I first visited Oxford as a summer student in college. I stayed in New College in the heart of Oxford, which made exploring the historic sites of the city, including its many storied pubs, easy. The City of Dreaming Spires enchanted me so much that I returned for a longer study abroad stint, this time staying on the outskirts of town, which afforded me a more local experience.
There’s so much to see in Oxford and the surrounding countryside. Here are my recommendations on how to see the best of Oxford in just three days for your first trip.
Oxford’s weather is mostly temperate but unpredictable, so pack layers.
If you only have time for one thing, make it historic Oxford and its colleges.
No Oxford trip is complete without visiting the historic colleges of the university, along with top attractions like the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera. All are centrally located and easy to explore on foot. Guided tours cater to different interests, including student-led and Harry Potter-inspired.
Get on the water by going punting on the Cherwell (a quintessential Oxford experience) or going on a Thames boat cruise. Grab a bite or drink at the Folly restaurant or Cherwell Boathouse. Finish the day with pints at a historic Oxford pub, including the Bear Inn and the Turf Tavern.
Spend today focused on your interests. Enjoy a leisurely visit to some of the top museums in town, including the Ashmolean Museum for art and archeology; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Pitt Rivers Museum for natural history, archeology, and ethnography; and Story Museum for literary insights on classics, some penned by Oxford alumni. A hop-on hop-off bus tour provides easy transportation.
Venture outside Oxford for your last day. Explore the beautiful countryside and the charming villages of the Cotswolds, like Burford, Chipping Norton, and Moreton-in-Marsh. Stop at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Or go wine tasting in Oxfordshire at Brightwell Vineyard, the largest in the area.