Oxford is synonymous with its famous university, one of the top two in the UK, and arguably in the world. It is, in fact, the oldest university in the English speaking world, and the second oldest in the entire world.
The town of Oxford is jam-packed with other firsts as well. We visited the Queens Lane Coffee House that purports to be the first coffee shop in Europe. You will see the oldest botanical garden, the world’s oldest public museum—Ashmolean Museum, the oldest …
When visiting Oxford, you will immediately be struck by the golden yellow color of all the historic stone buildings. It is strikingly different than the traditional grey you see in most of Europe. It gives Oxford a feeling of warmth and magic. It is all-encompassing, as each new turn reveals a startling new vista of ornately adorned buildings.
The feel in the town center is one of hustle and bustle. Between the colleges and tourism, most major streets and shops are busy with high energy. This is not a quiet market town or a big city. It is a college town with a strong economy.
The university, made up of 39 colleges, is not situated as you would imagine. There is no grand entrance or sprawling campus. Instead, the colleges where students are housed, are scattered around the city, and share common lecture halls. Most of the colleges are clustered around what is now the city center, but not in the traditional university style.
The city is bisected by numerous canals large and small. In the city center, you can get a ride on a flat bottomed boat called a punt. Tour companies provide drivers, or you can rent one and pole around yourself.
Fans of fantasy can walk in the footsteps of J.R.R Tolkein and C.S Lewis, who both attended Oxford as students and subsequently taught for many years. They were fast friends as well as colleagues.
JRR Tolkien – John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) lived in Oxford on and off for some 50 years: first from 1911-15 as a student, then from 1917-19 as a tutor and staff member of the New English Dictionary, and lastly as a professor of medieval languages and literature from 1925-59.
- City Population: 154,600 (ONS 2017 mid-year estimate)
- 33,640 students are enrolled as full-time studies in two universities
- 28 of England’s 55 Prime Ministers attended Oxford University
- The largest proportion of adults in full-time studies of any city in England and Wales
- 46,000 people commute into Oxford for work
- Nearly seven million visitors (2014) per year, supporting over 13,000 jobs in Oxford
- There are more jobs than residents – the jobs density ratio is 1.23
Oxford and Oxfordshire have also provided backdrops for countless international films including Harry Potter filmed at Christ Church and James Bond’s Spectre filmed at Blenheim Palace, to name just a few. Many places across the area may look familiar to fans of TV shows like Downton Abbey, Midsomer Murders, and Inspector Morse.
Explore the city of Oxford and the wider countryside to discover world-class arts and culture in stunning venues. Take the time to wander the University of Oxford, museums, country houses, and gardens such as Blenheim Palace. The are is beautifully landscaped and is full of walking, cycling and boating opportunities.
One tip: If driving to Oxford, you will need to park at one of the parking lots around the outer perimeter of the city. Each parking lot has its own free bus, just be sure to get back on the right one or you may never find your car.