Oxford wowed us far beyond expected. Small and pretty, a bicycle city and hence quiet, instagram friendly and clean, a great university city and a sweet campus town, it’s the ideal destination for a day trip from Chicheley Hall!
How to do some sightseeing with twin toddlers
Let’s start with the practicalities. The twins were tired when we arrived at Oxford, as it was a morning ride and a short one (just over an hour from our hotel). So they hadn’t napped, but were about to. They were cranky and soon got rid of the stroller. So for the first hour and a half we had to negotiate and then carry them around. Which means we only got to see Christ Church College and two market streets. We didn’t shop of course, but we were smart enough to get them something to eat. They both fell asleep within 30 minutes and in the stroller, so we did some good ol’ fashioned sightseeing: fast paced, quick shots, many videos with a smoothie at hand.
Good thing is, Oxford is small and friendly, easy to navigate and the very best is actually 30 minutes walk tops.
Is Oxford toddler friendly;
You can spend some time at the Botanical Gardens, let them roam free, get tired and fall asleep. There’s also the Museum of Natural History with some activities for toddlers. Note that Oxford is a serious bicycle city, which means that most of the town center is car free, so safe. If you’re in Oxford for long, visit this regularly to choose something that might be around when you’re there and might interest your toddlers.
Keep in mind that if you’re thinking of visiting a museum while your toddlers snack in their stroller to stay quiet, forget it, as I sadly learned that food and drink is not allowed in the exhibitions. And of course, children are not allowed in libraries, as they cannot be kept quiet.
Must-sees in Oxford
- Christ Church College: It is a row of extraordinary medieval buildings in a beautiful large garden in the heart of town, right between Oxford Museum and Christ Church Meadow, 10 steps away from the market.
Lewis Caroll, author of the masterpiece Alice in Wonderland taught here, hence the love of the town for everything Alice. Don’t skip the Alice In Wonderland store right across the street, for stationary, old editions and baby books, all Alice related.
Last but not least, Harry Potter films chose this college to depict the School Of Magic building and surroundings, as its gothic architecture really takes you back into a magic land. Hence the city’s love about everything Harry Potter, as this college is not the only filming location.
- Bodleian Library: another Harry Potter filming location, this old Library hides thousands of treasures written on paper. Old editions in rooms sorted by category, will cause the shivers to any book lover. Too bad we couldn’t get in (kids).
- Oxford University: The main building of the famous Uni is right next to Bodleian Library and opposite to
- the Bridge of Sorrows, one of the highlights. It’s also opposite to
- Weston Library where Orpheas finally napped, while we were struggling to visit 2 exhibitions that were carmically placed right next to each other: one of linguistics (my field) and one on 3D (my husband’s field).
- Trinity College: to the left of Weston Library, this magnificent building is just the first of a series of amazing structures, both old gothic and modern pastel. It leads back to the market streets, through some great souvenir shops and amazing book stores. If you turn left again, you will get to Oxford Museum and Christ Church College. Here is where George finally napped, so we took another left and got ourselves to
- University Church: one of my top 10 gothic churches. Now, you have to make another left to end up back at Bodleian Library through some of the best the city has to show:
- All Souls College: to your right. More than 200 films have probably been shot in its arched alleys and the majestic facade.
- Radcliffe Library: to your left. This cylinder building with the green front yard is surround by some of the best buildings in Oxford: University Church, All Souls College, Lincoln College and the Bodleian Library.
While walking around this fab town, we came across parks with students laying on the green fat grass; dark alleys with wild youth; astonishing cathedrals and romantic cafes; so many book stores and traditional pubs.
I got nostalgic of my own youth, and my student days both in Athens and in Sweden.
But mostly, I got hopeful for my future as a mother, for my kids’ future. For all they will experience and everything they might experience. For the historic books they will read and the beautiful cities they will visit. For their future student life and the friends they will make – if they’re lucky, from all over the world, like myself. Or maybe not.
After we got back, I started noticing the fiction surrounding Oxford. All those great men and women who have studied here, both in real life and in my books. From The Great Gatsby to all those Crazy Rich Asians.
And if I had the time, I would research on how one can actually study in Oxford and live the ultimate student and learning experience.
Till then, if you’re there, drink a beer for me 🙂