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With its famous halls of academia and "dreaming spires," Oxford is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK. Magnificent architecture abounds and the streets are filled with bicycles and students in wonderfully archaic academic gowns. The whole college district seems to float in a vanished summer from between the wars. The first Oxford college was founded in the 13th century, but Oxford University now includes 39 colleges, providing an education for 20,000 high-achieving students. The English class system is palpable here - despite efforts to broaden the student intake, Oxford still attracts the most privileged as well as the ...

With its famous halls of academia and "dreaming spires," Oxford is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK. Magnificent architecture abounds and the streets are filled with bicycles and students in wonderfully archaic academic gowns. The whole college district seems to float in a vanished summer from between the wars. The first Oxford college was founded in the 13th century, but Oxford University now includes 39 colleges, providing an education for 20,000 high-achieving students. The English class system is palpable here - despite efforts to broaden the student intake, Oxford still attracts the most privileged as well as the most academically gifted in the country. Outside of lectures, students pass their time punting and rowing on the River Cherwell and the Thames, in practice for the annual boat race with their arch rivals from Cambridge University. For visitors, attractions include superb museums and galleries, upscale shops and restaurants, and the colleges themselves, with their libraries, chapels and general hallowed air.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to October, but June, July and August are the best months for punting.