Oxfordshire is arguably one of the most stunning and varied of the English counties. Situated in the south east, Oxfordshire possesses a strong historical significance, being the home of one of our most eminent universities and a gravitas that you're hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
The county that gave the world Winston Churchill, Alfred the Great, Jacqueline du Pre and PD James offers holiday-makers many activities, landmarks and places to visit – almost too much to see in just one break.
Oxford itself – 'the city of dreaming spires', as poet Matthew Arnold romantically put it – is beautiful with its covered indoor market, creamy-bricked buildings, punting on the river and vibrant night life. You can take in the view from the top of one of these spires or simply enjoy a walking tour of the city if heights aren’t an option. You can’t come to Oxford without visiting one of the famous colleges and most are open to the public, free of charge.
Oxfordshire boasts many literary connections: JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Agatha Christie and Lewis Carroll all lived and/or studied in the county. It also features in many films and masquerades as the fictional Midsomer – why not try and spot your favourite film locations?
For a trip into the past, the 18th Century Blenheim Palace makes a wonderful day trip. Birthplace of Winston Churchill, the palace is located within 2,000 acres of garden and is a World Heritage Site. Going further back in time, the 15th Century Broughton Castle played an important role in the Battle of Edgehill and today exhibits an impressive collection of armour.
If a spot of shopping is what you need to drag you back to the present, then Bicester Village is the place to head. As an outlet centre, savvy shoppers can find bargains with designer labels and then pop to the nearby Michelin-starred restaurants for some much-needed sustenance.
Food and drink is something taken very seriously by those in Oxfordshire, whether it’s the White Horse in Banbury or the Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, all tastes and budgets are catered for. That is, of course, if you want a day off from cooking in your holiday cottage.
Those seeking more active occupations might like Oxford's Ice Rink, a walk around Shotover Country Park or kayaking along the canal. Alternatively, the Chilterns – an Area of Outstanding Beauty - are nearby, offering miles of open space to be walked, hiked, cycled or run.
Ultimately, Oxfordshire provides a fantastic base for your holiday, whether you want pure relaxation or an adrenalin rush. Your only tough decision will be choosing precisely where to stay!