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An Oxford travel guide – majestic medieval colleges, classical concerts, riverside walks and tea-time treats

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On an Oxford city break visit the centuries-old colleges of Oxford University and stroll or punt along two pretty rivers. Browse high-quality shops, enjoy classic set teas and sample local ales in wood-beamed old pubs. Book an Oxford hotel to discover a city steeped in tradition and prestige.

Historic university

Quiet quads, grandiose medieval stonework and the wood-panelled Great Halls of Britain’s oldest university are all open to visitors. Massive Tom Tower rises over the largest, Christ Church College, which has its own cathedral. Balliol College is one of the oldest and prettiest. The university has its own museums including one of Musical Instruments, and one of the world’s great libraries, the Bodleian.

Parks and rivers

Waterside paths follow Oxford’s two rivers, the Isis and Cherwell, beside big picnic meadows like University Parks. Try river punting for a taste of student life. Magdalen College has deer woods and its own island. In town, traditional set teas are served. Or sample local ales in quirky 300-year-old pubs like the venerable Turf Tavern.

Classic shops

Oxford’s eclectic shopping includes high-class outfitters and a traditional local independent department store, Boswells. Dozens of booksellers include antiquarian, secondhand and specialist shops – Blackwell’s is one of the world’s largest. The city centre Covered Market is a tangle of lanes lined with fashion bargains, fishmongers, jewellers and fine wines.

Culture

International standard choirs are a feature of Oxford’s medieval churches and music venues. Jazz and classical concerts are staged all year round. The University’s Pitt Rivers Museum displays renowned collections of world art and culture. Galleries in town range from Old Masters at Christ Church Gallery to Modern Art Oxford. There’s drama at Oxford Playhouse, and household name entertainment at the New Theatre.