Oxford is a fantastic place to live and work, and we hope you will find our leisure guide useful as you begin to discover the city. The ancient university has no central campus, but is a collection of independent colleges housed in stunning architectural gems and set alongside a picturesque river. And each college has its own off-the-wall traditions and customs which often baffle outsiders. Where else do the country’s would-be movers and shakers throw hot pennies at children, or carry a wooden duck around on a stick?

From the twin towers of All Souls College to Hertford’s Bridge of Sighs, the university’s buildings offer a glimpse of our historical heritage.

But while the city has more than its fair share of classical architecture, from the front quad of The Queen’s College to the gargoyles watching over Brasenose and Lincoln Colleges, it is perhaps the mix of ancient and modern that makes Oxford special.

Oxford is a location favoured by film and television crews. The hugely successful TV series Morse and its spin-off series Lewis, used the city as an atmospheric backdrop for their crime-fighting capers.

Ancient traditions rub along happily with modern-day life in the city. Rituals like May Morning are celebrated as vigorously as they were hundreds of years ago, with the streets full of revellers and Morris dancers at an ungodly hour of the morning, all ready to welcome the coming of spring.

Cornmarket Street, the city’s central thoroughfare, is an excellent example of Oxford’s mix of the old and the new. At pedestrian level, it is full of modern shoppers and modern shops, but the few who do cast their eyes upwards are rewarded with a host of interesting buildings in a wide variety of styles, and from across the eras.

It is too easy for those of us who live here to forget the importance of Oxford’s architecture. Often it is the visitor who reminds us of the city’s finer points.

Oxford is also a city of hidden treasures. Amazing objects from around the world can be found in museums such as the recently remodelled Ashmolean, the quirky Pitt Rivers and the fascinating Museum of the History of Science.

Where better to go punting along an idyllic river before stopping off for a traditional pub lunch? Where else can you admire the ancient buildings before taking in a multicultural carnival or arts performance? Where else could have been the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, or Narnia, or Middle Earth?

Oxford constantly comes up with surprises, whether you are a visitor, student, or long-term resident. You just need to look beyond the dreaming spires to discover them.