26 Unique and Fun Things to Do in Oxford | 2024 (with Photos)

James A. Smith

James A. Smith - Chief Editor

Last Updated: March 28, 2024

Hey there! I'm James, a passionate traveler sharing my top recommendations for an unforgettable experience in Oxford. Discover unique activities and hidden gems to enhance your visit and make lasting memories in this vibrant city.

Unique and Fun Things to Do in Oxford

If you're planning on visiting Oxford, you're in for a treat. This historic city is home to one of the world's most prestigious universities and has a rich history that dates back to the 8th century.

From stunning architecture to world-renowned museums and picturesque parks, there's no shortage of things to do in Oxford.

In this article, team at the Travel-Lingual will explore 26 unique and fun things to do in the Oxford area and the surroundings, including historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities that showcase the best of Oxford's past and present.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Visit the Ashmolean Museum

Top Choice Hotel

The Randolph Hotel

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Spring or autumn for mild weather and fewer crowds.

Average Temperature

Cool and temperate, ranging between 3°C to 21°C.

Transportation Options

Buses, trains, taxis, bicycles are common transportation choices.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Explore the timeless charm of Oxford, UK, a city steeped in academia and history. Wander through the hallowed halls of its prestigious colleges, including the iconic Christ Church and Magdalen, where literary giants like Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien once roamed.

Stroll along the tranquil banks of the River Thames or punt along the scenic Cherwell, soaking in the picturesque scenery. Immerse yourself in the city's cultural richness at the Ashmolean Museum, home to a diverse collection spanning centuries of art and archaeology.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and a raincoat.
  2. Portable phone charger, a guidebook, and a reusable water bottle.

What Not to Miss

  1. Oxford University
  2. Christ Church Cathedral
  3. Covered Market
  4. Ashmolean Museum
  5. Bodleian Library

What to Avoid

  1. Avoid tourist traps and high street shopping chains.
  2. Avoid eating at chain restaurants and fast-food outlets.

1. Explore Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum is one of Oxford's top attractions, offering visitors a unique and immersive experience that's unlike anything else in the city.

Located in the heart of Oxford, the Pitt Rivers Anthropology and Archaeology Museum houses a vast collection of over 500,000 artifacts from around the world.

From intricate textiles and dazzling jewelry to intriguing musical instruments and more, the museum's exhibits are both fascinating and educational. Moreover, this fantastic place is a free museum.

As you explore the galleries, you'll learn about the diversity of human experience and how different societies have evolved. Don't miss the chance to visit the exceptional Pitt Rivers Museum while you're in Oxford.

2. Feel Royal at Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle

A visit to Oxford Castle is an experience that's not to be missed. The castle, which dates back to the 11th century, has been transformed into a unique tourist destination that allows visitors to explore at their own pace.

You can stroll around the castle's grounds and take in the stunning architecture, or climb the Saxon St. George's Tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

The Oxford Castle also offers guided tours that provide insight into its rich history and the role it has played in shaping Oxford. With so much to see and do, a visit to Oxford Castle is great fun for visitors of all ages.

3. Visit Oxford Christ Church College

Oxford Christ Church College

Oxford's Christ Church College is a beautiful and historic site that is well worth a visit. As one of the largest colleges at Oxford University, Christ Church boasts a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 16th century.

You can take a guided tour of the college's stunning architecture and beautiful gardens, including the Great Hall which was used as inspiration for Hogwarts' Hall in the Harry Potter films.

The college is also home to the famous Christ Church Cathedral, which features beautiful stained glass windows and impressive vaulted ceilings. Also, there is the nonetheless famous Christ Church Meadow.

4. Be Inspired at Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford is one of Oxford's world-class museums that is dedicated to showcasing contemporary art from around the world.

As one of Oxford's leading cultural destinations, the museum is home to an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by both established and emerging artists.

Art lovers visiting Modern Art Oxford can take in a diverse range of exhibitions and installations, which are designed to challenge and inspire. The museum's collection includes pieces from a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, film, and photography.

5. Visit the Story Museum

Story Museum

The Story Museum is a magical and immersive experience that's perfect for visitors of all ages. This unique museum is dedicated to celebrating literary history and offers visitors the chance to explore a range of interactive exhibits that bring classic tales to life.

You can take part in a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, explore a giant wardrobe, or climb through a magical story tree. In any case, here you can find many subtle literary references to many notable literary giants.

The museum also hosts a range of events and workshops throughout the year, including readings by famous authors and writing workshops for aspiring writers.

6. Experience an Academic Day at Oxford University

Oxford University

For those interested in academics and higher education, spending a day exploring Oxford University's colleges is a must-do. The university is made up of dozens of individual Oxford colleges, each with its unique history, architecture, and culture.

You can start your tour at New College Lane, which is home to several of the university's most famous colleges, including All Souls, University, and Balliol.

As you wander through the colleges, you'll see some of the university's most impressive architecture, including grand chapels, libraries, and halls. You'll also get a sense of the academic atmosphere that makes Oxford University one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

7. Stroll Along the River Thames

River Thames

Strolling along the River Thames flowing is a relaxing and enjoyable way to take in the natural beauty of Oxford. 

The river, known here as ‘the isis’ after its Latin name, runs through the city and offers travelers a scenic route that showcases the stunning architecture and landscapes of the area.

You can take a walk along the riverbank or hire a punt, a flat-bottomed boat, to navigate the waterway. For outdoor enthusiasts, a bike tour is always an option.

Along the way, you'll see some of Oxford's most famous landmarks, including the Radcliffe Camera, and the Oxford University Press building.

8. Discover Oxford Museum of Natural History

Oxford Museum of Natural History

If you're interested in natural history and science, a visit to the Oxford Museum of Natural History is highly recommended.

The natural science museum boasts an impressive collection of specimens from across the world, including fossils, minerals, and animal skeletons.

Explore the museum's many exhibits, which are designed to be educational and engaging, and learn about the fascinating scientific discoveries that have been made over the years.

The museum's collections are particularly noteworthy, with highlights including the world-famous Oxford Dodo and the Museum's unique collection of rock and mineral specimens.

9. Catch a Show at Ultimate Picture Palace

 at Ultimate Picture Palace

The Ultimate Picture Palace is a charming and historic cinema located in East Oxford. The cinema has been in operation since 1911 and has maintained its old-world charm while also incorporating modern amenities.

Catching a movie at the Ultimate Picture Palace is a perfect experience for cinephiles and anyone who appreciates the magic of the big screen. The cinema showcases a range of films, from classic favorites to new releases, and offers a comfortable and intimate viewing experience.

The cinema's location in the lively and vibrant area of Cowley Road also means that there are plenty of dining and entertainment options nearby, making it the perfect destination for a night out in Oxford.

10. Be a Wizard with Harry Potter Tours

Harry Potter Walking Tour

For Harry Potter fans, a Harry Potter locations tour is an absolute must-do when visiting Oxford.

The city is home to several locations used in the filming of the Harry Potter movies, including the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library, which was used as the Hogwarts Infirmary in the movies, and the New College Cloisters, which were used as the setting for several scenes in the films.

Taking a Harry Potter tour allows you to step into the magical world of Harry Potter and see some of your favorite locations and behind-the-scenes up close. You can even try your hand at some Harry Potter-themed activities, like making your wand or playing a game of Quidditch.

11. Explore Oxford Botanic Garden

Oxford Botanic Garden

The Oxford Botanic Garden is a stunning and peaceful oasis located in the heart of the city. The garden boasts an impressive collection of plants from around the world, including many rare and endangered species.

Once there, you can explore the garden's many pathways and discover a diverse range of plants, from towering trees to delicate flowers. 

The garden also hosts a range of events and exhibitions throughout the year, including talks, workshops, and art exhibits, making it a great destination for culture and nature enthusiasts alike.

With its tranquil atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, the Oxford Botanic Garden is the perfect place to relax and unwind, whether you're a visitor to the city or a local looking for a peaceful retreat.

12. Go to Broad Street for an Afternoon Tea

Broad Street

Broad Street is a bustling and lively area located in the Oxford city center. One of the best ways to experience the charm and atmosphere of this historic street is to stop for an afternoon tea at one of the many cafes and restaurants that line the street.

Indulge in a traditional English tea experience, complete with scones, clotted cream, and jam, while taking in the beautiful architecture and lively energy of the street. You can also enjoy people-watching and soaking up the local culture while enjoying your tea.

With its bustling atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, Broad Street is a destination for anyone looking for a true taste of Oxford's city centre.

13. Explore Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest and most renowned libraries in the world. The library is home to an impressive collection of rare and valuable books, manuscripts, and other documents, some of which date back centuries.

One of the highlights of the library is Duke Humfrey's Library, which is located within the Bodleian Library and is one of the oldest reading rooms in the world. The library boasts an impressive collection of medieval manuscripts and is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in history and literature.

Guided tours of the Bodleian Library are available, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the library's rich history and collections.

14. Pick a Souvenir from Alice's Shop

Alice's shop

Alice's Shop is a charming little store located in central Oxford and is the top destination for fans of the beloved novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" written by Lewis Carroll.

The shop is said to be the original inspiration for the "Old Sheep Shop" in the book, and visitors can browse a wide selection of Alice in Wonderland-themed souvenirs, including books, toys, and other memorabilia.

The shop also offers guided tours of Oxford that take you to behind-the-scenes locations that inspired places from the book, providing a fun and unique way to explore the city.

15. Drink at Oxford Artisan Distillery

Oxford Artisan Distillery

The Oxford Artisan Distillery is a unique and exciting destination for anyone interested in craft spirits and local food and drink.

The distillery is located in a historic building in the heart of Oxford and offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the distilling process and sample a range of delicious spirits made on-site.

Also, you can take a guided tour of the Oxford Artisan Distillery, which provides a fascinating insight into the history and culture of spirits production in the region. The distillery's bar is a great place to relax and enjoy a drink, with a selection of craft cocktails and locally-sourced food available.

16. Learn at Ashmolean Museum

Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum is one of the oldest and most prestigious museums in the world.

The museum is located in the heart of Oxford and is home to an impressive collection of art and artifacts from across the world, including ancient Egyptian artifacts, Modern China, and contemporary art.

The Ashmolean Museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Guided tours of the museum are available, providing travelers with a fascinating insight into Oxford's history and its collections.

17. Shop at Westgate Shopping Centre

Westgate Shopping Centre

Westgate Shopping Centre is a modern and stylish shopping destination located in the heart of Oxford and is for anyone looking for a fun and relaxing shopping experience.

The shopping center is home to a wide range of retailers, from high street brands to luxury boutiques, offering something for everyone in this covered market.

Enjoy a variety of dining options, from fast food to fine dining, as well as a cinema and other entertainment options. 

The shopping center is easily accessible by public transport and is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening with friends or family.

18. Find Magdalen College Chapel

Magdalen College Chapel

Magdalen College Chapel is a beautiful and historic building located in the heart of Oxford. The chapel is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful stained glass windows, which are a testament to the skill and artistry of the craftsmen who created them.

You are welcome to explore the chapel with a self-guided tour or take one with a guide, which provides a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the college and the city.

The chapel is also home to a renowned choir, which performs regularly and adds to the beauty and atmosphere of the space.

19. Sightsee at Hertford Bridge

Hertford Bridge

Hertford Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Sighs, is a picturesque and iconic Oxford landmark that connects two buildings of Hertford College.

The bridge's unique design and ornate decoration make it a popular destination for sightseeing and photography, and it has become one of the most recognizable features of Oxford's skyline.

Stroll along the famous bridge and take in the views of the city, or explore the nearby Trinity College gates, which are another popular Oxford landmark. Hertford Bridge is located in the heart of Oxford and is easily accessible by public transport or on foot.

20. Enjoy a City Sightseeing Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Oxford

A city sightseeing bus tour is a great way to explore Oxford and see all the top sights and landmarks at your own pace.

The tour provides an informative and entertaining commentary, giving you an insight into the city's rich history and culture, and pointing out all the must-see destinations along the way.

The buses run regularly throughout the day, and passengers can hop on and off at any of the designated stops to explore the city at their leisure.

The tour takes in many of Oxford's top sights, including Oxford University, the Bodleian Library, and the Christ Church College, as well as offering views of the picturesque countryside surrounding the city.

21. Take a Picture with the Headington Shark

Headington Shark

The Headington Shark is a unique and striking sculpture that has become a beloved Oxford landmark. Designed by sculptor John Buckley and installed on the roof of a home in Headington in 1986, the sculpture was initially intended to be a temporary installation.

However, it soon became a permanent fixture, attracting visitors from all over the world. The shark is a whimsical and irreverent work of art, and its installation sparked controversy at the time, with some residents of the neighborhood objecting to its presence.

Local journalist Bill Heine, who commissioned the sculpture, defended it as a piece of public art that provoked conversation and debate. Today, the Headington Shark is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Oxford's vibrant artistic community.

22. Participate in the Inspector Morse Tour

Visit Oxford Tours

The Inspector Morse tour is a walking tour that takes visitors on a journey through the city, exploring the locations that were featured in the popular television series "Inspector Morse".

The walking tour is led by knowledgeable guides who share interesting trivia and anecdotes about the show and the city's history. The guided tour includes stops at many of the iconic locations seen in the show, such as the Randolph Hotel.

One of the highlights of the tour is the "Dead Man's Walk", a narrow alleyway that featured prominently in an episode of the show.

23. Visit Exeter College

Exeter College

Exeter College is one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges at the University of Oxford. Founded in 1314, the college has a rich history and is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful gardens.

Explore the college's picturesque courtyards and walkways, and marvel at the impressive Gothic-style chapel.

The college is also famous for its connections to the "dreaming spires" of Oxford, a phrase coined by poet Matthew Arnold to describe the city's iconic skyline. The view of Oxford's dreaming ires from the top of Exeter College's tower is particularly breathtaking.

24. Climb the University Church of St Mary Tower

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

The tower of St. Mary's Church in Oxford offers stunning views of the city and is a destination for anyone interested in Oxford's history and architecture. The church is located in the heart of the city and has been a part of Oxford's skyline since the 13th century.

Climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower, where they will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

From the top of the tower of this University church, visitors can see many of Oxford's famous landmarks, including the Blenheim Palace where Winston Churchill was born, and the dreaming spires of various colleges. The climb to the top of the tower can be challenging, but the view is well worth the effort.

25. Rest at South Park

South Park

South Park is a large park located in Oxford with a variety of recreational activities to offer. It is a peaceful retreat as compared to some other university parks.

The park boasts a range of facilities including playgrounds, sports fields, and a picnic area. There are plenty of walking trails and open spaces for tourists and locals to enjoy. The park is particularly famous for its panoramic views of the city, and it is a great spot to watch the sunset.

This park in the city center is also home to the South Oxford Farmers and Community Market, which is a covered market that offers a variety of local produce, crafts, and food.

26. Participate in a Clue the Looking Glass

Clue the Looking Glass

If you're a fan of "Alice in Wonderland" written by Lewis Carroll, you won't want to miss the Clue the Looking Glass Escape Room in Oxford.

With a theme that follows the plot of the classic story, you will be transported to a magical world where you must use your wits to solve puzzles, decipher clues, and unlock hidden secrets to escape.

The Clue the Looking Glass is a fun and challenging experience that is perfect for groups, families, and friends looking for a unique and exciting activity in Oxford before afternoon tea.

So, put on your thinking cap, channel your inner Alice, and immerse yourself in this exciting escape room adventure.

FAQs: Unique and Fun Things to Do in Oxford

Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions relating to fun things to do in Oxford for all traveler types.

How can I have fun at Oxford?

There are numerous ways to have fun in Oxford, such as visiting renowned museums, exploring historic landmarks, taking Harry Potter tours, strolling along the River Thames, enjoying afternoon tea, participating in escape rooms, and much more.

How do I spend a day in Oxford?

You can spend a day in Oxford exploring some of its many amenities. All of them are relatively close and the most famous ones include the Modern Art Oxford Museum, Oxford University, Christ Church, and River Thames.

Is Oxford, United Kingdom worth visiting?

Yes, Oxford is definitely worth visiting. Whether you're a fan of literature or science, or just enjoy strolling around charming streets, Oxford has something for you. It's no wonder that Oxford remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in United Kingdom.

What is Oxford famous for?

Oxford is famous for its world-renowned Oxford University, which has produced countless notable alumni including world leaders, scientists, writers, and scholars. Additionally, Oxford has inspired many works of literature and film, including the beloved Harry Potter series.

Summing Up: Unique and Fun Things to Do in Oxford

As you can see, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Oxford. This is a city that truly captures the essence of English culture and tradition. From its stunning architecture to its world-class galleries, there's something for everyone.

One of the most quintessential Oxford experiences is enjoying a traditional afternoon tea. As we've shown you, the city is home to some of the best tea rooms and cafes in the country, serving up scones, cakes, and finger sandwiches with a side of charm and sophistication.

Whether you're a history buff, art enthusiast, or simply in search of a good cup of tea, Oxford won't disappoint you.

Pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and head to the city that has inspired generations of scholars, poets, and dreamers.