Oxford is the ideal destination for every history buff and all art lovers out there. Besides its magnificent architecture in Gothic and Baroque style, for which it was named the City of Dreaming Spires, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, and remarkable history that spans 1,000 years, Oxford is a city that will tick many boxes on your list. Even when the sun sets, there are tons of fun things to do, whether you are traveling solo, with your friends, or with your family.
Tons of students arrive each year looking to establish their careers in the best university in the world. Hence, the nightlife in Oxford is diverse offering not only students but locals and tourists more fun things to do at night than just the regular wine bar. From fun world-class museums, like the Oxford Museum, the Story Museum and the Museum of Natural History to intriguing Oxford sights and colleges, board games, comedy nights and art lessons, your nights in Oxford will never be boring.
But don't let your briefcases, bags, or even shopping purchases slow you down on your night adventure. A luggage locker in Oxford is just the place to stow your things. Don't be weighed down; have fun and explore instead!
Oxford University has 37 colleges and Christ Church is one of the best known. Harry Potter made it even more popular as many scenes were filmed in the college. Founded in the 16th century by King Henry VIII, Christ Church college takes you on a history trip when you walk through its halls where famous author Lewis Carroll walked, along with many world leaders.
The college is also home to Christ Church Cathedral built in the 12th century and has its own choir. In Oxford, you can attend Evensong at many of the colleges and at Christ Church Cathedral it starts at 6pm. Tickets are not required and the service lasts about 45 minutes.
Just outside the college are the Memorial Gardens and Christ Church Meadow, which you can enjoy more so during the day since they are popular spots for picnicking.
Location: St Aldate's, Oxford OX1 1DP, United Kingdom
Harry Potter Filming Locations
Walking around Oxford University feels a lot like one of the Harry Potter films, no doubt about that. So, if you are a Harry Potter fan, you are in for a treat. In Oxford, you can either book a tour to visit all of the filming locations or create a self-guided tour yourself.
Divinity School is the setting for the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts, and the cloisters within New College are where they filmed the scene of Harry and his friends walking in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Hogwarts Library in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is actually Duke Humfrey’s Library which is part of the Bodleian Library, one of the largest libraries in the world.
Bodley Tower staircase at Christ Church is part of many scenes in the movies as is the Great Hall which is Hogwarts dining hall. Prior to getting to the filming locations make sure to check the opening and closing hours of the Colleges.
Located near central Oxford is the Jericho neighborhood oozing a bohemian vibe. This laid-back area is the place to be at night where many events take place. Jericho is packed with restaurants, cafes, taverns and bars and is always crowded.
Walking the streets of Jericho you will hear live music coming from many of the bars and taverns. Find Raoul's Bar, one of the best places in Jericho with a great atmosphere and great drinks. Or look for Jericho Tavern, if you are a fan of 90's alternative rock. This venue has been a host to many famous bands including Radiohead, which performed their first gig here.
Other popular options to check on your night out in Jericho include Freud, a café and bar housed in a former church, and the modern Angels Cocktail Bar. But In Jericho, you will find a place you'll fancy on each corner. To learn more about Jericho, read our informative neighborhood guide, here.
A visit to Oxford is not complete if you don't stop by the Turf Tavern. This cool pub is 4 centuries old but is still a popular hang-out spot for locals and students alike. Tourists are welcome too of course, but it's a bit tricky to find. Walk down the St. Helen's Passage near the famous Bridge of Sighs, the tavern is well hidden among ancient and magnificent buildings.
Turf Tavern has a long history and former regulars were names like Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Taylor, C.S. Lewis, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton who studied at Oxford University. Bring your friends along for a fun night out with a pint and fish and chips or one of Jeff's beverage specials and enjoy the large outdoor space like the locals do.
Location: 4 Holywell St, Oxford OX1 3SU, United Kingdom
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-11pm
Oxford Castle and Prison
Among the unusual things to do in Oxford at night is visiting the Oxford Castle and Prison. The Norman medieval castle is 1,000 years old and people that enjoy dark history will find this place a treat. Admission is only via guided tour, but make sure you book in advance as both the castle and the prison are quite popular and with limited capacity.
Climb St George’s Tower, one of the oldest stone structures in England where you can enjoy panoramic views of the City of Dreaming Spires. Keep in mind that children under 5 years of age won't be able to access the tower due to safety regulations.
The tour also includes a visit to the nearly century-old crypt where education in Oxford began. Learn about the horrors and prisoners of the Debtor's Tower and the Prison D-Wing. Once you leave Oxford prison you will appreciate you are alive and free.
Location: 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY, United Kingdom
Hours: Monday -Sunday: First tour starts at 10am, last tour starts at 5pm
If you are up for a night out in the theatre head down to Oxford Playhouse. Located on Beaumont Street, near Ashmolean Museum, this independent theatre will keep you entertained with a range of fantastic shows, from drama, dance and poetry, to comedy, live and family performances.
The theatre was built in the 1930s, has a capacity of 663 seats, and service is known to be friendly and professional. There is no doubt you will have a good time in the Oxford Playhouse.
Location: 11-12 Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2LW, UK
Hours: Monday-Saturday 12pm-6pm; Closed on Sundays
Going to comedy clubs is part of Oxford nightlife, and the Glee Club is one of the best. Located within The Bullingdon on Cowley Road, Glee Club is where you get to laugh your head off with their "Best In Live Stand-up Comedy" shows every Saturday night. Tickets go for about $20 and students get discounts.
The shows feature different comedians every weekend. Famous comedians used to perform in Glee Club in preparation for their arena tours. The place opened in 2010 and is part of 5 Glee Clubs in the UK, the latest being Glee Club Glasgow.
Location: The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1UE, United Kingdom
Hours: Saturday 6.30pm-11pm
If you are into board games, visiting Oxford will not be complete if you don't stop by England’s first board game café, the Thirsty Meeples. This is where you come if you want to have a different kind of fun than the usual Saturday night out. With over 2,500 games and a lovely atmosphere, all you need to do is bring your friends or family along and show your competitive side!
If you are traveling alone, don't despair! Every Tuesday they have open gaming nights where you can go on your own and make some new friends. Located in the city centre, you will find this cafe-style hangout near Gloucester Green Market.
Location: 97-98, Oxford OX1 2DF, United Kingdom
Hours: Monday-Friday 11am-12 am; Saturday-Sunday 10am-12am
Just a two-minute walk from the University of Oxford Botanic Garden is Magdalen College, founded in 1458. Here you will see some of the most beautiful buildings in Oxford, ancient and modern. Set on 100 acres of land, including the deer park and Addison’s riverside walk, this College is known to be one of the best colleges at the University of Oxford.
But what makes it even more special is the Evensong service. This 40-minute choral service is an excellent way to get a glimpse into college life and enjoy angelic music of a wide range of anthems and psalm chants. Late-night Evensongs start at 6pm and 9pm. If you happen to be there on the Sunday Choral Evensong, you can enjoy refreshments in the Antechapel.
Oxford college chapels welcome all visitors to attend their services. You don't have to be religious to attend an Evensong in the Magdalen chapel, but you will surely enjoy it.
Location: A420, Oxford OX1 4AU, United Kingdom
When you visit Oxford at night, a ghost tour is a must. But only if you are into eery stuff. There are many ghost tours and the last ones usually start at 10pm. These tours last about an hour and a half and involve walking around Oxford at night being guided into dark alleyways accompanied by a guide who tells tales of mysterious happenings, murders, and the dark side of Oxford, bringing you back in time.
Find out how Dead Man’s Walk got its name, learn all about Oxford's famous ghosts, and more! Keep in mind that these tours might not be for the faint-hearted. It will be hard to fall asleep after listening to horror stories for 90 minutes!
Ultimate Picture Palace
If you love your movies you should start your night at the Ultimate Picture Palace. Located just off Cowley Road, the cinema has only one screen set in a cozy auditorium. Built in 1911, this is one of the oldest cinemas in the UK, featuring art deco style and has the original box office window, so it will be quite a change from the massive cinemas in the big cities.
They show a great selection of movies from classics to mainstream and foreign language. Grab a drink and a snack from the small bar before the movie starts and enjoy your movie night in Oxford with your favorite people.
Location: Address: Jeune Street, Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1BN
Hours: Monday&Tuesday 5.30pm - 11pm; Wednesday-Sunday 3pm-11pm
Pitt Rivers Museum
Looking for free things to do in Oxford? Pitt Rivers is located near the Oxford Museum of Natural History within Oxford University. The Museum houses collections, artifacts, and exhibits from around the world and from different periods of history. Spread across three floors, there is enough to keep you entertained for hours.
It is impossible to see everything in one visit, but since it's a free museum, you can visit anytime you want.
Location: South Parks Rd, Oxford, OX1 3PP
Hours: Monday 12am - 5 pm; Tuesday-Sunday 10am - 5pm
See Oxford Colleges and More
Oxford nightlife is exciting every day of the week. Even if you just walk aimlessly in Jericho, meander along Oxford High Street or people watch in Radcliffe Square, you'll surely find something fun to do!