18 Best Things To Do In Oxford – Attractions, Tours & Sights

(Last Updated On: September 17, 2022)

Oxford is a world-famous university city in England.

It’s home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, as well as a number of other notable educational institutions.

The city itself is quite small, but it’s packed with beautiful architecture and notable buildings, including Oxford’s historic castle.

There are also plenty of things to do in Oxford, from exploring the many museums and galleries to enjoying the vibrant nightlife.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, then a visit to Oxford is definitely worth considering!

Things To Do In Oxford

1. Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History is located in the heart of Oxford’s academic quarter.

It is home to a wide variety of impressive exhibits, including dinosaur skeletons and a large collection of minerals and fossils.

The museum’s collection also includes five million insects and over 250,000 zoological specimens.

Visitors can learn about the history of the university and its role in the development of science.

In addition to being a popular tourist destination, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is also an important scientific institution.

This free museum is open Monday to Sunday from 10:00 – 17:00.

There is also a cafe on the upper gallery that serves hot lunches, salads, sandwiches, snacks and drinks.

Address: Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3PW

2. Oxford Castle & Prison

Oxford Castle & Prison

Oxford Castle & Prison is a historic jail.

The castle was first built in the 11th century and has been used as a prison since the 12th century.

The prison was also used as a place of execution, and you can still see the gibbet where criminals were hanged in public.

The castle was siege-proof and highly defendable, which made it the perfect place to imprison enemies of the state.

In more recent times, it has been used as a military prison during both World Wars.

Today, Oxford Castle & Prison is open to the public as a tourist attraction.

You can explore the castle grounds, visit the prison cells, and even take a tour of the execution gibbet.

If you’re feeling brave, you can even spend the night in a cell at the Malmaison Oxford!

Address: Oxford Castle & Prison, 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY

3. Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum is a world-renowned museum of anthropology and archaeology.

The museum was founded in 1884 by Augustus Pitt Rivers, an avid collector of archaeological and ethnographic artefacts.

Pitt Rivers amassed a huge collection of artefacts from all over the world, which he donated to the University of Oxford.

The museum houses a collection that spans a wide range of periods, and it provides a fascinating insight into the lives of people from different cultures.

The museum is particularly well known for its displays of human remains, which include mummies, skulls, and skeletons.

These displays are designed to educate visitors about the diversity of the human race.

Entry to the Museum is free.

Address: Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PP

4. Christ Church College

Christ Church College

Christ Church is one of the largest of the Oxford colleges.

The college was founded initially by Thomas Wolsey in 1525 as Cardinal College.

Christ Church College is home to a number of notable alumni, including Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), William Penn, and King Edward VII.

The college also has a long association with the Harry Potter series – many of the films were filmed on location at Christ Church.

The college is open to visitors all year round, and there are plenty of things to see and do.

You can explore the beautiful buildings and grounds, visit the college museum, and even take a boat trip on the River Cherwell.

Guests can follow the visitor route that gives plenty of opportunities to take photographs, you can also listen to and watch a multimedia guide.

A timed ticket can be purchased online.

Address: Christ Church College, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1DP

5. Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford is a leading contemporary art gallery.

Founded in 1966 and located in central Oxford, the gallery has become renowned for the excellent quality of its exhibits.

Visitors can see a wide range of exhibitions, featuring both established and emerging artists.

The gallery also has a very active education programme, which offers a range of workshops and talks for both children and adults.

Modern Art Oxford is an important venue for the promotion of contemporary art, and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

If you’re interested in seeing some cutting-edge contemporary art, then a visit to Modern Art Oxford is definitely worth considering.

Address: 30 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP

6. Harry Potter Walking Tour of Oxford

Harry Potter Walking Tour of Oxford

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter and the Harry Potter movies then a tour of Oxford is a must-do when you visit Oxford.

There are several different tours to choose from, but our favourite is the Harry Potter Walking Trip of Oxford.

This tour takes you to all of the important Harry Potter locations in Oxford, including Christ Church College (where Rowling got the idea for Hogwarts), the Bodleian Library (which served as inspiration for the library at Hogwarts) and much more.

The tour guide is fantastic and really knows her stuff when it comes to the Harry Potter films!

Address: Harry Potter Tour of Oxford, Oxford

7. University of Oxford Botanic Gardens

University of Oxford Botanic Gardens

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the United Kingdom and one of the oldest in the world.

The garden was founded in 1621 by Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby, and was used to grow medicinal plants.

Today, it is open to the public and contains over 8,000 different plant species from all over the world.

The Botanic Garden is located in the heart of Oxford.

It covers an area of 4.5 acres and includes a glasshouse, herb garden, rock garden, and meadow.

Address: The University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Ln, Oxford OX1 4AZ

8. Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe.

It was founded in 1602 by Sir Thomas Bodley, a diplomat and scholar, who wanted to create a library that would be open to all.

Today, the Bodleian Library is a world-renowned research library, with over 11 million items in its collections.

It is also home to some of the world’s most famous manuscript collections, including the Codex Sinaiticus and the Magna Carta.

There are three guided tours of the Bodleian Library for visitors, a 30 minute, 60 minute and 90 minute library guided tour, that can be booked online.

Address: Bodleian Library, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BG

9. Magdalen College

Magdalen College

Magdalen College is one of the colleges of the University of Oxford in England.

It was founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete and is named after St Mary Magdalene.

The college has a long and prestigious history.

It counts among its alumni many notable figures, such as Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, King Edward VIII, and Oscar Wilde.

Today, the college is home to a thriving community of students and scholars from all over the world.

Magdalen College is situated on a beautiful riverside setting in the heart of Oxford.

The college grounds are renowned for their picturesque gardens and architecture.

Visitors to the college can explore the grounds, visit the chapel, and take in the views of Oxford from Magdalen Tower.

Address: Cowley Pl, Oxford OX4 1DZ

10. Christ Church Meadow

Christ Church Meadow

Christ Church Meadow is a large open green space in the centre of Oxford.

It is owned by Christ Church, one of the colleges of the University of Oxford.

The Meadow is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike, and is well known for its stunning views of the cityscape.

It is also a great place to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

There are plenty of things to do in the Meadow, including picnicking, walking, and taking in the beautiful scenery.

The Meadow is also home to a number of events throughout the year, such as the annual May Day celebrations.

Address: Oxford OX1 4JF

11. Oxford University Parks

Oxford University Parks

Oxford University Parks are a network of parks and gardens conveniently located right in the heart of Oxford.

They include meadows, lakes, and mature woodlands, as well as many notable botanical gardens.

The Parks are open to the public daily from dawn until dusk, and are popular with walkers, cyclists, runners, and picnickers.

In addition to providing a green space for recreation, the Parks also play an important role in the University’s research and teaching activities.

The University Parks were founded in the 1850s when the University purchased land from Merton College.

The land had been used for pasture and haymaking since the 13th century, but was gradually converted into a series of formal gardens during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Today, the Parks are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, including several rare and endangered species.

Address: Oxford University Parks, S Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3RF

12. Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs, officially called Hertford Bridge, spans the River Cherwell and connects two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane in Oxford.

This famous bridge gets its name from its similarity to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

It is decorated with neo-Gothic tracery and has a series of large windows that allow views of the river below.

The bridge is covered, so visitors can walk across it even in bad weather.

The Bridge of Sighs is a popular spot for taking photos, and it is also a popular spot for students to kiss their partners goodbye before exams.

Address: Bridge of Sighs, New College Lane, OX1 3BL

13. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is one of Oxford’s world class museums.

It houses an incredible collection of art and artefacts from around the globe.

Visitors to the Ashmolean can expect to see paintings by some of history’s most famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt van Rijn.

The museum also has an impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities, as well as Greek and Roman sculptures.

The Ashmolean Museum is open every day and admission is free.

Address: Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford OX1 2PH

14. Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera is an iconic Oxford landmark that was built in 1737 and is now used as a library.

It’s a beautiful piece of architecture that played a role in Oxford University’s history and now has Grade I status.

Unfortunately Radcliffe Camera is not open to the public but can be admired from the outside.

Address: Radcliffe Square, Oxford OX1 3BG

15. Hertford College

Hertford College

Hertford College is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford and was founded in 1282 by Elias de Hertford.

The college is located on Catte Street, near the River Cherwell.

The College has a long and distinguished history.

Alumni include five Nobel Prize winners, three British Prime Ministers, and numerous other notable figures.

Visitors to Hertford College are greeted by a number of impressive buildings, including the Grade I listed Old Library.

The college also has a beautiful garden, which is open to the public during the summer months.

Address: Catte St, Oxford OX1 3BW

16. Port Meadow

Port Meadow

Port Meadow is a large area of grassland near Oxford, England.

It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Local Nature Reserve.

Port Meadow is a popular spot for walking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.

The meadow is home to a number of rare plant and animal species, including the endangered great crested newt.

In addition to its natural beauty, Port Meadow also has a rich history.

Archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of human activity on the site dating back to the Bronze Age.

Address: Walton Well Rd, Oxford OX2 6ED

17. Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre

The Sheldonian Theatre is a building in Oxford, England.

It was built between 1664 and 1669 to house public lectures at the University of Oxford and is now also used for musical recitals, conferences, and degree ceremonies.

The theatre is named after its principal founder, Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury.

The building is beautiful inside and out, but it’s not just a pretty face.

The Sheldonian was designed by Christopher Wren, one of the most celebrated architects of his time. He also designed St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Sheldonian is oval in shape and has a curved brick façade with stone detailing.

The seats are arranged in a fan shape so that everyone has a clear view of the stage.

There are three main ways that visitors can see the theatre, there is a general visitor ticket that lets you explore the theatre at your leisure, a guided tour of the theatre or by attending a concert or other event.

Address: Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AZ

18. University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin is world-renowned for its beautiful architecture and stunning stained glass windows.

Visitors from all over the world come to see the church, which is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world.

The church was built in the 13th century, and its construction took over 50 years to complete.

The original building was much smaller than the current structure, and it wasn’t until the 15th century that the church was expanded to its current size.

The exterior of the church is covered in intricate carvings and sculptures, which were added during the expansion in the 15th century.

The interior of the church is just as impressive as the exterior.

The nave is lined with beautiful stained glass windows, and there are numerous carved stone details throughout the building.

The tower is the oldest part of the church still visible today and dates from about 1280. It is richly decorated with carved gargoyles and grotesques.

There are 127 steps up to the top, these lead visitors past the Clore Old Library and the historic bell ringing chamber.

Admission to the Church is free but visitors will need to purchase a ticket for the Tower.

Address: The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, High Street, Oxford OX1 4BJ

FAQ

How many days do you need to visit Oxford?

Visitors can explore Oxford in about 2 days, however if you are an art or history lover we recommend at least 3 to 4 days to fully explore the cities museums, colleges and magnificent buildings.

What is the river that runs through Oxford?

The River Thames, is the main river of southern England it’s also called (in Oxford, England) River Isis.

There is an easy path to follow alongside the River Thames as it flows through the city centre.

Which of the Oxford Colleges has a deer park?

Magdalen College is home to an impressive courtyard, gorgeous cloisters and a deer park, hidden in the city centre.

Author

  • Tamara M

    Hey there! My name is Tamara, welcome to my little world! I’m a 20-something-year-old from Toronto, Canada (though I’m rarely there) and I’m super passionate about exploring the world, photography, and cooking delicious plant-based recipes. I created this blog to share my favorite places, adventures, restaurants, accommodations, and travel tips with all of you and keep a bit of a travel diary for myself.

Leave a Comment