Dubbed the City of Dreaming Spires by Matthew Arnold, Oxford needs little introduction. It is a sprawl of glorious architecture, picturesque cobbled streets, weaving bicycles and prestigious colleges bathed in golden light. In term-times, swathes of students fill its medieval heart, and culture and intellect are everywhere; in other months there’s a more relaxed feel to the city, when you really notice the quirky cafes and independent boutiques that sit alongside the university buildings. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Ashmolean Museum with its Egyptian mummies, Minoan treasures and modern Chinese paintings.
Further afield, Oxfordshire continues to thrill with historical interest. There’s Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill; Chastleton House, a beautiful Jacobean estate (featured in BBC2’s Wolf Hall), and Stonor Park, home to a 14thC Catholic chapel and collection of Renaissance bronzes. The pretty market town of Henley on Thames dates back to 1179 (it lost 60% of its population in the Black Death pandemic), while beautiful Burford has a medieval bridge, and 15thC almshouses with mullioned windows. Charlbury and the idyllic ‘Slaughter’ hamlets are also packed with olde-worlde Cotswolds charm.