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Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities to be found in England and you are sure to find an activity to suit everyone if you choose to take a break here. From the wide open rural landscapes that are great for cycling or walking to the stunning architectural sights of the city, there's no chance of boredom taking over when taking a coach break to Oxford.
If you have chosen a self-drive break, one of the first things to do when you arrive in Oxford is to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings. A fun way to achieve this is to join one of the highly recommended Oxford walking tours where a Blue Badge Guide will take you on a short orientation tour of the city (lasting for approximately 2 hours) pointing out the sights that you may wish to see later on during your holiday. Perhaps you have chosen an escorted tour package to Oxford and if this is the case, the majority of the excursions will have already been planned for you. However, you will also have ample amount of free time where you can explore the city at leisure.
The city of Oxford is not only famous for its University Colleges, of which there are 38, it is also famous for its connections to the popular ITV drama series of Inspector Morse as the majority of episodes were filmed in and around the city. Fans of both the books and TV series descend upon the city on Oxford coach breaks in order to walk in the footsteps of their favourite characters. The Inspector is so famous that the Tourist Information Centre now runs regular Morse Walking Tours where fans are guided through the city and locations featured in the TV series are pointed out. You can even have a pint in the Turf Tavern which is one of drinking establishments frequented often by both Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis. The Morse Walking Tours also combine elements of Endeavour and Lewis as the original Inspector Morse series finished filming. If your purse-strings allow, you should visit the Randolph Hotel, a location frequently visited by the author Colin Dexter.
Hundreds of people choose to visit Oxford simply to admire its stunning architecture, after all it is known as 'the city of dreaming spires'. To really understand its beauty, pay a small fee and climb to the top of the University Church of St Mary The Virgin where you will be rewarded with amazing views of the city – just don't forget your camera. One of the most well-known sights of Oxford is the Radcliffe Camera, which is located near to the church and makes for a perfect photo opportunity. Only a short walk away you will find the Bodleian Library which houses a copy of every publication in the UK. Near to the Bodeleian is the Sheldonian Theatre where on some occasions you can hear the orchestra in practice, although do not sit outside to listen, otherwise you will be moved on by a staff member.
There are so many fabulous places to visit whilst staying in Oxford that you may wish to extend your stay or come back another day should you not be able to see everything. If possible, you really shouldn't leave Oxford without punting along the Cherwell/River Thames or visiting the Ashmolean Museum, the Botanic Gardens, Blackwell's Bookstore and Christ Church College. It is worth noting that almost all of the University Colleges now charge a small fee for visitors to enter and explore the famous Quadrangles.
Tours start from only £55 per person and each city break to Oxford will include: return coach travel, accommodation in a quality hotel, meals and excursions. Depending on your departure area, you may be able to enjoy day trips to Oxford instead of staying overnight. There could also be an option of a self-drive break where you will organised your own travel arrangements to get to and from the hotel.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in England, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
British Citizens are advised by some of our tour operators to have travel insurance before travelling on a tour or holiday, even if it happens to be in your country of residence. As a British citizen, you will be entitled to free emergency health care on the NHS.
If you are visiting England from outside the United Kingdom and fall ill or are involved in an accident and are from any member of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you can obtain free or reduced cost treatment with The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Comprehensive travel insurance is advised for all other nationals planning on visiting England.
If you need to contact the emergency services whilst in England simply dial 999 or 112 to ask for an ambulance.
Most destinations are generally trouble-free, however as with all places that you are not familiar with, keep an eye on your belongings and if necessary lock them away somewhere safe back at your hotel.. Keep an eye on everyone in your party and do not go off with people you do not know. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times. Be aware of your surroundings and don't venture off on your own.
Local Laws and Customs
Queuing is a British Institution - jump a queue at your own risk!
Drug offences will carry penalties in the UK, so avoid getting involved with anything whilst in England. Please note the narcotic plant Khat/Qat is legal in the UK, but is not in a majority of other countries so never try to export this when leaving the UK.
If you are visiting from outside of the United Kingdom, it is wise to check customs requirements before you travel. If you are planning to bring alcohol, tobacco or souvenirs into the country, you need to be familiar with the UK's custom laws. For those people coming to the UK from the EU, you are allowed to bring an unlimited amount of most goods for your own use without paying tax or duty.
However, if you are travelling to the UK from outside of the EU, you are given an allowance of how much alcohol, tobacco, perfume, souvenirs and other goods. If you go above this allowance you may have to pay tax or duty. It is worth checking the HM Revenues and Customs website before you travel.
In most cases, when travelling between the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, an official form of identification such as a Driver's License will be ok. However, some airlines will insist you show a passport so do check before you travel.
If you are travelling to England from Australia, Canada or the USA, you must have a valid passport for at least three months beyond the length of your stay. EU nationals need to have either a valid passport or identity card.
Visas for the UK are not required by those travelling from Australia, Canada, USA or EU for stays of up to six months.
Any other nationality looking to visit the UK must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more about visiting England, check out their official tourism website at visitengland.com
We doubt very much that you will run out of things to do whilst enjoying a city break here but should you become stuck for ideas, here are a few places in Oxford that you should visit:
Christ Church College
One of the most famous colleges to be found in Oxford that also has connections with the literary world. The Great Hall at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film series was based here. Visitors can go inside the Hall, wander through the Cloisters and stand on the very steps where Professor McGonagall welcomed students to Hogwarts.
The Turf Tavern
If you're looking for somewhere great to eat and drink, you should definitely visit the Turf Tavern, if you can find it as this 13th century alehouse is well hidden. There are different courtyards to sit and people-watch. Many famous faces have frequented here including Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Taylor, CS Lewis, Margaret Thatcher and of course, Inspector Morse.
Another library to be found in Oxford and located near to the Bodleian. It was built in 1749 and used to house the Science Library. Now it is a reading room for the Bodleian. The sheer structure of the circular dome is one of the many reasons why so many visit and choose to have their photo taken here.
University Church of St Mary The Virgin
If you happen to be in Oxford on a clear sunny day, it is definitely worth climbing the 124 steps to the top of this church as you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the city's famous skyline filled with spires. If you purchase a guidebook, you will be able to spot all the major sights to be seen from this viewpoint.
This is one of the oldest libraries to be found in Europe and houses copies of all works that have been published in the UK. The Bodleian is fondly known as 'Bodley' or 'the Bod' by its scholars and can only be used as a reference, none of the documents housed here can be removed. Anyone wanting to use the Library must first sign a declaration before being allowed entry. Can highly recommend taking a walk around the Quadrangle as the architecture is stunning – especially on a dry sunny day.
Focusing on art and archaeology, the Ashmolean is definitely worth a visit during your coach break to Oxford. Admission to the museum is free and to keep everyone entertained, there is usually some sort of event taking place showcasing a variety of antiquities. Although drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael can only be viewed by appointment only.
Punting on The Thames
No visit to Oxford would be complete without hiring one of the punts and experiencing a tranquil cruise along the Cherwell or River Thames. Here's your chance to see the local scenery from a different perspective, admire the famous Oxford skyline or just moor up and lose yourself in a good book.