel
Cotswold Lodge Classic Hotel
A Lakeside Town Farm B & B
Holiday Inn Oxford
Victoria House Hotel
Express by Holiday Inn Oxford Kassam Stadium
The White Horse
The Bat & Ball Inn

For those seeking a little nightlife, Oxford has several lively venues including The Zodiac and Oxford Brookes Student Union. Most name acts visiting Oxford will be found at one of these sites. If the play?s the thing try New Theatre located on George Street or the Oxford Playhouse across the way from the Ashmolean. Oxford also has four cinemas with currently popular offerings as well as foreign and art house fare.

Those who make a first visit to Oxford may well find that there are drawn there many times over. History, food and pleasant recreation are all to be found within easy walking distance. Couple these advantages with hospitable people and climate and Oxford becomes a destination of choice for almost any holiday.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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