Fun things to do in Oxford

  • The 'Cottages'
    The 'Cottages'
    by JoostvandenVondel
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    Fellow's Garden
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Oxford

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    Merton Street, the film star

    by evaanna Updated Jul 28, 2006

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    Merton Street is well worth the short walk from the High Street via Oriel Street or Magpie Lane. It has been saved from modern development, keeping the old cobbled road surface, traditional streetlights, and no poles, wires or TV aerials, and very restricted traffic. That is why it has often been used for film sets in period films, such as 'American Friends' (1991), 'Black Beauty' (1994), 'Oscar and Lucinda' (1996), 'Iris' (2001).
    The west end of the street is closed by a classical gatehouse, the exit from the college of Christ Church. There are two other colleges facing the street: Corpus Christi (founded 1517) and Merton College and its chapel (1264), which looks like a fortress with its high walls, battlements and gatehouse. There is a beautiful carving above the entrance showing a woodland scene with animals. The colleges are generally open to visitors in the afternoons. Apart from the colleges, you can see several medieval houses there and round the corner at the far end of Merton Street the imposing 'examination schools' where students take their university exams.
    You can leave Merton Street area through the wrought-iron gateway leading to Christ Church Meadow.

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    • Architecture

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    Concerts at the Holywell Music Room

    by evaanna Updated Jul 31, 2006

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    If you are a music lover and happen to stay in Oxford on a Sunday, consider visiting the Holywell Music Room to attend one of the coffee concerts held here nearly every Sunday at 11.15 a.m.
    The Holywell Music Room is the oldest purpose built music hall in Europe, dating back to 1748 and famous for its elegance and excellent acoustics. However, its audience have not always been so sophisticated and civilised as they are today. In 1775-6, Oxford's Musical Society had to protest against dogs following their masters into the concert hall and another time John Baptist Malchair's violin was damaged by an orange thrown at the orchestra. J.B. Malchair is one of the many celebrities associated with the Holywell Music Room - a musician and composer, he was also one of the first collectors of folk melodies, transcribed by him from tunes played or sung by buskers.
    Tickets for the coffee concerts can be obtained via the Internet, which is the cheapest way or over the phone. Unfortunately, I have never attended any of their concerts but my friend's husband, a great chamber music lover, is their regular patron.
    If, for some reason, you should fail to obtain the ticket, find out if there are any concerts held at Christ Church Cathedral - I have been to a few and remember them as great experience. Those, however, are usually held on weekday evenings.

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    The Ox of Oxford

    by evaanna Updated Jul 31, 2006

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    Oxford has got its ox at last! Standing proudly in front of the new building of the Said Business School, it welcomes to Oxford all tourists arriving by train, as the bronze sculpture is situated just opposite the Railway Station. Perhaps I don't know enough about oxen but its elongated body with its longish tail up, as if in anger, belies the mild, almost childish expression of its face and makes me wonder if it might be just an innocent precocious baby ox wagging its tail as dogs do to welcome you.
    The sculpture by Olivia Musgrave was commissioned by the Said Business School in 2002.

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    Museum of the History of Science

    by evaanna Updated Aug 1, 2006

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    Though not as popular as the other historic places of Oxford, the Museum of the History of Science is certainly worthy of a visit. Occupying the original building of the world's oldest museum open to general public, the Old Ashmolean, the museum is a department of the University of Oxford and displays a wide range of instruments used throughout the ages in most fields of science, such as astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry and medicine. The most famous of its exhibits are the blackboard with Einstein's handwriting and North African astrolabes dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries.
    To see more of the exhibits, visit their website.
    Open Tuesday to Saturday - 12 noon to 4 p.m., Sunday - 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    Admission free.
    Disabled access.

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    Boat trip to Abingdon

    by evaanna Updated Dec 19, 2005

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    When you have seen all the colleges and got tired of the hustle and bustle of Oxford, it might be relaxing to go on a boat trip on the Isis, which is the local name for this part of the Thames. The meadows offer lovely views, the wildfowl carefully avoid your boat but keep nearby in case you feed them any crumbs and you can see some interesting locks on the way.
    People from the often beautifully decorated narrowboats wave to you as they pass. On the way back it may be interesting to get off at Iffley Lock and see the mediaeval church at Iffley. (see the off-the-beaten-path tip).

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    • Birdwatching

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    Brassnose College

    by jo104 Updated Aug 4, 2008

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    This college is said to get its name from a brass door knocker shaped like a pigs snout and said to bring good luck. It was stolen in 1334 by a group of Linconshire students and in 1890 it was returned to the college by the purchase of Brassnose House in Stamford. The knocker no longer hangs outside for fear of another theft but hangs in the dining hall above the high table.

    David Cameron was a graduate of Brassnose college, this college celebrates is 500th year in 2009

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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.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Oxford Canal

    by mickeyboy07 Written Aug 3, 2009

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    The picturesque Oxford Canal meanders slowly through 77 miles of classic scenery,much of which has barely changed in centuries.The canal is one of Englands most peaceful waterways,running lazily through countryside from Oxford to Coventry.It was briefly the principal water-way from London to the Midlands,but was super seded soon after construction by the more direct Grand Junction Canal,now the Grand Union.
    Consequently,the Oxford Canal has escaped large scale development and few towns have sprung up on its banks.The southern section is particulary charming and remains largely unaltered.The canal has many interests such as boating,fishing,swimming and walks.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Water Sports
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Punting

    by Imbi Updated Oct 15, 2003

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    The rural setting around the city of Oxford provides ample opportunity for tourist to enjoy the English Countryside. few tourists enjoy punting on the Cherwell River north of town. Although there is plenty to do in and around Oxford...
    A favourite starting off point for punting is from the Magdalen Bridge, where you can hire boats for around £10 an hour.

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    Bridge of Sighs

    by Imbi Updated Oct 15, 2003

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    The main buildings at Hertford College are linked together by a corridor called the "Bridge of Sighs," built in 1913-14 and named after the Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice.
    This also looks similar to Ponte dei Sospiri.
    Do not miss the chance to compare both of the bridges.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    BOTANIC GARDEN

    by Imbi Written Oct 15, 2003

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    Begun in 1621, this is Britain's oldest botanic garden. In two hectares it has 8000 plant species. Tropical glasshouses are open from 10am-4pm. Free entry except from April to August, when there is a small charge.
    Open daily 9am-4.30pm (last entry 4.15pm)

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    Carfax Tower

    by Imbi Written Oct 14, 2003

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    Carfax Tower, located on St Aldates Street, is at the very heart of Oxford and is a good place to start for seeing the sights.

    The Tower dates from the 13th century and is the only surviving part of what was originally St Martin's Church.

    On the east face of the tower there is a fascinating clock, a replica of the original church clock. As part of the clock's mechanism two figures, known as the "quarterboys", strike a bell every quarter hour.

    If you are fit enough you can climb to the top of Carfax Tower for some excellent views across the city, well worth it on a clear day.

    Carfax Tower is open daily, but opening hours vary according to season so check in advance. Admission costs around £1.50 for adults.

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    Christ Church Tome Gate

    by Imbi Updated Oct 14, 2003

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    Christ Church is one of the largest and wealthiest of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
    It is the only college which is also a cathedral (the smallest in England, and the seat of the Bishop of Oxford) and its corporate title is "The Dean, Chapter and Students of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry VIII".

    Opening Times
    Monday to Saturday: 9:00 – 5.30 pm
    Sundays: Middy – 5.30 pm

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    Museum of Oxford

    by Imbi Updated Oct 14, 2003

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    The Museum of Oxford is an excellent local history museum, telling the story of Oxford's past from prehistory right up until the present day.

    With interesting exhibitions covering Oxford's religious, academic and industrial pasts, this is the place to go for anyone interested in finding out more about Oxford's heritage.

    The entrance to the museum is found on Blue Boar Lane, round the corner from Oxford's Town Hall.

    The Museum of Oxford is open daily from 10am to 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays. Admission is free, but tours cost around £1.50 for adults.

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    Sheldonian Theatre

    by Imbi Updated Oct 14, 2003

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    Designed by Christopher Wren, this is where the students graduate. The gargoyles staring out at you are authentic 1970’s (the old ones decayed), but inside the building is impressive. Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling – someone’s painted it. Also home to the occasional concert.

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