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Things to do in Oxford

Things to do in  Oxford

Welcome to Oxford

The weight of history is felt in every footstep in atmospheric Oxford, where life revolves around the world-class university that occupies its heart. The City of the Dreaming Spires is a walkable one (and likely visually familiar, given its turn as a Harry Potter filming location), though you can also get another view by punting along its waterways in true student fashion. Visiting the university’s colleges, plus highlights such as the Bodleian Library and Ashmolean Museum, are also among the top things to do in Oxford, though you shouldn’t leave town before enjoying an evening in a snug pub.

Top 15 things to do in Oxford

#1
Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library

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Located in central Oxford in a complex of historic buildings, the venerable Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It’s the main research library for the University of Oxford and also a copyright library, housing every book printed in the UK and Ireland, a collection of more than 12 million printed items.More
#2
University of Oxford

University of Oxford

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The oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford is the main draw to the riverside town of Oxford. With a history dating back to the 11th century, the university’s many colleges offer a wealth of gorgeous historical architecture—not to mention settings for movies including theHarry Potter series.More
#3
Christ Church College

Christ Church College

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Attended by leading luminaries across the centuries—and in possession of an art museum, soaring cathedral, and stately quad—Christ Church is among Oxford’s largest, grandest, and most prestigious colleges. Famously used as a set for theHarry Potter films, it is now also a pop cultural attraction.More
#4
Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

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Built in the early 18th century, this stately home is one of Britain’s grandest historical estates. It was gifted by Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough, General John Churchill, for his role in defeating the French at the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, and Britain’s beloved wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill was born here in 1874.More
#5
Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

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Located in the heart of Oxford, the Radcliffe Camera is one of the city’s most recognizable and photographed landmarks, with its unusual shape and impressive dome. Completed in 1749, it was the first rotunda library in England, and today it is one of the main reading rooms of the Bodleian Library complex.More
#6
Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

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Linking the two halves of Hertford College, the Bridge of Sighs (formally known as Hertford Bridge) arcs above New College Lane in the heart of Oxford. Despite its ancient-seeming exterior and leaded windows, it’s only a little over a century old. While it shares a name with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, it actually looks much more similar to that city’s Rialto Bridge.More
#7
Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre

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One of Oxford’s most recognizable landmarks, the Sheldonian Theatre is a neoclassical building dating to 1669. Designed by the celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren, the venue is used for ceremonial events by the University of Oxford (including graduations), as well as lectures, concerts, and other publicly accessible performances.More
#8
All Souls College

All Souls College

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Set on High Street in the heart of town, graduates-only All Souls College is Oxford’s most elitist institution. Only the university’s best and brightest are invited to sit the entrance exam, and just two are accepted as fellows each year. Fifteenth-century architecture mingles with Hawksmoor and Wren detailings for pure tranquility.More
#9
Trinity College

Trinity College

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Between its baroque chapel, extensive gardens, and historic buildings, Trinity is one of Oxford’s prettiest small colleges. Founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, it occupies a prime position in central Oxford, opposite the landmark Bodleian Library.More
#10
Oxford Castle & Prison

Oxford Castle & Prison

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Explore nearly 1,000 years of history at Oxford Castle & Prison, located near central Oxford. Originally built in 1071 by Normans who came across with William the Conqueror, the castle was later turned into a prison. Now a museum and tourist site, it also offers stunning panoramic views over Oxford from one of the city’s oldest buildings.More
#11
Oxford Covered Market

Oxford Covered Market

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Home to fishmongers and produce vendors, quirky hat specialists and trendy sandwich shops, Oxford Covered Market is both a bustling retail hub and a destination for food lovers. The market has operated continuously since its founding in 1774, and today it hosts more than 50 independent shops.More
#12
Carfax Junction

Carfax Junction

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The junction of High Street, Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, and St. Aldgate’s, Carfax is a major meeting point in the heart of Oxford. The lofty St. Martin’s Tower (Carfax Tower), which offers some of the best views of the “city of dreaming spires,” sits at the intersection.More
#13
Balliol College

Balliol College

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One of Oxford’s oldest colleges, Balliol College dates back to the 13th century, although the precise date is disputed. The architecture of this rambling college is predominantly from the 19th century, though parts of the Front Quadrangle are as old as the 15th century. It takes its name from its founder, John de Balliol.More
#14
Magdalen College

Magdalen College

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Magdalen College—pronounced “Maudlin”—is one of the most storied and scenic colleges at Oxford University. Founded in 1458, it’s known for its lofty Magdalen Tower, its choral associations, and the celebrated figures who once walked its halls, including C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, and Sir John Betjeman.More
#15
History of Science Museum

History of Science Museum

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Set in the elegant 17th-century building that held the original Ashmolean Museum, the History of Science Museum (previously known as the Museum of the History of Science) is a treasure trove of scientific wonders. From Einstein’s equations to Marconi’s radio transmitter, by way of astrolabes and penicillin, it’s endlessly fascinating.More

Trip ideas

Exploring the Oxford University Colleges

Exploring the Oxford University Colleges

Top activities in Oxford

Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise in Oxford
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Cotswolds Villages Full-Day Small-Group Tour from Oxford
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Oxford Sightseeing Picnic River Cruise
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Cotswold Summer Explorer Tour
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Cotswold Summer Explorer Tour

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$104.92
Cotswolds Summer Adventurer Tour
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Cotswolds Private Day Tour

Cotswolds Private Day Tour

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Sundowner Cruise with Three Course Riverside Dining
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Oxford Sightseeing River Cruise Along The University Regatta Course
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Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Oxford Walking Tour
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Cotswold Taster Tour from Oxford
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3-Hour Private Tour of Oxford With University Alumni Guide
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2-Hour Cycle Tour of Oxford

2-Hour Cycle Tour of Oxford

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