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Things to do in
Oxford

Historical colleges, a medieval university, and fascinating museums await in this famous seat of learning.

Our most recommended things to do in Oxford

London: Harry Potter Studio Tour and Oxford Day Trip

1. London: Harry Potter Studio Tour and Oxford Day Trip

Join a full-day bus trip from London which combines a trip to the Warner Bros Studio Tour 'The Making of Harry Potter' with a walking tour of Oxford University. Start your tour at the historic city of Oxford, home to England's oldest university. Enjoy a guided walking tour that takes you past famous college buildings, cloisters, quadrangles, and cobblestone squares. See the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre, and selected colleges. Enjoy free time to explore all that Oxford has to offer at your own pace. Continue to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and begin your magical experience at The Making of Harry Potter. Discover behind-the-scenes secrets and hear about the filmmaking techniques used to make the magic of the Harry Potter films. Visit the most recognizable set features from the films: the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, the Ministry of Magic, 4 Privet Drive, the Weasley kitchen, Hogwarts Express, and Diagon Alley. Board the original Hogwarts Express train and see a recreation of Platform 9-3/4. Explore the interior train carriage set that was featured during filming and take a selfie with a luggage trolley as it disappears through the brick wall.

London: Full-Day Windsor, Stonehenge, and Oxford Tour

2. London: Full-Day Windsor, Stonehenge, and Oxford Tour

Enjoy a full day of English heritage visiting the exquisite Windsor Castle, captivating Stonehenge, and the beautiful university city of Oxford. On this day trip departing from London, you get the whistle-stop tour of these unique sites with interesting commentary from your guide along the way. Start your day at Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of HM King Charles III. Visit the magnificent State Apartments still used for state occasions and royal receptions (if option selected). Take some time to explore the castle grounds and the 14th century St. George's Chapel, where you can admire one of the most beautiful examples of medieval church architecture in England. Next, go to the standing stones of Stonehenge, still clouded in mystery as an amazing feat of human engineering. Explore the prehistoric stone circle and learn about the theories around its construction (if option selected). Continue to the university city of Oxford, known as "The City of Dreaming Spires." A seat of learning since 1249, it's an idyllic location to explore on a fascinating walking tour.

Oxford: University and City Walking Tour with Alumni Guide

3. Oxford: University and City Walking Tour with Alumni Guide

Step inside Oxford University and explore the grounds on a guided walking tour. Admire the iconic architecture and learn about university life from your student guide. Visit one of the university’s oldest colleges and the Bodleian Library. Learn about the history of the university colleges, including All Souls College, Trinity College, Oriel College, Hertford College, and Merton College, the Radcliffe Camera, and the University Church of St. Mary. Get an equally in-depth history of the town. Hear about ceremonies at Oxford, famous graduates, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and also how the most powerful Archbishop of Canterbury was burned at the stake in Oxford.

From London: Cotswolds and Oxford Guided Day-Trip

4. From London: Cotswolds and Oxford Guided Day-Trip

Embark on a full-day guided tour of the English countryside from London. Admire the fairytale houses of the Cotswolds, the historic Oxford University, and the beauty of the English Countryside. Depart London on a full-day tour that takes you west to experience the beauty of the Cotswolds countryside, and the university city of Oxford. Drive through the Cotswolds, as you enjoy views of the lovely landscape and stone villages. A designated area of outstanding natural beauty, this is the English countryside at its finest. We will stop at Bibury and Burford, the two most loved villages of the Cotswolds. Continue to Oxford to explore the most famous university city in the world. Free-time for lunch in the heart of the city. Take a walk among the college buildings and admire their dreamy spires. Your guide will recommend a walking route that covers the most famous sites, including the Bridge of Sighs and Christchurch Cathedral. Learn about Oxford’s connection with Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. Find a great place for a meal (you guide will provide recommendations), or join local scholars and academics over a pint in the city’s most haunted pub. You'll be back in London by 6 in the evening and you can use the London Underground to travel quickly to all areas of London.

Oxford: University and City Walking Tour

5. Oxford: University and City Walking Tour

Join a university-educated guide, with years of experience and local knowledge of Oxford City and colleges. See the dreamy spires of one of the oldest universities in the world on a guided walking tour. Go inside some of the city’s most historic colleges, such as New College, founded in 1379 and more recently seen in the Harry Potter films and television productions of Inspector Morse and Lewis. Visit Exeter College, founded in 1314, and another favorite on most tours. Stop by Hertford College, with its romantic façade and Bridge of Sighs, instantly recognizable from Brideshead Revisited. See the University Library and learn about the collegiate system unique to Oxford and Cambridge. Discover famous alumni who studied and taught at the university, including the infamous Dr Spooner, whose portraits hang in New College Dining Hall and whose name is given to the playful linguistic phenomenon of spoonerisms.

From London: Full-Day Cotswolds Tour with Lunch

6. From London: Full-Day Cotswolds Tour with Lunch

Enjoy the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, and visit 3 of its loveliest villages – Burford, Bibury and Stow-on-the-Wold. Travel through the Cotswolds, an area seemingly unchanged with the passing of time. See rolling landscapes, dry stone walls, quaint churches, and streams that tumble past tiny villages and charming hamlets. On this full-day excursion from London, you’ll begin your tour in Burford, where the magnificent High Street slopes down to the River Windrush. See the town’s small tea houses before heading south to picturesque Bibury for lunch. Dine in one of the prettiest villages in England. A 2-course meal awaits you in the heart of the Cotswolds at the Swan Hotel. The restaurant, overlooking the River Coln, is housed in a 17th-century former coach inn, and serves a popular range of traditional dishes, along with ales and fine wines. Afterwards, you’ll travel to Stow-on-the-Wold, a small market town known for its annual fairs. Enjoy a guided walk through the town center before returning to London.

From London: Windsor, Oxford & Stonehenge Full-Day Trip

7. From London: Windsor, Oxford & Stonehenge Full-Day Trip

Windsor Castle Windsor Castle perches proudly on a lush wooded hill overlooking the Thames. Sweeping landscaped gardens and turreted Round Tower, it’s easy to see why it’s the King’s favourite weekend residence. Enjoy a fascinating through–the–keyhole peek at the lavish State Apartments, home to priceless artworks by Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci, and visit St. George’s Chapel, the atmospheric final resting place of former monarchs including Henry VIII. You can visit Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Mysterious Stonehenge The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was Stonehenge a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones from so far away and then, using only the most primitive of tools, build this amazing structure? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress. Oxford Follow in the footsteps of Oxford’s famous students, from C.S. Lewis to Bill Clinton, as you stroll the captivating college courtyards and cobbled lanes of this historic university town. Take in the famous ‘city of dreaming spires’ and see the Bodleian Library – one of the oldest libraries in Europe – on your visit. You’ll be captivated by the unspoilt narrow alleys and ancient squares of this naturally beautiful town. Estimated arrival time back in London is around 7.00pm

Oxford: Harry Potter Walking Tour Including New College

8. Oxford: Harry Potter Walking Tour Including New College

Meet your Oxford University student guide in central Oxford and head for the Hogwarts' Infirmary, set in one of the halls of the famous Bodleian Library. Imagine the infirmary’s beds in place here, and admire the richly sculpted beasts and biblical carvings that appeared in many of the Harry Potter movies. Next, explore one or two of Oxford’s oldest colleges, delving into the rooms and cloisters that featured as Hogwarts’ gloomy interior. See other filming locations and hear trivia about the characters and movie productions. Test your knowledge of all things Harry Potter with our custom quiz. Along the way, hear about Oxford’s influence in famous children’s literature, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to The Hobbit. Finish with a tour of the exterior of Christ Church, whose hall was an inspiration and not the actual Dining Hall at Hogwarts.

From London: Oxford and Cotswolds Villages Day Trip

9. From London: Oxford and Cotswolds Villages Day Trip

Embark on a day trip from London and take a break from the busy city. Explore the university city of Oxford and 2 charming towns of the Cotswolds, Burford and Bibury. Meet in central London and travel northwest out of the city, passing through the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Enjoy the views of the picturesque countryside that has inspired television shows like Midsomer Murders and Vicar of Dibley. Make your first stop in the university city of Oxford, where you have time to explore the precincts of the many colleges. Climb to the vantage points to admire the skyline of the city, or choose to see the art and antiquities collections in the Ashmolean Museum. Continue to Burford, known as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’. Take some time to explore this small market town lined with typical terraced houses along its charming High Street. Travel onwards a short distance to Bibury, often considered one of the prettiest villages in England. Stroll by the fairytale-like Arlington Row, with a row of tumbledown cottages dating from the 1300s. After a full day exploring the city of Oxford and the villages of the Cotswolds, relax on the return journey to London. *This route may be reversed on some occasions.

Oxford: River Thames Sightseeing Cruise

10. 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 you'll have a spacious boat to sit back and relax on.

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Frequently asked questions about Oxford

What are the best day trips and excursions from Oxford?

The best day trips and excursions from Oxford are:

The Cotswolds

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Oxford

Paul & Mark are full time travel bloggers who discover hidden gems and local specialities on their blog Anywhere We Roam. They spent 7 years living in the area, compiling their favourite things to do in Oxford.

What should I do on my first trip to Oxford?

One of the most iconic sites in Oxford is the Radcliffe Camera; the iconic dome-topped round building in the centre of the city. The best way to see it, and the charming cobbled-stoned square it resides in, is from the top of St Mary Virgin Church tower. The other unmissable attraction in Oxford is the Bodleian Library. The reading room with medieval books and wood panelling is so atmospheric it was used as the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter Films.

What are some hidden gems to see in Oxford?

One of the most unique experiences in Oxford is having a pint at the Turf Tavern; a creaky old pub dating back to 1381. With low wooden beams, an open fire and traditional ales, it's a classic English pub with past regulars including ex-Prime Ministers and famous students. The Pitt River’s Museum is another cool place to visit. It has a huge collection of strange objects from all over the world including an intriguing early human tattoo exhibition.

How much time should I spend in Oxford?

With a compact centre, it's easy to see many of the main sights on a day trip to Oxford including the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, and several of the colleges. On a second day you could take a guided tour of one of the colleges, punt on the river and visit some of Oxford's world-class museums.

What food is Oxford known for?

Although steeped in history, Oxford's student population has helped forge a modern & independent café scene. Head to St. Michael's Street for an excellent choice of tasty brunches; Turl Street for great independent coffee; and the neaby covered market for artisanal baked goods amongst a mish mash of enticing stalls.

What is the best way to get around Oxford?

As a compact city, Oxford is easily explored on foot. Most of the main attractions are contained within the old town centre and strolling the small laneways and cobbled streets is one of the best ways to see this charming university town. A punting tour along the river is and excellent way to see Oxford's parks and leafty surrounds.

What are the best months to visit Oxford?

May to June is the best time to visit Oxford when the gardens are in full bloom and the students are starting to celebrate the end of the academic year. May is the busiest month for festivals, including Oxford May Music – a celebration of music, science and arts in the city – making it a great time to visit before the busy summer period.

What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Oxford?

The main attractions are located in the centre of Oxford, but for a taste of the real student life, head to Jericho. Lined with colourful terrace houses, Jericho is home to trendy cafes, international food and independent retail shops. Don't miss Raoul's bar for expertly created cocktails in a lush but relaxed setting.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

Most of the great restaurants in Oxford are in the centre, making it easy to wander around and pick something from the wide selection on offer. On a nice day, it's great to take the leisurely stroll from the centre town along the River Thames where you can eat at several of the boathouses overlooking the water.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

One of the best places to shop in Oxford is the covered market. Operating for around 200 years, the market has everything from groceries to crafts; homewares to clothing. The streets immediately surrounding the market are also great for checking out the local shopping. Don't miss Blackwell's Bookshop - something of an institution in Oxford.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Oxford?

It's great to take advantage of the compact nature of Oxford and stay somewhere in the centre of town. This way you can easily walk to the attractions during the day as well as the restaurants and bars in the evening. For a completely different option, the beautiful Cotswolds Villages are nearby providing an excellent base for a weekend stay in the country.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Oxford?

One of the best family-friendly activities in Oxford is a tour of the Harry Potter film sets where you can relive the magic and learn more about the colleges at the same time. Another family favourite, ideal for spending an afternoon, is Thirsty Meeples, a board game café with over 2,700 different games to choose from.

What is the best thing to do in Oxford for solo travelers?

Oxford is a great place for solo travellers with lots of attractions that are perfect to experience by yourself. Wander around the impressive Ashmolean Museum, unwind in the beautiful Port Meadow grassy park or spend a quiet day popping in and out of the striking colleges.

What is the best thing to do in Oxford for couples?

There's no better way to show off your skills to your other half than to try punting on the River Cherwell. There's a reason the students practise for hours before mastering the skill. If it all looks too much, you can always book a guided punting tour. End the day at the Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant, the perfect spot in Oxford for a romantic dinner.

What are the best annual events in Oxford?

One of the best annual festivals in Oxford is the Summer Eights, a four-day rowing competition between the colleges. The event takes place on a narrow stretch of the River Thames and the banks are filled with spectators enjoying the race. The other big event on the Oxford calendar is the Foodies Festival held on the August bank holiday weekend. It's one of the biggest food events in the UK.

What are the best things to do around Oxford?

Oxford is on the edge of the Cotswolds, one of Britain's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Taking an afternoon walk in the Cotswolds is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors around Oxford. The most picturesque is the easy circular route around the village of Minster Lovell which visits a beautiful 15th century ruin set beside a lovely river. Minster Lovell is around 30 minutes’ drive from Oxford.

What's a local recommendation for neighborhood New College?

New College is much less visited than some of the more famous colleges in Oxford, but the cloisters are something of a hidden gem and well worth exploring. They are beautifully designed with exquisite attention to detail. Visit the spot where Draco Malfoy was turned into a ferret in the Harry Potter movie, The Goblet of Fire.

What are some tips for visiting the top attractions in neighborhood New College?

Each of the colleges have different opening times based on the academic year, often for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon. It’s a good idea to check the opening times in advance so you can plan which colleges you can visit on your trip.

What are some fun facts/history behind neighborhood New College?

Oxford's contributions to the world include the development of penicillin and lithium-ion batteries, the discovery of antibodies and the process for predicting weather. It has educated 28 British prime minsters, 2 US presidents, and several celebrities including Hugh Grant, Emma Watson and Kate Beckinsale.

Other Sightseeing Options in Oxford

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What people are saying about Oxford

Overall rating

4.6
(11,765 reviews)

Excellent tour! Our guide was knowledgeable and well-organized, and brought history alive with hair-raising anecdotes. The buildings felt both well-maintained and authentic. Loved the photos and stories on the walls, which also brought to life the breadth of the type of people imprisoned there. And the gift shop was also excellent. Thank you !

Alex was an excellent guide, knowledgeable, approachable, and full of anecdotes that brought the history of Oxford alive. We had a wonderful tour and highly recommend Alex and the tour!

Richard was am excellent tour guide. The weather was perfect, so lucky we got no rain. Stonehenge was the highlight for me.

I loved Tom's passion and appreciation for Oxford, it's history and Lweis and Tolkein's work.

absolutely fantastic, our guide Sarah was wonderful!