Travelling doesn’t have to mean paying extortionate amounts in plane tickets and struggling with exchange rates. The UK is bursting with beautiful towns, tranquil countryside and rugged coasts and can be just as exciting to explore as foreign shores. In the “Hometown” series some of the Wessex Scene travel writers show us the places they grew up in and tell us why they’re worth a visit!
With its dreaming spires and cobbled streets, Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Years of rich history and culture, fantastic museums and the great hall from Harry Potter – all an 80 minute trip from Southampton, making Oxford the perfect place to visit for a day, or even a long weekend.
Founded in 1542, it’s home to The University of Oxford, the oldest University in the English speaking world. The university colleges are a huge tourist draw, and it’s not hard to see why. From Wadham’s stunning gardens to Sir Christopher Wren’s sundial in All Soul’s, and of course Christ Church’s dining hall – where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed – each college has it’s own charm and attractions.
If music’s more your thing, The Cowley Road is home to several incredible venues. Alongside the O2 Academy there’s also The Bullingdon (where you can catch up and coming acts like Rae Morris and Nick Mulvey), and of course Oxford’s best independent record shop: The Truck Store.
For a bite to eat there are a multitude of fantastic restaurants and cafes. The Turl Street Kitchen serves a different delicious menu each day – with a focus on local produce; just of the picturesque Radcliffe Square is the Vaults and Garden café, the perfect place to get afternoon tea; and for ice cream even better than Sprinkles (a bold statement, I know), you can pay a visit to the almighty G&Ds. There are pubs galore in Oxford, but there are a few that are especially worth a visit. The historic Turf Tavern is worth a gander; rumour has it this is where Bill Clinton “did not inhale”. And for literary fanatics the Eagle and Child (or Bird and Baby), is a must visit, as this is where C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien used to enjoy a pint together.
There’s always something to do; be it punting on the river, wandering through the Botanic gardens or exploring the covered market. Then there’s the Ashmolean, the world’s first University museum, which houses a huge and varied collection, with recent special exhibitions on William Blake and Francis Bacon & Henry Moore. But if you want something a bit more recent, Modern Art Oxford always has interesting works on offer – with Tracey Emin and the Chapman Brothers both having had displays in the past.
There’s also fantastic theatre (if you can catch a production by the Creation Theatre company you won’t regret it), lively nightlife and gorgeous countryside, making Oxford one of the most versatile cities on the globe. Only a stone’s throw from Southampton, if you’re looking for your next favourite city (without the cost of hopping on a plane) then Oxford is it.