Oxford, a city of dreaming spires, has been inspiring scholars for over 800 years, but it’s not just a destination for academic research, the city also offers a wealth of experience for visitors. From world-renowned museums to stunning architecture, there is no shortage of things to do in this captivating English city. In this post, we will explore the best attractions and activities that Oxford has to offer, providing you with an insider’s perspective on what to see and do during your visit. So, let’s explore the impressive city of Oxford together and discover its hidden treasures.
The 13 Best Guided Tours in Oxford
- Oxford Guided Decolonial Walking Tour
- Oxford Complete University Tour With Optional Christ Church
- Oxford 30 Minute River Cruise With 3 Course Dinner
- Oxford Guided Tour Includes Harry Potter Film Sites
- Private Iloveoxford Walking Tour
- Oxford 25 Hour Scenic Picnic Cruise
- Oxford Sightseeing River Tour
- Oxford Harry Potter Film Locations Tour With Oxford Alumni
- Oxford Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise
- Blenheim Palace Admission Ticket
- Oxford Self Guided City Sightseeing Treasure Hunt
- 24 Hour Open Top City Tour
- Oxford River Thames Sightseeing Cruise
The 13 Best Guided Tours in Oxford
1. Oxford Guided Decolonial Walking Tour
Experience an eye-opening Oxford Guided Decolonial Walking Tour that explores the uncomfortable subjects of the city’s history. Engage with an expert researcher and learn about the historic tensions between the town and the gown. The tour covers histories of empire inequality and race class and gender discrimination, highlighting how these legacies have an enduring impact on our modern lives.
Explore Oxford’s urban landscape, visit iconic city sights, and discover how the University of Oxford gained power locally and globally. The tour includes stops at Carfax Tower, Rhodes Statue, All Souls College, Weston Library, Sheldonian Theatre, Balliol College, Faculty of History, and Bonn Square. Please note that the itinerary may vary slightly depending on time and the tour guide.
The Oxford Guided Decolonial Walking Tour is wheelchair accessible, but please note that some locations may have mildly uneven paths. This is the perfect introductory tour of Oxford that engages in the politics of memory in the city and university, providing a unique perspective and going beyond the traditional narrative.
2. Oxford Complete University Tour With Optional Christ Church
You will experience a full-day Oxford tour including a visit to the Bodleian Library, with fast-track College entrances and an Oxford student guide. This small group tour provides an authentic tour beyond typical tourist hype. Upgrade options include a ticket to Christ Church. Your tour will begin with an introduction to the vast periods of history to be covered, then move on to a college known for its beautiful lawns and an iconic dispute resulting in a supposed theft of the College tortoise. Next, visit the Sheldonian Theatre where students experience the most iconic ceremony at Oxford University. Hear from your student guide how the experience was for them. Afterward, visit a historic museum, complete with a chalkboard used by Einstein in Oxford, and the Weston Library.
3. Oxford 30 Minute River Cruise With 3 Course Dinner
Experience the beauty of Oxford from a unique perspective with a 30-minute river cruise on an Edwardian gentleman’s riverboat. Take in the highlights of river life while sipping on a complimentary glass of Prosecco. See Folly Bridge, Christchurch Meadows, the university boat houses, and part of the regatta course. After the cruise, disembark at The Folly for an exquisite 3-course dinner at one of Oxford’s best restaurants. The Folly’s evening a la carte menu offers relaxed fine dining in charming surroundings either inside the restaurant or on the floating river terrace, weather permitting. The tour includes a sightseeing cruise, a 3-course meal, and a glass of Prosecco. Choose between experiencing the crisp air and sun during lunchtime or the magical twilight on the river during the evening. Don’t forget to browse the comprehensive wine list if you’d like to purchase wine to complement your meal.
4. Oxford Guided Tour Includes Harry Potter Film Sites
This Oxford Guided Tour is a fantastic way to explore the beautiful city of Oxford. The tour is perfectly tailored for those visiting the city for the first time, especially for those Harry Potter fans amongst you. As it’s a private tour, you’ll have the flexibility to visit the sites that interest you the most without wasting time waiting for other travelers. During the tour, you’ll see many of Oxford’s top attractions, including New College and the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library. You’ll learn fascinating insights about Oxford student life and the city’s history, making it a perfect choice for anyone wanting to discover more about this beautiful city. This tour also includes a visit to either an Oxford college or the Divinity School – a famous Harry Potter film site. However, please note that the tour doesn’t include a visit to Christ Church college or the Bodleian medieval library. Please be aware that the tour isn’t available during university open days or the Christmas holidays. This is an excellent opportunity to experience one of England’s most picturesque cities, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.
5. Private Iloveoxford Walking Tour
Experience the charm of Oxford and its university with the Private Iloveoxford Walking Tour. Led by Oxford-educated guides or Oxford actors, enjoy a smaller group sized tour as you visit at least 9 of Oxford’s most beautiful colleges. Follow the informative, eccentric, and humorous guide around the city as you learn about the famous literary, scientific, and political figures, student traditions, and English history in Oxford.
This tour is customizable to suit your interests and requests, making it ideal for small groups, language schools, or business organizations. You’ll receive an entry to a college or to the Divinity School (Harry Potter film site), a map of Oxford College and sights, and entrance to any colleges that our local partner doesn’t have existing access rights to.
Book your Private Iloveoxford Walking Tour today to get the most out of your trip to Oxford.
6. Oxford 25 Hour Scenic Picnic Cruise
This tour offers a 2.5-hour scenic picnic cruise that presents Oxford’s famous landmarks from a new perspective. The river cruise passes through the city to witness the University Boat Houses, Christchurch College and Meadows, the regatta course of Head of the River, Folly Bridge, and Osney Island. Also, explore other beautiful and intriguing scenery, such as ancient Port Meadow, that supports plants and bird-life extravagantly. Enjoy a break at an 800-year-old riverside inn and, from there, take in more breathtaking river scenery while dining from a generous picnic hamper. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience this hidden side of Oxford’s heritage.
7. Oxford Sightseeing River Tour
This river tour takes you on a journey down the Thames River starting from the University Regatta Course and ending at Iffley village. Along the way, witness the timeless beauty of Folly Bridge, Christchurch College and Meadows, the university rowing houses, and Iffley Lock. The lively river life of the Isis will give you a glimpse of the bustling river that keeps on moving. The cruise is made even more special as you are aboard an electric Edwardian riverboat that ensures a comfortable and eco-friendly experience. The skipper on board will provide you with historical and interesting stories about the river. Make sure to arrive early to order drinks from The Folly Restaurant and enjoy them while you are on board. This is an opportunity to be surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Thames River and create unforgettable moments.
8. Oxford Harry Potter Film Locations Tour With Oxford Alumni
Explore the enchanting world of Harry Potter on a tour of Oxford’s renowned film locations. Led by current and former students of the University, the tour takes you on a journey through the history and culture of this landmark institution, sharing insights into its connections to the entertainment industry. Step inside New College and the revered Divinity School, both of which have featured on the big screen in a range of films. Choose between a private tour or shared group experience to suit your preference. Please note that this tour is not suitable for wheelchair users. Entry to Harry Potter film locations, the Divinity School (when open), and New College or Christ Church College (depending on availability) are all included.
9. Oxford Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise
Travel down the University Regatta course and experience a wonderful display of Oxford at play on the Oxford Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise. Pass by Christ Church Meadows, the University College Boat Houses, and other popular landmarks on your way to Iffley lock. Indulge in an afternoon tea served aboard the boat as you pass through the lock and enter the tranquil water meadows surrounding Oxford. With ample opportunities to spot wildlife and surrounded by beautiful green banks and overhanging willows, this is a tour that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. The boat turns for home at Rose Island, a favorite destination of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable experience.
10. Blenheim Palace Admission Ticket
Discover the beautiful Blenheim Palace with this admission ticket. Be amazed at the 18th century Baroque architecture and explore the State Rooms with their stunning portraits, tapestries and exquisite furniture. Learn about the 300-year history of this National Treasure and admire some of the finest antique collections in Europe. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Churchill Exhibition where you can learn all about the life of the great Prime Minister, starting with his birth at Blenheim Palace in 1874. The exhibition features photographs, extracts from his diaries and artefacts. You can choose between tickets that allow entrance into the palace or to simply explore the surrounding park and gardens. With over 2000 acres of landscaped Parkland and Formal Gardens plus events, tours and exhibitions throughout the year, this is a day out you won’t forget.
11. Oxford Self Guided City Sightseeing Treasure Hunt
Embark on a unique adventure and explore the best of Oxford with a self-guided mobile-based treasure hunt. Follow the directions of Captain Bess, a humorous pirate who is testing out new recruits to join her crew, and let her guide you on a carefully designed route through the city. Solve clues and follow maps that will take you to popular landmarks as well as some of the city’s hidden gems. Learn interesting facts and hear fun stories about Oxford along the way. Start your treasure hunt at the castle mound and make your way through ancient alleyways, passing by stunning colleges and magnificent squares. Don’t worry if you get stuck, Captain Bess is on hand to provide hints to help you on your way. This is a satisfying and exciting way to uncover Oxford’s charms and hidden secrets.
12. 24 Hour Open Top City Tour
Discover the best of Oxford in just 24 hours with our Open Top City Tour. You’ll have the freedom to hop on and off the bus at your leisure and explore the city’s 13 points of interest, including the University of Oxford, Carfax Tower, and the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. Along the way, you’ll enjoy complimentary WiFi on board and the use of earphones to listen to the informative commentary.
We’ll also give you a complimentary 45-minute walking tour of Oxford, ‘Stepping Through Oxford’, which departs from the Visitor Information Point. Our bus tour starts at Queens Lane (Stop K3), and operates daily from 09:30 AM to 06:00 PM.
Our service is wheelchair and stroller accessible, and infants must sit on laps. Confirmation will be received at the time of booking. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to see Oxford’s top sights in one day with our Open Top City Tour.
13. Oxford River Thames Sightseeing Cruise
Cruise along the glorious River Thames on a short but scenic boat ride departing from the quaint Folly Bridge and heading toward the charming Iffley Lock. Admire your beautiful surroundings made up of lush trees and cozy brick cottages immersing you in the lovely old-town vibe of Oxford.
Board your boat to begin your journey throughout which your skipper will point out all the major sites and answer any questions you may wish to ask. Marvel at the views of Christ Church meadows college boathouses and a mix of wildlife and countryside whilst enjoying your time on board.
You will either ride a stunning traditional-style vessel or a more modern cruiser. Either way rest assured that your skipper will provide live commentary on the sights you pass. So, get ready to enjoy the beautiful wildlife and the lush countryside on this delightful sightseeing cruise.
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting OxfordOxford is a beautiful city that is steeped in history and is known for its world-class university. Visiting Oxford is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you won’t forget. However, planning a trip can be overwhelming, and you might have some questions that need answering. In this post, we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Oxford.
1. What is the best time to visit Oxford?The best time to visit Oxford is during the summer (June to August) when the weather is warm, and there are lots of events happening. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for crowds. Spring (March to May) is also a great time to visit as the flowers are in bloom, and the weather is mild. Fall (September to November) is a great time to visit if you prefer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.
2. How do I get to Oxford?If you’re traveling from London, the easiest way to get to Oxford is by train. The journey takes around an hour, and trains run frequently throughout the day. You can also get to Oxford by bus or car. The city is well-connected to major highways and is accessible from all directions.
3. What are the must-see attractions in Oxford?Oxford is home to many incredible attractions that make it an ideal destination for tourists. Some of the must-see attractions include:
- The Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera
- Christ Church College and Cathedral
- The Ashmolean Museum
- The Covered Market
- The Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum
4. Can I take a tour of Oxford University?Yes, you can take a tour of Oxford University. There are a variety of tours available, including walking tours and guided tours inside the university buildings. We recommend booking in advance, as tours can fill up quickly.
5. Where is the best place to stay in Oxford?The best place to stay in Oxford depends on your preferences and budget. If you want to be close to the city center, we recommend staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast on High Street, St. Aldate’s, or Broad Street. If you prefer a quieter location, you might consider staying in a hotel or B&B in the Headington or Summertown neighborhoods.
6. How long should I spend in Oxford?We recommend spending at least two days in Oxford to see all of the major attractions and get a feel for the city. However, if you want to explore the city in-depth, you may want to spend three or more days. Keep in mind that there are many things to do in Oxford, and you could easily spend a week exploring the city and surrounding area.
7. Where should I eat in Oxford?Oxford is home to many great restaurants, cafes, and pubs. Some of our favorites include The Eagle and Child, The Rusty Bicycle, The White Hart, and The Ashmolean Dining Room. If you’re looking for something quick to eat, there are plenty of street food vendors and markets throughout the city.
8. Do I need to purchase tickets in advance for attractions?It’s not necessary to purchase tickets in advance for most attractions in Oxford, but we recommend doing so during peak season to avoid lines and ensure availability. You should also consider purchasing tickets in advance for tours of Oxford University and special events.
9. What is the currency used in Oxford?As part of the United Kingdom, the currency used in Oxford is the British pound sterling (£). You can exchange currency at banks, exchange bureaus, and some hotels. Most shops, restaurants, and attractions accept credit and debit cards.
10. Is Oxford wheelchair accessible?Most of the major attractions in Oxford are wheelchair accessible, but some of the older buildings may have limited accessibility. It’s a good idea to check with the attraction or tour operator in advance to make sure that they can accommodate your needs. There are also several wheelchair accessible taxis and public transportation options available in Oxford.
How to Spend Your Time as a Tourist in Oxford: A Comprehensive Guide
Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is an iconic destination that attracts tourists from all over the world. This city is known for its academic and literary heritage, stunning architecture, and rich culture. Whether you are visiting Oxford for a day trip or planning a longer vacation, you will find plenty of things to do and discover. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some tips for spending your time in Oxford effectively so you won’t miss out on anything.
1. Visit Oxford’s Famous University Colleges
Oxford is renowned for its world-class universities, and as a tourist, you have the opportunity to visit some of its most famous colleges. The University of Oxford is made up of over 30 independent constituent colleges, including Christ Church, St. John’s College, and Balliol College. Most of these colleges are open to the public and offer guided tours. Here are some of the colleges you don’t want to miss:
- Christ Church: One of the largest and most famous colleges in Oxford, where Lewis Carroll wrote the famous novel Alice in Wonderland.
- Magdalen College: Home to the famous Magdalen Tower, which is one of the tallest structures in Oxford and has panoramic views of the city.
- St. John’s College: One of the oldest and most beautiful colleges in Oxford, with a stunning chapel and beautiful gardens.
- Balliol College: One of the oldest colleges in Oxford, with beautiful architecture and a rich history.
2. Explore Oxford’s Museums
Oxford has some fantastic museums that cater to different interests, from art and history museums to science and natural history museums. Here are some museums that you might find interesting:
- Ashmolean Museum: The oldest public museum in the UK, with a vast collection of fine art, archaeology, and world history.
- Science Oxford: An interactive science museum where you can explore various scientific displays and experiments.
- Museum of Natural History: A fascinating museum that showcases the diversity of the natural world, with displays of dinosaur fossils, animals, and plants.
3. Punting on the River Thames
Punting is a popular activity in Oxford, and it’s an excellent way to explore the city’s famous waterways. You can rent a punt and slowly glide down the River Thames while taking in the beautiful sights of Oxford’s bridges, gardens, and historic buildings. It’s a peaceful and relaxing way to spend an afternoon, and there are several punting companies in Oxford that offer punting tours along the river.
4. Take a Guided Walking Tour of Oxford
If you want to get a deeper understanding of Oxford’s history and culture, consider taking a guided walking tour of the city. There are several tour companies in Oxford that offer guided walking tours, and they cover a variety of topics, including literary tours, Harry Potter tours, and historic walking tours. A guided tour is an excellent way to see the sights while learning about the city’s history and heritage.
5. Visit Oxford’s Covered Market
Oxford’s Covered Market is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. This historic market is home to several independent traders who sell everything from fresh produce and artisanal bread to handmade crafts and vintage clothing. It’s a bustling and vibrant place to explore, and you can easily spend a few hours browsing the various stalls and shops.
6. Explore Oxford’s Parks and Gardens
Oxford is blessed with several beautiful parks and gardens that offer a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Here are some parks and gardens that might interest you:
- University of Oxford Botanic Garden: One of the oldest botanic gardens in the UK, with a stunning collection of over 8,000 different plant species.
- Christ Church Meadow: A scenic park that lies along the River Thames, with beautiful views of Christ Church College and the city skyline.
- South Park: A large public park with panoramic views of Oxford, perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
7. Visit the Oxford Castle and Prison
The Oxford Castle and Prison is a fascinating attraction that offers a glimpse into the city’s turbulent past. This castle was built in 1071 and has served as a royal castle, a prison, and a court throughout its history. Today, you can take a guided tour of the castle and prison and learn about its history and heritage. You can even climb to the top of St. George’s Tower for a stunning view of Oxford.
Book Your Tour Now
Oxford is a city that has something for everyone, from its famous university colleges and museums to its beautiful parks and gardens. By following this guide, you can make the most of your time in Oxford and discover all that this historic city has to offer. Remember to take your time and enjoy everything that Oxford has to offer, and you’re sure to have a memorable and enriching experience.
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