With plenty of things to do, it’s no surprise that Oxford is popular with tourists and students alike. It is a historic and unique city that is home to two universities, so there is plenty of things to do for all ages. From well-known tourist traps to unique spaces, here is our guide to the 10 best places to go in Oxford!
The Covered Market was established in 1774 and is home to some of the best independent shops and cafés in Oxford. Grab some freshly baked cookies from Ben’s Cookies or choose between hundreds of milkshake flavours from Moo Moo’s. Outside the food and drinks options, you can buy clothes, hats, jewellery and toys from small authentic retailers. The market butchers and fishmongers are also popular with locals.
This is Oxford’s answer to Kew Gardens. It was founded in 1621 making it the first-ever botanic garden in the UK. The garden has features such as a walled garden and impressive fountains. The highlight of the experience is the seven glasshouses that are home to plants from around the world with tropical jungle, and swamp themed displays.
Founded in 1683 making it Britain’s oldest public museum, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology has been home to world-famous exhibitions such as Jeff Koons and Rembrandt. Free entry means it is a popular day out for both tourists and students and exhibitions change throughout the year, meaning there is always something new to see.
You definitely don’t have to be a kid to enjoy The Story Museum. The museum originally opened in 2003 and was refurbished in 2020. It prides itself on its immersive exhibits popular with all ages and the museum also holds events and workshops throughout the year. Every year on the first Saturday of July, the museum takes over the city and hosts Alice in Wonderland day in honour of Oxford-educated Lewis Carroll.
For shopping addicts, the newly built Westgate centre is heaven. It is home to up to 100 shops from the budget-friendly Primark, and New Look to luxury retailers like John Lewis and Chanel and everything in between. The beautiful rooftop is a popular destination for dining and provides panoramic views across Oxford. Westgate also has many options for takeaway food such as a cookie dough stand and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
If you want to engage in one of the finest Oxford traditions, head to Magdalen Bridge Boathouse for a spot of punting on the River Cherwell. You can either hire a punt yourself or get a chauffeured punting service. If you feel nervous at the idea of punting, you could always hire a rowing boat or pedalo boat to enjoy the experience. The river has views of historic Oxford building such as the Botanic gardens and Magdalen College, so it is a fun way to see the sights.
Founded in 1650, this café was the first coffee house in England. Customers are guaranteed to feel like royalty as the café’s regal and marble adorned interior shows off the history and prestige of the café. It is the perfect spot for afternoon tea or coffee and cake after some sightseeing or shopping in the city centre.
Oxford castle is a fun day out for all ages. Climbing the castle tower gives you panoramic views of Oxford, and there is also an underground crypt alongside the prison cells. Guided tours are available year-round but make the most of the seasonal events to get the most out of your visit such as the Halloween Ghost Fest and Winter Lantern tours.
Another of Oxford’s free attractions, Modern Art Oxford is dedicated to contemporary art and culture. It is located right in the city centre next to Westgate and boasts beautiful interiors and exhibitions that change throughout the year, making it popular with locals. If you aren’t interested in historic art, the up-to-date trends in this gallery will definitely interest you.