Oxford vs. Cambridge – Reasons to Visit these University Towns

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Oxford vs. Cambridge

At a first glance, many might think there’s not much difference between Oxford and Cambridge. Both offering fascinating architecture, world-famous universities and a captivating historical past, these two destinations have a lot to offer us Superbreakers on a short break.

Take a second, closer look and you’ll find the rivalry of these two university towns runs deeper than just an annual boat race. The battle of the best university has spilled out into the world of tourism, leaving us city sightseers confused as to which destination we should visit – absolute nightmare!

With the 2014 BNY Mellon Boat Race approaching quickly, there’s no better time to discuss the differences between these two iconic British cities. By asking ourselves ‘which city do I prefer…Oxford or Cambridge?’, we can resolve this century old rivalry right here, right now. So with that in mind, let’s get to it!

In no particular order or preference, let’s start with…

A fabulous view over Oxford


Brimming with fascinating history and home to England’s oldest university, the ‘city of dreaming spires’ is an urban architectural treat. Showcasing structural examples from every English period since the Saxons, it’s the perfect place to explore an eclectic mix of British architecture at its best.

One of the most notable buildings in Oxford is the large domed shaped Radcliffe’s Camera built between 1737 and 1749. Originally designed to house John Radcliffe’s science library, it is now used as a reading room for undergraduates at the university. Another architectural landmark not to be missed in the city is the Bridge of Sighs. Built in 1914 as a practical solution to join the old and new colleges, it now stands as one of the most iconic sights in Oxford.

Harry Potter fans out there will be pleased to hear that Oxford has been used as the backdrop for many scenes used in the hugely popular films. A visit to this city could land you in the very spot where Harry, Ron and Hermione were brought to life for the big screen. Oxford’s Christ Church College also provided inspiration for the iconic and magical Hogwarts Dinning Hall making it a firm favourite for Potter enthusiasts!

For an alternative way to see the city sights, an Oxford Boat Trip is the perfect choice. Cruising past a range of famous landmarks including the ancient Folly Bridge and the University boathouse, it’s a truly unique and relaxing way to experience Oxford. Taking the same route down the River Thames as Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell did more than 150 years ago, you can see where the captivating tales of Alice in Wonderland really began.

So there you have it, a book lovers paradise with plenty of city sights, history and culture to get stuck in to! Sound like your kind of thing? Well, don’t make any decisions yet…Cambridge you’re up!

The famous Kings College, Cambridge


Despite its city status and world-famous university, Cambridge has maintained its market town beginnings with plenty of quaint streets, beautiful architecture and magnificent college buildings to explore. With its unique and appealing character, this iconic British city is jammed-packed full of inspiring history and fascinating culture.

Arguable one of the most famous attractions in Cambridge is King’s College Chapel. Instantly recognisable by most, this grand Gothic structure is part of the oldest and most traditional colleges at Cambridge University. Built in 1441 by Henry VI, the English craftsmanship of this building has inspired many and will continue to fascinate more for years to come. Boasting a fan-vaulted ceiling, stunning stained-glass windows and The Adoration of Magi by Rubens, you don’t have to be a scholar to appreciate the beauty of the King’s College Chapel.

Beautiful historic architecture aside, Cambridge is also a hotspot for museums, galleries and attractions the whole family can enjoy. See natural beauty at the Botanic Garden, learn about the history of aviation at the Imperial War Museum, take a look at the ancient world at the Fitzwilliam Museum, come face to face with the animal kingdom at Shepreth Wildlife Park or (yes there’s more), head to Kettle’s Yard to experience the city’s contemporary arts scene. With all this on offer, you’ll never be stuck for something to do in Cambridge.

If, like me, you’re constantly thinking of your belly, then Cambridge will never disappoint! From trendy gastro pubs out in the glorious Cambridgeshire countryside to riverside eateries offering home-cooked grub and views of floating punts, there’s a foodie treat out there with your name on it!

Mixing its traditional market town atmosphere with an arty ambience, Cambridge offers a sophisticated approach to city sightseeing you may well prefer.

With both sides told, the choice is over to you – I think you’ll agree it’s still a toughie, but hey, even if you still can’t decide, at least you’ve discovered the many reasons to visit these two wonderfully iconic British cities. Let us know if Oxford or Cambridge wins your vote by using the comments box below.

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