Oxford Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know5 February, 2021by Bounce
Oxford and its dreaming spires are known around the world. Not bad for a town that started life as a ford across the river where farmers could drive their oxen. Modern Oxford has origins that go back to the ninth century at least. But nowadays, the city is one of the most visited and best-known in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Mostly, that's due to the presence of Oxford University. Founded in the twelfth century, Oxford University has been one of the world's premier centers of learning and research ever since. To this day, the ancient colleges of the University are the city's main attractions. They are also a significant contributor to the local economy.
Whatever brings you to Oxford, you’ll find plenty to do in this famous town. Drop off your bags at an Oxford suitcase storage service and begin exploring for yourself.
A weekend in Oxford
A weekend in Oxford gives you enough time to see some of the city's best-known attractions. While you may be only scratching the surface of what the city has to offer, you can get a sense of the atmosphere of the town in just a couple of days.
Visit the world's oldest University Museum at the Ashmolean. The main building dates back to 1845, but the museum itself was founded more than 300 years ago. Home to an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts, the museum also contains work by Picasso, Cézanne, Leonardo da Vinci, and the world's only brand-new Stradivarius violin.
Go punting on the river Cherwell. Explore the city from the water the way generations of students have done: in a flat bottomed boat propelled by a pole. Drop off your bags at an Oxford luggage locker and take part in this age-old tradition.
Visit one of Europe's oldest libraries at the Bodleian Library. Housed in an impressive Gothic building, the library is worth visiting for the architecture alone. It's the perfect place to bask in the scholarly atmosphere Oxford is famous for.
The presence of the University brings tourists and academics alike to Oxford from around the world. Plus, the city is home to the thousands of students studying at the University. As a result, Oxford's ancient medieval heart can get very crowded, especially in the summer months. Drop off your unneeded bags at a bag storage shop in Oxford to make your trip easier on yourself. The lighter you travel, the more you will be able to see.
Off the beaten path in Oxford
Oxford gets plenty of tourists. However, it has enough quirky attractions that if you're looking to escape the crowds, you can still find plenty to do that lies off the beaten path. Leave your belongings behind with an Oxford luggage storage service and explore some of these lesser-known attractions.
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden was laid out in 1621. Home to 8,000 different plant species, the garden is a perfect place to take a break from the city and get some fresh air.
Go for a walk along the Thames Path, and you'll feel as though you're a long way from the city. Designated as a national trail, this path lets you explore the countryside outside of Oxford and visit some of the quaint villages in the area.
Listen to evensong in a college chapel. You don't need to be religious to appreciate this ancient tradition that takes place almost every day around six p.m. Each college of the University has its own choir to sing in the chapel every evening as part of a haunting tradition that's been going on for centuries.
What to do alone in Oxford
With a young population of students and plenty to keep you occupied, Oxford is a great place to explore by yourself. Whether you're traveling for work, education, or for pleasure, you can drop off your belongings at an Oxford luggage locker and see more of the city for yourself.
Take a walking tour to explore some of the city's most iconic locations. See the most impressive colleges and learn about the role Oxford has played in British literary heritage, including such popular classics as the Lord of the Rings, the Narnia series, and the Harry Potter franchise. A walking tour will teach you more about the history of the buildings you're seeing and allow you to mix with other travelers as you learn together.
Get to the heart of the city's culinary scene at Oxford's covered market. This impressive structure dates back to 1770, and is still the home of a lively mix of traders selling their wares from stalls. You'll find plenty of great food here, and will be able to shop like a local.
Travel the world without leaving Oxford at the Pitt Rivers Museum. In the glory days of the British Empire, many of the world's most notable explorers and anthropologists studied at Oxford. Often, they sent some of their fascinating finds home to the University to be housed in this museum. You'll see relics from just about every culture in human history as you explore this unique Museum.
The best souvenirs in Oxford
Oxford University has its own souvenir shop where you can pick up branded merchandise such as hoodies and fridge magnets to commemorate a visit. Alternatively, you could visit Watson's, a high-end gift shop that stocks an impressive selection of Harry Potter merchandise, among other Oxford souvenirs. On the other hand, a high student population means Oxford has an enviable collection of vintage stores. Embark on a treasure hunt at shops like Unicorn and Reign for one-off items you won't find anywhere else.