Oxford is known worldwide for being home to the prestige Oxford University, but have you ever considered what else Oxford has to offer? From museums full of treasures to lively markets, there’s more than meets the eye in ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’. So why not grab your friends, book an Advance ticket on a CrossCountry train and spend a few hours exploring? We’ve compiled a list of the top things to do in Oxford, so you can plan your trip.
1. The Ashmolean Museum
Full of art and archaeology, the Ashmolean Museum is well worth a visit. Home to Egyptian mummies, Anglo Saxon treasures and modern art you could easily spend all day here alone. It is also the world's first university museum and has been on this site since 1678–83. The Ashmolean also has its own café so if you are feeling peckish head there for a snack or lunch.
Where is it: Beaumont St, OX1 2PH
How to get there: The museum is an 11-minute walk from the station.
2. Radcliffe Camera & Bodleian Libraries
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library. Together, the Bodleian Libraries hold over 13 million printed items. Why not take a tour and see the ancient books, discover the secret reading room built for royalty, and see where Hogwarts Library came to life as many scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were filmed in and around the libraries.
Where is it: Radcliffe Sq, OX1 3BG
How to get there: The camera and libraries are a 16-minute walk from the station.
Price: Old Bodleian Libraries Tours: £2.50-£14 (book in person)
3. Covered Market
If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, head to the historic covered market. The market plays host to a large number of specialist independent traders, each selling their own unique variety of goods. Dating back to the 1770s, it has always been an attraction for locals and visiting tourists who come from far and wide to soak up the building's history and heritage.
Where is it: Market St, OX1 3DZ
How to get there: The covered market is a 13-minute walk from the station.
4. Oxford University buildings
Did you know Oxford University is home to gardens, libraries & museums? A number are mentioned in this blog, but you should also make time for the History of Science Museum or the Botanical Gardens. The University of Oxford’s Botanical Gardens are Britain’s oldest Botanical gardens and are home to lots of different types of plants, making them a year-round oasis of biodiversity in the city centre.
Where is it: The University buildings are located throughout the city centre.
How to get there: All buildings come in under a 25-minute walk from the station
Price: Variety of prices see http://mindgrowing.org/ for more details.
5. Pitt Rivers Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum is much loved for its huge collection of archaeological and anthropological artefacts. The Museum was founded in 1884 when General Pitt Rivers' donated a gift containing more than 26,000 objects. But today, there are now over half a million. The museum is also home to an extensive collection of photographic and sound archives containing early records of great importance from 19th- and early 20th-century photography. It also holds important fieldwork archives, such as the photographs of the traveller Wilfred Thesiger, whose collection alone numbers some 38,000 images.
Where is it: South Parks Rd, OX1 3PP
How to get there: The museum is a 19-minute walk from the station.
Once you’ve taken in all the history, why not enjoy some retail therapy in the many shops around Oxford? From the high street brands in the Westgate shopping centre to unique one-off shops, there’s plenty of options. And for all the bookworms, why not go to Blackwell’s bookshop? Trading since 1879, it is the largest academic and specialist bookseller in the UK and they also offer a free map of Oxford which is a Bookshop Tour.
Where is it: Blackwell’s of Oxford, 50 Broad Street OX1 3BQ
How to get there: The shop is an 11-minute walk from the station.
If you want to carry on exploring the area, why not take a look at our guide to Oxford for more details on the city? Also, take a read of our blog post on the castle quarter to find out what hides behind the castle gates. Or read more about the Botanical Gardens in our post on the Best Botanical Gardens in the UK.
Written by Julia