Oxford or Cambridge?

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Mar 18th, 2013, 05:45 AM
  #1
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Oxford or Cambridge?

We are wanting to visit either Oxford or Cambridge during our London visit. Any preferences....pros and cons? Would love any input.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 05:58 AM
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There's a lovely line in the 1938 version of The Lady Vanishes, when hero Michael Redgrave hits suave English-educated foreign villain - "Why did you do that, he went to Cambridge don't you know...?" "Well," says the hero, "I went to Oxford...".

I happen to have gone to Oxford too, so may be biased too, but both are an easy train ride from London, www.nationalrail.co.uk, both have beautiful architecture, a river, walks, bicycles and colleges. There's not much to choose between them from a visitor's viewpoint.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 06:32 AM
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"There's a lovely line in the 1938 version of The Lady Vanishes"

...which must have fallen out of last night's weird remake on BBC1.

But there are a couple of differences. Cambridge is pretty well isolated: there's little (except for Duxford air museum and Ely) you can easily combine with it. Oxford's slap in the middle of England so you're handy for the Cotswolds, Stratford abnd (if you can stand the dump) Blenheim. It's also got far more stuff associated with 20th century what some might call culture: from Zuleika Dobson through Evelyn Waugh, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Morse and his prequels and sequels and the Harry Potter stuff Even the exterior shots of Downton Bloody Abbey are filmed just up the road.

It's sometimes claimed Cambridge has got the better architecture, but that really just means King's chapel is the finest building in either city. Oxford's Radcliffe Square is the finest public space in either - and, some might argue, anywhere in Britain.

Most people in Britain choose which to visit (or in some cases study at) on the basis on which they randomly chose to support as children in the annual Boat Race. If you've no particular reason for choosing either, tossing a coin won't produce a result you're unhappy with.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 07:13 AM
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>>tossing a coin won't produce a result you're unhappy with.<<

That's it really. From a tourist's point of view they are quite similar and you can't go wrong either way. My recommendation though is that unless you are very interested in WWI/WWII air history and want to squeeze in a visit to Duxford, I'd choose Oxford.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 07:26 AM
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Also, Oxford city center is an easy walk from the train. Cambridge almost twice as far.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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You might want to take the bus - there are two frequent express services between London and Oxford and there are several stops in the very centre of Oxford. Takes a bit longer than the train but is cheaper.

http://www.oxfordtube.com/
http://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/main.php?page_id=261

Train is good too though.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 08:28 AM
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I like Oxford a tad better and it is closer to London. The bus is better than the train because it will let you leave on the High Street and there is a bus every 20 minutes most of the day. I love the bookstores, the Ashmolean museum and having tea at the Randolph.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 08:56 AM
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I too like Oxford better. Regarding bus vs train, yes, the bus can be less expensive but it's not expensive to take the train and there are lots of trains too. And yes, the bus station is closer to the town center but about a 5 minute walk closer. I prefer trains so a bit more cost and the slightly longer walk are well worth it for me. Also depends on your starting location in London. Just to put the differences in perspective.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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>> And yes, the bus station is closer to the town center but about a 5 minute walk closer<<

Just to clarify. Yes, Gloucester Green bus station is only a little nearer things than the train station. However the buses have stops in St Aldates, the High, Speedwell St, etc. so very central

In London a lot depends on where one is starting from. If Paddington or Marylebone - the train does make most sense. But from other parts of the city it is probably easiest to get to Victoria or Marble Arch for the coach.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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"...stops in St Aldates, the High, Speedwell St, etc."

Good to know. The only bus I've taken to Oxford was from Stansted Airport and went directly to Gloucester Green. Thanks.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 10:31 AM
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I have no particular axe to grind here, but I prefer Cambridge as it's more compact and arguably more attractive (especially along the river). Oxford has much to recommend it but it feels like a much bigger and busier city, perhaps more overwhelming to a first time tourist on a day's visit.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 09:46 PM
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Haven't made it to Oxford yet but last November spent a wonderful day in Cambridge. It was a 25 minute walk from the train station to the tourist information office where we decided to take one of their 2hour walking tours from 11am. After this we enjoyed wandering and then visited both the Whipple Museum of the History of Science and the Fitzwilliam Musuem - both excellent.

Oxford is on the agenda for the next trip!
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