Just the mention of the name Oxfordshire instantly conjures up images of medieval spires, enormous halls filled with ancient books and cobbled lanes lined with small irregular-shaped shop fronts; like something out of Harry Potter, but without the wands and dragons. Oxford University is an ever-present force across the county, but Oxfordshire is more than just the university. The city and surrounding areas are filled with historical and architectural treasures to visit during the day, and a bustling nightlife to enjoy in the evening. The countryside, meanwhile, is wonderful to explore and includes the chalk ridges of the Chiltern Hills, the lush meadows of the Thames Valley and the rolling hills of the Cotswolds.
Places to go in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire’s biggest attraction is the city of Oxford and its world-renowned university, Britain’s seat of learning for almost 1,000 years. The city’s importance throughout history has left it with stunning buildings from every English architectural period, including the 17th Century Sheldonian Theatre. You should definitely go on the traditional open-top bus tour, and then maybe try a river cruise, literary tour or even a ghost trail. Oxford is just as much fun at night with a whole range of things to do and see. You could catch a play at the New Theatre or a dance performance at the Pegasus Theatre. Much of Oxfordshire’s beautiful countryside is characterised by the lush meadows of the Thames Valley, but in its northwest lies part of the Cotswolds, one of the most well-known stretches of countryside in the UK. A great way to experience the abundance of nature is through hiking along the Cotswold Way trail or kayaking the lakes in the Cotswold Water Park.
Our Top Picks in Oxfordshire
We want you to enjoy the best that Oxfordshire has to offer and so here's a selection of our favourite things to see and do;
Blenheim Palace is a colossal country house surrounded by more than 2,000 acres of parkland in the Oxfordshire countryside. One of the finest examples of English Baroque style architecture, the palace was built as a monument to reflect the power and civilisation of Britain; it has since been designated a World Heritage Site. Today the palace is a family home, mausoleum and national monument. Inside, its state rooms house an impressive collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture, while the surrounding parkland features lawns, a lake, fountains, landscaped gardens, a railway, and family amusement attractions.
The university’s “dreaming spires” dominate Oxford’s cityscape and shape much of its culture. Some of the city’s most impressive buildings like the Sheldonian Theatre, Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library and Christ Church Cathedral form part of the campus. The university has a number of museums and galleries you can view, such as the Ashmolean Museum, the oldest in the UK, and the Museum of Natural History, as well as some beautiful parks to spend a few hours walking around, for example Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum .
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
The wildlife park is set in 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens on the eastern edge of the Cotswolds, among the most well-known stretches of countryside in the UK. The park exhibits mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, including the Amur leopard and Asiatic lion, two of the world’s rarest big cats. The surrounding gardens include the sheltered Walled Garden and the Tropical House of exotic plants.
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