DestinationsAn Ultimate Guide for Your First Time Ever Visiting Oxford City
An Ultimate Guide for Your First Time Ever Visiting Oxford City

An Ultimate Guide for Your First Time Ever Visiting Oxford City

If London is the dynamic and multicultural city of England, Oxford city is ancient with its very own intellectual beauty. Indeed, Oxford is not only a university city but also attractive because of its beautiful Gothic architecture and the most unique culture in England. Let The Broad Life share with you more information and famous tourist attractions of Oxford city!

About Oxford City

Oxford city schools
Bird’s eye view of Oxford city schools from the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

Oxford is an ancient city located in the southeast of England, about 80km from London. The city of Oxford is the administrative center of Oxfordshire and is one of the fastest-growing and most ethnographically diverse cities.

This city was founded in the 9th century to bring the best schools to the people of England. Therein, Oxford University was founded in the 12th century. It is one of the oldest and most famous universities in the world. As a result, Oxford is known as a highly educated city with over 45% of its population having graduated from university and college compared to other cities in the UK.

Besides the ancient and luxurious features, Oxford is always proud of being a modern city with cultural characteristics in the process of world integration. This is also the reason why Oxford is the desire of many young people and tourists. Particularly, international students want to come to experience and learn.

Today, Oxford still retains many valuable ancient architectural works such as the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera Square, Christ Church School, Ashmolean Museum, etc. Therefore, the city is a great attraction for visitors from all over the world as one of the best travel destinations in the cities of England. As a university city, life here is quite friendly and bright, you will easily see the images of students reading and researching on the street.

Oxford City Transport

Many flights will take you from anywhere in the world to a nearby airport in Oxford city in a certain amount of time. Among those, London Heathrow Airport is a good choice to arrive in England and go to Oxford. Then, when you put your step into the city of Oxford, it’s all about the means of transportation that take you to explore the city.

Oxford city bus
The eye-catching red Oxford city bus that people use to commute between places.

A. Bicycle

It is a popular choice of transportation chosen by many tourists. This vehicle is cheap to rent but helps you actively explore many places in the city. In Oxford, there is a dedicated bike lane. You can rent a bicycle at any bicycle shop or you can ask the hotel reception to rent it for you.

B. Taxi

Taxi in Oxford is special. Typically, it has a black color, and a long roof, and is a traditional British transport symbol. However, the cost of taking a taxi will be much higher than other means of transport.

C. Subway or Tube

The city of Oxford has the most famous, oldest, and most civilized subway system in the world. The subway is fast, cheap, and highly efficient. There are 3 types of subway tickets you can choose from one-way tickets, round-trip tickets, and free round-trip tickets. Especially, the rail network in the UK is spread across the country so you can get anywhere with ease.

D. Bus

Oxford city stands out with the image of a double-decker bus with an eye-catching red color. The bus fare will depend on the length of the distance you travel. You have to buy tickets at the vending machine before getting on the bus. If you stay for a long time, you should buy a weekly or monthly ticket to save money.

The Best Time to Wander Around the City of Oxford

The climate in Oxford is divided into 4 distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Thus, the summer weather is cool when the year’s climate is mild, but the winter is much colder. So, when should you travel to Oxford?

  • Spring (March to May): The temperature is only warming up now. Yet, it’s still quite cold from winter weather. In early May, the weather will be more stable.
  • Summer (May to September): The most crowded tourist time. The temperature at this time increases. It is warm and very suitable for walking, sightseeing and exploring the city. Moreover, at this time in Oxford, there are many interesting activities and events taking place.
  • Autumn (September to November): The weather is a bit chilly. The natural scenery begins to change color, creating a romantic space. Especially in November, at the top of the mountains, sometimes it even snows. This is an extremely suitable time to visit Oxford.
  • Winter (December to February): The cold of Oxford is typical of England. In winter, you will fully feel the space of this country. Besides, at the end of the year, Oxford also organizes Christmas festivals, street festivals, and New Year magnificent. On the other hand, in winter, the whole city is covered in white color, suitable for skiing.

Best Hotels in Oxford City Centre

There are a few great hotels in Oxford to give you easy access to the city’s top attractions:

Houses and hotels in Oxford city centre
Houses and hotels in Oxford city centre.

Affordable Choices

Westgate Hotel

Address: 1 Botley Road, Oxford, OX2 0AA.

This is a budget hotel, with cozy decor, and a family room. Convenient location for commuting to attractions. There is a garden.

Rate: from 120$.

The Buttery Hotel

Address: 11-12 Broad St, Oxford OX1 3AP.

The hotel’s location is right in the center of Oxford City. It will take you closer to the interesting points for sightseeing and dining.

Rate: from 102$.

Remont Oxford Hotel

Address: 367 Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 7PL.

Close to the center. Buffet breakfast is included with hot and cold dishes. Prices are very affordable. There are a garden and terrace.

Rate: from 97$.

The Galaxie

Address: 180 Banbury Rd, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7BT.

English breakfast is served in the morning. There are also many restaurants, pubs, wine bars, and shops around the hotel.

Rate: from 90$.

Holiday Inn Express Oxford Kassam Stadium

Address: Grenoble Road, Oxford, OX4 4XP.

Next by Kassam Stadium and the event center. Buffet breakfast is served. Restaurants and eateries are around.

Rate: from 81$.

Hampton by Hilton Oxford

Address: Grenoble Road , Oxford, OX4 4XP.

Modern business and leisure decor. The location is right in Oxford’s historic sites. For those who love the slower life in a rural area.

Rate: from 81$.

Mid-range Choices

Old Bank Hotel

Address: 92-94 High St, Oxford OX1 4BJ.

An excellent location in a Georgian building. Also, the hotel has a luxurious and elegant boutique design, and marble bathrooms.

Rate: from 247$.

Vanbrugh House Hotel

Address: 20 – 24 St Michael’s Street, Oxford, OX1 2EB.

Modern decorated rooms, private gardens, free breakfast, and snacks. Room rates are mid-range.

Rate: from 155$.

Rewley House University of Oxford

Address: 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA.

Right in the heart of Oxford city. Only 20m away from the University of Oxford. English and continental breakfast.

Rate: from 134$.

In addition, the price of accommodation here ranges from 16 euros to 20 euros per dormitory room with full facilities. Nevertheless, you should note that the number of motels in the city is not much, so you have to book a long time in advance, especially in the high season. The average hotel room price is 85 euros – 200 euros/room/night. They are quite close to the center, so it is convenient for traveling as well as using public transport.

Things to Do in the Oxford City Centre

Wandering Around the City of Oxford

It’s always good to start a trip by walking around the city to explore all the corners. In this way, you can better feel about the city as well as its culture and history. On top of that, there are attractions in the city that you can visit while wandering around.

Blackwell’s Bookshop

Blackwell's Bookshop at 48-51 Broad Street
A Blackwell’s Bookshop at 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BQ.

If you’re a book lover, surely you’ll want to stop by Blackwell’s. This is a 10,000-square-foot space, the largest bookshop in Europe with over 3 million books. Whether you’re looking for a new book or just want to check it out, you should make time to come here when you’re in Oxford on your own.

Choral Evensong

Every day of the school year, many large and small churches around the city hold free and public hymns that visitors to Oxford can join. These ceremonies usually take place from 5:15 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. for 45 minutes. Their hymns are pretty cool and suitable for everyone. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy them. The wonderful and divine vocals make the Choral Evensong a cozy experience.

Covered Market

David John Covered Market Oxford
An image of the shop of David John in Covered Market Oxford in 2006.

Covered Market is an attractive destination in the city of Oxford. Established in 1770, this place was built to tidy up the streets and arrange the stalls that clog the streets in a reasonable way. This historic market is now an ideal place to stroll and enjoy local specialties at very cheap prices.

Oxford Castle & Prison

one of the Oxford Castle and Prisons pictures.
One of the coolest Oxford Castle and Prisons pictures.

This castle was built in the 13th century when the wooden fortress was replaced by a stone fortress. Afterward, when the castle’s military value dropped, they started using it as a prison until 1996. Later, the castle was renovated and turned into a hotel but you can still spend hours sightseeing the radio station and prison area when coming to this tourist attraction. During the summer, musical performances are held in the courtyard. You can check their website for showtimes.

South Park

South Park overlooks the city of Oxford
The South Park overlooks the city of Oxford.

Located to the east of Oxford, South Park is the city’s largest park. Visitors to the park will have a panoramic view of Oxford University. When the weather is nice, people flock here to relax, play sports, or have a picnic. This is a great place to meet people or have a picnic of your own.

University of Oxford

Definitely, this is the top tourist attraction in Oxford city that you cannot miss. Indeed, the University of Oxford is the oldest university in English-speaking countries and the second oldest in the world.

Ashmolean Museum

Ashmolean Museum of art and archaeology
There is a collection of ancient Egypt and Nubia in the Ashmolean Museum of art and archaeology.

The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 and became the world’s first university museum. Therefore, this is a place worth visiting when coming to Oxford. At this museum, you will have the opportunity to admire many famous artworks of Amarna ‘Princess Fresco’ or Alfred Jewel.

Bodleian Library

access Bodleian Library free entry
Bodleian Library free entry to visitors. Image credit to David Lliff on Flickr.

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Certainly, it is a famous place to visit in Oxford that you should not miss. A library is a place of study for the prestigious Oxford University students. At Bodleian, there are currently more than 12 million books of all kinds, including many works of historical value. The number of librarians in the library is also up to 420 people. With the ancient and magnificent architecture, the library is an attractive destination for many tourists.

Christ Church College

visiting christ church college in Oxford city
Do you know that Harry Potter Dining Hall is actually Christ Church College Great Hall?

Christ Church is one of the largest colleges in the Oxford university complex, which includes 36 schools, founded in 1525 with a history of nearly 500 years. On top of that, Christ Church College has several architecturally impressive buildings such as the Tom Tower, the Tom Quad, and the Great Dining Hall. Christ Church has trained many great men of the world, including Albert Einstein and 13 British Prime Ministers.

Especially, Christ Church College was once chosen as the setting for the famous Harry Potter movie thanks to its ancient architecture mixed with a bit of mystery.

Oxford University Botanical Garden

Oxford University Botanical Garden admission fee is £5.45 for adults
Oxford University Botanical Garden admission fee is £5.45 for adults.

This is a beautiful botanical garden that has been open since 1621. Visitors will have the opportunity to see 8,000 different types of trees and flowers. The garden is a relaxing place to enjoy the slow pace of the town.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History collections
Oxford University Museum of Natural History collections is impressive, especially palaeontology.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History was founded in 1860 as the center of scientific research at the University of Oxford. Indeed, the museum currently houses collections of geological and animal specimens, most impressively the Oxfordshire dinosaurs. The building was designed in Gothic architecture by an Irish architect. The museum is open to the public free of charge.

Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers Museum exhibitions with many collections
Pitt Rivers Museum collections are varied in different areas including photographs, ethnography & archaeology, conservation, and Balfour library.

In Oxford, Pitt Rivers is another very famous museum that you should not miss. In particular, there are currently more than 500 thousand rare and precious objects on display here. They are arranged according to different themes for the convenience of visitors.

Radcliffe Camera

radcliffe camera architecture in neo-classical style
The architect of Radcliffe Camera in Oxford is James Gibbs.

Radcliffe Camera is a very famous landmark of Oxford. It is the scientific library of the University of Oxford. This was built in neo-classical style in 1737, with a very special drum-shaped dome. Visitors can visit around and take photos here.

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

University Church of St Mary the Virgin tower
University Church of St Mary the Virgin tower brings you the view to Oxford city. Image source: Piers Nye on Flickr.

This is an ancient church with a history of nearly 1,000 years. Also, it’s the main church of the University of Oxford. This church was built in a post-Gothic style with a tower 124 steps high. If you stand at the top of the tower, you can see the whole city of Oxford. On the eaves of the church, there are bullet marks from the war in 1645.
In particular, the church is also the place to receive compensation within 500 years from the middle of the 13th century by Oxford citizens to the University after the war between students, university teachers, and citizens.

Outside the City of Oxford

The rural area outside Oxford city always brings peacefulness to anyone who comes. Furthermore, if you have more time to spend on the trip, there are interesting points outside the city of Oxford that you may want to visit.

Blenheim Palace

blenheim palace in oxfordshire
Today, the Dukes of Malborough still live in Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Image source: Jonathan from Flickr.

Blenheim is a magnificent palace, about 8km from the center of Oxford. The building with beautiful British Baroque architecture has appeared in the very famous Hamlet movie. Additionally, this was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Today, it is like a museum with the original interior. There is also a beautiful garden and a butterfly house.

Windsor Castle and Stonehenge

people visit Windsor Castle
Many people visit Windsor Castle every day.
Stonehenge history and construction contain mysteries
Stonehenge history and construction contain mysteries to the human.

Windsor Castle and Stonehenge tour is popular with tourists in Oxford. From the city of Oxford, it takes you just more than an hour driving or one and half hour going by train to Windsor Castle or Stonehenge. If you want to leave the city for a day, these 2 top travel destinations will satisfy your wanderlust. Tours are available but if you have a car, it will be much more economical.

Eating Out in Oxford City Centre

Main Dishes

Salt Beef Bagel

salt beef bagel
Make sure you try Salt Beef Bagel when traveling to Oxford. Image credit to Jeremy Keith on Flickr.

Thick slices of salted beef sandwiched in hot bagels, a favorite dish of Oxford people. In addition, it can also be served with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickled cucumbers to relieve boredom.

Fish and Chips

fish and chips around me
You can type ‘fish and chips around me’ then go for one of the best dishes in Oxford.

This is a traditional British dish, consisting of deep-fried cod fish and chips. Fish & chips served with tomato sauce, green beans, and lemon slices. This dish has a very characteristic flavor of fish, the flesh of peas, and the sourness of lemon.


Yorkshire Pudding

You may find out the best Yorkshire pudding recipe here in Oxford.

This cake has a long history in England. Yorkshire Pudding is made with eggs, flour, and special Horseradish sauce. The cake has a sour taste, served with potatoes, and grilled meat. Assuredly, this is a dish you must try when you come to the city of Oxford.

Apple Crumble

baked apple crumble
It’s a baked apple crumble. Image source: JoslynLM on Flickr.

Actually, this is an apple pie, made from ripe apples, butter, and flour, flavored with cinnamon and sugar. The cake will be baked until it turns golden and fragrant. It’s often served with vanilla ice cream or strawberry ice cream for a much better taste.

Cream Tea

English cream tea for one
It’s a good dish of English cream tea for one.

This is a famous British dish, which is a great combination of ice cream and tea. To illustrate, frozen ice cream is made from cow’s milk, brought into a pot to freeze, then steamed. When the milk on top is thick, turn off the heat and leave it overnight to get a delicious, greasy cream.

A Few Tips to Explore Oxford City in Budget

  • Buy cheap food: If you eat out, you can choose the student area to taste local dishes at an affordable price.
  • Watch at the student theater: If you want something for entertainment, you can buy affordable tickets at student theaters for good shows. Many performances during the school year take place at the Burton Taylor Theatre.
  • Walking around the city: Oxford isn’t a big city, which means you can walk around to save money as well as get a better feel of the place.
  • Stay with the locals: When traveling to Oxford city, if you want to learn more about this place and want to save money on accommodation, try Couchsurfing. This is a great way to learn more about Oxford from the people who live there.

If you travel to England, make sure you don’t miss visiting this city. You should also stay here for a few days since there are many things to do. Hopefully, this article will give you the inspiration to travel to the city of Oxford. Enjoy, and share with me your trip experience when you come back!

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It’s because England is a beautiful country with so many amazing places, so why not spend more time exploring the land? Here are more articles about England that I believe you’d love to read:

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.


  • Beth

    Oxford is such a gorgeous city! I love history and architecture. I’d love to take full advantage of this guide one day.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      I’m sure that you will enjoy your trip to Oxford city so much following this guide.

  • pacioalita9

    What a great place to visit and there are a lot of things to do here. It is a mix of ancient and modern. I would definitely add this to my list.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah, Oxford city is truly a great place to visit in England.

  • Stephanie

    There’s so much to do there! I’ve been to London once, and we took a day trip to Stonehenge, but that’s the only time I’ve been to England. I would love to visit again, this time with my kids, and do everything on your list! Especially the bookstore!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      I’m sure you and your kids will enjoy so much the trip to Oxford city following this guide.

  • Pooja

    I should stay I have been to Oxford city but you covered almost everything about it in here. I feel like I would have to go back and again look at few things i missed

  • Fransic verso

    This is interesting, the transport is cool there. I would love to drive alone. And go anywhere I want to go.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      That’d be the best way to explore Oxford particularly and the whole England generally.

  • Mel

    Oh, I’ve never been to Oxford before but this is a great travel guide! I need to go one day

  • Rosey

    I like those double decker red buses. I’ve been to London. I’d love to go see Oxford.

  • Ntensibe Edgar

    Wow….this is a whole lot of places to visit in Oxford city! Thanks for sharing about the hotels, so much.

  • Neely Moldovan

    SO many great places to visit! Thank you!

  • Lyanna Soria

    Never been to Oxford City before so this is gonna be an informative and helpful post for me. Thanks for the share and guidance.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      You’re welcome! I hope you have a great trip to Oxford city following this guide.

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