Fun things to do in Oxford

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Oxford

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    Folly Bridge to Iffley Lock

    by King_Golo Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    One of the nicest walks in Oxford takes you down river Thames towards Iffley Lock. It's approximately 3km long, if you start at Folly Bridge. You walk on the Thames Path, a hiking trail, all the way - and could go on until London, if you wish to do so.

    Starting on Folly Bridge, go down towards the river on the side opposite the city centre. First you will recognize many rowers on the river as well as their coaches accompanying them by bike on the same path you walk on. Further down the path you'll see the college's boathouses, one next to another. On your side of the river, only the modernist University College boathouse is found while on the other side of the river other colleges have their boathouses. Walking further, you will soon come to several smaller nature protection areas. Just behind Donnington Bridge, Iffley Meadows is one of them. In spring and summer, the meadow is in full bloom due to a number of rather rare plants growing there. From here, it's only a few steps further to Iffley Lock (if you don't get distracted at the Isis Boathouse!). Iffley Lock is still active today and boats passing through it are a common sight.

    Most people would stop their walk here, but I recommend going on a little further. Cross the river at Iffley Lock and follow the signs towards St. Mary's church in Iffley. It was built in the 12th century, but compared with other churches from that time is rather undecorated. Nevertheless, it is a nice little sight that hardly any tourist visits.

    From Iffley's church, you can either walk back the same way, or go on through the village with its nice old houses, among them even some with a thatched roof.

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    Iffley Road Stadium

    by etfromnc Written Jul 15, 2013

    The Sir Roger Bannister athletics track at Iffley Road Stadium is a competition standard 400 meter UKA accredited track. Surrounding the track is seating on the home straight for spectators, infield for competition, shot area, hammer cage, high jump, long jump, and pole vault facilities. The grandstand has changing and shower facilities for competitors.

    Iffley Road was the scene of one of the greatest sporting achievements in the 20th century – the breaking of the four-minute mile. Medical student and physiologist Roger Bannister broke through the ‘cement wall’ on 6 May 1954, completing the mile race in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.

    At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, then 25-year-old Bannister set the British record in the 1500 meters, but he did not win the gold; he didn't even win a medal.

    The loss almost caused him to give up running and get on with his dream of becoming a physician. Instead he set a goal: to become the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. His prior best? 4:07.8

    He increased his training. On May 2, 1953, he made his first attempt and fell short (4:03.6). He tried again a month later, this time finishing in 4:02.

    About 3,000 spectators were at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford on that much heralded day in 1954 to witness a meet between Banister's British AAA and Oxford. The winds were blowing so hard Bannister decided not to run, but when they subsided he changed his mind.Tucked in behind teammates Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, Bannister ran masterfully, tactically. He began his finishing kick with 275 yards to go and finished far ahead of the field of six runners. When the stadium announcer Norris McWhirter (who went on to gain fame himself) dramatically announced the winning time, he was drowned out just after saying "... three..." The time was 3:59.4.

    Bannister's record lasted only 46 days and he did return to his studies and became a relatively well known neurologist, and perhaps the most famous miler ever.

    But what about me? If you are so inclined, you can run on the track named after Sir Roger and in the same location where he ran his record-breaker but the track is much more modern than the one on which he ran 59 years ago. A one day pass will cost you 3 pounds 25 or an annual membership goes for 39 pounds 50. Oxford students and staff receive free membership.

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    Good view over Oxford

    by King_Golo Updated Apr 10, 2013

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    For a very nice view over Oxford you might want to visit South Park (ca. 20min away from the city centre). This park stretches up on a hill between Headington Road and Morrell Avenue and thus provides a great and unhindered view over the "city of dreaming spires" as Oxford is often called. You can see Magdalen College, St. Mary the Virgin, Radcliffe Camera and many more of the city's towers and landmarks. The view should be especially beautiful at sunset when the sun sets just behind the silhouette of the city centre.

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    Enjoy the architecture....look up!

    by leics Written Mar 10, 2013

    I don't mean the wonderful architecture of the Medieval colleages, nor the classic architecture of later university buildings such as the Radcliffe Camera.

    I just mean the ordinary architecture of Oxford' city centre. Not the modern stuff..I'm afraid some of that is truly horrible. Town planners too often have little taste and less vision. But some of Oxford's buildings from the 1700s and 1800s, and some from even earlier, still remain.....though you'll often have to look above the plate-glass frontages of businesses below.

    Cornmarket is a good example of this. Look above KFC and The Works and all the other busy shops and cafes and you'll see a hugely variable roofline, with buildings from many different periods.

    Or walk the narrow side-streets, away from the crowds.

    There is more to central historical Oxford than its colleges.

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    World's Oldest Piece of Meat

    by leigh767 Updated Mar 8, 2013

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    While the architecture of Oxfordshire provide a great source of fascination, don't forget to look around you for quirky things. Inside the Oxford town market just along High Street, there is a butcher's shop (called Brown's, I think) that displays the world's oldest piece of meat, still intact and somewhat gruesome at the grand old age of 100+ years. It is only so well preserved because the piece of meat became infected with a certain disease-- the finer details escape me.

    I think I was too busy gaping at the meat itself...

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    Town

    by solopes Updated Oct 27, 2011

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    We had a quick look of the city, with most of our short time dedicated to the university. That gave us the idea that the city lives to and around the university.

    Wrong idea? Maybe, but only a less pressed visit will allow to check.

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    Iffley Meadows and Aston's Eyot

    by King_Golo Updated Jul 10, 2011

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    One of the main reasons why I love Oxford is the fact that the city is so green. Not only does every college have its quad and garden(s), not only are there several beautiful parks scattered all over the city, but there are also many nature reserves that are just lovely if you are looking for a quiet place to relax and watch the clouds pass by. Iffley Meadows is my favourite for this pastime - a huge unkempt meadow dotted with hundreds of thousands of buttercups in spring, surrounded by old windswept willows. Aston's Eyot, on the other side of the Thames just opposite one of the boathouses, is an even wilder strip of nature. A few paths lead through this wasteland which is a habitat for birds and other animals (even deer!), partly overgrown by shrubs and trees. You can find many a tranquil place here in case Oxford's more touristy parts start to annoy you. I very much enjoy grabbing a good book and finding a place next to the river where I'm not disturbed by anybody.

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    Guided Walking Tour of Oxford

    by iblatt Updated Jun 25, 2011

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    We took a 2-hour guided walking tour of Oxford on our first day there. Several companies and individuals offer such tours, and we chose the one organized by the Oxford Tourist Information Centre (TIC) because we felt more confident booking the tour at the official tourist information bureau.

    The group was not too big (about 15) and multi-national. The guide was a very nice lady who was very knowledgeable about every building and every piece of history, an Oxford resident who could also give us her personal perspective, which was interesting. In somewhat over two hours we got a good grasp of central Oxford, its history, its architecture, but also about university rules and traditions and the social life of the colleges.

    During most of the tour we only saw the buildings' exterior, but we also entered two colleges, St John's and Wadham, and toured them at a leisurely, enjoyable pace.
    This was a very good introduction to Oxford.

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    Hot-air Ballooning over Oxford

    by King_Golo Updated May 8, 2011

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    This might not be something that the average Oxford visitor does, but it's definitely worth it: see one of the world's most beautiful cities from above. Really high above - from a hot-air balloon! My wife and I were given a voucher for a flight for our wedding, and it turned out to be one of the best presents ever. Our flight took place in mid-April on a beautiful sunny day. We left the ground in a small village south of Oxford after unfolding the giant balloon, filling it with hot air and being briefed by John, the pilot. Soon the fields and meadows, the villages and church spires, the streets and forests were way beneath us and we enjoyed a marvellous 360° vista. The rape fields were in full bloom, the sun illuminated the south English countryside which I have come to like so much - it really was a dream come true. Some kilometres away we could see Oxford. The "City of Dreaming Spires" looked as lovely from above as it does from ground level - but we could see everything at once. The huge spire of St. Mary the Virgin was easily discernible, around it the numerous college buildings with Christ Church's Tom Tower another well-known sight. Even my own college, Exeter, could be seen. Unfortunately, due to lack of wind we didn't actually move very far. Only 1.5 km away from where we started did we go down again. We landed on a pasture only to find that its gate was locked. The rest of the balloon team started to ask the village inhabitants if they had the key for the lock and eventually were lucky. We folded the balloon together and stuffed it into its box. Incredibly, it did fit in. Back to the meadow we started from, a glass of champagne and a certificate that we had done our balloon flight, and a great day was over.

    Several balloon companies operate around Oxford, but we chose Oxford Balloon. They use a balloon for 6 people which ensures that it's not as crowded as in larger balloons that can transport up to 16 people. Prices range from £125 to £145 per person, depending on how many people book at the same time. The way the balloon takes is entirely dependent on the wind strength and direction. Despite our wish to "really" see Oxford from above, we could only see it from some kilometres away (which, thanks to my 420mm zoom, was not so much of a problem). But the flight was nonetheless one of the best experiences in my life!

    See more pictures in my travelogue!

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    Oxford Walking Tours

    by aaaarrgh Written Apr 26, 2011

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    Despite being born near Oxford I've never been on a guided tour of the city ...until now. I chose 'Oxford Walking Tours' because they have a clear, easily accessible webpage of information and also have hourly tours at the weekend. 'Oxford Walking Tours' are not run by the Tourist Information Office, but by a dapper guy called Stuart. Each tour takes about 1 and half hours and the price includes admission to a few Oxford colleges (dependant on which ones are open on that date/time).

    My tour was on a busy Saturday lunchtime but we soon found ourselves in the quiet, leafy back streets. We were taken into New College (not new at all, includes some very intact medieval city walls) and University College (the oldest college, not open to the general public). Stuart was certainly very interesting, knew a great deal about the Oxford college system and also seemed to know more about Harry Potter than was healthy for a man of his age!!

    All in all I was not disappointed. If I had one criticism it would be that the tour group was quite large (28) and would have been more enjoyable if a bit smaller and more manageable. Avoid busy bank holiday weekends!

    But as Stuart pointed out, vehicles are not allowed into the oldest parts, certainly not double-decker tour buses; walking the old streets of Oxford is the best way to see the city!

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    Museum of Modern Art, Oxford

    by aaaarrgh Updated Apr 26, 2011

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    This is a tip-top centre for exhibitions of 'cutting edge' modern art. It has been in existence for 40 years and I have been visiting for at least 25 of them! The exhibitions are generally of national and international standard. Several large galleries on various levels, plus a large shop for books, magazines and souvenirs. And a pleasant coffee shop in the basement.

    Check their website to see what is on.

    FREE ADMISSION. GENERALLY OPEN 10am to 5pm (to 7pm weekends). CLOSED MONDAYS.

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    Rainbow Medley Bridge

    by mickeyboy07 Written Apr 26, 2011

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    Is a pedestrian bridge across the River Thames in the village of Binsey in Oxford.The bridge joins the West Bank to Fidlers Island in the stream.It was erected by public subscription through the exertion and shrievalty of Henry Grant Esqiure in 1865.
    The name 'Medley'for the West Bank of the Thames designates the 'middle' island between Osney and Binsey.

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    The Queen's College

    by iblatt Updated Apr 20, 2011

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    Queen's College was founded as “Hall of the Queen’s Scholars at Oxford" in 1341.
    It contains several 17th and 18th century buildings which are said to be magnificent.

    Unfortunately, it is generally closed to visiitors, ans I could just enter the gate and get an impression (and some photos) of the quad and chapel.

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    Ancient City Wall

    by iblatt Updated Apr 19, 2011

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    The Oxford city wall dates from the 12th century.
    You can best appreciate it when visiting the gardens of New College. The founder of New College took upon himself the commitment to maintain the city wall, and this has been perpetuated to this very day (like so many other Oxford traditions).
    Every three years the Lord Mayor of oxford walks around the wall to assure its good maintenance.

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    New College

    by iblatt Updated Apr 19, 2011

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    This is one of the most impressive colleges which I visited. The name is misleading: The college was "new" in the year 1379, not today! It was founded in the 14th century by William of Wykeham to supply new clergymen ans statesmen after the ravages of the Black Death.
    One claim to fame of New College is that it was the first to be built around a quadrangle. You enter this front quad as soon as you pass the porter's lodge. The chapel, hall, libraries and sleeping quarters are all arranged around this quad, a novel concept at the time.

    The cloisters, built in 1400, are peaceful ane atmospheric. During my visit a group of student was rehearsing a play on the cloister lawn, which added to my experience. For Harry Potter fans, a scene from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was filmed here.

    The chapel is one of the more impressive in Oxford, with rows of marble sculpted saints coveringthe altar wall, and a beautiful organ at the other end. It also boasts a painting by El Greco. At the entrance there is a very unusual and eloquent sculpture of Lazarus by Sir Jacob Epstein.
    Evening service is sung in the chapel daily during university term at 6:15pm (Sundays: 6pm).

    The gardens of New College are large and beautiful, surrounded at their end by the ancient city wall. A decorative mound (an Elizabethan garden feature) was created in the center.

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