My Summer Semester in Oxford, England
9 Things to Do in Oxford England this Summer.
By Katrina Demlow, Indiana University
When coming to England, most people immediately jump to London. And while London certainly has a great deal to offer, the surrounding cities can be a great place to visit, as well. If you can make it up to Oxford, on the upper reaches of the River Thames, be sure to check out these things!
1) Visit the colleges. Oxford University has 38 different colleges within the city, each being a little bit different. That being said, you should take the time to take a guided tour of at least a few. Some colleges will even let you wander in for free to select areas. I stayed in Jesus College and absolutely loved it!
2) Take the Harry Potter tour. Many of the scenes in Harry Potter were filmed in Oxford! For instance, the Divinity School was used as the infirmary, where Harry Potter visited when he was ill. Also, the Hogwart’s dining hall was filmed in Christ Church. You can explore these locations on your own or sign up for a guided tour focused exclusively on Harry Potter. But be sure to sign up for this tour early, as it fills up fast!
3) Visit the Ashmoleon Museum This museum is enormous, with exhibits including paintings, coins, instruments, antiques, and statues from various regions. Admission was free and it was quite interesting! Plan a large amount of time, as our group spent nearly 2 hours exploring this location. You won’t need to call ahead, but you are able to reserve a spot by simply picking up a token from the reception.
4) Play a game of Aunt Sally. Aunt Sally is a game that is native to Oxford and is played in a pub. The goal of the game is to knock a tiny “doll-like” object off of a pole by throwing a stick at it. It sounds easy, but trust me, it is not! If you’re with a school group, see if there are other schools that you can take on in a match!
5) Visit the MINI plant. Oxford is one of the producers of the MINI, with the plant’s inception in 2001. Since then, over 200 million cars have been made there. There are various plants that produce in other areas of the UK, but the final steps are completed at Plant Oxford. If you are interested, be sure to book a tour as soon as possible! On occasion, these tours are booked months in advance.
6) Go punting. Along the Thames River, you’ll see various forms of boats, but punting is by far the most exciting! When punting, you steer and power the boat with a long, metal pole. It is very similar to Italy’s gondolas, only with a pole instead of an oar. I highly recomend getting up and at least trying to punt yourself, but if you’re not feeling so adventurous, you can also have a trained “chauffeur” do it for you.
7) Visit the Oxford University Press Museum. Be sure to schedule a 30 minute appointment ahead of time. Your tour will show you various historic books, documents, and printing equipment of the Press.
8) Go to Turf Tavern . Turf Tavern is a local pub that is popular among many of the University students. It does also boast an impressive history, with visitors ranging from Bill Clinton to the Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. While visiting, the Australian Prime Minister consumed a yard glass of ale in 11 seconds, earning himself a Guinness World Record. It is also where Bill Clinton famously “did not inhale.” It can be pretty busy, but I assure you, it is worth it to stop by for a meal.
9) Explore the botanical gardens on High Street. This beautiful attraction right near the river and will only cost you about 3 pounds. It has more than 7,000 plants, including many that are quite exotic.
Whether you are a history buff, admirer of the arts, or simply want to enjoy the outdoors, you are sure to find something for you in Oxford, England!