It feels like every street in Oxford, England has a story to tell. From the cluster of downtown streets where 600-year-old Universities spire up into the sky, to medieval towers that suddenly appear in the middle of a modern shopping street, and the small winding cobblestone alleyways that take you to hidden bars made for tiny people, history is around every turn! Overlooking Oxford from St Mary’s Church Tower One of the best things to do in Oxford is climb St Mary’s Church Tower Unlike other historical cities with their own stories to tell, Oxford speaks of excitement of those stepping into adulthood for the first time to embark on a journey of great discovery, like those of many famous revolutionary thinkers that helped pave the path before them. Carfax Tower, Oxford, England Looking down High St from Carfax Tower You feel that spirit emanating from the stones walls that talk. You also hear it in the polite, yet loud, arguments about quantum physics and economics over splashing pints of beer in the pub. It’s the kind of energy that permeates magical worlds like Hogwarts. Its spell giving you permission to hope, dream and remember the unencumbered spirit of those student years. One reason we chose to go on our London, Bath, and Oxford trip (and why we travel so much with our kids) is to expand their horizons, so they can believe in a future where anything is possible. Carfax Tower, Oxford At the top of Carfax Tower A little girl posing for a picture Out the front of Christ Church College AD I want them to come to a places in England like Oxford, this prestigious place of learning where big dreams are followed and big discoveries that change the world are made, and see that door open for them. Now, after wandering around this UK city, Kalyra has noted New College as her kind of place and Savannah has decided she wants to attend Christ Church College (although she’s conflicted between that and Harvard!) You can’t help but dream when you visit Oxford. The stories of those University students who have walked this path help those come after to BELIEVE. AD A group of people walking on a sidewalk We loved exploring Oxford by foot AD We spent two very full days and nights experiencing the best things to do in Oxford and could have happily stayed longer, if only to continue to wander and feel these stories, old and new. While many visit Oxford on a day trip from London, we recommend staying for at least a night, so you don’t rush your Oxford trip. I honestly don’t know how I can fit all there is to see and do in Oxford, England, in this post. AD Table Of Contents About Oxford University large old building Incredible architecture everywhere AD If you’re a new visitor to Oxford, you may be as confused as me. Oxford University is not just one University, but a collegiate college made up of thirty-nine colleges. That means there is no actual Oxford University that you attend. The students enroll in a particular college, which is part of the greater Oxford University. There are shared facilities throughout Oxford University like the Bodleian Library and common parks and grounds. AD old building walls with vines on them A gate in front of a green field Christ Church College, Oxford AD The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest surviving university – there is evidence of teaching as early as 1096. It has connections with many famous people including 27 British Prime Ministers, 26 Nobel Prize winners, and writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Without a doubt, Oxford is one of the best places to visit in England. I don’t know why it took me so long. Guided Walking Tour of Oxford (Harry Potter Themed) people standing in front of an old building With our tour guide Sally outside the Divinity School in Oxford AD Website Hosted Experience There are many guided walking tours to choose from in Oxford, from university tours, to CS Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, to our kids preferred, Harry Potter. Oxford and its colleges have been the backdrop for several of the scenes filmed in the Harry Potter films and are waiting for you to step right into them. Whilst in London we spent a day at the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio getting a look at the real sets used in the film. On this UK trip we wanted to see as many of the real sets as well as places that inspired the magical world we love so much. AD people walking down a city sidewalk Exploring Oxford with Sally AD Sally from Experience Oxfordshire was our guide for this Harry Potter Highlights tour of Oxford. She took us to see some key filming locations from the movies, or places that inspired the Harry Potter Stories. She also shared her insights into fun little symbolism connections between Oxford and JK Rowling’s characters. It wasn’t just all about witches and wizards. She did dip into the real muggle world to tell us stories of other famous Oxford characters, like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, who were students and fellows of Oxford University. Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, England Outside Radcliffe Camera with Sally AD We learned about the history of several of the colleges; the architecture of Oxford – much of which was the work of Sir Christopher Wren (as is half of London and St Paul’s); and valuable information as to how to get into Oxford University, and the students favorite pub (more below). A guided walking tour of Oxford will help bring the stories of this fascinating city alive. I suggest making the walking tour your first attraction, so that you know what to come back and explore deeper, and then you don’t waste time experiencing things twice. As we had already done an audio tour of Christ Church College (see blow) , Sally was great at pivoting and not revisiting there.