Guide to Top 40 Things to do in Oxford & Oxfordshire
With so many wonderful places to visit in Oxford and Oxfordshire, it can be difficult to know where to start. Are you looking for the best tours? History and museums? Film locations? University sites? Things to do with the kids?Whatever you want to get out of your visit to Oxford and Oxfordshire, this list of 40 highlights will help you plan a memorable day out for all ages and in all the weathers.
Guide to Top 30 Things to do in Oxford
To visit oldest Oxford University colleges and explore Oxford City highlights as possible into just two-hours, we highly recommend this most popular Premium Walking Tour of Oxford University,The Bodleian Library and the City.
With amazing locations and stories around every corner, you’ll be taken to historic Oxford’s oldest college buildings, Hogwarts-like dining halls, world-famous libraries,chapels, stunning examination and graduation buildings, and beautiful grounds, meadows and gardens. You’ll also get to hear about the stranger-than-fiction history and traditions of Oxford University, and its many famous students anecdotes and tutors.
Click here to book Premium Free Oxford Walking Tour. Visit beautiful chapels with this tour.
Tour Timings – 11 am & 2 pm everyday (click here for more info)
We will highly recommend to join Premium Free Oxford Walking Tour by Oxford Students & Alumni because with this tour you will get entry to oldest colleges for free.
- With 2 Hour Free Oxford Walking Tour go inside the famous, historical and oldest Oxford University colleges.
- We will show tourists all the famous sights, secret sights which are inside the oldest colleges and Oxford University buildings.
- Experience many interesting unknown stories of famous Oxford University graduates like Bill Clinton, Bob Hawke, J. R. R. Tolkein, C. S Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde and many more.
- Inspector Morse and Harry Potter filming sights are also on our tours. Please click here for more information.
2. Visit Inspector Morse’s Filming locations –
Since 1987, Oxford has been seen on TV screens around the world in the highly successful detective series Inspector Morse, its sequel Lewis, and the prequel Endeavour. Revisit some of your favourite episodes and solve some murder mysteries by joining one of our Inspector Morse walking tours. The film sites are not signposted, and many are not open to members of the general public. By opting for one of our Oxford Walking Tours we’ll get you behind the scenes and on location.
3. Have a walk in Covered Market –
4. Visit a historic Oxford Pub –
Oxford has so many great pubs, it’s hard to know where to start. Among the most celebrated are the Turf Tavern, hidden away down a back alley off New College Lane; the mighty Mitre on the High Street, which has been standing here since the year 1310; the tiny Bear Inn on Alfred Street with its bizarre necktie collection; and the Eagle and Child on St Giles, former haunt of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis, the two most influential fantasy writers of the 20th century.
All the pubs in the city serve food, and beer connoisseurs can track down some exceptionally fine real ale. You’ll be joining a long and distinguished list of drinkers – many of England’s great leaders, artists, writers and scientists have met in these places over a glass or two of the strong stuff. Many of Oxford’s great minds have met in these places over a glass or two and they have applied Oxford thinking to drinking.
5. Hire a Punt in Oxford –
Punting is an Oxford specialty (which also happens to be popular in Cambridge too, funnily enough), and is one of the most famous traditions in Oxford among students of the University.
Many Oxford businesses organise punting afternoons too – “messing about on the river” is very much part of the Oxford way of life. It’s not just for students, though – everyone can have a go, and with a few minutes’ practice you’ll be amazed at how skilled and elegant you look dipping the long pole into the Thames or Cherwell rivers and gliding along like a Venetian Gondolier! Punting is a summer speciality, and in winter, most of the punts are taken away for their annual hibernation.
6. River Cruise –
If punting or rowing sounds a bit too much like hard work, or if you simply want to relax on the city’s rivers, try an Oxford river cruise.
You’ll glide by some of the beautiful riverside sights of the city – busy waterside pubs, grand boathouses and majestic colleges – with lush trees and grassland on every side. It’s a tranquil contrast to the busy streets of the city. Many people say you haven’t seen the true character of Oxford until you’ve travelled through it by river, and we’re not going to argue with that.
7. Climb a Tower with just 127 steps –
Once up there, though, you’ll realise that Oxford isn’t just about “dreaming spires” – there are many shapes and sizes of tower, dome and college building creating its unique skyline.
8. Visit Museums –
Oxford has a wide variety of brilliant museums to thrill and entertain young kids and adults alike, each with its own specialist area.
Whether it’s dinosaurs and animals, bizarre and fascinating human artefacts from different cultures, art and archaeology, a sprint through local Oxford history, a historic picture gallery or a collection of ancient and modern musical instruments,Oxford museums have it all, offering great variety, and all for free.
9. Visit Oxford Castle –
Since 2006, however, it has been a great tourist attraction, with lots to see both inside and out (and don’t forget to climb the Castle Mound for more great views of the city). Many of the stories you’ll hear in the Castle give a glimpse of darker side of Oxford’s grisly past.And when all that gets a bit too much, relax in the many shops and restaurants on the site.
10. Hop On & Hop Off Bus Tour –
Going on an open-top bus tour in Oxford is a great way to go further afield for more sightseeing after taking one of our city centre walking tours.
You can catch the bus at several points in Oxford, afield, covering sites which cannot be covered easily by foot. We would highly recommend both a walking tour and a bus tour, as both offer very different experiences of the city.
11. Visit a College –
Visiting a University College in Oxford can be a surprisingly difficult task. The Colleges are privately owned and it is difficult to predict the time or days on which they are open or closed to public, and there is no general timetable of opening times available.
However, when colleges are open to visitors they are an absolute must for the tourist. Some of them offer free entry, while others charge an entry fee ranging from £2 to £9 per person. The best way to ensure entry into a College is to join one of our walking tours– a free visit to a college is part of the regular itinerary.
12. Visit Bodleian Library –
The Bodleian Library is one of the most famous libraries in the world. It is part of Oxford University, and opened to students in 1602. The Bodleian holds millions books – since the year 1610 it has been sent a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom.
It also has many priceless manuscripts,some of which are put on public display in the Weston Library (formerly known as The New Bodleian Library) on Broad Street. The two sites are linked, underground, by several miles of shelving. Join one of our walking tours to learn the history of this enormous and beautiful institution, and to find out how on earth they manage to shelve all those millions of books in a constantly growing collection.
13. Bridge of Sighs –
‘The Bridge of Sighs’ is not actually its real name – it is actually called Hertford Bridge, as it is part of Oxford University’s Hertford College, and links the two halves of College together.
14. Blackwell Bookshop –
A bookshop might seem an unusual recommendation for tourists, but the shop really is unique, with many rooms, stocking everything from the latest novels and kids’ books, to obscure academic tomes and antiquarian volumes. There’s also a great café, in which public lectures are often held. And imagine this – Blackwell’s has a basement with more than 5 miles of shelving!Do drop in, but don’t get lost in all those miles of books.
15. Visit Museum of History of Science –
The Museum of the History of Science can be found on Broad Street, in a compact but grand building that was the original Ashmolean museum.
It is also a working faculty of Oxford University, and science lectures are still given here, as they were when it first opened its doors in 1683. Entry to The Museum of the History of Science is free.
16. Visit Ashmolean Museum –
Beautifully designed and stocked, the Ashmolean Museum displays a fabulous collection from around the world and through the ages, including art, archaeology, drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo, and a rich ancient Egyptian collection.
17. The Eagle and Child Pub –
The Eagle and Child Pub is located on St. Giles in Oxford. Rather unassuming from the outside, this watering hole is a place of pilgrimage for tourists who love Oxford writers, particularly J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.
It was the regular meeting place for these two famous authors and the other Oxford writers who formed a club here known as The Inklings.Together they would sit, drink, and share their latest literary creations. Middle Earth and Narnia both started here! To locals (including Tolkien and Lewis) the pub has always had the nickname “The Bird and Baby”, based on its unusual pub sign.
18. Ben’s Cookie –
19. University Church of St Mary the Virgin –
For many years it was the official centre of the University, the place where its library was kept, and where lectures, meetings and legal proceedings took place. Tourists can climb the 127 steps up the church tower for magnificent views across Radcliffe Square.
20. Christ Church College –
Christ Church College, founded in the early 16th century, is one of the most famous colleges of the University, and one of the most beautiful too. Its college chapel is also the Cathedral of Oxford, and has a justifiably famous choir.
21. Christ Church College Meadow Walk –
There are lovely views of three other Oxford Colleges – Merton, Magdalen and Corpus Christi – along with a surviving stretch of the ancient city wall, and the equally ancient Dead Man’s Walk, where the Jewish population of Oxford carried their dead from the long-gone Synagogue to their burial ground at what is now the Botanic Garden. Take the path that leads past the Christ Church horned cattle herd, and you’ll find yourself on the banks of the Thames by Folly Bridge.
22. Alice’s Shop –
The author of those immortal children’s books was a lecturer at Christ Church, and it was from here that he took the boat trip around Oxford with the real-life Alice that led to the writing of his famous stories.
23. Have Walk on the High –
It is one of the most unspoiled city high streets in England. If you can, find an old print of Oxford and compare it with the scene today. Apart from the buses and cyclists, very little has changed, and that’s one of its great charms.
24. Visit The Botanic Garden –
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in England. It is at its best in the late Spring through to Autumn, and is an inspiring and relaxing place to step away briefly from the bustle of the High Street.
There are many walkways, fountains and glass houses, and highlights including a tree said to have been the favourite of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien.
25. Have a High Tea –
There are many beautiful cafes and restaurants to choose from, most of them serving traditional English Afternoon Tea (a pot of tea, plus cakes or scones), so take a stroll and take your pick.
26. Cobblestone Walk for a free foot massage –
Oxford has many old cobbled streets in its back lanes, enabling you to step back in time, a reminder of how the city looked before the crowds, busses and tarmac invaded!
Merton Street is one of the most beautiful of the city’s cobbled streets,and it’s located just off The High Street. It’s amazing how quiet it can be on these timeless cobbles, just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Oxford city centre. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve travelled back to the early 19th century – especially with all those old Victorian gas lights (converted to electricity now) lining the street!
27. University of Oxford Shop –
28. Oxford Town Hall –
Inside the impressive, Victorian Town Hall on St Aldates, you will find a complete, condensed history of Oxford in the Museum of Oxford. Entry is free, and there is also a great gift shop attached. While you’re here, check out the cafes and other displays; and if you’re visiting on a weekend there might well be one of the Town Hall’s many fairs and events taking place here.
29. Gloucester Green Market –
There is a regular market on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, offering everything you’d expect of a traditional outdoor English market, including fine food, clothes, books, crafts, collectables, and a thousand other delights. There are often specialist themed markets here too, and it is a short hop from here to George Street, with its incredible selection of eateries, not to mention a large cinema and theatre.
30. Radcliffe Square –
This incredibly beautiful cobbled square is, for many, the true heart of Oxford. With the circular Radcliffe Camera in the centre, and with the cathedral and various Colleges lining the sides of the square, it is quite breath-taking. When the sun shines on the mellow Cotswold stone of the buildings and fills your senses with its warm, golden light, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d woken up and found yourself transported to heaven.
Once again, we would recommend all Oxford visitors to join one of the wonderful walking tours from our list of Oxford Tours, as this is simply the best way to see historic Oxford in all its historical and cultural glory.
Top 10 Things to near Oxford in Oxfordshire
1. Blenheim Palace –
3. Beautiful Gardens –
4. Walking or Cycling –
5. Outing with Kids –
6. Visit Museums in Oxfordshire –
7. Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire –
8. Bampton Trip –
9. F1 Collection –
10. River & Rowing Museum –