Discover England's oldest University City
Oxford is a leisurely day tour from London; it makes sense logistically to stay in the Cotswolds nearby. You save travelling time, and you have the opportunity to tour the Cotswolds region of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The United Kingdom has four universities in the top ten rankings in the world, including Cambridge. Education is one of Britain's significant exports, making Oxford cosmopolitan, international and a breeding ground for new ideas.
The City of Oxford's entire centre comprises historic college buildings, places of worship, laboratories, libraries, and old halls. It looks much like a film set. The city has played itself in Inspector Morse, Mid Sommer Murders and Brideshead Revisited. The wide variety of spectacular old and atmospheric buildings has led filmmakers to use the University for fantasy films, such as The Harry Potter franchise, The X-Men and The Golden Compass. One of our most popular driver-guided day tours from is our Oxford and Blenheim Palace.
The City of Dreaming Spires
The town was initially called Oxanforda and marked a point at which Saxon ox drovers could ford the River Thames. Later a ferry operated at the same location; today called Folly Bridge, the river is called the Isis, a shortened term from the Latin name Thamesis or Thames. A small monastery established nearby. In 872, King Alfred passed through and got into deep conversation with some of the residents. The conversation went on for several days, and Oxfords reputation for scholarly debate was born. It was to become a critical Saxon centre. Later in the 11th century, council gatherings took place here. In 1066, it was the sixth most significant town in England.
There is so much to see in Oxford
Without a guide, it is easy to miss those hidden gems. Often visitors arrive anticipating that the world-famous Oxford University will comprise just one genuinely spectacular building. It's a collegiate made up of almost forty colleges each within magnificent historic buildings and settings.
Of the almost forty Oxford University colleges Balliol and Merton are the oldest. Balliol, founded around 1263, has always been on this site in Broad Street. Many of the buildings rebuilt in Gothic style by the same architect, Alfred Waterhouse, who was also responsible for the iconic Natural History Museum in London.
Merton College is super old, founded around 1274. The impressive entrance has magnificently carved panels of lions, unicorn, lambs and other animals and trees. Exeter and Oriel colleges followed in 1314 and 1326 respectively.
The streets of Oxford all have individual characters which have given rise to their distinctive names. 'Broad Street' is a wide thoroughfare, 'Turl Street' refers to the turnstile used to guard it and 'Merton Street' indicates its access to Merton College. The 'Lamb and Flag Passage' runs past a pub of the same name down to the magnificent Victorian Gothic University Museum of Natural History, filled with dinosaur skeletons, a stuffed Dodo and so much more.
Every building has historical features which amaze and delight be they statues, gargoyles, windows or towers. Attempting to list all the 'must-see' sights of Oxford is almost impossible. Still, Christ Church, The Sheldonian, the domed Radcliffe Camera and The Bridge of Sighs are just four that are must-see.
While the 'Bear Inn' claims to be Oxfords oldest pub, dating back to 1242. The 'Eagle and Child' also has a long history and was a meeting place for a literary group called 'The Inklings'. The group included J. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who met in the Rabbit Room at the back of the pub to discuss literature.
Touring and accommodation
Oxford sits on the edge of the Cotswolds region; a huge landmass designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB. Leave London and visit Oxford and Blenheim Palace. Return to London or stay for a few nights in the Cotswolds and explore the region in more detail with your driver-guide.
Stay at the Lygon Arms Hotel in the beautiful village of Broadway in the heart of the Cotswolds. However, the region has a huge variety of Manor House Hotels, Castles and Traditional Inns to stay.
Oxford England's Oldest University City
Discover the City that found the Vaccine
- Tailored Day Tour
- Expert DRIVER GUIDED Tour
- Tour Inside the University Buildings
- Stay overnight and tour the Cotswolds nearby
- VIP Tours Available
Christchurch College Hall, Still in Use Daily
The Bridge of Sighs, Oxford
The Divinity School once used for Exams
Christchurch College Cloisters
The Divinity School, Oxford
Sheldonian Theatre Seating