Oxford or Cambridge

Oct 4th, 2002, 06:45 AM
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Oxford or Cambridge

I will be in London next March for eight days and plan to take a couple of day trips. For one I am pretty sure I want to go to Bath and the other probably Oxford or Cambridge but cannot decide which. Obviously they are both major academic towns. What I am looking for is a town with ambiance - someplace picturesque that would be nice to just wander around for a day. Not really interested in major "sites". In your opinions which town would be better. Thanks
Oct 4th, 2002, 06:53 AM
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Hey Mari

I spent four years at college in Cambridge and heartily recommend it for a picturesque place to wander round. Kings Chapel, the Backs (where you can go punting), the Bridge of Sighs, it's a truely lovely place to go. It is, however, important to know that Cambridge is more of a town than a city, everything is within about a mile of everything else!

Oxford is beautiful too, but is a big city, the sights are spread out, but are arguably equally as impressive as those at Cambridge (no anti-Oxford here!!).

In both cases, there are the inevitable hop-on, hop-off bus tours that will take you to all major sights all day long so I'm sure it's not a big deal that Oxford is sizeable compared with Cambridge.

If you have any more questions about Cambridge, don't hesitate to ask.


Oct 4th, 2002, 07:02 AM
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In a word, Cambridge.
Oct 4th, 2002, 08:47 AM
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I leved near Oxford for 5 years and LOVE both cities. Oxford IS larger - but the places you will want to see are all in the city center which is very compact.

Both have wonderful colleges and other sites. The High in Oxford is a glorious main street.

I often recommend Cambridge tho' for the casual one-day visitor because the Backs and the river Cam add an ambience which is missing in Oxford. The river is more a part of the experience.

For a longer visit Oxford and the surrounding area is more interesting, but for a short trip Cambridge is great.
Oct 4th, 2002, 08:50 AM
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That's "lived" - not leved
Oct 4th, 2002, 09:50 AM
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Thanks for the replys. I just found a site (Frommers) that had an article on the two towns and also said Cambridge would be better. This is interesting because when I posed the question I was leaning toward Oxford. And before I did any research I just assumed I would go to Oxford. Is the fact that it is larger the reason it seems to, in general, be a more popular destination. Any more thoughts and ideas of what to do in either of them?
Oct 4th, 2002, 02:09 PM
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I visited both Oxford and Cambridge back in 1999 and liked Cambridge so much better. Much easier to walk around the town, thru the colleges, etc. Oxford, unfortunately, was under a lot of construction and we took a bus tour around to see the colleges and an overview. To me, it was just a big city and too spread out to really get a handle on it.

Another trip you might consider is Canterbury. Lovely cathedral, picturesque town and easy walking.
Oct 4th, 2002, 03:17 PM
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I've yet to make it to Oxford so I can't compare the two, but I really enjoyed Cambridge the second week of June this year.

I will warn you while there final exams were in progress and most of the
colleges had their campuses closed. I'm not sure what kind of exam schedule
they run for midterms but you might check into that before you go. That said I don't feel as if that hindered my enjoying Cambridge at all.

As mentioned above punting on the river Cam was very fun. I hired a chauffeured punt and was very glad I did after seeing the problems people were having trying to maneuver their own.

I liked the hop-on/hop-off bus tour. Since I didn't have a car it allowed me
to easily visit the American cemetery a couple of miles outside of Cambridge.
Was lucky enough to have a clear day and see the tiny outline of the Ely
Cathedral 17 miles away.

The Fitzwilliam museum was worth visiting and so was the round church. Walking through the university's botanical gardens was a treat for my friend who loves gardening.

Dinner at Brown's was excellent. There was a little place where the rail
station road turned onto the main road that was really good too. Sorry, can't
remember the name right now.
Oct 4th, 2002, 04:57 PM
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Oct 4th, 2002, 05:23 PM
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I took a lovely daytrip to Cambridge one May a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the hop on-hop off bus, and just wandering around. Lunch at Browns was great. It made a perfect day trip. I was at Oxford many years ago, but with a tour group, so not the same kind of experience. I would probably have liked it better alone!
Oct 4th, 2002, 06:30 PM
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Just to even up the score, I loved Oxford.

Has anyone written on the "Dreaming Spires of Cambridge"?
Oct 4th, 2002, 08:26 PM
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I feel Cambridge makes a much easier and more picturesque day trip. You don't need a car - just take the train one hour from Kings Cross station.

I honestly think the reason Oxford may be more visited is because of its location enroute to the Cotswolds and Stratford upon Avon. Blenheim Palace near Oxford is also worth visiting if you do go to Oxford. I just found Oxford's layout very hard to figure out on two visits there.
Oct 5th, 2002, 01:00 AM
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Oct 5th, 2002, 06:52 AM
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Should you find yourself in Oxford, have banger's and mash at a wee pub called the Bear. Very old, 12th century or such, low ceilings, very small. Get there before noon or you'll never get seated. A great coil of Cambridge sausage served over hand mashed potato and drowned in rich, brown gravy.
Oct 6th, 2002, 06:03 AM
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Topping this one because 1) I never realized that Cambridge was a better university town to visit than Oxford, which I have visited and loved, and 2) because SC's food description makes me want to be there right now. Thank you!

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