Whether you’re visiting the city for a day or staying for much longer, there are plenty of things to do in Oxford. Here are some of the famous landmarks and most notable activities, so you can plan ahead and choose the ones that you’d most like to see while you’re here.

Bridge of Sighs

What can you see in Oxford in one day?

If you’ve only got one day in Oxford, trying to decide what to do can seem more than a little overwhelming. We’ve put together an itinerary of famous sights you could follow, or use as a basis for your own plan.

The University

Oxford is most famous for its University, so it would be a shame to miss it! Thirty-eight different colleges combine to make the University of Oxford, so it’s worth having a look at each of them online before choosing which you’d most like to see for yourself. You do have to pay to look around the colleges (between £2 and £10), although if you’re a prospective student they will often waive the fee. We recommend visiting Christ Church, a college renowned for its beautiful architecture and something of a celebrity location given its role as a film set for Harry Potter and The Golden Compass.

Price: £2 – £10
Location: City Centre
Make sure you go if: You love pretty buildings, or want to walk in the footsteps of famous thinkers, writers and scientists.

Radcliffe Square

Oxford Scholastica Rad Cam sunset

If you’ve seen any movie set in the city of Oxford, chances are you will have seen Radcliffe Square on screen. One of the most famous landmarks in Oxford, it’s home to the Radcliffe Camera, a triumph of neo-classical architecture built between 1737 and 1749. From the square, you can also see All Souls College, perhaps the most revered of the whole university. All Souls does not admit undergraduates, but recent graduates and postgrad students with First Class degrees are invited to sit a legendarily difficult set of exams, in order to try and gain entry.

Price: Free!
Location: City Centre
Make sure you go if: You want a quintessential Oxford backdrop for your photos.

The tower at St Mary the Virgin

While you’re in Radcliffe Square, take the opportunity to climb to the top of the church’s tower for some of the best views in Oxford. Rising 62m over the city, anyone over the age of 8 is allowed to climb it for a small fee – and we promise it’s worth the effort!

Price: £5 per person, or £15 for a family of four
Location: City Centre
Make sure you go if: You’re not afraid of heights!

The Bodleian Libraries

The Bodleian Libraries are amongst the most famous in the world, and some of their buildings have been in continuous use since the Middle Ages. Visiting here is one of the things to do in Oxford that is truly unique. They house collections containing everything from third century BC manuscripts to a First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Make sure to book a tour in advance to avoid disappointment, and check out their open collections and exhibitions before you visit.

Price: Free for the courtyard, £1 – £15 for tours
Location: City Centre
Make sure you go if: You’re a bookworm, or history buff.

Shopping

Oxford is home to a wonderful range of stores, from the eighteenth century Covered Market to the more modern High Street and Westgate Centre, there’s really something for everyone’s retail tastes. We recommend The Fudge Kitchen if you’re in need of a snack, or some gifts to take back home with you.

Price: As much or as little as you like
Location: City Centre, Cowley
Make sure you go if: You’re in need of some retail therapy.

Oxford Castle

Dating all the way back to the eleventh century, you can’t visit Oxford without stopping by the castle. Built by a baron following the Norman Conquest, the castle served as a prison at different points in its history, and part of it is now occupied by a hotel. In the summer, you might be able to see an open-air Shakespeare play performed in the atmospheric courtyard. If you want to have a proper look around the castle, it’s recommended that you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Price: £8.50 – £12.50 for individual tickets, £39 for a family ticket
Location: City Centre
Make sure you go if: You like mediaeval history, or dungeons!

What to do in Oxford if you have more time

If you’ll be staying in Oxford for a little longer, we recommend you take the opportunity to research what you can see around the city, and perhaps visit the following famous places.

Museums and art galleries

As you might expect from a city with such a rich intellectual history, Oxford is full of famous museums and galleries. The Ashmolean was Britain’s first ever public museum, and houses world-class art and archeology collections. The Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers museums have natural and anthropological collections that really have to be seen to be believed, while the History of Science Museum caters to more scientific minds. If you’re looking for more of a narrative experience, the Museum of Oxford covers the city’s entire history, while the Story Museum is a unique homage to writing and fiction. Choose a couple, or visit all of them!

Price: Varies, free – £10
Location: Across the city
Make sure you go if: You have time!

Punting

Punting

Pick your spot on the river (we recommend Cherwell or Magdalen College boathouses) and hire a punt for an hour or two. Very relaxing and lots of fun besides, punting is a great way to see some beautiful views of Oxford and Oxfordshire’s countryside.

Prices: Vary, around £18/hour
Location: All along the river
Make sure you go if: You’re an avid fan of Brideshead Revisited.

Port Meadow

A beautiful spot of nature just outside the city centre, make sure to fit an afternoon at Port Meadow into your visit if you can. In the summer, take a towel and go for a dip in the river, or stroll along the banks in cooler weather.

Price: Free
Location: Jericho
Make sure you go if: You like cows!

Next steps

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If you like the sound of spending more time in Oxford, why not take a look at our summer courses?

Already know which course you want to take? Book here and prepare to immerse yourself in the city this summer!