With Covid-19 still quite an active presence around the world, a lot of the UK is looking for a staycation or a day trip to replace their holiday.
I thought I’d share a few recommendations over the coming weeks for places to visit for a short amount of time and what you can do there. The UK is full of beautiful villages, towns and cities waiting to be explored.
We’re starting the UK Staycation series with Oxford! If you’re reading this post Covid, this is also a good day trip or a good stop on a longer UK visit from abroad!
Oxford is a city in itself however, you will find beautiful and old University buildings all around the centre, and further afield. All you need to do is wander around and admire the beautiful buildings.
Some of the university buildings are free to wander around, but some do have a small charge to visit. It’s not essential to go inside, but they are very nice inside and out so if you have the opportunity, head to a free one!
If you’re not interested in going inside, I would suggest popping into a book shop or using Pinterest to find a guide about the university or the city. Normally you can make yourself a walking tour for free or find some interesting instagrammable spot!
To hide from the rain, we went into the free areas of the Weston Library and admired the old books and amazing layout! We also found all the University buildings we could to wander around for free!
If you’re short on time, you can check out the Oxford University Map on their website beforehand to find information on all of the colleges and make your decision on which is best to visit.
Another place you cannot miss is the covered market! Oxford is home to a large market hall filled with interesting and varied traders. Food smells floating down the walkways, clothing stores and souvenir shops line each of the narrow ailes, it’s a wonderful place to visit. You can find a full list of traders here.
They reopened to the public on 4th July 2020 and have put in social distancing measures. When we went, the place was absolutely rammed full of people and it was hard to get by, but it looks like they’ve done a good job of controlling the crowds!
Canal and River Walks
Oxford sits on the River Thames which branch off into small waterways. Wandering down the canal banks and exploring the different waterways was so much fun while we visited Oxford.
Along the waterways, you find signs and information boards explaining historical events and buildings along the way. The wildlife is also very active, which was surprising for such a busy city! It is also a scenic route to get from one side of town, to another, aswell as having a few pint-stops (pit stops) in the form of pubs!
Which brings me onto my next point, the Quaint Pubs. Oxford is steeped in historical buildings and like most British cities, has no shortage of pubs. If you follow the waterways or stick to the older buildings in town, there are some real gems to visit.
This one was at the end of a canal and beginning of a waterway as you walked from the station into town. They have a beautiful garden overlooking the water on one side.
Oxford Castle & Prison
Initially a castle, built in the late 12th/early 13th century, this building was destroyed during the English Civil War after which, the remaining buildings were turned into a prison unit. A new complex was then built to house more prisoners from 1785 and was a full fledged prison until as recently as 1996!
It is well worth a visit to this awesome historical site, if not for the creepy tour into the old cells, then for the amazing views of Oxford from St Georges Tower, which is believed to pre-date the rest of the castle to the Saxon era!
Some of the old prison cells have actually been turned into hotel rooms which you can stay in! The grounds are visit-able without charge and there is a lot of historical signage to inform you what things used to be so even if you don’t want to fork out for the tour, you can still learn a lot about it just from wandering around it.
Make sure you book to eat some good grub! A lot of the local places are bustling with people of a Saturday night, but there are a few walk ins.
We used the HappyCow App (not sponsored, just love it) to find a few places including the Vegan feast of Indian food shown below from Mowgli. A beautiful restaurant in the very out of place, new looking shopping mall complex. Saying that, the views from this place were also great, free and accessible via escalator!
We also found some amazing street food, breakfasts, bakeries, fudge shops and cafe’s in Oxford that were just divine. If you’re like me, you’re going to want to do some research beforehand to drool over and book something for dinner before you go.
Don’t underestimate Wandering!
I will say this in every post I ever share, MAKE SURE YOU WANDER AIMLESSLY! I love to explore new places and I would say the coolest things I’ve found or done have been from walking around and wondering ‘what’s down there?’. Sometimes it can feel like you’re temporarily living in that place and exploring your local area!
Planning something down to the T does have it’s moments, but in England, I would wholly recommend wandering around until you stumble upon something cool.
On this trip, after a few pubs making our way back to the hotel, we stumbled upon a neon golf club that we had no idea was there. After a short discussion, we were inside playing golf on a clown crazy golf course. It was so much fun and not something I would have found looking at tourist events in the city beforehand.
And that’s the post! Oxford is full of really cool things but this is what we got up to on our short weekend trip there and I think covers the highlights! Let me know if I missed anything in the comments!