Known the world over for its university, Oxford has been a centre of learning as far back as the 12 th century. But although the university is the main feature of the city centre, visitors might be disappointed at how much is hidden behind closed doors, and not accessible to the tourist. The architecture of the buildings that can be seen, however, is a treasure to behold, and some will still admit the curious for a small charge. Christ Church college is probably the best to experience, and you have the benefit of the adjoining cathedral too. The city centre lies between two rivers, the Thames and the Cherwell, and one of the most popular pastimes is punting. The flat bottomed punts are steered using a long pole in the shallow waters, in much the same way as the gondola's of Venice .
The large, domed, Radcliffe Camera stands grandly behind the ornate Old Schools Quadrangle, which it once served as the library. Although the public are not admitted to the inside, it remains one of the Oxford 's most impressive architectural works.
Perhaps unusually for a university time, the city's nightlife and entertainment is not the loud, brash, bustle of many of its comtemporaries. Instead a refined air of ‘niceness' prevails, with respectable bars and restaurants, classical music, and Shakespearean theatre.
A few miles outside the city is one of the grandest estates in England , Blenheim Palace . Built by the Duke of Marlborough on land and with money given by a grateful Queen Anne, as a thank you for his leading the defeat of the French at the battle of Blenheim. It is a vast baroque palace, which now houses an impressive collection of arts, and sits amid a seemingly unending landscape of formal gardens and parkland.
This is England’s oldest museum, established in 1683. Natural history exhibitions can be found here and well as very good art gallery. Located in Beaumont Street. (01865 278 000)
Bate Musical Collection Museum
Music from medieval days to modern days is celebrated here. There is an extensive collection of interesting and varied musical instruments housed here. (01865 276 139)
One of the most well known and most visited colleges in Oxford. It houses the Theological and Philosophical schools. (01865 278 441)
This is one of England’s favourite palaces, and famous as the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Set on 2,100 acres, along with bridges, rivers and formal gardens.
Inside the state rooms are luxuriously furnished and display excellent art, porcelain and tapestry pieces. Located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. (08700 66 20 80)
Modern Art Oxford
This gallery is known to be one of the finest contemporary art galleries in the region. Modern work from a range of artists is displayed here, including Yoko Ono.
(01865 722 733)