Oxford, England

Harry Potter Great Hall
Great Hall, Christ Church College, Oxford University
The word "magical" really is appropriate to describe the old town of Oxford, England. For non-Harry Potter aficionados; Oxford is the university after which Hogwarts, Harry's school, is modeled. Scroll down for tips on how to get to Oxford and how to spend a day there. 

The similarities Oxford University and Hogwarts are astonishing! Here are just a few of my favorites:

- "Colleges" at Oxford are similar to the four "Houses" at Hogwarts. Students belonging to each house or college wear the paraphernalia of their house or college, not of the school or university.

- Both schools have an internal mail system. In Oxford, its called "Pigeon-Post," "pidge" for short. Hogwarts has a similar program in which students' mail is delivered via their own personal owls. 

- Lastly, Gringotts, a gigantic bank in Harry Potter, staffed by goblins draws similarities to Blackwell's Bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford. This is the largest bookstore in the town and has a huge subterranean chamber that holds more than 160,000 volumes and 3 miles of shelving. 

Oxford, England
Oxford Rotundra, Oxford University
Oxford University is actually situated in, and named after, the town of Oxford, England. Albeit, most inhabitants are students of the "uni." The town has everything a regular college town would need; shops, grocery stores, bookstores, and good food! We tried an Asian noodle shop in the main dining square near the bus stop and, while wildly overpriced, we enjoyed it!

So you're wondering, how does an applicant to Oxford choose one college or another? Are they sorted with the famous Harry Potter "sorting hat"? No, each college stands for a different set of principles and has a distinct scholastic focus. For example; one college may be known for its temperance, and excels in theology or philosophy courses. Prospective students will choose one or two colleges to apply for. The university, as a whole, does not have a separate application process.

Oxford University, England
Courtyard of Christ Church College, Oxford University

How to Get to Oxford

Oxford is kind of in the middle of nowhere. The best way to get to Oxford from London city proper is by X90 Bus. It takes two hours and 20 pounds a person to get there. If you book a round trip same day ticket, you'll only pay 17 pounds a person.

Buses depart from London and Oxford about every 20 minutes until 9pm. When you arrive at Oxford, look at the timetable on the pole at the bus stop to check for the last bus. Or else you might be get the full Oxford experience by spending the night in an Oxford dorm!

Visit the X90 website for bus stop locations and departure times.

I recommend leaving your hotel in London in the morning, spending the day in Oxford, and returning that night. Mostly because you won't need more than a day to see the sights and experience the Oxford atmosphere, but also because there are very few hotels in Oxford that don't cost as much as a semester of Oxford tuition!

Oxford University, England
Broad Street, Oxford University

Your Day in Oxford

When you get to Oxford, stop in at George Street Social for a quick raspberry scone and coffee, and then head straight to 5 Broad Street at 11am where you will join a student-guide on the Footsteps Walking Tour of Oxford. You'll need to pay 15.99 pound fee, which includes admission to several buildings in Oxford. On this small-group tour, you'll go inside some of Oxford's oldest colleges, hear dramatic stories of Oxford's past, and learn about campus life throughout the history of the institution.

I loved seeing the great hall, or dining hall (pictured above), in Christ Church College where students like me eat three meals a day. I can only imagine what it would be like to live on such a magical campus!

Your tour will end by 1pm and you can grab lunch at any of the pubs frequented by Oxford students. After your tour, you'll doubtless be curious to re-visit some of the sights or want to explore new parts of Oxford. You can do so during the afternoon. Visit Footprint Tours' site to reserve tickets in advance.

Be sure to stop in at Blackwell's Bookshop on Broad Street. Pick up a copy of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe," which he wrote as he walked the very streets you've just visited! Ask a bookseller to share the beautiful history of the bookshop and its founder, Benjamin Henry Blackwell. 


Oxford University, England
Oxford University, England
Catch your bus home when your feet are weary and you're ready to trade the magical town of Oxford for the muggle world of London.


Now you know Oxford! But have you visited the cute town of Nottingham? Stay tuned for my next post about the town that inspired Robbin Hood with guest writer @janet__cho

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