Things to do and see in Oxford

Trinity Church (r)

Just across the road from the pub is Trinity Church, which was CS Lewis' parish church. It has an etched-glass window with scenes of Narnia. Lewis and his brother Warnie are buried in the church-yard. Free entry.

CS Lewis Nature Reserve

Lewis lived the other side of the ring-road from Headington Quarry, at a house called The Kilns. It is privately owned, but there is a nature reservejust behind it which is lovely for a walk. Lewis owned the nature reserve during his lifetime, but it is now owned by the local wildlife trust. Free entry.

Headington Quarry / Headington High Street

Headington High Street was where Cecil Sharp discovered Morris dancing. He was lying in bed with a cold and heard accordion music. Personally this would have made me burrow deeper under the covers, moaning, but Sharp manfully got out of bed and looked to see what was going on. He was excited to see a bunch of men covered in bells prancing around, who turned out to be the Morris side of Headington Quarry. And thus the Morris revival was born.

The accordionist was William Kimber, who is also buried in Trinity churchyard. His grave has a stone accordion and Morris bells on it.

The Headington Shark (s)

The Headington Shark (proper name Untitled 1986) is a rooftop sculpture at 2 New High Street, HeadingtonOxfordEngland, depicting an oversized shark embedded head-first in the roof of a house.  Free entry (public access).

Carfax Tower (C)

St Martin's Tower, popularly called "Carfax Tower", is on the northwest corner of Carfax. It is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin's Church and is now owned by Oxford City Council. It was the official City Church of Oxford, where the Mayor and Corporation were expected to worship, between about 1122 and 1896, when the main part of the church was demolished to make more room for road traffic. In 1896 the City Church was moved to All Saints Church in the High Street.

The Eagle and Child (D)

The pub where the Inklings (CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Warnie Lewis, and others) used to meet to read each other bits from their new books.

The Turf Tavern (E)

Lovely old pub in the back alleys of Oxford. This was where Bill Clinton famously didn't inhale.

The Bodleian Library (F)

Famous old library (former employer of Yvonne and Aung San Suu Kyi) - don't miss the Divinity Schools, which was the refectory in the Harry Potter films, and Duke Humfrey's Library, which is amazing.

The Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library with over 11 million items. Known to Oxford scholars as "Bodley" or simply "the Bod", under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 it is one of six legal deposit libraries for works published in the United Kingdom and under Irish Law it is entitled to request a copy of each book published in the Republic of Ireland. The Bodleian operates principally as a reference library and in general documents may not be removed from the reading rooms.

Uffington Castle - hillfort and chalk figure (O)

Uffington Castle is an iron age hillfort with a famous white horse chalk figure. If you go, be sure to take in Wayland's Smithy, which is a fairly short walk away. Free entry. Car required to get there.

Ashmolean Museum (Q)

Museum of art and archaeology. Don't miss the Alfred Jewel (gallery 44), the Sheldon Map, the Impressionists, and the Pre-Raphaelites. Free entry.

Pitt Rivers Museum (R)

Free entry. Museum of anthropology. Fascinating from a museological point of view as well as anthropological. Tools, musical instruments, clothing, weapons, and magical artefacts from all around the world, arranged by function.

Also, you have to walk through the Natural History Museum to get there, so don't miss the Red Lady of Paviland.

Museum of Natural History (S)

Free entry. Fossils, dinosaurs, fab Victorian building. Each pillar in the main hall is made from a different type of stone quarried in the UK.

Oxford Castle (T)

Be sure to go up the Castle Mound. Only costs £1, and has a really interesting surprise hidden at the top.

Christ Church Meadow (U)

Free entry. Lovely meadow behind Christ Church college. It has a view towards the "dreaming spires" which was painted by JMW Turner.

Botanical Gardens (V)

Beautiful and historic Botanical Gardens.

Rollright Stones (W)

The nearest stone circle to Oxford. Free entry. Car required to get there.

Port Meadow (X)

A very pretty large meadow to the north of Oxford, and the inspiration for the meadow where Alice went to sleep and disappeared down a rabbit hole.  At the far end of the meadow, you can find a lovely pub called the Trout at Godstow.

St Aloysius RC Church (Y) - the Oxford Oratory

First opened in 1875, this was the Catholic church attended by Oscar Wilde and JRR Tolkien. Lovely Romanesque style.

The Grand Café (l)

The first coffee house in ENGLAND, the second in Europe (after Vienna), founded by a Sephardic Jew in 1650, slightly before Jews were officially allowed back into England.

Queen's Lane Coffee House (Z)

The second coffee house in England (founded 1654), also founded by a Sephardic Jew.  Considerably cheaper than the Grand. (They are across the road from each other.)

Lamb and Flag Passage (a)

A handy short-cut between the Eagle and Child and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Lamb & Flag pub was also used by the Inklings for their weekly meetings, after the Eagle and Child pub changed hands.

Holywell Music Room (b)

The Holywell Music Room is the city of Oxford's chamber music hall, situated in Holywell Street in the city centre, is part of Wadham College. It is said to be the oldest purpose-built music room in Europe, and hence Britain's first concert hall.

It was built in 1748, designed by Dr Thomas Camplin, the vice-principal of St Edmund Hall. The auditorium includes an organ and U-shaped raked seating.

University Church of St Mary Virgin (c)

Official church of the University of Oxford, and a very beautiful church. Contains a plaque to the martyrs of the Reformation, both Catholic and Protestant. The Protestant ones were tried inside the church.

The Covered Market (d)

Lovely indoor market with lots of unique shops. You can get PieMinster pies here, too. Om nom nom.

The Sheldonian Theatre (e)

This is where the University's graduation ceremonies are held, as well as other events like talks and concerts. There is an amazing view of central Oxford from the cupola on the roof.

The Sheldonian Theatre was built from 1664 to 1668 after a design by Christopher Wren for the University of Oxford. The building is named after Gilbert Sheldon, chancellor of the University at the time and the project's main financial backer. It is used for music concerts, lectures and University ceremonies, but not for drama.

Museum of the History of Science (f)

Free entry. Museum of scientific instruments etc. One of the exhibits is a blackboard which Einstein wrote on.

Bridge of Sighs (g) - Hertford Bridge

The design of the Bridge of Sighs is based on the one in Venice (which was called that because it was the bridge between the courtroom and the prison).

Jane Burden blue plaque (h)

Plaque marking Jane Burden's birthplace. She was the wife of William Morris and a Pre-Raphaelite muse. She was painted by several different Pre-Raphaelite artists.

Blackwell's Bookshop (i)

HUGE bookshop, mainly serves the university. 

Radcliffe Camera (j)

Part of the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Camera was  designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in 1737–1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. It is sited to the south of the Old Bodleian, north of St. Mary's Church, and between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east.

Mr Tumnus - doorway (m)

Two carved and gilded fauns in a doorway, said to have inspired CS Lewis to invent the character of Mr Tumnus.

The Bear Inn (n)

The Bear Inn (or just "The Bear") is one of the oldest pubs in OxfordEngland, dating back to 1242. Its circa-17th century incarnation stands on the corner of Alfred Street and Blue Boar Street, opposite Bear Lane in the centre of Oxford, just north of Christ Church. It also has a huge collection of ties.

Merton College (q)

Tolkien's old college.

Merton College (in full: The House or College of Scholars of Merton in the University of Oxford) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the 1260s when Walter de Merton, chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for an independent academic community and established endowments to support it. The important feature of Walter's foundation was that this "college" was to be self-governing and the endowments were directly vested in the Warden and Fellows.

Check out our video: walking tour of medieval Oxford

Useful websites

Map of attractions

Pubs and eateries

Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry

The Headington Shark in 2009.

St Martin's tower (centre left) and the HSBC building (right), seen from the corner of High Street and St Aldate's
The Eagle and Child.jpg
The Eagle and Child
The Bodleian Library seen from Radcliffe Square

Aerial view of the White Horse

Oxford - Pitt Rivers Museum - 0269.jpg
Pitt Rivers Museum interior

View over Christ Church Meadow
Port Meadow sunset.jpg
Sunset over Port Meadow
Oxford Oratory (St Aloysius' RC Church)
View of the Holywell Music Room from 2008.

University Church of St Mary Virgin

Sheldonian Theatre

Old Ashmolean 2006.JPG
Museum of the History of Science
Jane Burden 
1 oxford bridge of sighs 2012.jpg
Hertford Bridge (Bridge of Sighs)
Radcliffe Camera
View of The Bear

Merton as seen from Broad Walk