My husband and I plan to spend 4 days in London, and want to take a day trip. However, we can't decide where to go and don't think we'd have time to do two day trips because that would only give us two days in London. I'm curious to see what everyone thinks between choosing Windsor, Oxford, and Cambridge!
You are right, you want to have at least 3 days in London. There is so much to do and see in London. I would choose either Oxford or Cambridge over Windsor, My husband prefers Cambridge but I like them both. I found both Cambridge and Oxford much more interesting than Windsor. Have fun and hopefully you will return to do the others on the next trip.
Windsor is a wonderful town! And you can "do" it in a half day trip. If you have plans for the theatre one night, do Windsor that morning, return to London around 3 and hit Covent Garden Market, then supper and the theatre. I think Canterbury also makes a very nice day trip! The cathedral is beautiful!
Of those 3, Oxford. If you have any interest I found Stonehenge and Salisbury fascinating. Doable by train in a day.
Either Windsor or Oxford would be my choice. What
is your interest? At Oxford you could take a quick
tour of a handful of colleges and soak in academic
atmosphere. At Windsor see the palace, take a walk
along the river, and through park. Both towns have
unique shops. Windsor is closer to London and a
little quicker to reach. If you are fyling in/out
of Heathrow Windsor would be even better to access
on day of arrival/departure.
Have a little fun with yourself. Next Saturday sees the annual boat race between the forces of good ( Oxford ) vs. the forces of darkness ( Cambridge ). Why not go and see the University that wins.
That way if Oxford win ( and they will ) you can visit a beautiful city where the air blows in fresh and clean across Port Meadow, where the children are bonny and bright, where the beer is tasty and refreshing, the food wholesome and nutritious and the great architecture of Sir Christopher Wren is thronged by a happy and smiling population.
Or if the evil ones prevail you can visit Cambridge and see the dank polluting mists roll in over the mud flats of the fens, as the children huddle in their rags in doorways and the toothless crones hobble down dark alleyways in search of illicit rot-gut gin and unwary strangers. You can see the tumbledown derelict buildings that the locals call a University and shudder as you feel the nameless terrors that lurk in each college doorway.
I enjoyed Oxford more than Windsor. When we were in Windsor, the Royals were there and we couldn't go inside. It was nice, but ... The next chance I had to go I passed on it and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum instead. I'll probably go to Windsor again next year when I take students.
Haven't been to Cambridge yet. We are scheduled to go there on next year's trip.
Al, I'll be sure to take something for protection against the evil forces there!
Thanks for everyone's suggestions! I am leaning towards Oxford, since it would be fun to see the colleges. Although now I am intrigued about the evil spirits at Cambridge....
There was no mention as to when you possibly may go to Cambridge. We made a big mistake of going to Cambridge in late May and all colleges were closed to visitors--it was exam time. This was very disappointing to say the least. It is a pleasant town and we had lunch at a popular pub but that was the extent of the trip. Also it was a Saturday and very crowded.
Oh to be this spoiled for choice all the time. I love both Windsor and Oxford and I don't think one should "do" either of them in half of a day. I vote for Oxford. It's only a matter of personal preference and that today, I miss Oxford more than I do Windsor.
Oxford, hands down. Besides the wonderful university, have a meal at the Eagle and Child, where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis used to hang out. Wonderful old bookstores, small streets that lead to mysterious crooks and crannies. Wander along the Thames and try to find where Alice followed the white rabbit down a hole. The old Oxford castle is being restored; you have a thousand years of history all wrapped up in one charming town.
I studied there for a month last summer. It is about a one-hour train ride from London. Cambridge is beautiful. Bustling city. But a wonderful juxtaposition to the immensity of London. Beautiful 14th, 15th and 16th century architecture next to modern shops.
Make sure to see the market (open EVERY day) in the city centre, and go punting on the River Cam! Eating a Chelsea Bun from Fitzbillies (a charming bakery and tea room) is also a must.
Catching a 4-minute taxi ride from the train station to Cambridge town centre is very easy; taxis queue in numbers just outside the station waiting for customers.
I was in London in November and went to Cambridge and loved the city. There's a boys choir in the evenings called Even Song (or something similar) at King's College (but be sure to walk by the College early to see what time it starts as people start lining up and it's first come first serve. It's also just on certain nights I think.)
If you chose Cambridge, be sure and eat at Manna Mexico on Regeant Sreet if you like great Mexican Food. My daughter and son-in-law worked there while he was attending Cambridge University. It only has a small bar for seating for meals but the food is wonderful!!!
It's also fun to go punting if the weather holds up and you can go on guided punt tours.
My daughter and I did London in 2 days, but it was fast and furious......and we only hit the highlights. Did happen upon the London Premiere of Beowulf and saw Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie so tha was fun.
It sounds like whichever we chose, we can't go wrong. :-) I think I've narrowed it down b/t Oxford and Cambridge, we'll just have to see Windsor Castle another time.
I vote for Oxford.
Obviously Oxford! Doesn't everyone want to have a pint at the pub (The Turf) where Bill Clinton "did not inhale"? :) If you're there in the summer, you can even hire a punt and go punting (of course, you can do that at Cambridge too, but the forces of darkness might knock you off), eat G&D's ice cream (one of their flavours is called Oxford Blue), and visit one of the colleges where Harry Potter was filmed (Christ Church). Cambridge can't possibly compete.
Oxford. If you're an Inklings fan (JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, do an Inklings gravesite tour (by bike, bus, or car). Tolkien in a newish suburban setting- Wolvercote cemetery, CW in the heart of Oxford at St. Cross Church, CSL near the Kilns (reminds you of a small town Protestant churchyard). Also near Oxford are the Rollwright Stones and George Washington's ancestral digs
(and in Oxford my favorite English Museum- Pitt Rivers).
Rick Steves likes Cambridge better than Oxford. One advantage I can think of in going to Oxford, is that Blenheim Palace is just a few miles north, and can easily be combined in a day trip from London.
If you are only going to see the city you are traveling to, go to Cambridge (this comes from an unbiased source - sorry Al). Oxford was big and bustling, but really was a lot more dingy feeling to me. Cambridge was much smaller (though the University is close in size) and had a much more quaint, quiet, University town feel. Oxford felt much more like a big town that happened to also have a University.
Plus in Cambridge, you can go punting and see the backs of the colleges (get a guided tour), and you can see Kings College Chapel (though it closes around 12:45 - so get there early).
Blenheim Palace is near Oxford, but you would need half a day to see Blenheim on its own, and you'd have to get out to it and back to Oxford again.
Just my opinion.
I've been to all three and for me, I enjoyed Cambridge the most. I took a guided tour and went to hear Evensong at the Kings College Chapel. The campus is absolutely gorgeous.
Oxford is also interesting; it has a more urban feel. Windsor is mostly about the castle.
You really can't go wrong with any of these places. Look at some photos of each on the internet and see what appeals most to you.
Okay, I'm Cary's wife, so I went on the same trips to Oxford and Cambridge that he did, but I just have to put in another vote for Cambridge. Cambridge felt much more do-able in one day to me. Oxford is a bigger city, and arriving there intending to see it in a day or less was kind of overwhelming for me. If you're coming from London, Cambridge might be a good quiet contrast for you.