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Balliol College

Balliol College

Balliol College: Our most recommended tours and activities

Oxford: Official University and City Walking Tour

1. Oxford: Official University and City Walking Tour

Explore Oxford, the city of Dreaming Spires, on a walking tour with an expert guide from the city’s tourism board. Be shown the city’s most famous sights, uncover its hidden history, and enjoy all the astonishing stories about Oxford's key characters- real and fictional. Meet your guide at the grand and very old Broad Street (once the city's ditch) let them know where you come from and any special Oxford interests you may have and they will do their best to incorporate those.  Go to Martyrs' Memorial, the scene of terrible religious retributions in medieval times, and on to the oldest tower at St Michael of the Northgate built in Saxon times. Then, make your way to the very heart of the University and the inspiration behind Harry Potter's Hogwarts School. Pass by the pubs where the Inklings used to meet to discuss their writing as well as the pubs where Inspector Morse was filmed and the most popular student drinking holes in days of old. Discover the city that is home to several of Britain's most famous literary characters - both fictional and real - such as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, and Colin Dexter as well as some of their most famous creations like Lyra and Will, and Inspector Morse. Admire Oxford's stupendous architecture, gargoyles and grotesques, so wonderfully preserved from every historical period and style, and take a stroll through the breathtaking Radcliffe Square. Cross the whimsical Bridge of Sighs as it's fondly known, just like the ones in Venice and Cambridge. See the Bodleian Libraries from the outside in the splendid Old Schools Quadrangle. Learn about the city’s famous museums including the Museum of the History of Science, containing Einstein's blackboard, The Pitt Rivers, once home to shrunken heads, and the fabulous Ashmolean, which was one of the very first ever museums in the world. If time allows, walk as far as to the beautiful Christ Church Meadows, where punting happens and cattle graze; a truly pastoral and quintessential English scene.

Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Walking Tour of Oxford

2. Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Walking Tour of Oxford

Go beyond the dreaming spires of Oxford and explore the university city from a different perspective. Follow in the footsteps of the TV series "Inspector Morse" and its spin-off shows "Lewis" and "Endeavour." Enter the fictional world of the author Colin Dexter and his famous detectives as you visit sites where scenes were filmed in the old city center. Start at the stone monument of the Martyrs' Memorial outside Balliol College, and continue to venues such as the luxury Randolph Hotel and the traditional White Horse pub. Venture down Broad Street, learn about the streets and other places familiar to fans of Morse, and get behind-the-scenes information about how the characters were developed.

Oxford: University Walking Tour with Christ Church Visit

3. Oxford: University Walking Tour with Christ Church Visit

You will begin in central Oxford, with a brief and engaging introduction which will lay the foundation for the vast periods of history to be covered! Then the tour will enter a college renowned for having the most beautiful lawns in Oxford along with an iconic dispute with its neighbour - resulting in a supposed theft of the College tortoise (Oxford Annual Tortoise Race explanation included!). Then the group will visit the Sheldonian Theatre, where students experience the most iconic ceremony at Oxford University. You can hear from your student guide how the experience was for them. Next you will enter a historic museum -complete with a chalkboard used by Einstein in Oxford - and visit the Weston Library, a great example of a hybrid historic and modern interior. This tour will then cover sites that none of our other tours do! Including Oriel College, Merton College and iconic literary giants from Oxford's history. You can get a photo under the Bridge of Sighs before gazing up at the first round library in England, where your Oxford student guide will give you rare insights into the labyrinth of underground tunnels students. Not to be forgotten, All Souls College. With entrance exams as complex as they are bizarre, this site will highlight how exclusive a College can be and how influential its members are. Heading down to the southern part of Oxford, we visit a hidden door depicting the most famous characters in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Before entering the largest College at Oxford, Home to Oscar Wilde and C. S. Lewis, and its own deer park. Explore the iconic grounds which have been home to Oxford’s most influential writers, complete with medieval cloisters. The tour will head over to the home of Tolkien, to discuss not only its literary importance, but it’s multi million pound kitchen, funded by the current Emperor of Japan! The tour will then go to Christ Church meadows - a stunning expanse of land incredibly rare in a medieval city. Here you will learn about its close connection to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - along with its decision to be held to a different time zone than the rest of Oxford. Finally, the tour will enter one of the most lavish, and famous Colleges of all those at Oxford University; Christ Church. Famed for its literally links, and scenes used in the filming of Harry Potter; it is such an iconic site that many mistake it for representing the entire University. Wonder through the dining hall which inspired that used in Hogwarts, and see where some of the greatest philosophers, writers and royalty have studied. The guide will provide a comprehensive overview of its history, before you enter accompanied with a multimedia guide, to explore the College at your own pace. Please note - the structure on the day may differ.

Oxford: City and University of Oxford Audio Guide

4. Oxford: City and University of Oxford Audio Guide

Matthew Arnold, a Victorian poet, once described Oxford as “the City of Dreaming Spires”. He was referring to the stunning architecture of the 39 colleges that make up the world famous University of Oxford. Join me on this leisurely walking tour around the beautiful city and I’ll tell you the stories behind the spires. This easy stroll takes you from Carfax Tower, around the historical city centre where the majority of the colleges are situated, to finish on Magdalen Street next to the Martyrs’ Memorial. Along the way, I’ll fill you in on some of the quaint traditions and ceremonies that still take place around the colleges today, like why Great Tom, the bell above the entrance to Christ Church College, chimes 101 times at 9.05pm. You’ll hear about the famous authors, politicians and poets that have contributed to Oxford’s history too, and I’ll show you the filming locations for numerous TV series such as Morse, Endeavour and Midsummer Murders. You’ll even follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter as you take in Christ Church and its own great hall. By the end of this tour, you’ll: • Discover why Oxford’s time is 5 minutes behind the rest of the country • Find out why Oxford students are forbidden from jumping into the River Cherwell • Learn about a riot that lasted three days and cost the lives of 93 people • See the college that has produced no less than 13 of this country’s Prime Ministers • Visit the spot where three senior members of the church were executed on the orders of Bloody Mary Give yourself 90-minutes or linger along the way as there are plenty of opportunities to stop for a drink, a light snack, or even a very civilised afternoon tea.

Oxford: Famous Alumni Outdoor Escape Game

5. Oxford: Famous Alumni Outdoor Escape Game

Explore Oxford in a unique way, by playing an exploration game on your phone via an app. Learn about famous alumni who walked through the city's streets and university's walls, visit locations where Harry Potter was filmed, and have fun with your whole family or friends. Reenact the story of a brilliant former Oxford professor trying to figure out the mystery of their lab partner’s death during your engaging game. Solve challenges and watch the story unfold on your app, as well as exact directions that guide you to your next location. Start your exploration game from The Eagle and Child pub. Best of all, play the game at your own pace, pausing it whenever you feel like a coffee or food break and resuming anytime from the location where you paused it.

Oxford: City Bike Tour with Student Guide

6. Oxford: City Bike Tour with Student Guide

Discover Oxford’s historic town center, and the magical parks on the outskirts of town with this guided bike tour. Pedal past the city’s best attractions and cover more ground. Meet your guide in the city center to start your experience. Cycle through the city alongside a student guide, and learn about the history of Oxford. Marvel at the university buildings where Oscar Wilde, J. R. R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and many British politicians studied. Admire the architecture of Oxford colleges, and enter the famous Bodleian Library. Marvel at the scenery of Port Meadow, and visit sites you can’t reach on foot. Enjoy plenty of stops along the route, and finish back at the original meeting point.

New: Oxford Costumed Ghost Tour In-Character

7. New: Oxford Costumed Ghost Tour In-Character

Prepare for the unexpected and keep your wits about you as you undertake one of the most entertaining experiences in Oxford. Home to some of the most brutal murders in England's long history, Oxford is uniquely known as the epicenter of troubled souls, dark energy, and flesh-eating beasts. Venture through the dark alleyways and haunted squares of the town while enjoying mysterious tales of ghosts, horror. and sinister happenings. Learn about Oxford’s terrifying history with a combination of stories and dramatic performances by expertly trained actors who will play out the most barbaric and brutal punishments exacted during Oxford's Medieval and Civil War years. Be prepared for the surprise appearance of multiple wild beasts! After an exhilarating and entertaining wander around the city, finish up at one of the famous pubs in Oxford.

Oxford: Town & Gown and Universities Walking Tour

8. Oxford: Town & Gown and Universities Walking Tour

Discover charming and historic Oxford, renowned for being home to the prestigious University of Oxford, one of the oldest universities in the world. The city boasts a wealth of stunning architecture, picturesque scenery, and fascinating cultural attractions, like the Bridge of Sighs and the Carfax Tower, that you will discover in our walking tours. You have two different walking tours included in your ticket which can be joined either on the same day or on different days. Discover the iconic Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum, the oldest public museum in the world. Hear the stories about the University of Oxford and its 38 colleges, marvel at their stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture and learn about the famous alumni who studied there. After the tour, download the Vox City app (included in your tour) to discover more of Oxford and its incredible history with curated audio-guided routes through the main quarters. Our walking tours main sights: Radcliffe Camera Bodleian Library The Tower of the Five Orders Bridge of Sights Hertfort College Clarendon Building University of Oxford The Wenston Library The Old Schools Quad The White Horse Carfax Tower Christ Church The Old Tom St. Aldates Tavern Oxford Town Hall Swindlestock Tavern High Street University Church of St. Mary the Virgin Bodleian Library Alice's Shop The Crown Covered Market St. Micheal at the North Gate Oxford Martyrs Cross The bear Inn The Wheatsheaf St. Aldates Tavern History of Science Museum Sheldonian Theatre Holywell Music Room New College All Souls College Our self-guided route's main sights: St. Margaret's Well Port Meadow Folly Bridge Oxford Castle and Prison Trill Mill Stream Nuffield College Martyrs Memorial Ashmolean Museum Jericho University Parks Rhodes House Headington Shark

Curious Oxford Outdoor Escape Game: The Watch Thief

9. Curious Oxford Outdoor Escape Game: The Watch Thief

Step into the historic streets of Oxford as the sole heir of the legendary watchmaker, Alfred Du Pont. Proudly adorning your wrist is his magnum opus, a mesmerizing timepiece etched with mysterious symbols and bearing an enigmatic, uneven tick. But as you ponder its secrets amidst the bustling crowd, disaster strikes—a cunning thief seizes the moment and your treasured inheritance vanishes. Embark on a thrilling chase through the cobblestone lanes of Oxford, deciphering cryptic clues and unraveling the legacy of the greatest watchmaker in history. Will you reclaim Du Pont's masterwork before time runs out? The app offers precise directions through the city. Play at your own pace. Feel free to pause and explore your surroundings whenever you wish. After you book the game, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to play. For larger groups, one person can purchase access for the entire group by selecting the number of people in the group. All group members will be able to play the city game on their smartphone. Alternatively, each person can purchase their own voucher. You can play as a group and solve the clues together as you walk, or you can split into smaller groups/teams and compete against the others. Each person can also play on their own, separate from the group, and meet the group at the end.

Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

10. Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

Embark on an extended 3-hour tour of the best Oxford has to offer with a local student guide. Go behind closed doors with an energetic and knowledgeable student guide who will help you to peel back the complex layers and mystique of this world-famous institution. First, visit one of the oldest colleges at Oxford University for a peek inside this restricted world of academia. Stroll the gardens, unearth the peculiar Oxford traditions, and see from a real student, how this elite educational institution operates. Then, head over to the Bodleian Library - a colossal site that houses over 13 million books. Enter the first purpose-built lecture room at Oxford, where you can admire some of the most ornate medieval architecture in Europe. Listen as your guide explains the early rituals and tests students underwent, how the British Parliament was held in the building by King Charles I and later King Charles II. Discover the library’s role in the most defining ceremony at Oxford and see the locations where multiple scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Along with these focal points, also cover the most famous landmarks in Oxford city and at Oxford University. Your private tour can be tailored to the specific locations or subjects you wish to cover. Just contact the operator in advance if you have anything specific in mind and they will do their best to incorporate anything that’s available to the public on the day (additional entrance fees may be required for such requests).

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What people are saying about Balliol College

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 266 reviews

It was great! My boyfriend and I went last Saturday 16th Dec loved the ghost who performed as (i think her charscter name was Tilly or Margret or Matilda i cant remember! The one who was said to haunt the castle, she had blonde hair). She was wonderful and we had lots of fun. Thank you! X

A fantastic way to explore Oxford! Our local guide, Ben, was informative and entertaining. His accurate recall of historic facts and dates and general knowledge on all things Oxford was impressive! Highly recommended.

Our guide Davey was lovely, knowledgeable and helpful. The 2hrs flew by! And it wasn’t as much walking as I expected. So much to see!

Fun way to see some of the sights of Oxford! Great if you are with kids who may be a little less interested in the history.

Fantastic for one Morse fan and one who had never even seen it. Both equally enjoyed this tour. Highly recommended.