Walking around the city of Oxford is like walking around an open-air museum, with architectural treasures from every period since the Saxons. The centre of the city is dominated by Oxford University, which was founded in 1096 and has grown over the centuries. While most of the Oxford colleges that fill the city centre are not open to the public, Oxford is full of museums, historic libraries and interesting places that you can visit for free, all within easy walking distance of one another.
Dating from 1683, the Ashmolean is the oldest public museum in the world, it has treasures from all over the globe to rival the best London museums. Opened in 1863, a multimillion pound refurbishment portrays a modern and trendy experience.
Visit the Ashmolean Museum.
Opened in 1602, the Bodleian was the first library of legal deposit. Alongside its extensive collection, the Old Library and Radcliffe Camera are architectural masterpieces, while the new Weston Library hosts interesting, free exhibitions.
Visit the Bodleian Library.
The glasshouses alone in these 400 year old gardens contain more than 1,200 different plant species. Exploring the gardens alone is a pleasure, but there are also always lots of free activities including tree climbing!
Visit the Oxford Botanic Gardens.
Christ Ghurch Meadow
Located just behind the famous college and with great views of its buildings, this flood plain is a popular picnic spot and is always full of runners. You can easily spend a few hours walking along the river.
Visit Christ Church Meadow.
History of Science Museum
This museum contains thousands of interesting scientific objects, including some that belonged to Nostradamus. It has a fascinating Islamic collection, early photographic equipment, and a blackboard used by Einstein to explain why E=MC2.
Visit the History of Science Museum.
Holy Trinity Church Cemetary
Oxford is full of beautiful and atmospheric cemeteries, but this cemetery with the grave of C.S. Lewis is one of the best. The associate church also has an etched glass window featuring characters from his famous fantasy world of Narnia.
Visit the Holy Trinity Church.
Museum of Natural History
As well as being full of dinosaurs and stuffed animals, the building itself is a cathedral to nature. The architecture and design of the Neogothic glass-roofed building was designed by the Pre-Raphaelites as an instrument of teaching.
Visit the Museum of Natural History.
Oxford Castle and Prison
A Norman medieval castle, later converted into a prison, is now one of Oxford’s top tourist attraction. Today you can climb the Saxon tower, explore the underground crypts, and visit exhibitions about the history of the area.
Visit Oxford Castle and Prison.
Oxford Covered Market
Dating back to the 1770s, this has always been a place to buy fresh produce and pick up work from local artists. Many of the shops in the market today have been functioning for generations.
Visit the Oxford Covered Market.
Pitt Rivers Museum
Stepping inside is like travelling back in time over 100 years as it still has its original Victorian displays. It is crammed full of objects to discover, and object are uniquely displayed by use rather than culture or geography.
Visit the Pitt Rivers Museum.