The Backs (pictured) was described as one of Cambridge's highlightsLouis Ashworth for Varsity

A tourist’s claim that Cambridge is more beautiful than Oxford has sparked a contentious online debate.

The spat began with a Quora inquiry from a tourist, who wrote: “I believe Cambridge is far more attractive than Oxford. Am I overlooking something?”

Many users replied to agree that Cambridge is widely recognised as the more attractive town, particularly in its centre. This discussion highlighted the Backs, an idyllic spot where the River Cam is bordered by the green expanses of several colleges.

Describing the beauty of this area as capable of “moving a person to tears,” one user cited the Lonely Planet Guide to Britain, saying: “If you have time to visit only one of Oxford or Cambridge, choose Cambridge”.

However, many users discussed the allure of Oxford and its historical characteristics. One user described the city as replete with “exquisite gems,” while another endorsed the idea that the renowned Radcliffe Square stood among the best squares in Europe.

Nevertheless, an Oxford University alum challenged this, referring to various uglier locations in Oxford, such as the Blackbird Leyes Estate, the BMW factory, and “that stupid green tower on the Said Business School”.


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Another user listed Cambridge’s least attractive features, sharing pictures of places such as Churchill College with the caption: “The bits of Cambridge that don’t make it on the postcards.”

One user wrote: “Cambridge isn’t much prettier, but it beats Oxford by a canvas”.

Users highlighted the varying role each university plays in the two cities, with one suggesting that, unlike Cambridge, the university is not “the be-all and end-all with Oxford”.

One user concluded: “Perhaps the grass is indeed always greener on the other side.”