Updated on March 2, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Oxford is a charming city in England that is home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world. There are plenty of things to see and do here.

So, if you live nearby or are bored of the streets of London, then you should head down to this wonderful city and see all it has to offer! 

However, because there is so much to do, it can get a little overwhelming. However, we are here to help you spend your time wisely. In this article, we will be discussing the best things to do in Oxford on your trip. 

If you’re interested, read on for more! 

1. Visit Radcliffe Camera And Radcliffe Square 

One of the most fun things to do in Oxford is to visit Radcliffe Camera and Radcliffe Square, known to the locals as “Rad Cam.” Rad Cam dates back to 1737 and it belongs to Oxford University.

Students will mostly use Rad Cam to borrow books or to study. 

Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to enter. However, they are welcome to walk the square. The square is covered by historic buildings, grassy areas, and lots of cobblestone walkways.

So, even though you may not be able to enter the Radcliffe Camera, you can get some seriously beautiful photos for your Instagram. 

There are no amenities in Radcliffe square, but there are plenty of places to eat and drink in the surrounding area, so it’s the perfect palace to visit in the late morning before stopping off at a nearby cafe for a quick lunch. 

2. Get A Taste Of Student Life At An Oxford College 

Even if you never studied at Oxford University, you can still pretend you did when you visit an Oxford college.

Fans of the Harry Potter series may enjoy visiting Christ Church College, which is where they filmed scenes set inside the Great Hall of Hogwarts. 

However, there are many other wonderful colleges well worth a visit that can give you a great idea of what it would be like to be a student.

One college we recommend is Balliol College, where visitors can walk around many beautiful, wisteria-filed gardens. Balliol is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford and has been around since the 12th century.

 It is surrounded by a fortress that was built to protect students from locals who tried to kill them. However, you’ll be perfectly safe on your visit, so be sure to add it to your list! 

Another great college to visit is Magdalen College, which is located at the end of the high street.

Here, you will find plenty of deer, huge grounds, and traditional red telephone boxes filled with many beautiful flowers. 

3. See A Show At The Sheldonian Theatre 

The Sheldonian Theatre was designed by Christopher Wren and is famous for its performance space and unique acoustics. There are always events going on here.

Visitors can experience a night of fun entertainment, whether it’s a theatre experience or a concert – there will definitely be something to entertain you on your trip to Oxford! 

Alternatively, you can go to the Sheldonian Theatre to attend a talk or a lecture. It is often the venue of choice for many events held by Oxford University. 

There are many iconic Sheldonian Heads situated outside of the theatre, which you can snap some photos of as keepsakes of your amazing trip! 

4. Marvel At The Bridge Of Sighs 

The Bridge of Sighs connects two separate parts of Hertford College. It is a popular landmark for tourists to go and see and it is famous for looking similar to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.

It was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson in 1914. 

 It is over a century old and is only accessible to staff and students of Oxford University. However, visitors are still able to walk underneath it and take pictures of it. 

If visiting with others, you will be able to tell them the false legend that surrounds the Bridge of Sighs while you stand and marvel at it.

Legend has it, that decades ago a survey conducted among Oxford students concluded that the students of Hertford College were among the heaviest, and so the Bridge of Sighs was closed to force students to take the stairs. 

Very thankfully, this is a totally false rumour: no survey was conducted and the bridge has always been open to students! 

5. Explore Covered Market

Oxford is not only a great place to see some amazing architecture, but it is also a wonderful place for shopping and eating! 

One of the best places to go for both of these things is Covered Market. Covered Market hosts many unique cafes and shops where you can window shop or support local businesses. 

Highlights of this market include Sasi’s Thai, a Thai cafe where the dishes change daily. It’s a cheap eatery (for Oxford!) that doesn’t compromise on ingredients or taste.

You should also check out Ben’s Cookies. This wonderful dessert store bakes the most amazing cookies that make for the perfect, indulgent dessert.

We recommend trying the ginger and dark chocolate cookies – you won’t regret it! 

6. Go To The Pitt Rivers Museum 

The Pitt Rivers museum is a great place to go to brush up on your culture. It is located a quick, 15-minute walk away from the centre of Oxford and can be accessed via Parks Road. 

Here, you can explore the various exhibits the museum has to offer.

Not only that, but the Pitt Rivers museum hosts many events, such as talks on different cultures, object handling, and more, that are sure to educate and entertain the whole family. 

7. Hire A Boat And Tour The River 

If you’re visiting Oxford on a warm summer’s day, then one of the best activities you can do is to hire a boat and take a tour of the river.

This activity is known as punting, and you can do it yourself (try not to fall in the water) or you can take a tour from a local student who will do it for you. 

If you opt for the latter, then you have the option of taking a picnic or some drinks onto the boat as you spend a relaxing evening exploring the river and the many sights of Oxford from a new perspective. 

Punts can be hired from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse. However, you also have the option to rent pedalos or even rowing boats – which would make for a wonderful first date!

8. Have Fun At The Ashmolean Museum 

The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest museum in Oxford and first opened its doors in 1683.

However, it is filled with modern technology that the staff uses to tell the stories of the past in a unique and memorable way.

One of the best exhibits to go and see is the Egyptian mummy exhibit, where you can explore archaeology and art like you never have before.

However, you don’t get to brush up on your culture and education at the museum.

Visitors are invited to have cocktails on the roof!

This is an excellent way to spend a warm Oxford evening, and you can even browse the menu to have something tasty to eat as you sip the night away.

Highlights include the portobello mushroom burgers and the lime calamari – yum! 

9. Relax At University Parks 

University Parks contain a whole host of serene nature and beautiful scenery.

There is verdant greenery as far as the eye can see, and it is the perfect place to go when you just want to relax and have a quiet moment to yourself.

There are plenty of places to walk and take in your surroundings, which gives you the chance to feel refreshed from a busy day shopping and exploring Oxford. 

But, if you’re looking for something more active to do, then University Parks offers a whole host of fun things, too. Examples include going swimming or playing cricket.

You can even spend an hour or two having a picnic lunch by the river, or watching the ducks swim around in the duck pond! A perfect Sunday afternoon. 

10. Visit The University Church Of St. Mary The Virgin 

If you’re going to spend a day or two in Oxford, then you need to visit the University Church Of St. Mary’s The Virgin.

At this beautiful church, you will be able to climb to the top of the tower and take in all of the beautiful views the city has to offer from a whole new vantage point. 

This is perfect for photographers who want to capture the city in all of its glory, and for the casual viewer who loves pretty landscapes. 

You can even stay for a service or to marvel at the amazing architecture of the building. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you want to learn more about the past, see the sights, or relax within nature, there is plenty to see and do here at Oxford.

We hope you use this list to make the most of your trip!

Top 10 Things to do in Oxford | London Day Trip | UK Travel Guide