101 places to go – Oxford

Our new featured location may be a contrast to the decidedly continental weather we’ve been enjoying over the past few days but all this sunshine provides a perfect complement to Oxford’s quintessential Englishness, and makes it even more of a joy to explore.

It may be slightly dismissive but Oxford’s major features could be summed up in three words: ‘brains and boats’. The city’s prestigious university is the oldest in the English-speaking world, and a ride down the River Isis is one of the best ways to appreciate Oxford’s beauty and heritage. But it’s Oxford’s literary connections that we’re championing this week, as the Times Literary Festival gets into swing with a full week of talks, workshops and presentations.

Oxford has influenced some of the nation’s most beloved books. From Tolkien’s vivid descriptions of Middle Earth to Lewis Carroll’s eccentric adventures in Wonderland, these timeless adventures all have their inspirations in the very real beauty of Oxford. So we thought we’d highlight a few of our favourite literary locations in the city for this week’s 101 places to go in the UK, Ireland and France.

• The Eagle and Child pub is where CS Lewis and Tolkien – known as ‘The Inklings’ – would meet and trade war stories. Lewis’ tales involved the comings and goings in the magical kingdom of Narnia, while Tolkien’s concerned Hobbits and Middle-Earth. Maybe there’s something in the water?

• Lewis Carroll was allegedly inspired to create Alice in Wonderland after enjoying a leisurely picnic and boat ride on the River Isis. We can’t guarantee you’ll experience the same levels of influence on your jaunt, but it’s one of the best ways to pass the time and admire your beautiful surroundings.

• Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse series is one of Britain’s most popular and endearing literary creations. Unlike Oxford’s more fantastical literary creations, it’s possible to take a tour of the real-world locations that formed the backdrop to his adventures, sharing his love of real ale, music, poetry and art along the way. Unfortunately, a sports car is not included!

Take a look at our featured holiday cottages in the Oxford region.

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