Experience Oxfordshire For Culture
Oxfordshire is a labyrinth of storied places and people. Standing in the ancient countryside of the county, it feels like you might be the first visitor to discover this land. Venture through the county, however, and you’ll discover thousands of years of culture. Start your journey on this 2 day itinerary in Oxford, an architectural gem and the world’s intellectual heart. Piercing Oxfordshire’s skyline with its spires and domes, this lively city provides an energetic contrast to the tranquility of Oxfordshire’s traditional market towns, such as Wallingford and Henley, which are nestled along the banks of the River Thames.
Day 1 – Oxford
Whilst you’re exploring the heart of Oxford, don’t miss the incredible museums. Choose from the Ashmolean museum, Britain’s first public museum and home to world-famous artefacts and collections, the History of Science Museum, the Museum of Natural History and neighbouring Pitt Rivers Museum, the University of Oxford’s quirky museum of anthropology and world archaeology.
Then, walk north from the city centre through University Parks. The beautiful park offers a choice of peaceful walks through. Feed ducks at the pond and discover the park’s Genetic Garden and collection of rare trees, before wandering along the river Cherwell and through Park Town to the Cherwell Boathouse.
Enjoy a delicious lunch at the Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant, renowned for its creative cooking. Idyllically located on the riverbank, soak up the tranquil atmosphere whilst indulging in fine food and wine.
Why not make the most of your trip and take part in the quintessentially Oxford activity of punting? At Cherwell Boathouse you can hire a punt! A timeless classic, take your punt and journey upstream or down river, admiring Oxford’s beautiful architecture and landscape from a unique perspective.
After your punting adventure, wander back towards the city centre through University Parks. Back in the city centre, take a stroll around cobbled Radcliffe Square to drink in 360 degree views of the Radcliffe Camera.
Nearby are the Bodleian Libraries, among the most famous libraries in the world – for their exceptional collection of books and manuscripts, but also for their historic buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages. Take a tour of the libraries, including the Divinity School, a masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, and the medieval Duke Humfrey’s Library. The more modern Western Library offers two free exhibitions featuring notable works from the Bodleian’s collections which are well worth a visit.
If you wander around Oxford in the evening, as you pass the University of Oxford college chapels you’ll hear the faint music of the college choirs singing. Immerse yourself in the experience of Choral Evensong, which happens every evening during University term-time.
Oxford’s stunning historic venues also play host to a busy calendar of concerts and recitals. See world-renowned musicians and artists play in intimate venues such as the iconic Sheldonian Theatre or the Holywell Music Room, said to be the oldest purpose-built music room in Europe.
The Old Parsonage: The 17th century wisteria-clad Old Parsonage Hotel is located in Oxford city centre, just a short stroll from the Ashmolean Museum. The 5* luxury hotel has a heritage of culture and literary luminaries – it is said that Oscar Wilde rented a room there while studying at the University. The hotel is also home to the Old Parsonage Grill, an intimate restaurant serving British classic dishes with a light, modern touch.
Mercure Eastgate Town House: Opposite Magdalen College, this 17th-century converted coaching inn was often visited by famous novelists JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis when they were fellows of Oxford University. The hotel is a good central base for exploring Oxford, with numerous colleges, museums and punting on the river a short walk away.
Galaxie: For those wanting to explore the leafy neighbourhood of Summertown, just north of Cherwell Boathouse, the Galaxie Hotel is within easy reach of the city centre. The recently refurbished family-run hotel offers individual character in each room, within a quiet residential area.
Day 2 – Wallingford/Henley
From Oxford, set off south along the A4074 into the Oxfordshire countryside.
The cute-as-a-dormouse village of Dorchester-on-Thames is nestled along the banks of the River Thames. The main attraction in the village of timber-framed houses is the medieval abbey, built in the 12th century.
Next, travel a few minutes onwards to Benson Marina, which is a great stop from which to walk along the tranquil banks of the river or sit and admire the views of the green fields, pretty meadow farmland and forest from the comfort of the Waterfront Café.
Stay for lunch at the Waterfront Café, or travel back to Burcot for a larger lunch at The Chequers at Burcot. A beautiful thatched gastro-pub, the Chequers offers a warm and friendly atmosphere, with locally-sourced contemporary British food, including famous sharing boards and steaks. If you would like to stay in South Oxfordshire for longer, check into The Chequers’ boutique hotel.
To experience the culture of Oxfordshire’s market towns, continue on to Wallingford. Wander the cobbled streets of the historic town and discover the town’s links with crime novelist Agatha Christie, as well as the ruins of Wallingford Castle and the excellent Wallingford Museum.
Alternatively, head straight on to the small village of Nuffield, in the heart of the Chiltern hills. The village is the location of Nuffield Place, once home to William Morris, founder of the Morris Motor Company. His home and personal possessions have been preserved just as he left them, the décor and furnishings intact.
For an evening by the river, journey through the Chilterns to Henley on Thames. A picturesque riverside town, home to the famous Henley Royal Regatta and the River and Rowing Museum. Explore the town on a self-guided walk, browse the independent shops and restaurants and take a relaxing stroll along the river.