Great Britain

Things to do in Oxford

Famous the world over for the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the city of Oxford is brimming with history and culture, home to scholars and royalty for over 800 years.

Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires, has been an established town since the 9th century and has transformed into a bustling, cosmopolitan city. The city’s eclectic mix of both ancient and modern gives it a unique atmosphere and is very well-catered for the thousands of visitors and tourists that descend upon it each year.

Every which way you look or walk in Oxford you’ll find yourself inundated by history and culture. The University of Oxford’s 58 buildings are scattered around the city centre, many of which are open to the public for you to lose yourself amongst ancient brickwork and inspiring stone quadrangles, walking in the footsteps of some of the world’s best scholars.

The city centre is compact enough to explore on foot, and you can join a walking or audio tour or lose yourself between the labyrinths of buildings from all different ages. Whether it’s shopping, site-seeing, or eating and drinking you’re after, Oxford really has it all.
Our top pick of things to do in Oxford include enjoying the architectural sights, Museums, Oxford Botanic Gardens and putting on the River Thames. 

 

CQF

Calais Port

DVR

Dover Port

Morning

03:30

05:25

08:30

10:10

Midday

13:10

Afternoon

14:45

Evening

17:50

19:25

22:35

23:55

Oxford in England

About the city

Enjoy the Architectural Sights Take a walking or guided tour around the conveniently-compact city centre and you’ll find yourself surrounded by an astonishing number of impressive buildings from every period of English history. Oxford’s origins go back as far as the late Saxon period, notable from its original street pattern. It is also home to some of the best-preserved medieval buildings in the country.

New College, enclosed by original town walls, is a fantastic example of medieval architecture from the 14th century, one of the most significant in Europe and also one of the first colleges of the University to arrange its buildings around a quadrangle. Or visit the 18th century Radcliffe Camera, the UK’s first round library, which features a stunning Classical interior. 
 
University of Oxford Library

Museum of Natural History in Oxford

Museums

Oxford is home to a huge number of museums, galleries, and collections, most of which are free of charge to visit and have links to the University.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Architecture was the world’s first university museum and the UK’s oldest, founded in 1683. It was originally built to host Elias Ashmole’s cabinet of curiosities collected from gardeners, travellers, and collectors. The collection includes an incredible range of exhibits ranging from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. With a number of interactive displays to enjoy, this is the perfect place to visit for the whole family.

The Pitt Rivers Museum currently hosts over 300,000 artefacts, originally donated by Augustus Pitt Rivers who travelled and collected extensively whilst serving in the British Army in the 19th century. Enter this dimly-lit cave of wonders and marvel at shrunken heads, musical instruments, textiles, jewellery, and many more fascinating examples of humanity’s unmatched ability for problem-solving, innovation, and artistic endeavour.

 

Oxford Botanic Garden

Founded in 1621, the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum is Britain’s oldest and serves to educate as many people as possible about the importance of plants and nature, supporting research conducted both within the University and worldwide.

The Garden features seven beautiful display glasshouses with a range of different climates to house plants from all over the world; you can travel the globe whilst staying right in Oxford as you wander through the varying hot and cold environments. Another impressive feature here is the Walled Garden, a peaceful sanctuary away from the bustling city streets, where you can sit and reflect under tall black pines by the River Cherwell.

 
Oxford Botanic Gardens

Punting in Oxford

Punting on the River Thames

A trip to picturesque Oxford wouldn’t be complete without a punting trip down the River Thames, or Isis as it is locally known. Whether you want to personally try your hand at this slightly eccentric, quintessentially English activity, or if you’d feel more comfortable on a guided tour, the choice is yours.

Go for a leisurely sail upstream and admire the wildlife, stopping off for a picnic on the banks or downriver, past the University grounds. Moor up in one of the oldest villages around Oxford on the River Cherwell at the Victoria Arms, known to locals simply as the Vicky, to rest your arms or to tuck in to a pint of ale and a traditional pub lunch. 

Lose yourself amongst ancient brickwork and inspiring stone quadrangles