The best things to do in Oxford reflect why it is one of the most famous cities in the world. Beautiful, historical, and home to the best universities and colleges, this city in central southern England has a young and energetic vibe contrasting its ancient buildings and cobbled lanes.
More than an academic site, it is a vibrant and lively place that offers a wealth of wonders to travelers. Unravel this place and let this list of the 12 best things to do in Oxford guide your way.
1. Christ Church
A sea of tourists is the norm in Christ Church and for a good reason – experiencing the largest Oxford college is undeniably one of the best things to do in Oxford. Its history and magnificent buildings endear it to people, and even more so when it became the home of Harry Potter films. Fans of the mega-franchise are sure to recognize the dining room, fan-vaulted staircase, and quad. Some of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen have been educated at Christ Church, too – Einstein, Locke, Lewis Carroll, WH Auden, and 13 British prime ministers.
Price: £8 for adults and £7 for children
Hours: 10 AM to 4.15 PM every Monday to Saturday; 2 PM to 4.15 PM every Sunday
Location: St Aldate’s, Oxford, England
2. Bodleian Library
Impressive and grand, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest in the world. It is a massive place, with books dating back to the 15th century. This public library started with 20 books but now holds over 12 million in 117 miles of shelving. There is a lot to see, from architectural gems and historical rooms to beautiful corners where parts of the Harry Potter films have been shot.
Price: Tours start at £6
Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM every Monday to Saturday; 11 AM to 5 PM every Sunday
Location: Catte St., Oxford, England
3. Tolkien’s Resting Place
Wolvercote Cemetery is the final resting place of writer JRR Tolkien and his wife. Fans of the Lord of the Rings series will recognize the gravestone carvings with the names Beren and Lúthien referring to a love shared by a mortal man with an elf maiden who sacrificed her immortality to be one with him.
Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM every Monday to Friday; 8 AM to 8 PM every Saturday and Sunday from April to September; up to 5 PM from October to March
Location: Banbury Rd, Wolvercote, Oxford, England
4. Pitt Rivers Museum
Mysterious, mind-blowing, and wonderfully creepy, stepping inside the Pitt Rivers Museum is like being transported to another time in another dimension. There are no interactive displays – just glass cases filled with wonders collected by Victorian explorers – undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Oxford. Half a million treasures are stashed inside, including magic charms, dental implements, Indonesian carvings, and shrunken heads.
Hours: 12 PM to 4.30 PM every Monday; 10 AM to 4.30 PM every Tuesday to Sunday
Location: South Parks Rd., Oxford, England
5. Ashmolean Museum
Established in 1683, Ashmolean Museum is the oldest in Britain. It houses curiosities from around the world and features interactive displays, glass walls, a giant atrium, and a rooftop restaurant. Exhibit highlights include Egyptian mummies, ancient documents, European art, and the Anglo-Saxon Alfred Jewel.
Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM every Tuesday to Sunday
Location: Beaumont St., Oxford, England
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6. Vaults & Garden
A local favourite, this cafe is one of the best lunch venues in Oxford. Wholesome and seasonal food lead the way, including lush pasta, sandwiches, and cakes, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Even if it is tucked away inside the 14th century Old Congregation House of the University Church, there is no stopping the crowds from coming. This is obviously one of the best things to do in Oxford so come early to get a table.
Price: Mains start at £7
Hours: Open daily at 8.30 AM to 6 PM
Location: University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Radcliffe Sq., Oxford, England
7. Chiang Mai Kitchen
Thailand may be a long way away from Oxford, but this restaurant bridges the gap with hot and delicious dishes like spicy papaya salad, curries, noodle dishes, and stir-fries. If you are a vegetarian, Chiang Mai Kitchen bestows plenty of choice for you so be sure to pop in for a bite.
Price: Mains start at £7
Hours: 12 PM to 10.30 PM every Monday to Saturday; 12 PM to 10 PM every Sunday
Location: 130A High St, Oxford OX1 4DH, UK
The line of people waiting for a seat is enough proof that eating here is one of the best things to do in Oxford. The food is simple yet elegant, and more important, packed with a Japanese flavour. Favourites include chicken-miso ramen, tofu stir-fry, and sushi.
Price: Mains start at £6
Hours: 11.30 AM to 2.30 PM every Wednesday; 11.30 AM to 2.30 PM and 5 PM to 8.30 PM every Thursday to Saturday; 12 PM to 3.30 PM every Sunday
Location: 15 Holywell St, Oxford OX1 3SA, UK
9. The Cellar
You can’t expect the people in this university town to just be studying all the time, right? When it is time to party, a trip to this basement nightclub is one of the best things to do in Oxford. Gather your friends and catch live music and DJs here to relax and have fun.
Hours: Opens at 7 PM
Location: Frewin Ct, Oxford OX1 3HZ, UK
10. Creation Theatre
It is a spectacle, watching the open air shows of Creation Theatre. The non-traditional venues only add to the experience – in city parks, bookshops, castles, and colleges. Often magical and quirky, the company produces original shows, Shakespeare remakes, and workshops for kids.
Location: Oxford OX1 1LE, UK
11. Oxford Covered Market
Charming, busy, and bursting at the seams, Oxford Covered Market has everything and anything that you can need. From fresh meats and produce, flowers, to personal services, restaurants, and quirky shops, there is no way you will come out of this historic place empty-handed. Bonus tip: don’t miss the original outlet of Ben’s Cookies here!
Hours: 8 AM to 5.30 PM every Monday to Saturday; 10 AM to 4 PM every Sunday
Location: Market St, Oxford OX1 3DZ, UK
This famous bookshop is a book-lover’s dream. Make your way to the basement for a visit to the Norrington Room where you will find a massive inverted step lined with a sea of gorgeous bookshelves. Blackwell’s houses a wide range of titles, from literature to academic textbooks, and even covering guilty pleasures. Their literary-themed walking tours from April to October are some of the best things to do in Oxford, too.
Hours: 9 AM to 6.30 PM every Monday to Saturday; 11 AM to 5 PM every Sunday
Location: 48-51 Broad St., Oxford, England
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