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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 £99 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.
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.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in England, please take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
Health and Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is recommended by all our tour operators and for some operators it is a condition of booking. When choosing a travel insurance please ensure it fully covers all your personal requirements including pre-existing medical conditions, cancellation charges, medical expenses, and repatriation in the event of accident or illness. As a British citizen you will obviously 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 an EU country or Switzerland, you can use a valid EHIC issued by your home country to access healthcare. Please note this is not an alternative to travel insurance. Comprehensive travel insurance is advised for nationalities planning on visiting the UK.
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If you need to contact the emergency services whilst in the UK simply dial 999 or 112 to ask for an ambulance.
The United Kingdom is a safe place to visit, however, as with all countries please exercise common sense. Petty crime can occur so take your usual precautions such as not leaving luggage unattended, beware of pickpockets in tourist areas and leave valuables in the hotel safe.
Local Laws and Customs
Queuing is a British Institution - jump a queue at your own risk!
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. If you go over your allowances, you may have to pay tax or duty. It is worth checking the HM Revenues and Customs website before you travel.
UK Entry Requirements
When travelling between the UK, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man you may need to show a Border Force officer a document confirming your identity. In most cases an official form of identification such as a driver's license or an armed forces identity card will be ok. However, some airlines will insist you show a passport so please check before you travel.
If you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein you can enter the UK with one of the following identity documents: a passport, an Irish passport card or a national identity card issued by an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, if you’re eligible to use one. The identity document should be valid for the whole of your stay.
If you’re from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you must have a valid passport to enter the UK. It should be valid for the whole of your stay. You may also need a visa, depending on which country you’re from. Please check here if a visa is required before you travel.