Christ Church College
The largest and arguably most renowned of Oxford’s many colleges, the hallowed halls and exquisite cathedral of Christ Church College have a long and illustrious history. Founded by Cardinal Thomas Woolsey in 1524, the grandiose complex includes architectural highlights like Sir Christopher Wren’s Great Tom bell tower and the Great Hall, where King Charles I held court during the English Civil War. Despite being just one of 38 colleges, for many visitors to Oxford, Christ Church is synonymous with Oxford University. Today, the legendary buildings see almost as many tourists as they do students.
Christ Church’s esteemed alumni include philosopher John Locke, Albert Einstein, architects John Ruskin and Sir Christopher Wren and former Prime Minister William Gladstone. But its academic resume isn’t the only string to its bow. The prestigious college has also made its mark in popular culture, starring as the now-iconic Great Hall of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies and housing the world’s largest collection of work by alumnus Lewis Carroll. Incidentally, Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written for Alice Liddell, daughter of the then-Dean of Christ Church.
Christ Church College is located just south of Oxford city center, and the college grounds, main hall and cathedral are all open to the public, with first admission at 10:30 a.m. and last admission at 4:15 p.m. (The hall and cathedral are typically closed over lunchtime). Adult admission costs £7 during the winter months and £9 in the summer months. Discounted entry is offered if the hall or cathedral is closed at the time of visiting.
Oxford Covered Market
Whether you’re meeting friends for coffee or bartering over artisan produce, wandering around Oxford’s bustling central market serves as a lively introduction to the city. Drawing a steady stream of both locals and tourists, the Oxford Covered Market has been at the center of local life since it opened its doors in 1774, and today remains in its original building, designed by architect John Gwynn.
Dozens of permanent stalls are found here, including butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers all selling fresh, local produce, as well as a number of clothing, jewelry and gift options. Once you’ve stocked up on picnic essentials and souvenirs, and sampled local specialties like Oxford sausage and steak and kidney pies, take a break at one of the cafes or bakeries, where you’ll find freshly brewed tea or coffee, alongside an array of freshly made sandwiches, home-baked cakes and pastries.
The Oxford Covered Market is located in Oxford city center. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Not only Britain’s oldest public museum but also among the oldest in the world, the Ashmolean is more than just a museum – it’s an internationally renowned institution and one of Oxford’s most visited attractions. Founded in 1683, the esteemed museum is one of four of the University of Oxford, with a focus on art, archaeology and natural history.
Benefiting from a thorough renovation in 2009, the Ashmolean Museum now boasts a 21st-century redesign by award-winning architect Rick Mather, including a rooftop restaurant looking out over the university buildings. Highlights of the huge permanent collection include the world’s biggest collection of Raphael drawings, an array of pre-dynastic Egyptian jewelry and artifacts, manuscript copies of the Old and New Testaments, the Western World’s most important collection of modern Chinese Art and a significant assemblage of British and Western Art. If that’s not enough, there’s also a ceremonial costume worn by Lawrence of Arabia, Guy Fawkes’ lantern, the death mask of Oliver Cromwell and Uccello’s iconic The Hunt in the Forest.
The Ashmolean Museum is located in the north of Oxford city center, a short walk from the main shopping streets and university buildings.
Open: Tues – Sunday 10am – 5pm, Bank Holiday Monday 10am – 5pm. Free admission.
The meeting point of Oxford’s main throughways, Carfax Junction is the central point of the city and is within walking distance of all the top attractions. The city’s principal streets converge here – the pedestrianized shopping avenues of Cornmarket Street to the north and Queen Street to the west; the High Street to the east, which leads to Radcliffe Square and Magdalen College; and St Aldate’s Street, which runs south to the Christ Church College.
Carfax Junction is also renowned for its 23-meter-tall clock tower, the Carfax Tower, which rings its bells each quarter hour and provides a memorable navigational landmark for both locals and visitors. Once part of the 12th-century St Martin’s Church that stood on the site, the Carfax Tower now stands alone, and climbing the 99 steps to the rooftop ramparts is rewarded with a panoramic view of Oxford’s “Dreaming Spires.”
Caxfax Junction lies at the meeting point of Cornmarket Street, High Street, St Aldate’s Street and Queen Street in Oxford city center. The Carfax Tower is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in summer or until 3 p.m. in winter, and adult admission is £2.50.
Wandering through the 100-acre grounds of Magdalen College paints an idyllic picture of Oxford university life—punting along the river, watching a game on the cricket lawns, strolling through the deer park or walking the woodland Addison’s Trail, a favorite route of Oxford alumnus C.S Lewis. The verdant setting is reason enough to visit, but Magdalen’s striking architecture is equally notable, making it a worthy rival to nearby Christ Church College.
Founded in 1448 by future Chancellor of England William Waynflete, Magdalen College—pronounced “Maudlin”—was home to Oxford’s first science department and still ranks among the university’s most prestigious colleges. For visitors, most tours start at the landmark Magdalen Tower, a grand Gothic bell tower most famous for its May Morning celebrations, before moving on to explore highlights like the 15th-century St. John’s Quad, the richly decorated gatehouse and the atmospheric Great Quad, adorned with expertly carved hieroglyphs.
Magdalen College is located to the east of Oxford city center, next to the Oxford Botanical Gardens. The college is open to the public daily from midday until 6 p.m. during the summer and from 1 p.m. until dusk in the winter. Adult admission is £5.
University Church of St. Mary the Virgin
The tower commands some of the finest views of Oxford’s famous skyline. It is worth the climb of 124 steps to make it to the top to enjoy fine uninterrupted views in all directions across Oxford and the surrounding countryside. The Church Guide Book indicates the major buildings to be seen. Entrance: adults £3, children (under 16) £2.50, Family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children), £10.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the largest of Oxford’s parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew. It is situated on the north side of the High Street, and is surrounded by university and college buildings.
St Mary’s has one of the most beautiful spires in England and an eccentric baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone, facing High Street. Radcliffe Square lies to the north and to the east is Catte Street, pedestrianised since 1973. The 13th century tower is open to the public for a fee and provides good views across the heart of the historic university city, especially Radcliffe Square, the Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College and All Souls College.
48-51 Broad Street
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat 9:00 – 18:00, Tue 9:30 – 18:00, Sun 11:00 – 17:00
Blackwell’s is an institution in Oxford. It’s not just a regular bookstore – it has the largest single room devoted to book sales in all of Europe (the 10,000 sq. ft. Norrington Room). In order to create such a large space in a small city, Blackwell’s excavated underneath Trinity College’s gardens. Blackwell’s sells both new and second-hand books, and has a cafe.
Blackwell runs a series of walking tours: The Famous Blackwell Literary Walking Tours (Tuesdays 2pm, Thursdays 11am); The Inklings Tour (Wednesdays 11:45am); The Historic Oxford Tour (Fridays 2pm). Tours will be conducted between 16th April and 24th October. All tours commence from Blackwell Bookshop, 48-51 Broad St, Oxford and last approximately one and a half hours.
Intersection of St. Giles’, Magdalen Street, and Beaumont Street
The Martyrs’ Memorial is a rather imposing stone monument positioned at the intersection of St Giles’, Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street in Oxford, England just outside Balliol College. It commemorates the 16th-century Oxford Martyrs.
Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the monument was completed in 1843 after two years’ work, having replaced “a picturesque but tottering old house”. The Victorian Gothic memorial, whose design dates from 1838, has been likened to the spire of some sunken cathedral.
The inscription on the base of the Martyrs’ Memorial reads as follows: “To the Glory of God, and in grateful commemoration of His servants, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, Prelates of the Church of England, who near this spot yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake; this monument was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord God, MDCCCXLI”.
Cuthbert Bede (in his novel The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green) wrote about the setting of the Martyrs’ Memorial thus in 1853: “He who enters the city, as Mr Green did, from the Woodstock Road, and rolls down the shady avenue of St Giles’, between St John’s College and the Taylor Buildings, and past the graceful Martyrs’ Memorial, will receive impressions such as probably no other city in the world could convey.”
The actual site of the execution is close by in Broad Street, located just outside the location of the old city walls. The site is marked by a cross sunk in the road.
There is also an urban legend in Oxford that generations of Oxford students have duped groups of tourists into believing that the memorial is, in fact, the spire of an underground chapel or a sunken church, offering tours of it for a price, and then directing them to the stairs round the corner, which in fact lead to the public toilets.
Opening hours: Our opening hours are: Monday – Friday 9.00 – 17.00; Saturday 9.00 – 16.30; Sunday 11.00-17.00. With the exception of the Shop and the Exhibition Room, admission to the interior of the buildings is charged for.
Known informally as “The Bod”, the Bodleian was opened in 1602 by Thomas Bodley with a collection of 2,000 books. In 1610, Bodley made an agreement with the Stationers’ Company in London to put a copy of every book registered with them in the library (nowadays, each book copyrighted must be deposited). Today, there are 9 million items on 176 kilometres of shelving, and the library can accommodate 2,500 readers. Books may not be taken off the premises. The Divinity School and exhibition room are open to the public.
The Bodleian Library is a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford. It is housed in a remarkable group of buildings which form the historic heart of the University, and you can explore the quadrangles of these magnificent structures at no charge. Different ticket options allow you to visit the interior of some of the buildings, such as the University’s oldest teaching and examination room, The Divinity School (built 1427-88). Here you will discover more of the University’s fascinating history. Our guided tours go behind the scenes in the Library, including its oldest research library, The Bodleian, dating from 1602-20.
High Street. Open 9am – 5pm daily
March, April, September and October – 9.00am until 5.00pm. Last admission 4.15pm. Admission charges apply 7 days a week.
Admission Prices: Concessionary day ticket £3.00.
Located on the peaceful banks of the Cherwell River, the gardens were started in 1621 as the Physic Gardens, for the study of medicinal plants. These are the oldest botanic gardens in Britain. In addition to the lovely outdoor gardens, there are greenhouses which grow many varieties of exotic plants and flowers. Just next to the gardens, crossing over Rose Lane, there are rose gardens that are exquisite in July.
Oxford Castle Quarter
The castle was originally built in 1071 for William the Conqueror, to enable the Normans to control the area. A prison was built within the castle, which continued to be in use until 1996.
The prison was mainly used to house prisoners from Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and also the University’s ‘rebellious scholars’ (as recorded in 1236). From 1613 until 1785, the prison and castle were owned by Christ Church, who leased the jail (gaol) to prison keepers. In 1785 it was redeveloped into a prison and house of correction, with a tower on which they held public executions. The last execution was in 1863.
A large, grassy mound, St. George’s Tower, and the base of a round tower still remain. On the site you will also find the Malmaison Hotel, several restaurants and an art gallery. Outdoor theatre performances feature regularly.
With its striking neoclassical dome looming over the neighboring Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Camera (or Radcliffe Room in Latin) is one of Oxford’s most iconic sights and one of the most photographed of all the university buildings. Funded by Royal physician John Radcliffe and designed by architect James Gibbs, the “Rad Cam” was completed in 1749 and was originally used as the university’s principal science library.
Today the Radcliffe Camera is part of the Bodleian Library complex and houses two reading rooms and an underground library, where about 600,000 English and history books are available for browsing. The interior of building is closed to the public except with guided tours, but the dramatic circular façade still draws crowds of daily visitors with its three tiers of Headington and Burford stone elaborately decorated and encircled with Corinthian columns.
The Radcliffe Camera is located in central Oxford, next door to the Bodleian Library, and is open to the public by guided tour only. The reading room is open for university students and tour visitors on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A favorite restaurant in Oxford. The restaurant is in a former Methodist church with reliably good food, with carefully sourced produce.
The editor’s favorite Chinese restaurant in the city, located in Summertown
The Magdalen Arms
Lovely pub in East Oxford which has been given the seal of approval in the Michelin Guide 2011 for serving “good food at reasonable prices”
Authentic French restaurant in Jericho
Authentic, well priced Italian restaurant, featuring an open-plan kitchen.
Friendly and bustling restaurant serving delicious and truly authentic home cooked style Japanese food & sushi at low prices in a cozy atmosphere
Beautiful thatched roof inn located on the edge of Port Meadow in Binsey. Warm fire in the winter, gorgeous garden in the summer.
The Big Bang
Quintessential British restaurant located in the beautiful Oxford Castle Quarter.
Fantastic family-friendly Italian restaurant in Summertown. Watch the pizza’s being made through the large kitchen window. New location in Jericho.
The Jam Factory
The Jam Factory is an arts centre, restaurant and bar situated in the west end of Oxford
Ashmolean Museum Beaumont Street Oxford
The Middle Shop, North Parade, Oxford
14 High Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire
48-51 Broad Street, Oxford (Blackwell’s)
91 Gloucester Green, Oxford
93 Gloucester Green Oxford
Waterstones, William Baker House Broad Street
203 Banbury Road Summertown
141/145 Cowley Road Oxford
Georginas Coffee Shop
Avenue 3, Covered Market, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Jacobs & Field
15 Old High Street, Headington, Oxford
Java & Co
Unit 1 Bush House, 35 New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Queens Lane Coffee House
40 High Street Oxford
Rick’s Chateau Gateau
88-90 Cowley Road Oxford
127 High Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire
6 – 7 Cornmarket Street Oxford
240 Banbury Road Oxford
71 London Road Headington
The Keen Bean
101 Cowley Road, Oxford
The Missing Bean
14 Turl Street Oxford
Zappi’s Bike Cafe
Upstairs at Bike Zone, 28-32 St Michael Street, Oxford
Bell and Compass
12 New Road Oxford
Dew Drop Inn
258 Banbury Road Oxford
Eagle & Child
49 Saint Giles, Oxford
39 Plantation Road Jericho Oxford
Head of the River
Folly Bridge, Oxford, Oxfordshire
130 Godstow Road, Wolvercote
Lamb & Flag
12 Saint Giles Oxford
Michel @ the George
1 Westway Botley Oxford
Mitre Restaurant & Pub
High Street Oxford
37 George Street Oxford
32 Marston Street Oxford
14 Gloucester Street, Oxford
Rose & Crown
14 North Parade Avenue, Oxford
The Black Boy
91 Old High St, Headington, Oxford
The Duke of Monmouth
260 Abingdon Road Oxford
The Gardeners Arms
8 North Parade Avenue Oxford
The Jolly Farmers
20 Paradise Street Oxford
The Magdalen Arms
243 Iffley Road, Oxford
The Old Tom
101 St Aldate’s, Oxford
The Oxford Retreat
1-2 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford
Binsey Lane Oxford
The Plough Inn
The Green, Wolvercote, Oxfordshire
7 South Street, Osney Island, Oxford
The Rickety Press
67 Cranham St, Oxford
The Royal Blenheim
13 St. Ebbes Street, Oxford
The Royal Oak
42-44 Woodstock Road, Oxford
The Swan and Castle
Oxford Castle, Oxford
The Turf Tavern
4-5 Bath Place Oxford
The Victoria Arms
Mill lane Old Marston Oxford
The White Horse
52 Broad Street Oxford
The White House
38 Abingdon Road, Oxford
195 Godstow Road Wolvercote, Oxford
12 St Andrew’s Road Headington Oxford