Things to do in Oxford
Oxford is esteemed for its academic excellence, rich history, and urban beauty; from iconic architecture and tranquil parks to fascinating museums and enthralling city tours, there are so many exciting things to discover and enjoy. Whether your visit is a short break or a day trip, we have compiled a long list of fantastic things to do and sights to see.
- Carfax Tower
- City Sightseeing Oxford Bus Tour and Walking Tours
- Christ Church Meadow
- Covered Market
- Oxford Botanic Garden
- Oxford Castle and Prison
- Radcliffe Camera
- Westgate Shopping Centre
With so much on offer in our iconic city, travelling by Park&Ride is a fantastic way to experience more of Oxford for less. With our great value combined parking and bus ticket, get 16 hours of parking and return bus travel for two adults and up to three children from any of our Park&Ride sites for only £5.
Standing at 74 feet tall in the centre of Oxford, Carfax Tower is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin’s Church after the main part was demolished to make more room for traffic in 1896. Those who climb its 99 steps will be rewarded with an amazing panoramic view of the city and will see why Oxford is known as the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’.
City Sightseeing Oxford Bus Tour and Oxford City Walking Tours
City Sightseeing Oxford has been helping people discover Oxford for over two decades with a variety of tours that delve into the city’s rich history and surprising secrets. With both bus and walking tours available, you can explore the intricacies of Oxford however you please.
And now, with Park&Ride Oxford, you can make great savings! Simply show a City Sightseeing Oxford ticket seller or driver a Park&Ride Oxford ticket within a month of its issue and you can enjoy a 10% discount on any tour (T&Cs apply – click here to find out more about this offer).
The award-winning open-top hop-on hop-off bus tour lasts around 1 hour and takes in the city’s most famous sights including Oxford Castle, Christ Church, Magdalen Bridge, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the Ashmolean Museum. With commentary in 14 languages and a single route with 20 bus stops, you can discover Oxford at your leisure.
If you prefer walking, City Sightseeing Oxford operates a range of fantastic walking tours of varying lengths and difficulties:
- Stepping Through Oxford Tour
- Town & Gown Walking Tour
- Vox City Walks Oxford
- Pubs and Taverns Tour
All official guided walking tours are assessed for quality and provided by highly trained and experienced guides to ensure you fully enjoy your time in Oxford.
Christ Church meadow
Although Oxford is known for the captivating architecture of its university buildings, it is also home to equally beautiful open spaces. Nestled in the heart of Oxford, Christ Church Meadow is enclosed by the River Cherwell and River Thames and combines the tranquillity of the countryside with the grandeur of the local architecture. Christ Church Meadow is the ideal spot for a relaxing picnic or walks along the river and the perfect place to escape from the bustle of the city.
Having opened its gates in the 1770s, the Oxford Covered Market is one of the oldest continually operating markets in England and a must-see part of the city. With over fifty specialists offering an exciting variety of goods from all over the world, this unique market is the perfect place to eat, drink, and explore. Take a walk through the bustling alleys and feast on the best cuisine in Oxford or browse the quirky family-run businesses and treat yourself to something special!
Owing to its historical significance and ties to the world-famous university, Oxford is home to a diverse range of museums that explore a variety of subjects, time periods, and cultures. We have compiled a list of not-to-be-missed museums, so you don’t have to!
The Ashmolean Museum is the world’s first university museum. Since its first building was completed in 1683, it has grown considerably and now boasts some of the finest art and archaeological collections in the world. Their world-famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and time.
Museum of Oxford
The Museum of Oxford tells the story of the city and its people, exploring what makes Oxford such a unique place to live, work, and study. With exhibitions uncovering the changing story of Oxford throughout history, it is a great place for locals and visitors alike. From football to fairgrounds, patron saints to pubs, and so much more, there is so much to uncover.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1860 as the centre for scientific study at the University of Oxford, the Museum of Natural History has become one of the most popular attractions in the city, opening its doors to 750,000 people a year. At present, the museum is home to over seven million specimens, including the first scientifically described dinosaur (Megalosaurus bucklandii) and the only existing soft tissue remains of the dodo.
Pitt Rivers Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum is also known as the University of Oxford’s Museum of Anthropology and World Archaeology. Founded in 1884 following a gift to the university from General Pitt-Rivers, the museum retains its unique atmosphere with dense displays of artefacts, many in the original wooden display cabinets.
The Story Museum
Founded in 2003, The Story Museum celebrates stories in all forms and explores their enduring power to teach and delight. Commence your adventure at the Portal, enter the mysterious Whispering Wood, discover the magical world of stories in the Enchanted Library, admire the art of creating comics in the Treasure Chamber, and explore traditional tales in Small Worlds. With a surprise around every corner, The Story Museum is suitable for the whole family.
Oxford Botanic Garden
The Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the UK and is currently home to over 5,000 different types of plants. With a variety of guided tours and family activities, a visit to the Oxford Botanic Garden is the perfect way to escape the bustle of the city.
Oxford Castle and Prison
Oxford Castle and Prison is a fantastic destination for family fun close to the city centre. Join a guided tour to step inside 18th-century prison cells, descend into the candle-lit crypt, and climb St George’s Tower and the historic mound where you can marvel at the panoramic views of the city. There are also several restaurants located in the Oxford Castle Quarter, so you can recharge after conquering all those steps!
At the base of Magdalen Bridge on the opposite side of the road from the Oxford Botanic Garden, there is an unassuming cobbled track leading down to the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse. From here, you can enjoy one of Oxford’s favourite pastimes: punting. Punts hold up to 5 people and can be rented for an hour or a day, with chauffer options available for an additional cost.
Travelling south from the boathouse will take you past the Oxford Botanic Garden and through Christ Church Meadow towards St Hilda’s College Gardens or the River Thames depending on which path you choose. Alternatively, punting north will take you past Magdalen College Tower, the Angel and Greyhound meadows, Magdalen College gardens, and into the serene Oxfordshire countryside.
The Radcliffe Camera
Constructed in the 18th century and still in use as a working library, the Radcliffe Camera has become an iconic Oxford landmark. Take time to explore Radcliffe Square and admire its architectural beauty, or step inside the Radcliffe Camera and experience part of the Bodleian Library complex where scholars have studied for centuries.
Oxford has many theatres offering the best of British and international drama, family shows, contemporary dance and music, student and amateur shows, comedy, lectures, and poetry.
Visit venue websites to check out their schedules and secure your tickets:
Westgate Shopping Centre
What’s a city trip without time for shopping? Hop off the 300 or 400 Park&Ride services at Westgate Oxford, the home of prestigious global brands, eclectic restaurants and cafes, and sophisticated rooftop bars and dining. With over 100 stores, it is the perfect place to shop ’til you drop!