10 Historic College Campuses You’d Be Smart to Add to Your Itinerary

Colleges shape so many lives, yet few travelers think of them as rewarding tourist destinations. The following historic college campuses not only offer outstanding educational opportunities, but also boast stunning architecture that makes them a worthy addition to any sightseeing plan created with Inspirock’s itinerary generator.

1. Universita di Bologna, Italy

Bologna University by: Maria Firsova (CC)
Bologna University by: Maria Firsova (CC)

The oldest university in the world, Universita di Bologna dates back to 1088. In a city filled with popular attractions, this historic institution remains one of Bologna’s top draws. Spend an afternoon strolling around the stone arcades and photographing the university buildings, many of which were erected during the Renaissance. Several of Bologna’s museums pay homage to the university’s famed alumni, including Nicholas Copernicus and Albrecht Durer.

2. University of Oxford, England

Oxford, Nuffield College by: Ian Campbell (CC)
Oxford, Nuffield College by: Ian Campbell (CC)

Established in the 12th century, University of Oxford is composed of 38 colleges, each with its own beautiful grounds and historic structures. Gothic buildings house dorms, dining halls, and classrooms, while landscaped lawns offer plenty of space to rest and ponder the amazing history within the university walls. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, see if you can spot the locations used for filming the scenes at Hogwarts.

3. University of Cambridge, England

University of Cambridge by: Ilee_wu (CC)
University of Cambridge by: Ilee_wu (CC)

University of Cambridge boasts an ensemble of college buildings and medieval churches surrounded by sprawling lawns and gardens. Stroll along the River Cam and watch the iconic swans, or check out the crew team gliding along the water. Despite its reputation as one of world’s most prestigious schools, the university campus also reveals its lighter side. Stories of outrageous student pranks abound—for example, the scepter in the hand of a Henry VIII statue was once replaced with a wooden table leg. How the students managed to achieve this switch remains one of the university’s greatest mysteries.

4. Trinity College, Ireland

Trinity College by: William Murphy (CC)
Trinity College by: William Murphy (CC)

Although it was established in 1592 to “civilize” Dubliners, most of the buildings occupying the green campus of Trinity College date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Wander the grounds to soak up the atmosphere that inspired Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett, three of the school’s best-known alumni. Trinity College Library displays several pages of the Book of Kells, one of the oldest texts in the world.

5. Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

Courtyard of the University of Coimbra by: Debarshi Ray (CC)
Courtyard of the University of Coimbra by: Debarshi Ray (CC)

It’s no wonder University of Coimbra is a World Heritage Site—the campus boasts one of the most beautiful Baroque libraries in the world, along with a fine 18th-century botanical garden. The oldest section of the university occupies the site of a former royal palace. If you get tired of gawking at the architecture, step inside the university’s science museum, which focuses on the developments in natural sciences from the Enlightenment period.

6. Aarhus University, Denmark

Aarhus University by: IK's World Trip (CC)
Aarhus University by: IK’s World Trip (CC)

Known for its elegant buildings with yellow-brick facades, Aarhus University is one of the youngest members of this list, established in 1928 to accommodate students from the overcrowded University of Copenhagen. The campus sits in a landscape of gently rolling hills, a stone’s throw from a funky restaurant and cafe scene catering to a youthful student crowd.

7. Moscow State University, Russia

Moscow State University by: Eldar Vagapov (CC)
Moscow State University by: Eldar Vagapov (CC)

One word inevitably leaps to mind when trying to describe Moscow State University—imposing. Founded in 1755, this is one of the oldest universities in Russia, though its formidable main building represents an example of 1950s Stalinist architecture (one of Moscow’s “Seven Sisters”). This palatial building housing students, classrooms, and a whole lot more, is nothing if not overwhelming, and its statuesque features reflect in a pool located at its base. Stroll the extensive grounds and then head to Sparrow Hills for a sweeping view over the city.

8. Queen’s University, Northern Ireland

Queen's University of Belfast by: Iker Merodio (CC)
Queen’s University of Belfast by: Iker Merodio (CC)

An easy walk from Belfast’s city center, Queen’s University features a main building designed in the 19th century in the Tudor Gothic style. Other buildings spread over a number of streets don’t adhere to the same architectural aesthetic completely, but their red-brick facades offer a warm welcome to young scholars and tourists sightseeing around the city.

9. University of Wroclaw, Poland

University of Wroclaw by: Adam Smok (CC)
University of Wroclaw by: Adam Smok (CC)

Though it includes a number of modern buildings constructed with a lot of steel and glass, the main edifice of University of Wroclaw sits on the Oder River and features a classic 18th-century design. Walk through the grand Rococo gate to see what inspired the many Nobel Prize winners who either worked or studied here.

10. Pepperdine University, United States

Pepperdine University view by: John Beagle (CC)
Pepperdine University view by: John Beagle (CC)

Few schools—or attractions, for that matter—can compete with Pepperdine University when it comes to breathtaking views. It’s hard to believe that anyone can actually concentrate on studying at this 1930s institution, dominating the grassy slopes of Malibu’s coastline and featuring distinct Mediterranean architecture. You may be tricked into thinking you’re at a lovely coastal resort when you visit this stunning campus.

Go Back to School as a Tourist

Going back to school isn’t just for students anymore. Savvy travelers visit the world’s top campuses to learn about hundreds of years of history at their own pace. Start your grown-up college adventure with Inspirock’s trip planner, where you can find more attractions suitable for any type of itinerary.

Tamara

Tamara

Educated in Chicago and based in Serbia, Tamara travels with passion and believes that one written word can be worth at least a thousand pictures. When she's not conquering the world one blog post at a time, she likes to eat pizza and take long naps--preferably at the same time.
Tamara