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Top Ten Things to do in Oxford

Before my trip to Oxford, United Kingdom, I scoured the internet looking for the best things to do there. That research paid off. My visit was a dream come true. I'd like to share what I've learned, so you can plan your own magical holiday.

I've included the entrance fees for the experiences during our visit, so you can get a rough idea of the costs. Note that some attractions offer discounts/concessions for children and/or senior citizens.

1. Stay overnight at one of the colleges of Oxford University

For a few weeks out of the year (usually during March, April, July, August, and/or September) bedrooms at Oxford University can be booked for an overnight stay. Some bookings offer a full English breakfast in the college's Great Hall, included in the room rate! We stayed at Christ Church College, one of the filming locations for the Harry Potter films, and would highly recommended it. A review of our experience at Christ Church College's bed and breakfast is posted here. Price varies based on college, date, and room type.
Breakfast in the Great Hall at Christ Church College
2. Visit some of the colleges of Oxford University

My picks:

Christ Church College: A staircase and cloister corridor here were filming locations for the Harry Potter movies, besides, it's a beautiful historic college. Admission fee: 8-10 pounds (depends on month).
The famous staircase at Christ Church College
New College: Stroll the perimeter of the New College gardens to see portions of the old city wall of Oxford. The cloisters at New College were a filming location for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Admission fee: 5 pounds.
New College gardens
Worcester College: The ornate cathedral and the gardens (with their colorful flowers and lovely lake) are well worth a visit. Fun fact: Emma Watson attended university here. Admission free.
Worcester College gardens
Keble College: The architecture here is quite different from that of other colleges of Oxford University. Some say the college is ugly; some say it's beautiful. Admission free.
Keble College
3. Go punting

We hired a chauffeured punt at Magdalen College boathouse on a weekday, first thing in the morning, right as they opened their doors, and enjoyed a very peaceful ride in a fairytale setting. I asked our chauffeur if he would let me try a few punts myself, and he willingly obliged, providing a priceless one-to-one punting lesson! 30-minute chauffeured punt: 30 pounds (weekdays)-32 pounds (weekends).
My turn at punting
4. Have lunch at St. Mary's Vaults and Gardens restaurant

The food was so good at this charming cafeteria-style cafe that we ate here twice during our stay in Oxford. Hot lunches as well as soup, salad, pastries, scones, and cake can be enjoyed inside in the church's vaults or outside with a view of Radcliffe Camera. Lunch is served 11AM-2:30PM. Meals under 12 pounds.
The outdoor eating area at St. Mary's Vaults and Gardens, with a view of Radcliffe Camera (right)
5. Climb to the top of St. Mary's Church for an unparalleled view of Oxford

Climb a narrow spiral stone staircase that leads to an outdoor viewing area with gorgeous views of the "city of dreaming spires." Admission fee: 4 pounds.
A view of Oxford from the top of St. Mary's Church
6. Visit the Oxford Museum of Natural History

The unique building interior alone is worth a look. The exhibits are interesting too. Admission free. (Donation may be given if you wish.)
Inside the Oxford Museum of Natural History
7. See oddities at the Pitts Rivers Museum

This dark museum of often-strange items inside glass cases is attached to the Oxford Museum of Natural History. We were mesmerized by the display of real shrunken heads. Admission free. (Donation is requested.)
Inside the Pitts Rivers Museum
8. See Radcliffe Camera

This photogenic structure has appeared in numerous feature films, and is nearly impossible to miss on a visit to Oxford, due to its central location near many other must-see attractions. The interior is actually a library reading room and can only be visited by the general public if you book a 90-minute Bodleian Library tour that includes the interior of Radcliffe Camera. This tour can be booked two weeks in advance on Bodleian Library's official website. Free to view exterior. Cost of 90-minute tour that includes the building interior: 15 pounds.
Close-up of Radcliffe Camera window
9. Stroll beneath Hertford Bridge (aka: "The Bridge of Sighs")

This lovely bridge was constructed to resemble Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy. Free to view exterior.
Hertford Bridge
10. Stroll along the river in Christ Church meadow

The river is home to narrow houseboats, ducks, and, sometimes, teams of rowers. A late-afternoon walk here is a peaceful way to wind down at the end of the day. Admission: Free.
Houseboats, ducks, and teams of rowers on the river
Honorable mention:

Those who enjoy art museums and/or archaeology may wish to check out the well-regarded Ashmolean Museum. Admission: free.
Tips for Visiting Oxford:

1. Find delicious, inexpensive, locally-grown fruit at one of the supermarket satellite stores (Tesco or Sainsbury's) conveniently located in the city of Oxford. In August, we enjoyed scrumptious strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. You can also pick up tasty single-serve salads, crisps, and candy at these stores at reasonable prices.

2. For inexpensive, delectable, take-away sandwiches and salads, stop at a Pret-a-Manger. There are excellent vegetarian choices here as well.

3. There are two train companies that currently offer service between London and Oxford: Chiltern Railways and Great Western Railways. You may be able to secure tickets for a fraction of the price if you book in advance on the train company's official website rather than booking a same-day ticket on the day you travel. Our advance-purchase single (i.e. one-way) tickets from Oxford to London were under £8, but would have cost nearly £27 if we had purchased them on the day of our trip.

4. Do an internet search for events happening in Oxford during your stay. Festivals, live theater, concerts, and classes may be offered during your visit. During our stay, Blackwell's Bookshop was celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien. We attended a free dramatic reading of Tolkien's first published poem, Goblin Feet, in Blackwell's office, a historic room normally off-limits to the public.

I did this in 2018 in Oxford, United Kingdom


Jen is also known as J.W. Lynne, a best selling author of eleven novels. Click on any of the titles below to see the book on Amazon!

THE UNKNOWN: Eight kids learn the shocking reason why they were kidnapped.

ABOVE THE SKY: A girl lives in a world where touching her soulmate is forbidden.

: A teen is locked in a bunker to take a simulated trip to the moon.

KID DOCS: An experimental program turns kids into doctors.

WILD ANIMAL SCHOOL: A girl falls in love with a boy at an exotic animal ranch.

WHAT HE DIDN'T TELL ME: A traumatized girl meets a boy with a horrible secret.

IF I TELL: A teen wonders if her father is a serial killer.

Besides reading books and dreaming up stories to write, Jen's favorite activities are singing along to musical theater soundtracks and hiking in California's beautiful parks.

**Jen's books are available on Kindle Unlimited.**
More posts from mydreamcametrue.com you might enjoy:

An Overnight Stay at Hogwarts
Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford
Harry Potter filming locations in London