Things to do in Oxford

About Oxford

Exploring the prestigious University of Oxford, admiring the Radcliffe Camera, and strolling along the High Street provide a quintessential Oxford experience. Other must-see attractions include the historic Bodleian Library, Christ Church College, and the Bridge of Sighs.
Visit the Story Museum for interactive exhibits, meet the dinosaurs at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and unwind at one of the many city parks. These choices offer educational and fun things to do in Oxford for the entire family.
Punting on the tranquil waters of the River Cherwell, cycling through the scenic countryside, and exploring the pathways of University Parks are among the invigorating outdoor activities available in Oxford.
For those seeking shelter from the British weather, Oxford's array of museums, including the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers, provide cultural enrichment, while historic pubs and cozy cafes offer a warm respite.
The best Oxford tours encompass walking tours of the historic university, ghost tours for the thrill-seekers, and literary tours for book enthusiasts. Many tours offer insights into Oxford's rich academic and cultural heritage.
The Ashmolean Museum, boasting an impressive collection of art and archaeology, and the Museum of Natural History are Oxford's most visited museums, providing informative and interactive experiences.

Best Things to Do In Oxford

Discover the prestigious university city rich in history and culture with our comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Oxford.

Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre

What is it?
A historical venue known for its distinctive architecture and as a performing arts center in Oxford.
Why you should go?
The Sheldonian Theatre, designed by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is an architectural marvel that offers more than just striking visuals. It frequently hosts classical music performances, giving visitors a chance to engage with Oxford's cultural scene amidst the grandeur of its ceremonial hall. For those interested in panoramic views, climbing to the top of the theatre provides a breathtaking vista of the city’s spires – a highlight for any Oxford excursion.

Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum

What is it?
An anthropological museum with an extensive collection of global artifacts and cultural treasures.
Why you should go?
Curiosity seekers will be in their element at the Pitt Rivers Museum, where a trove of over half a million cultural items from all corners of the globe awaits. Displayed in a unique Victorian setting, the eclectic collection includes shrunken heads, intricate textiles, and impressive totem poles. It's not just a museum; it's a myriad of worlds within walls, making it a standout among places to visit in Oxford for an enriching educational experience.

Oxford: Magdalen College

What is it?
An illustrious constituent college of the University of Oxford, famous for its choral traditions and deer park.
Why you should go?
Magdalen College is revered for its enchanting beauty and academic prestige. The college boasts a majestic tower, harmonious cloisters and a chapel that resonates with melodious choral singing, especially during its May Day celebrations. The surrounding grounds, complete with a deer park by the River Cherwell, offer a peaceful escape, thus ranking it among the fun things to do in Oxford. Exploring its historic and natural splendor is an opportunity not to be missed.

Oxford: Covered Market

What is it?
A traditional market housed under a historic roof, overflowing with local vendors and artisanal goods.
Why you should go?
Nestled in the heart of the city, the Covered Market exemplifies the vibrant local commerce of Oxford. Since its opening in the 1770s, it has been an institution for both locals and visitors. With a diverse range of shops selling everything from fresh produce to bespoke gifts and hearty street food, the market is an animated spot ideal for those seeking to experience the local lifestyle and find unique souvenirs.

Oxford: Modern Art Oxford

What is it?
A leading center for contemporary art, featuring temporary exhibitions of cutting-edge works.
Why you should go?
For art lovers and the culturally curious, Modern Art Oxford presents a dynamic and thought-provoking ambiance. The gallery's reputation for innovation and its commitment to presenting avant-garde work make it a stimulating destination. With an ever-changing array of exhibitions and public programs, it's a beacon of modern artistic expression. This venue promises an inspiring visit, adding a contemporary twist to the historical tapestry of Oxford activities.

Oxford: Christ Church College

What is it?
A historic college that is one of the most famous constituent colleges of the University of Oxford.
Why you should go?
Christ Church College, renowned for its splendid architecture and rich heritage, is a must-visit attraction in Oxford. Visitors are enthralled by its majestic Great Hall, which inspired the Hogwarts dining hall, and the tranquil Christ Church Meadow. The college’s prestigious art gallery and its illustrious list of alumni, including thirteen British prime ministers, add to its allure, making it an essential experience for history buffs and fans of academia.

Oxford: Ashmolean Museum

What is it?
Oxford's premier museum and the oldest public museum in the UK, with an extensive collection of art and archaeology.
Why you should go?
The Ashmolean Museum stands as a testament to human creativity, housing an impressive collection that spans thousands of years. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to modern Chinese art, and works by European masters, the museum offers an extraordinary cultural journey. The beautifully curated exhibitions and the museum's dedication to educational programs make it a cornerstone of Oxford activities and a beacon for explorers of world history and art.

Oxford: Oxford Castle & Prison

What is it?
A medieval castle with a rich history that has transformed into a historic complex and visitor attraction.
Why you should go?
Oxford Castle & Prison reveals a thousand-year legacy through a unique experience where visitors can climb the Saxon St. George's Tower, descend into the crypt, or explore the prison cells. This attraction not only provides stunning panoramic vistas of Oxford but also offers intriguing insights into the medieval world, the city's penal history, and the Castle Quarter’s evolution over the centuries. It's a journey through time that history enthusiasts should not miss.

Oxford: Radcliffe Camera

What is it?
An iconic neoclassical building functioning as a reading room for the Bodleian Library, and a symbol of Oxford.
Why you should go?
The Radcliffe Camera's grandeur is undeniable, with its circular design and imposing facade that dominates the city's skyline. As part of the University's Bodleian Library, it’s a centerpiece among Oxford's architectural achievements. While interior access is limited to university members, the exterior alone is worth admiring, and the surrounding Radcliffe Square provides a picturesque setting for exploration and reflection, firmly positioning it among the top things to see in Oxford.

Oxford: University of Oxford Botanic Garden

What is it?
The oldest botanic garden in Great Britain, offering a vast collection of plants in a beautifully designed space.
Why you should go?
Nestled on the banks of the River Cherwell, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden is an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty. It serves both as a scientific research site and a serene retreat for those seeking respite from the bustling city. With its diverse plant species, glasshouses, and thematic gardens, it provides educational Oxford activities for plant lovers and is an enchanting place to visit in Oxford for anyone looking to reconnect with nature.

TOP-5 Tours in Oxford for First Time Visitors

  • Explore the iconic University of Oxford and delve into academic history with an enlightening audio tour, learning about the centuries-old colleges and their notable alumni as you wander through the hallowed halls and serene quads.
  • Immerse yourself in the storied past of the Bodleian Library, one of the world's oldest libraries, where an audio guide reveals hidden gems and unfolds the tales behind the ancient tomes and architecturally stunning reading rooms.
  • Partake in a captivating journey tracing the footsteps of literary giants and screen legends with a detailed look at Oxford's filming locations, from the Harry Potter series to the Inspector Morse books, all narrated by an engaging digital guide.
  • Embark on an architectural expedition through Oxford, where an audio tour showcases the sublime blend of Saxon towers, Gothic spires, and contemporary structures, illustrating why Oxford is a favorite among history enthusiasts and photographers alike.
  • Indulge in the vivacious side of Oxford with an audio guide that takes you through local markets, traditional pubs, and tranquil parks, sharing anecdotes and points of interest that exhibit the day-to-day life and vibe of this historic yet dynamic city.

Fun things to loudo in Oxford with kids

Oxford is brimming with activities perfect for family outings, making the most of educational experiences wrapped in fun. For a start, the Story Museum offers a fantastical immersion into the world of storytelling, with interactive exhibits that encourage young imagaries to wander. Here, children can dress up as their favorite characters and engage with stories in vibrant and unexpected ways. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with its dinosaur skeletons and an array of zoological specimens, is another enticement for curious minds looking to discover the natural world. Lastly, not to be overlooked is the magical adventure found within the walls of the Oxford Castle & Prison. Young adventurers can learn about the city's past through captivating tales of knights, intrigue, and history, making it one of the most engaging Oxford activities for families to experience together.

Things to do in Oxford with family

Venturing to Oxford with family uncovers a plethora of activities that blend education and entertainment. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is a must-see, showcasing a mesmerizing collection of specimens from all walks of life; children can marvel at dinosaur fossils while learning about biodiversity and earth's history. Next on the list is punting on the River Cherwell—a quintessentially Oxford activity. Float by beautiful landscapes and historic university buildings while enjoying a quaint picnic on the boat, creating joyful memories with your loved ones. Lastly, the Headington Shark, Oxford's quirkiest landmark, provides a unique photo opportunity and sparks playful conversations about modern art and eccentricities. Together, these attractions offer a diverse array of things to do in Oxford, ensuring that every family member has an enriching and delightful experience.

Free things to do in Oxford

Oxford, famed for its historic university and picturesque streets, also offers an array of free attractions that are perfect for explorers on a budget. Wander through the University of Oxford's many colleges and relish the architectural splendor without spending a penny. While some colleges may charge an entry fee, many allow visitors to stroll through their ancient quadrangles and manicured gardens at no cost. The city’s renowned Ashmolean Museum provides another gratis cultural excursion where visitors can encounter art and artifacts from across the globe, from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. For those seeking tranquility, Oxford’s Port Meadow invites a peaceful getaway with its lush pastures and riverside walks, a timeless landscape virtually unchanged since prehistoric times. These diverse offerings solidify Oxford’s reputation as a place where some of the best things to see and do are available completely free of charge.

Cheap things to do in Oxford

Embarking on an Oxford adventure doesn't have to break the bank, as the city offers numerous budget-friendly attractions. Discover the hidden gems and compelling narratives of the city’s historic streets with an affordable self-guided walking tour, providing both an enlightening and economical way to soak in Oxford’s rich culture. Another cost-effective option is to visit the Museum of Oxford located just minutes from the town centre, where the modest entry fee unlocks stories of Oxford's past and its colorful local history. For those who appreciate green spaces, the Botanic Garden provides an affordable ticket to explore an array of plant life, including exotic glasshouses and manicured thematic gardens — an educational and serene experience that proves the best Oxford excursions need not come with a hefty price tag.

Things to do in Oxford for couples

Oxford's romantic ambiance creates the perfect backdrop for couples seeking a mix of culture and intimacy. Begin with a leisurely punt along the River Thames, where you can glide past historic landmarks and under centuries-old bridges, savoring the serene beauty of Oxford from the water. This quintessential Oxford experience promises both relaxation and a touch of adventure for any duo. For a blend of history and horticulture, the Oxford Botanic Garden offers couples a picturesque retreat with its array of exotic plants and tranquil spaces—a peaceful sanctuary for lovebirds to wander hand in hand. As evening sets, why not conclude the day at one of Oxford's cozy gastro-pubs? Savor locally-sourced dishes in a warm, inviting atmosphere – the perfect setting for a date night and to reflect on the cherished memories made meandering through the storied streets of Oxford.

Things to do in Oxford at night

As dusk falls, Oxford transforms, offering a new realm of experiences. One of the most enchanting things to do in Oxford at night is to attend a performance at the New Theatre Oxford, where a spectrum of live entertainment, from musicals to stand-up comedy, graces the stage. For those interested in exploring the city’s darker history, ghost tours through Oxford's cobbled alleths offer thrilling and spine-tingling Oxford excursions, uncovering chilling tales of the city after sunset. Additionally, the city's scholarly ambiance shifts as pubs and bars come alive, making pub crawls a popular nocturnal activity. From historic taverns like The Eagle and Child, once the haunt of literary figures like J.R.R. Tolkien, to trendy rooftop bars, couples and friends alike can relish in the vibrant nightlife that brews within this ancient city.