Learn everything about Oxford from its historic landmarks like Christ Church College and the Sheldonian Theatre to its unique blend of traditional and modern culture.
Oxford is known as the 'city of the dreaming spires' - a term first coined by poet Matthew Arnold in reference to the gentle spires and harmonious architecture of the city's university buildings. The beauty of the city's colleges and riverside setting, literary links and stunning film and TV locations, shops with local character and music and drama ranging from candlelit evensong in college chapels to Shakespeare in the park – these ingredients blend with Oxford's lively mix of restaurants, pubs, theatres and tourist attraction to give this historic city its alluring, vibrant and cosmopolitan buzz.
Culture & heritage
Oxford’s golden-stone university buildings include some of England’s most impressive architecture, notably the Bodleian Library, a masterpiece of English Gothic, Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre , and the Radcliffe Camera. Looking at these beautiful buildings, it’s no surprise that Oxford is one of Britain’s Heritage Cities.
The most famous attraction in Oxford is its university. Explore one of Oxford's grandest colleges, Christ Church, founded in 1525. It is home to the city’s famous cathedral and birthplace of Lewis Carroll's famous Alice books. Harry Potter fans will love the Great Hall which provided the model for the hall at Hogwarts.
Food & drink
Oxford has a rich and generous mix of places to eat and drink. Establishments with historic connections include the elegant The Grand Café on the site of England’s first coffee house established in 1651; The Parsonage bar and restaurant in the Old Parsonage Hotel with its Oscar Wilde connections; and the Eagle & Child pub, the regular meeting place of JRR Tolkien and his literary group, the Inklings.
For a unique shopping experience, head to Oxford’s Covered Market. It was created in 1772, but today’s market is a lively mix of small shops selling everything from handmade hats and gifts to Oxford sausages or antiquarian books. And the High Street offers a range of unique boutiques, antique shops, bookshops and gift shops set amongst beautiful historic buildings.
There are so many great things to see and do in Oxford, so don't waste time standing in queues, buy your train tickets, travel and attraction tickets online.
Top daytime must-do's
- Get to know Oxford on a University & City Tour. Take a picnic and see the city’s sights on an Oxford River Tour.
- Get behind bars at the former prison at Oxford Castle Unlocked!
- Enjoy a relaxing walk through the University of Oxford Botanic Garden.
- Admire the views of the dreaming spires from the Carfax Tower.
Top night-time must-do's
- Get spooked! Take a ghost tour round medieval Oxford. Catch a show at the New Theatre Oxford.
- Have a drink at the Crown, a famous historical pub.
- Watch a classical concert at the Sheldonian Theatre.
Browse Visit Britain’s Oxford travel guide for videos, facts, discounts and tips.