Top 10 things to do in Oxford

Visiting Oxford: what are the best things to see and do in the world’s most famous university town?

Located less than a hundred kilometers northwest of London, Oxford has always been recognized as the seat of learning and knowledge, thanks to its world-renowned university. Steeped in history and dotted with majestic buildings, Oxford also conjures up images of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts! The narrow streets of its city center and picturesque pubs exude a special, romantic atmosphere that won’t leave you indifferent! Wondering what to do in Oxford? Here’s the answer:

1. Oxford city center

Centre ville d'Oxford

A visit to Oxford begins with a tour of the city center, a typical, picturesque district that invites you to take a stroll. Stroll along its pedestrian streets, and discover the Covered Market. Founded in 1770, this old covered market is home to numerous small stores and eateries. You’ll be swept away by the atmosphere of the city. Find out more about visiting Oxford and its university.

2. Oxford University

Université d'Oxford

Of course, you won’t want to miss a visit to the splendid and most prestigious university in the world, Oxford University! In fact, it’s the oldest university in England and the entire English-speaking world. Discover its majestic beige buildings, which will inspire you with their grandeur and serenity. You may even recognize some of the rooms from the Harry Potter films. Special Harry Potter tours are also available.

3. The botanical garden

Jardin botanique d'Oxford

Photo credit: Flickr- Tejvan Pettinger

Located on the banks of the River Cherwell, Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the UK, originally created for the study of medicinal plants. As well as beautiful gardens, you’ll find greenhouses growing hundreds of varieties of exotic plants and flowers.

4. Make a pub crawl

Faire un pub crawl à Oxford

Still wondering what to do in Oxford? Try this typically English experience, which consists of getting together in a group and having a pint in one of the city’s best pubs. If you don’t fancy the pub crawl itself, why not take a seat in one of the city’s many pubs for a pint and a meal? You’ll discover a unique English pub atmosphere: a warm welcome, dimly lit corners and pleasant benches to sit on, a special history, an infinite number of beer varieties and tasty food!

5. Ashmolean Museum

Musées Ashmolean à Oxford

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Beaumont Street, Oxford, is the world’s first university museum and Britain’s oldest public museum. It was built in 1678, to house the cabinet of curiosities that Olias Ashmole donated to Oxford University. Today, you’ll find objects from the 4 corners of the globe, master paintings and all manner of antiques.

6. Oxford Castle Unlocked

Château et prison d'Oxford

Photo credit: Flickr- Laurent

To visit Oxford without visiting Oxford Castle Unlocked is to miss out on a great piece of history! Built in 1071 by the Normans, the castle was damaged during the English Civil War. It was then used as a prison from the 18th to the 20th century. This tour promises a fun-filled, history-filled experience, with guides in disguise to tell you all the anecdotes and secrets hidden within the castle’s walls. Find out more about visiting Oxford Castle and Oxford Prison.

7. The Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre à Oxford

This is where Oxford University’s graduation ceremonies take place. Don’t miss a trip to the top of its dome for an extraordinary view of the city!

8. Blenheim Palace

Palais de Blenheim à Oxford

Photo credit: Flickr – JR P

Just 13 kilometers from Oxford, discover Blenheim Palace, a unique example of English Baroque architecture. The manor house was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmooor. The perfectly preserved interior boasts sculptures, hand-painted ceilings, porcelain collections and Churchill family heirlooms, as the former Minister was born here in 1874. Don’t forget to visit the gardens and park, which are absolutely enchanting!

9. Oxford colleges

Christ Church college d'Oxford

Photo credit: Flickr – Dmitry Dzhus

Each of Oxford’s colleges has its own special features and hidden treasures, centuries of history and famous students. The city’s most famous college is undoubtedly Christ Church College & Cathedral. It’s the oldest, and surely the most beautiful, university college built in medieval times. You can visit some of its interior rooms, such as the iconic dining room, which was the inspiration for the creators of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Not forgetting Magdalena College and its timeless gardens, where celebrities such as Oscar Wilde have passed through, Merton College with its sublime chapel, trodden by greats such as Tolkien, T. Elliot and Kris Kristofferson, or Balliol Colleg, spectacular and ancient…

10. The Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library à Oxford

If you’re still wondering what to do in Oxford, you should know that the city also boasts some of the world’s finest libraries and gigantic bookshops (such as Blackwell’s on Broad Street), where you can admire splendid manuscripts and numerous collections. The Bodleian Library was the filming location for scenes set in the Hogwarts library (once again, Harry Potter fans will be delighted!).

How do I get to Oxford?

To get to Oxford, you’ll need to travel via London. If you want to get there by plane, you’ll find a cheap flight on the website of our partner Skyscanner. Alternatively, Eurostar is a very practical solution, depending on your departure point. Once in London, you have two choices: train or bus! The Oxford Tube runs from several stops in central London, while the Oxford Express connects Heathrow and Gatwick airports with the Airline bus. Allow around 1h30 for the journey. Several train companies (First Great Western, Virgin Trains and National Railways) will get you to Oxford in less than an hour.

Where to stay in Oxford?

If you choose to visit Oxford, there are a number of different areas to stay in, depending on what you’re looking for! The city center is the ideal place to stay, thanks to its central, convenient location. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation styles and prices (hostels, hotels, homestays…). Looking for a quieter place to stay, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center? Then head for the residential, middle-class Jericho district to the north of the city center. Last but not least, Cowley, to the south-east of the historic center, will delight the younger crowd and those seeking a more popular, alternative spirit. You can find a cheap hotel in Oxford by searching on this hotel comparator.

Walking around and discovering Oxford is a magical and fantastic experience that won’t leave you indifferent. It’s impossible not to succumb to the city’s « so chic », very British charm. Still wondering what to do in Oxford?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Oxford,gb