Oxford
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The 10 Best Things to Do in Oxford

The name alone exudes a scholarly atmosphere, with nearly 40 different colleges and their hallowed halls of learning. However, there's more to "Gown Town," and you'll find a city that brims with history and science, and traditional English culture.

Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library

Commonly known as the Bod, the university's famous library contains 9 million books, making it Britain's second largest. The earliest collection dates to the 13th century.

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

Connected to the Bod by an underground passageway, this striking structure, with its circular design from 1749, is the reading room of the library. Go on a guided tour to see it.

University of Oxford Botanic Garden

University of Oxford Botanic Garden

Established in 1621 by the university's faculty of medicine, Britain's oldest botanical garden boasts 7,000 various species of plants, and its glasshouses are 300 years old.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Walk among dinosaurs in the gallery under an industrial interior of glass and iron. After visiting, go to the Pitt Rivers Museum in the adjacent building with its bevy of artifacts.

Museum of the History of Science

The ensemble of 18,000 objects includes scientific instruments from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The chalkboard Einstein used in a lecture at Oxford is also on display.

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

Once a place for lectures and ceremonies, the tallest structure on the High Street was the first of this center of academics. Climb the 124 steps to the top for amazing views.

Carfax Tower

Carfax Tower

A reminder of the former, 13th-century St. Martin Church that once stood here, this belfry, with a clock that chimes every 15 minutes, marks the geographical heart of the city.

Blackwell's Bookshop
Photo: Deb Harkness@flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Blackwell's Bookshop

Students, academics, and those who love books have been flocking to this historic shop since opening on Broad St. in 1879. Whatever the subject, you'll find a book about it here.

Oxford Town Hall

Built in 1897, this former library and police station is the seat of the local government and also houses the Museum of Oxford, covering the history of the city and university.

Punting

Punting

To experience this popular summer outing, rent a flat-bottomed boat and push yourself down the River Cherwell. You can rent one at the Magdalen Bridge or Cherwell Boathouse.

Planning Your Oxford Visit

How many days to spend in Oxford?

You can spend a full three days visiting the main attractions in the city center, but why not add a couple more to explore its different neighborhoods, such as trendy Jericho or East Oxford and soak up that English culture?

Getting around

Exploring the city on foot is the best way to take in the sights and sounds, especially during rush hour times. There are two bus companies which are Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach. A day pass, which is valid when traveling with either one, costs 4£, and you can buy it directly from the driver.

Where to stay in Oxford

There are hotels in the bustling center itself, and you'll have everything at your fingertips. You'll also find accommodation just beyond the center, with easy access to go on a sightseeing expedition.

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    British Pound (£)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+00:00)
  • Country Code
    +44
  • Best time to visit
    Oxford is great for a visit year-round, and with so many different festivals on offer throughout the year, it's best to plan your trip according to what you most want to do.

Things to Do in Oxford

Top Attractions in Oxford

Cities in United Kingdom

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What people are saying about Oxford

Great trip - enough time for both activities

This is a long day and while you can spend a whole day (or two!) at either Oxford or Harry Potter studios, there is enough time on this trip to enjoy both (being somewhat mindful of the time). We had a great tour guide in Oxford, local man who I believe studied/studies there; he gave recommendations & local flavor. Had enough time for lunch at Turf Tavern and some quick shopping. Harry Potter studio is massive and one can easily schedule a whole day for it. We had about 4 hours. I'm a massive fan and was accompanied by a casual one. We ideally would have liked about 30-45 minutes longer to not feel at all rushed but again, still plenty of time to wait in line for pictures on a broomstick, Hogwarts Express, etc if everything else is kept at a decent pace. Unfortunately, the bus does not have outlets, wifi or a bathroom. However, the driver does stop at the facilities en route. Overall, I rate this a 9/10 (slightly longer at Harry Potter maybe, upgraded bus) but would recommend!

Harry Potter Studio Tour & Oxford Day Tour from London Reviewed by Anonymous, 10/07/2019

Excellent Guide, more traveling time than expected.

Our guide, Phil, was excellent - knowledgeable and pleasant. I would have preferred spending more time in the village of Bourton on the Water, or another village, perhaps purchasing lunch there after a stroll around the village, led by the tour guide. I would have loved it if we had been given an hour to eat lunch and wander around the shops after the tour. I understand that we may not have been able to have the picnic lunch in the park or see Broadway Tower, but Bourton on the Water was a delightful village and I wish we could have spent more time there. Our tour of Oxford was informative and fun, and we had the right amount of time to explore and shop. The bus driver, Greg, was also very personable.

A day of exploration ...seeing behind the scenes of The Thames.

We arrived at reception and made to feel really welcome. Coffee beside the Thames with the boats and the ducks was relaxing... We then met Nick, our skipper, who was enthusiastic and informative (apart from wild flowers...sorry Nick!) The boat was electric, so, quiet and unobtrusive and there was a lot to see along the river banks. The 2.5 hours flew by and we would highly recommend it ....

Spirit of Oxford 2.5-Hour River Cruise Reviewed by Jill, 13/07/2019

A truly awesome tour transporting one to magical villages. Thanks Ian!

Cotswold is a hidden gem and one that should not be missed when visiting the UK. Ian our guide made it a fascinating tour with great stories of the history of the these villages and its people. I fell in love with the simplicity and tranquility of the Cotswold and I am sure anyone who visits will too!

Interesting, Informative and Entertaining

Cosmo was very friendly and knowledgeable. He filled the talk with interesting facts and stories told in a very natural and conversational manner. We very much enjoyed our two hour walk and felt like we understood Oxford a bit better after it.

Oxford: University and City Walking Tour Reviewed by Leslie Erian, 11/07/2019