Looking for somewhere new to spend in a weekend at in the UK?
I did this recently with my sister and we had a really fun and interesting weekend in Oxford, exploring this beautiful and historic university city.
The start of a weekend in Oxford: Arriving on a Friday evening
We arrived at about 9.30pm and checked into the Best Western Linton Lodge, a lovely Edwardian style hotel about 20 minutes outside of the city centre. Wanting the make the most of our first night, we dropped off our bags quickly and headed to the Natural History Museum for a special night time ‘Museums at Night’ event. It was lovely seeing the displays at night, and I particularly liked the life sized animal displays. Only issue was, the museum ran out of booze! What an atrocity!
Just joking, we were actually secretly pleased, because it meant that we could wake up on Saturday as fresh as daisy’s.
How to spend a Saturday in Oxford
On Saturday we had a big day planned for sightseeing, and we decided to take the scenic route into town along the river and university parks. It was absolutely beautiful, but BEWARE – ballet shoes are NOT appropriate for nature walks – particularly when it has recently rained!
Arriving into town with muddy feet, but relatively unharmed, we bought some sensible shoes and started exploring a few of the museums around town.
The museums in Oxford came highly recommended, and you can see why – the city is extremely cultural, educational and historic. My favourite would have to be the Ashmolean – I love ancient history, and the Egyptian section was super impressive! I had never seen a real mummy before, and it was amazing!
After the Ashmolean and the Science Museum, we visited the Covered Markets, which have been around since the 18th Century! There were many lovely little stores and food shops, and we sampled one of the BEST freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from a little shop called Bens!
We also watched saw some seriously skilled bakers making some extraordinary looking cakes…all so intricate and detailed. I felt very untalented watching these crafty cake-makers, I must say!
Do an Oxford city walking tour
After a quick lunch break, we joined the City Walking Tour from the Visitors Centre, and it was definitely a must-do in Oxford. We learned a lot from this tour – most importantly, how influential the University has been in the past, and also in the present.
To be honest, I ‘made an ass out of u and me’ and assumed that Oxford University would be one large campus, but actually the Uni is scattered all over the city in seperate colleges. We were allowed into the Keble College, and our guide Monica told us all about student life (past and present).
We even had a peek into the dining hall, which is apparently the cheapest place for the students to dine, and looked exactly like the hall in Harry Potter!
Exhausted from all the walking, we returned back to our comfy beds at the Linton and had a little nap before heading out to Cowley Street for dinner. We went to a place I found online called Door 74 (it’s unfortunately closed down) and enjoyed a delicious meal, washed down by some Pinot Grigio. I had the lamb which was delish, but my favourite part would have to be the dark chocolate semifreddo for dessert – such delicious goo!
We met an old friend at a couple of funky Middle Eastern bars before heading home to the 24-hour hotel bar before midnight.
Perfect first day, with perfect company!
Sunday: How to finish off a weekend in Oxford
We woke up at about 9am on Sunday and headed down to the hot buffet at the Linton Lodge.
The breakfast was just what we needed to start another big day of sightseeing (I love a good hash brown on a Sunday morning!).
The Linton is located about a 20 minute walk out of the main town, and it’s perfectly enjoyable to stroll past the museums, colleges and student housing. If you’re not up for the walk however, it only £5.50 in a cab – bargain!
A tour of the Oxford Castle
We walked into the city after breakfast and enjoyed some fresh air before checking out Oxford Castle. The site was once home to the Norman Oxford Castle, and then the infamous Oxford Prison since the 11th Century.
We did the ‘Oxford Castle Unlocked’ tour, and were escorted around by ‘Mary Blandy’ – a prisoner that I personally believe was wrongly accused of killing her father. She told us all about the history of the prison, and let me tell you – English people were BRUTAL back in the day! Thank goodness I wasn’t an everyday person in debt during these times, that’s all I can say!
Exploring Blenheim Palace
After the tour, we caught the S3 bus to Blenheim Palace. Like the X90, we found all the Oxford buses to be really regular. We jumped straight on, and travelled for about 15 minutes through the countryside to the famous Palace.
It was a toss up between Blenheim and the walking tour, but I have to say that this was my favourite part of the weekend. The Palace is HUGE and full of history, most noteable being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The ticket includes entry into the palace and access to all the surrounding gardens. You could spend a whole day exploring.
Since I have arrived in London, the countryside surrounding Blenheim Palace is the most beautiful that I have seen in England.
The Palace is surrounded by rolling hills, lakes and 2000 acres of beautiful parkland. Ange and I took a long walk from the formal gardens, past the Italian Garden and eventually came to a beautiful cascading waterfall. We even managed to see some bunny rabbits on the way! How English is that?
On that note, did you know that the real Alice from Alice in Wonderland was from Oxford?
After taking about a zillion photos at Blenheim, we headed back to town and spent our last hour eating lunch and drinking a pint at the Eagle and Child (also known as the ‘Bird and Baby’) pub, near the town centre. The pub was a famous meeting point for the ‘Inklings’ – a Oxford writers group that included C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien! It was amazing to think about those men writing such famous novels in that very pub.
The history in Oxford was just amazing. We were very sad to leave on Sunday. What a fantastic place!
I would recommend going for longer than one weekend, because there is just so much to see. But if you have limited time, you can squeeze it all in, just like we did.