Wondering what to do in Oxford? Let me help! I visit at every opportunity. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world. I realise that’s a big statement, but it always manages to pull at my heart-strings, so I thought I’d share 30 of my favourite things to see and do in Oxford.
30 of The Best Things to Do in Oxford
1. Visit The Bodleian Library
Yes, I may be biased as this was my wedding venue, but the endless tourists that visit every day can’t be wrong. The Bodleian Library is the second largest library in Britain and one of the oldest in Europe.
The building is right in the centre of Oxford and an absolute stunner. The intricate ceiling of The Divinity School (one of the rooms in the Bodleian Library) is so beautiful. Aristocrats contributed to the build and in return had their family coat of arms/emblem worked into the ceiling.
Fancy something different? This Inspector Morse Tour aims to include this stop and many others. Whilst you’re at the Bodleian Library check out the nearby Radcliffe Camera and Sheldonian Theatre.
Address: The Bodleian Library, Broad St, Oxford, OX1 3BG
2. Watch a Play in the Quad
During the summer months the courtyard of the Bodleian Library usually hosts plays. This year it’s Shakespeare in the Quad and is put together by Globe Theatre on Tour. Think twinkly lights, a big serving of culture and a magical backdrop. It doesn’t get more Oxford than this!
Tickets cost £24 and I’d definitely recommend booking in advance. This year performances run from 18 – 29 July 2019.
Address: Shakespeare in the Quad, The Bodleian Library, Broad St, Oxford, OX1 3BG
3. Taste G&D’s Ice Cream
This was my breakfast of choice for my first full day as a Mrs! G&Ds is a true local’s institute. Their ice cream is all still made in their original shop on Little Clarendon Street. They offer loads of delicious flavours and also serve bagels and other snacks.
Their products are made by hand and delivered by bike to each of their shops. You can’t get more Oxford than that!
Address: G&Ds, 94 St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1BT or 55 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX1 2HS or 104 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JE
Recommended Reading: Staying in Oxfordshire at The Feathers Hotel
4. Go Punting with the Locals
Act like a local for the day and head to Cherwell Boat House – it’s only a ten minute drive from the city centre and is usually much quieter than the city centre punting (see number 5).
Take a picnic to enjoy on the riverbank or take a slow trip down the river to the nearby pub for lunch.
Address: Cherwell Boat House, Bardwell Rd, Oxford, OX2 6ST
5. Go Punting at Magdalen Bridge
Punting is so much fun and such a part of Oxford. You’ll often see students and tourists alike messing about this location, especially as it’s near a few colleges and right in the city centre. This location is so central it can get packed out, but if you can’t get to Cherwell Boat House (see number 4) it’s still worth a visit.
Punting by the famous bridge and Christ Church Meadows is just so iconic. You can hire a chauffeur if you’d rather someone else do the hard work.
Address: Magdalen Bridge, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
6. Sip at Raoul’s Bar
Raoul’s Bar is a teeny tiny cocktail bar that has been a firm favourite for years. The Sunday Times even named it as one of the ‘Top 50 Bars in the World’.
If you’re visiting in the week I’d recommend trying to reserve a table, but at the weekends just push your way in and see what all the fuss is about.
Address: Raoul’s, 32 Walton Street, Jericho, Oxford, OX2 6AA
7. Explore Vibrant Cowley Road
Take a casual twenty minute walk from the city centre down towards The Plain and you’ll hit Cowley Road. It is an eclectic mixture of shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants. It is one of the most diverse and vibrant places in Oxford.
You’ll find every kind of food you could ever imagine. It’s one of my favourite spots for people watching – you’ll probably see every race, age and fashion that exists. There are also quite a few bohemian shops, some selling my favourite incense sticks. Oh and if you have time for a night out in your trip, then hit this road.
Address: Cowley Road, Oxford
8. Avoid the Rain at The Covered Market
This little treasure of finds is a lovely little gem smack bang in the middle of the city centre. It’s cute, bustling and full of little stores selling quirky gifts, flowers, food and well, a little bit of everything. See number 9 and 10 for more tips in this spot.
Address: The Covered Market, Market St, Oxford, OX1 3DZ
9. Scoff a Ben’s Cookie
The Covered Market is home to Ben’s Cookies. OMG. They make THE best cookies ever. They even featured in my engagement photo shoot as I’d told our photographer how much I loved them. Now there’s obsession for you.
Top tip – ask for which flavours have just been baked and you’ll get the gooiest, most heavenly cookie. So good! The orange and milk chocolate flavour is my favourite.
Address: Ben’s Cookies, 108 – 109 The Covered Market, Oxford, OX1 3DZ
10. Visit Georgina’s Cafe
If you’re after a spot of lunch, then The Covered Market in general is a great place to try. In particular, I’d recommend Georgina’s Café.
It’s a tiny independent café accessed via a little door down one of the aisles. It’s been around forever and draws an eclectic crowd. The nachos are pretty noteworthy.
Address: Georgina’s Cafe, The Covered Market, Turl Street, Oxford, OX1 3DQ
11. Shop at Westgate
I’m gutted that this was built after I finished working in the city centre, but my bank balance is probably relieved!
Westgate Oxford is home to every high street shop you can think of, all housed neatly in one shiny, glossy complex. I’ve shopped here a few times and am always blown away with how many shops there are; Oliver Bonas, & Other Stories, COS, H&M, Mango, New Look and Zara to name just a few. If you want to shop til you drop this is the place.
Address: Westgate Oxford, Queen St, Oxford, OX1 1TR
12. Dine with a View
Once you drop from all that shopping head upstairs to refuel. There are more than 10 roof terrace restaurants. If you don’t want views there are still over 20 restaurant, bars, cafes and on the go food options here.
You can get burritos and margaritas at Benito’s Hat, Lebanese at Comptoir, street food at Mowgli and well, probably everything else you can think of! I’d recommend booking ahead if you can as it does get busy.
Address: Westgate Oxford, Queen St, Oxford, OX1 1TR
13. Explore Pitt Rivers
If you want to pull the cool card I’d recommend Pitt Rivers. It houses some pretty quirky things. Don’t believe me? Check out the shrunken heads. Considering the unique finds in Pitt Rivers, it’s surprising that admission is free. Can’t grumble at that.
Address: Pitt Rivers, Park Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW
14. Quidditch and Picnic at University Parks
Right next to Pitt Rivers (number 13) you’ll find University Parks. This is a gorgeous park that’s popular with students, but also families. During the warmer months it’s great for picnics and a kickabout or game of frisbee.
Want to really get that Oxford vibe? Keep an eye out for a game of Quidditch! Yep, there is a real Oxford Universities Quidditch Club!
Address: University Parks, South Lodge, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RF
15. Wander in Christ Church Meadow
On the opposite side of the city centre you’ll find beautiful Christ Church Meadow. Head here for an easy loop walk, taking in views of Christ Church, the River Thames, the River Cherwell.
It’s a flat walk that’s stroller friendly and there a few benches offering serene views.
Address: Christ Church Meadow, Oxford, OX1 4JF
16. Go to the Flicks
Head into Jericho, a worthy visit in its own right, but make sure you visit the Phoenix Picturehouse. This well-loved, bijou cinema shows the latest films, as well as other more diverse screenings.
Address: Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford, OX2 6AE
17. Rooftop Views at Varsity Club
The roof terrace of the Varsity Club looks out to Oxford’s Dreaming Spires. Head up here around sunset to enjoy a Prosecco in the soft glow.
You can’t book a table (unless you’re in a group of 7+) and it does get busy, but it is worth a visit.
Come late night it turns into a bar/club. If you like cheesy music and want to dance it’s a good option. It draws a wide age range.
Address: Varsity Club, 9 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4DB
18. The Ashmolean
As like most of the buildings in Oxford, this one is some serious eye candy. It’s the world’s first university museum and often plays host to various events.
The collections are well spaced out and there’s loads of them; eastern art, antiques, Anglo-Saxon discoveries to name but a few.
If you’re not into that kind of thing, head up to the Ashmolean restaurant and cafe for views and grub.
Address: The Ashmolean, Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PH
19. Unwind at Shotover
This country park offers gorgeous views from the top across south Oxfordshire. There are various trails and paths to explore, as well as a sandpit for kiddies. Entry is free and it’s a spot that like me, I’m sure you’ll never tire of.
Address: Shotover Country Park, Old Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 8TA
20. Grab a Slushie Cider
Okay, this one is a bit of a gamble but in the past The Star pub has served cider slushies in the summer. They are THE best! Grab your mates, a slushie and spend the afternoon in the pub garden.
Address: The Star, 21 Rectory Road, Oxford, OX4 1BU
21. Visit The Perch
This pub has a beautiful pub garden and is popular with locals in the summer. I’ve spent many an afternoon here and have also been to a few wedding receptions here.
Said to be an inspiration to Lewis Carroll, the Perch serves delicious food, but I think it’s best for a glass of summery Pimms. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, but was renovated in 2015 so it has a good blend of new and old.
Address: The Perch, Binsey Lane, Oxford, OX2 0NG
22. Walk to The Trout
Okay, you could just drive to nearby Wolvercote but locals normally walk from Jericho, along the river, through Port Meadow, and end up at The Trout pub. It sits right on the riverbank and is a beautiful spot. The walk is around 50 minutes, so a chance to build up an appetite.
This 17th Century pub has featured in a few Inspector Morse episodes, so as you can imagine, it’s a very charming pub. Book ahead if you can as it’s popular. You can read my review here.
Address: The Trout, 195 Godstow Road, Wolvercote, Oxford, OX2 8PN
23. Tour the Colleges
You can’t come to Oxford without seeing some of the colleges. They have various open days where members of the public can step inside to see what all the fuss is about and trust me, it’s worthy fuss. They are seriously beautiful buildings and grounds, and many have featured in various films, such as Harry Potter.
24. Hire a Bike
If you want to fit in during your visit to Oxford hire a bike. You’ll see racks and racks of bikes throughout the centre and loads whizzing up and down the lanes. It’s part of the Oxford lifestyle.
If you’re not confident about cycling in the busy centre, try a cycling tour in the Oxfordshire countryside.
25. Go to Prison
Got a bit of a sinister side? Try a tour of Oxford castle and prison, which includes stepping inside a 900-year old crypt.
Alternatively, book a stay at Malmaison; a stylishly converted Victorian prison right in the centre of Oxford.
Address: Oxford Castle, Oxford, OX1 1AZ
26. Enjoy Vegan/Veggie Pub Food
Fellow vegetarians, come and enjoy really good food at The Gardener’s Arms in the beautiful neighbourhood of Jericho. I recommend the veggie burger, though you can read the menu here.
The pub has a great collection of beers and hosts regular Steampunk events and quizzes too.
Address: The Gardener’s Arms, 39 Plantation Road, Oxford, OX2 6JE
27. Get Romantic at Gee’s
Need somewhere a bit more special? Head to longstanding favourite, Gee’s Restaurant and Bar.
Housed in an iconic Victorian glasshouse, this restaurant serves Mediterranean food and good wine.
28. Get Your Harry Potter Fix
So you’ve watched the quidditch games (see number 14), but you want more Harry Potter? Oxford is the place to get that fix. Head on this Harry Potter Film Location tour to get all the insider information.
29. Sleep with Inspector Morse
Head to the infamous Randolph Hotel right in the city centre. Either stay overnight, dine or drink in the restaurant or head to their spa. You can read my review of stay and dinner here.
It’s a landmark 5* hotel that’s featured in many TV programmes, including Inspector Morse. No prizes for guessing what their Morse Bar is named after!
Address: The Randolph, Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2LN
30. Watch a Performance
The city centre New Theatre Oxford hosts many plays, musicals and shows. I recently took my little boy to see Madagascar the Musical here and he loved it!
Book as far ahead as possible to save any disappointment with particular shows. And make sure you take advantage of the theatre menus in many of the restaurants on the same street.
Address: New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG
Oh and don’t forget to check Daily Info to see what’s on Oxford.
What do you think? Have you checked out all of these places or are you now planning on going? X