Oxford is one of the UK’s biggest tourist destinations and it’s very easy to see why! If you are lucky enough to attend our summer school, you’ll find that there are loads of things to do and see while you are here and of course summer is the perfect time for a visit. You’ll want to enjoy the stunning architecture, green parks and historic museums.
So here are a few suggestions to whet your appetite and help you immerse yourself in some of the famous traditions- old and new and make the most of your time here.
1. Punting on the river
This has to be top of the list because it’s absolutely obligatory to get the punting photo! Apart from that, you’ll love it. It’s an amazing experience to glide along the river, enjoying the serenity and possibly the hilarity, depending on how well you’re able to ‘punt’! It’s not as easy as it looks, there’s some skill needed to push off from the riverbed and steer at the same time. There’s a real danger of overbalancing and falling in, which is why only people who can swim should have a go! You can hire a ‘chauffeur’ if you don’t want to get wet!
Choose from one of the three main boat houses: Magdalen Bridge, Folly Bridge or Cherwell Boat House.
2. Visit the ‘Vaults’ for a cream tea
The Vaults cafe/restaurant is housed in a vaulted room next door to the ancient University Church of St Mary’s, below the original university library. It’s informal and full of atmosphere and popular with students and visitors alike, offering lunches and teas, with tasty cakes and snacks. It
3. Walk on Port Meadow
Get away from the city and take a stroll into Port Meadow, where the horses wander freely. It’s ancient grazing land on the outskirts of the city offering a really scenic walk along the riverbank. Some say that Alice in Wonderland was written here.
4. Visit Woodstock
The little Cotswold town of Woodstock is a gorgeous little village with independent quaint shops and close to the historic Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It’s one of the UK’s most splendid country estates, well worth visiting before you go home, especially in the summer.
5. Take a trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum and Museum of Natural History
This museum is free of charge, so there are no excuse not to go inside! You’ll find all kinds of really interesting skeletons and stuffed animals and Victorian curiosities from all around the world, including the famous ‘shrunken heads’ from South American tribes. Much of the museum retains the original Victorian presentation, making it one of the most revered museums of its kind in the world.
6. Explore some Oxford colleges
Wander around and immerse yourself! The colleges are open to the public, offer a range of architectural styles and give a unique sense of Oxford history. Each has a chapel, refectory and library, as well and teaching and student rooms, and most have picturesque quadrangles, cloisters and gardens. They range from large colleges such as Christ Church (the setting for many scenes of ‘Harry Potter’ to smaller ones such as the intimate Corpus Christi.
7. Go to an open-air play
There are summer performances all around the city, mostly in college gardens, and sometimes in places you wouldn’t expect. Keep your eyes open for and be prepared to be surprised and delighted. It’s an unforgettable way to see a Shakespeare play or any number of other spellbinding performances.
There are so many other things to do… you’ll have an absolutely magical time during your Oxford summer school experience!