Things to do in Oxford

Experience scenic views of the dreaming spires from Carfax tower or the University Church.
Visit South Parks or the Boars Hill for sweeping views of the dreaming spires.

The following contains extracts from the popular Oxford guide book, ‘Oxford in one Afternoon’, by local author and a member of our walking guides team, Renata Lanzoni. Renata is bilingual & can be booked for private group tours in Italian too, with adequate advance notice.

Visitors can purchase the book by following this link to


”From an ancient university to Alice in Wonderland, from the Lord of the Rings, to punting in the river, Oscar Wilde to Rowan Atkinson, the Mini factory to the dreaming spires, from sharks to tortoises, wild horses to deer, Oxford has so much to offer that it is a must to include in your travel plans.

Touring Oxford in one afternoon is an ambitious task. The amount of history, art, legends and tales to be absorbed is no mean feat, but it can be done. Despite its well-deserved fame and well known position in the world’s culture, Oxford’s main sites are concentrated in a relatively small area, very well accessible on foot and possible to be covered in a few intense hours.

In this guide, I will take you on a main tour, which should last approximately two hours and has no costs involved. I will also point you toward the possibility of branching off and then re-joining the main tour on several occasions. For each additional tour option, I will indicate how long it is likely to take so that you can gauge whether to tackle it. I will also let you know if there are any
costs involved.

If you did all of the additional tours and the punting trip, your stay in Oxford would stretch to between six and seven hours. But fear not, you can always stop by one of the many watering holes in the city and rest your weary feet for a while before setting off exploring again. The choice of how long to stay in the “City of Dreaming Spires,” what to visit and how much to spend is entirely yours.

Depending on the time availability, your stamina and the weather, you can spend as little or as long as you choose to discover this fascinating gem of a city.”

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The Different Itineraries

”In this guide I will highlight one main itinerary with six more that branch off it at different points before re-joining it.

Places of interests are pointed out and discussed as we move along the streets. When the option of branching off to a longer tour presents itself, I will let you know, so you can follow the part of the guide related to that additional tour.

The main tour will take at least a couple of hours. The duration of each additional tour is indicated in the section dedicated to it. If you were to take all of the tours suggested in this guide, your stay in Oxford would stretch to between six and seven hours.

Oxford attracts many fans of Harry Potter because it was used as the setting for the films and inspiration for the books. There is a section in this guide dedicated to the Harry Potter connection in Oxford. In the tours, a reference to this section will be made using the HP connotation and number, so you can refer to the appropriate part of the guide.”

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”As you leave St. John’s College, turn left and continue past the Martyrs’ Memorial. Turn right at the junction and then immediately left onto Cornmarket Street.

Stop at the corner of St Michael Street, and with your back to the shop, admire the Saxon Tower. This is the oldest surviving building in Oxford, dating back to 1040. It stands where the North Gate of the Saxon city used to be. It was a bastion part of the city wall which ran around the original town of Oxford. There was an arch attached to the tower and cells above it: the Bocardo Prison, over the North Gate.
Here is where Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were imprisoned after their heresy trial, and it was from here that Cranmer witnessed the other two being burned alive on Broad Street.

The Bocardo Prison and North Gate were demolished in 1771 to make traffic flow more easily in the city.


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What is Oxford best known for?

Oxford is renowned for its prestigious university, historic architecture, and rich cultural heritage.

Can you visit Oxford University?

Yes, many of the Oxford University colleges are open to visitors, though some may charge a small entrance fee.

What are the must-see attractions in Oxford?

The Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, Oxford University colleges, and the Ashmolean Museum are among the top attractions.

How much time do I need to explore Oxford?

A full day can cover the main sights, but two to three days are recommended to fully experience the city and its attractions.

Where is the best place to stay in Oxford?

Staying in the city centre is convenient for visiting most attractions, but nearby areas like Jericho also offer charming alternatives.

What is the best way to get around Oxford?

Oxford is a walkable city, but bicycles and public transport are also popular modes of transportation.

What unique shopping experiences does Oxford offer?

The Covered Market offers a range of local goods, and Blackwell’s Bookshop is an iconic stop for literature lovers.

Where can I find the best food in Oxford?

Oxford’s city centre boasts a variety of restaurants, from quaint cafes to fine dining, with international and traditional English cuisine.

Are there any hidden gems in Oxford I should visit?

Lesser-known sites like the Turf Tavern, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Perch on Binsey offer unique experiences off the beaten path.

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Buy the guide now

BLACK & WHITE Oxford, a mysterious, elegant and world-famous city. Come and discover it with the only guide that takes you by the hand and makes this experience one that you will never forget. From the legends and traditions embedded in the distant past, through facts and fantasies, culture and murders that have shaped today’s world.

From Harry Potter to Morse, Narnia to Alice in Wonderland, colleges, University, and centuries of history. This city has been the cradle for them all.Easy to follow and packed full of information and black and white pictures, this guide will make you fall in love with this city.

Renata Lanzoni lives in Oxford. Born and raised in Italy she chose the UK as her adoptive country at an early age. A keen traveler, she has visited several countries, both for work and pleasure. She has recently returned from spending two years in Sri Lanka, where she immersed herself in the local culture.

Her fiction describes real stories, real people and profound issues, in the hope to help others achieve a better life.

Renata Lanzoni

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