Dubbed the 'City of Dreaming Spires' by poet Matthew Arnold, Oxford is home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The legendary seat of learning is home to beautiful historic college buildings and churches, beautiful countryside and a wealth of things to see and do. The city's rich history is reflected in the fine archicture of Oxford's historic centre, with examples of every British architectural style over the last 600 years. The city's student population is swelled further by Oxford Brooks University, formerly Oxford Polytechnic, lending a youthful air and energy to this ancient city.
Within easy reach of London and Birmingham and served by good transport links, Oxford is a popular tourist destination; attracting both British and international visitors.
Whether you're arriving by rail, road or air, getting to Oxford is fairly straightforward. The city is linked with the Midlands, London and the north via the M40 motorway and with the Cotswolds via the M4. There are regular train services to Oxford's railway station from the North of England, Birmingham and many cities and large towns in the South of England and Wales. A regular fast rail service runs between Oxford and London Paddington, with the journey taking under an hour. There are also direct rail services to Oxford from the international airports London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Birminghamn International. There are also regular National Express coach services to Birmingham from destinations across the UK. Via transfer in London, Oxford is linked to many European destinations via the Eurostar rail link. There are good local bus and train services serving Oxford and the surrounding area and getting around on bicycle is also a popular, pleasant and environmentally friendly way to see the city.
Things to See and Do
There's certainly danger of being at a loose end in Oxford and with so much to take in it can be tricky to know where to start. A guided walking tour is a great way to take in the city's sights while learning about the city's past and present and open-top bus tours are also very popular. The bus tours are fun and informative and great for families with young children who don't take kindly to too much walking! The city's atttractive architecture, pleasant parks and gardens and Victorian shopping arcades make it a pleasant place to explore on foot and there are several excellent art galleries and museums here. On a warm summer's day, make like the local students and enjoy a boat trip down the River Thames – bring along wine and a picnic for a wonderfully relaxing experience (providing you're not the one doing the punting!). Don't miss a trip to the 12th Century Christchurch Cathedral, one of the most impressive and historic cathedrals in the UK. Oxford is a great place for shopaholics too – from gourmet food stalls in the covered market to Victorian arcades with independent clothes stores and jewellers and with all the usual high street favourites thrown in, there are plenty of opportunities to splash the cash (or grab a bargain).
Drinking and Dining
The past meets the present day in Oxford's eating and drinking scene. There are cosy pubs and inns that have been meeting points for centuries, as well as sleek, contemporary bars and restaurants serving British dishes and international cuisine from virtually any country you could care to name. The city's student population gives the nightlife a lively edge and there are plenty of bars, nightclubs and live music venues to be found here. There's something going on in Oxford every night of the week and simply strolling around the city centre is a sure-fire way to find a restaurant or watering hole to suit your taste and budget.
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