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Oxford river Thames  Famed for its “dreaming spires”, Oxford is a charming, attractive city with more than a thousand years of fascinating history - plus some modern delights - to keep visitors enthralled.

In the county of Oxfordshire in south-central England, Oxford contains examples of almost every kind of English architecture. The best way to savour its beauty is to simply wander or hire and bike and cycle around the ancient, cobbled streets - especially as parking in central Oxford is hard to find.

Sightseers flock to the hushed quadrangles and honey-coloured buildings of the University of Oxford, but the city boasts a host of other attractions, such as punting on the Rivers Cherwell or Thames (also known as the Isis) and visiting captivating museums such as the Pitt Rivers Museum. Add in some classic English pubs, top-notch dining and great shopping - and it becomes clear why Oxford is so popular with tourists from overseas.Oxford University - Bridge of Sighs

Hotels in Oxford are generally pleasant if somewhat limited, with the abundance of day-trippers making fewer hotels necessary. This is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing for Oxford, which isn't overrun by cheap chain hotels, and a curse for visitors, who can sometimes struggle to find good-value accommodation.

The good news, though, is that Oxford hotels are often located in stunning buildings with intriguing histories and stylish, comfortable rooms. Lovers of luxury will also find boutique-style hotels, while those on a budget should check out the city's guesthouses and B&Bs.

Some of the very finest hotels in Oxford are on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by lush countryside, and offering excellent dining and sumptuous rooms which can be reached by car. However, if you want to see Oxford at its best, stay as centrally as possible so that you can hit the sights early, before day-trippers and students take over the streets.

For well-known hotel brands, look out for Malmaison, Travelodge, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Inn, Best Western, De Vere, Macdonald, Mercure and Holiday Inn.

Top five attractions

Radcliffe Camera

One of the highlights of Oxford, this is a visually stunning 18th-century landmark building.

Punting on the river

What could be more civilised than a gentle glide along the River Cherwell as you take in Oxford's fine sights?

New College

The delightful building housing New College or, if you prefer its proper title, The Warden and Scholars of St Mary's College of Winchester in Oxford.

Christ Church

History oozes from the exquisite stonework of this huge institution, which has educated some of England's finest minds.

The Ashmolean

This deeply fascinating museum of art and archaeology boasts particularly superb ancient Egyptian exhibits.

Events

Oxford Literary Festival; March/April: Hundreds of authors and public figures from the world of literature gather in the city to pay homage to the written word. Bookworms will love it.

Thame and Oxfordshire County Show; July: Historic annual agricultural show that celebrates all the rural traditions of this quintessential English county. Head for the food hall to sample some of Britain's best country produce.

St Giles' Fair; September: An unusual little fair that is held for two days each year in the city centre, where streets are taken over by fairground rides and candy floss.