It’s hard to believe this quiet idyll sits just a stone’s throw from Oxford’s busy High Street. Oxford Botanic Garden is Britain’s oldest botanical garden and once inside its stone wall you’ll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Beautiful formal gardens, glass houses, a conservatory, pond and romantic herbaceous borders all come together to create a horticultural wonderland that is truly spectacular.
University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford, UK, +44 1865 286690
Arguably one of the most famous views in Oxford, Radcliffe Square is truly a feast for the eyes. Surrounded by awe-inspiring historic buildings including the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Bodleian Library, it’s undoubtedly the imposing centrepiece of the Radcliffe Camera that steals the show. Walk around the cobbled square and take in the marvel of some of the finest architecture the city has to offer.
This gilded, mirror-clad and marble-pillared café is an Oxford institution. Standing on the site of the oldest coffee house in England, according to Samuel Pepys’ diary in 1650, The Grand Café is a masterclass in opulence. No visit to Oxford would be complete without taking in the beauty of this little piece of history. Treat yourself to Grand High Tea, where you can indulge in smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, tea and a glass of Champagne, in the grandest of surroundings.
The Grand Café, 84 The High, Oxford, UK, +44 1865 204463
Running through the city, the beautiful River Cherwell is as much an iconic part of Oxford as the University. Throw down a blanket and enjoy a summer’s picnic (and some excellent people watching) on the banks of the river, or take to the water on one of the many punts for hire. Punting is great fun, but if you don’t fancy your chances at staying upright, you can hire a rowing boat or pedalo to cruise down the picturesque river instead.
If you can only visit one college when you visit Oxford, it has to be Christ Church. Founded in 1524, it’s the largest of the city’s colleges and stepping inside feels like going back in time. Visit the Great Hall, the college’s spectacular dining room that was the inspiration for the dining hall in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, then take a stroll around Tom Quad, arguably the grandest quadrangle in the city. Make sure you also find time to explore the dramatic 12th-century cathedral and tranquil Christ Church meadow.
Christ Church, St. Aldates, Oxford, UK, +44 1865 276150
The Bodleian Library is a familiar part of the Oxford landscape; as one of Europe’s oldest libraries, it’s still used by students and scholars today, but is also a very popular destination with visitors keen to explore this ancient institution. You can’t fail to be wowed by the magnificent architecture of The Bodleian Library, but it’s the interior which is truly breath taking. From the lofty grandeur of the medieval Divinity School to the atmospheric beauty of Duke Humfrey’s library, the sense of history inside The Bod is palpable.
Bodleian Libraries, Broad Street, Oxford, UK, +44 1865 287400
Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com