Oxford, England, UK

City tour of Oxford, England

Oxford City of the Dreaming Spires

The English city of Oxford shares its name with the ancient and prestigious university, whose stunning architecture will form the focal point of your visit. The oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford counts Bill Clinton, Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi and Kofi Annan among its world-beating alumni. 50% of all UK prime ministers studied here, from Sir Robert Walpole to Margaret Thatcher and beyond. Expect to find breathtaking buildings, a buzzing, friendly atmosphere and an awful lot of bicycles when you visit this most beautiful of English cities.

A walking tour of Oxford, England

The Radcliffe Camera & Bodleian Library

Situated in the heart of Oxford city, The Radcliffe Camera is an architectural masterpiece designed in the English Palladian style by James Gibbs and built between 1737 and 1749. Don't be misled by the name: the word 'camera' here is derived from the Latin word for 'chamber'. And, although tourists can not go inside, your visit will nonetheless reveal one of the most impressive buildings in England. The Radcliffe Camera is today part of the Bodleian Library, guided tours of which can be booked here in advance.

The Radcliffe Camera & Bodleian Library, Oxford, England
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford

Sheldonian Theatre

The first major commission of Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1669, The Sheldonian Theatre is a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture. Since that time, the theatre has been used for formal university symposia, such as graduation ceremonies and lectures, as well as musical concerts and other cultural events. As well as being a popular tourist attraction, it continues to fulfil these functions even today. To plan your own trip or book a guided tour, visit their website.

Bridge of Sighs

Head straight across Cattle Street. Here, a great photo opportunity awaits beneath the famous Bridge of Sighs, which links two parts of Hertford College as they join over New College Lane. Its official name is Hertford Bridge, but it is more commonly known as the Bridge of Sighs owing to its resemblance to the famous Venetian landmark of the same name.

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford
University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Walk down Cattle Street and past The Radcliffe Camera until you reach the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The spiritual centre of Oxford University for a thousand years, the church showcases yet more impressive English architecture, this time in the Gothic style. Parts of the building date back to the Thirteenth Century. The iconic fourteenth-century spire is one of the most iconic sights in the Oxford skyline. Anyone who has visited this beautiful city knows what high praise this is.

Lunch Break in the Covered Market

There are so many excellent restaurants and eateries in Oxford, that visitors are spoiled for choice. But, if you're looking to mix with the locals and get a feel for life in this iconic city, then head for Oxford's famous covered market. The city seamlessly fuses British history and tradition with the cosmopolitan and multicultural feel that makes Britain what it is today. And this is well reflected in the covered market. Choose a traditional English afternoon tea or sample Chinese, Neapolitan, French, Lebanese and Asian fusion food, all under one roof.

Lunch Break in the Covered Market, Oxford
Christ Church College, Oxford, UK

Christ Church College

After refuelling, we continue our journey along St Aldate's to Christ Church College, just 5 minutes away. Christ Church was founded by King Henry VIII in 1546 and, like most places you will visit today, it is renowned for its stunning architecture. The college chapel serves as the cathedral for the Diocese of Oxford, making Christ Church the only college in the world to be both a college and a cathedral. This dual function has done nothing to dim the college's reputation as a centre of educational excellence. It counts no less than thirteen British prime ministers among its alumni, as well as countless other notables including John Locke, Lewis Carroll, W.H. Auden, and Albert Einstein. Guided tours are available and can be booked in advance.

Christ Church Meadow

If you're ready to spend a bit more time outdoors, spend 30-40 minutes walking around the stunning Christ Church meadow trail. Here you will encounter an enchanting mix of ornamental gardens, arable pasture, and unspoiled nature, all on the banks of the River Thames.

Christ Church Meadow, Oxford
Magdalen College and Tower, Oxford, UK

Magdalen College and Tower

Not many colleges have their own herd of wild deer. But that's the level of tranquillity you can expect in the incredible grounds of Magdalen College. Founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete, Magdalen College is one of Oxford's oldest and most prestigious colleges. Renowned for its iconic Gothic tower, the college is a prominent feature among the dreaming spires of the Oxford skyline. Guided tours of the college and ground can be booked on the day from the visitor desk. Tours begin late morning and mid-afternoon daily, and they include access to areas of the college which are not otherwise open to the public.

Punting on the River

Our tour draws to a close at Magdalen Bridge, where you will find the boathouse. There can be no more peaceful end to a tour of this historic city than a leisurely rowing boat ride along the Thames. In Oxford, it is known as 'punting' and you (plus three friends) can choose to hire a punt or a chauffeured punt for a 30-minute cruise. In a city of many time-honoured traditions, this is not one you should miss.

Paddle boats in river in Oxford

Walking tour of Oxford City Map