Here Are 9 Things to Do in Oxford That Only The Locals Know!

The City of Dreaming Spires is an historic hub and popular tourist spot for people all over the world. As such, there are plenty of famous locations to explore, and it’s a place I know well after living here for two years before I began travelling full time!

Having a pint in the Eagle and Child, visiting the university and the Bodleian Library are all places you’ll find fascinating history and culture.

But there are plenty of other places you might not find in the big guides to Oxford. Here are 5 lesser known places you can visit in Oxford that are off the beaten path.

One thing to note, when you’re exploring the land off the beaten path in Oxford, walk. Parking in Oxford city centre is a nightmare at the best of times. Your best bet is to use the Park & Ride into town and then hit the streets on foot. This is better in any event, because it allows you to take in the architecture and the people at a more sedate pace. And that’s the best way to enjoy Oxford; you drink it in, like a perfect cup of tea.

Top Things To Do In Oxford That Only Locals Know

Start Your Adventure Right: With A Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down 

Oxford is a city of contemplation and an easy pace. So, get into the right mindset with a cuppa. And where better to enjoy a cup of tea than in the Albion Beatnik Bookshop?

Described by the Sunday Times as “The Best Bookshop in Oxford”, the Albion Beatnik Bookshop is an independent shop with an eclectic collection of titles, events and patrons. A truly community bookshop, you can come and browse, drink tea and share your love of books with likeminded bibliophiles.

Wander The Botanic Garden

Whether you’re visiting in spring or winter, you’ll find something beautiful to enjoy at Oxford University’s Botanic Garden. Founded in 1621 with a mission to “promote the furtherance of learning and to glorify nature”, the Botanic Garden is a treasure trove of plants.

Featuring lectures on horticulture, practical courses and workshops, there’s so much to enjoy if you have green thumbs and a love of things that grow.

Top Things To Do In Oxford That Only Locals Know

Legs Ache? Try Punting Instead!

Punting (the process of propelling oneself through water by means of a pole, or “punt”) is an age-old tradition in Oxford. There are plenty of places to hop aboard the river, but the Cherwell Boathouse has a lovely collection of over 80 handmade punts for hire. The perfect way to explore Oxford from a whole new perspective.

Find A Shark 80 Miles From The Sea

In an otherwise obscure street in Headington, Oxford, is a shark! You’ll know it when you see it because it’s pretty hard to miss. The strange sculpture is 25 feet long and represents that specific kind of anger and desperation found only in impotence. A weird thing that’s definitely worth a look.

Top Things To Do In Oxford That Only Locals Know

Discover The Secrets Of Narnia

Venture to the edge of the city in search of the Kilns, C.S. Lewis’s summertime home. Now the headquarters of the C.S. Lewis Foundation, this hidden gem provides you an insight into one of Britain’s best-loved authors.

Step back in time as the foundation’s scholars take you on a tour of the grounds and reveal the life behind the author’s fame. Tours are conducted by appointment only, so call ahead and remember to respect the scholarly air of The Kilns.

Stand Among The Spires

Get the best views of the city by climbing on of its many towers and spires. The historic Saxon Tower is not exactly the Alps, but will reward you with a fantastic view of the bustling Cornmarket below. Of visit Oxford Castle, one of the city’s most venerable buildings, for 360 degrees of classic English loveliness.

Top Things To Do In Oxford That Only Locals Know

Pay Your Respects To The True Lord Of The Rings

Just outside the city centre is a quiet cemetery and final resting place of renown author, J.R.R. Tolkien. Buried with his wife Edith at Wolvercote Cemetery, the names Beren and Lúthien are carved on their gravestone, a reference to the love between a mortal man and an elf maiden who gave up her immortality to be with him.

Enjoy The Most Musical Part Of The University

Take in Evensong at one of the college chapels. Most of the larger chapels have celebrated choirs that you can enjoy almost every day around 6pm.

Even if you’re not of a religious inclination, it’s hard not to be enchanted by these excellent choirs. Our particular favourite is the Merton College choir, but they are all wonderful.

Top Things To Do In Oxford That Only Locals Know

After So Much exploring, You’re Probably In Need Of A Pint.

Fortunately, Oxford is not short on pubs! There are over 50 pubs in the city centre alone, some famous, others less so, but all fantastic and quintessentially British.

Our recommendation is the Old Bookbinders Ale House. Located deep in the heart of Jericho, near the canal, this pub is tucked out of the way a little. But it has a lovely atmosphere inside and out, a charming French-inspired menu and plenty of board games to pass the time. Featuring open mic nights and a pub quiz, there’s always something going on at this marvellous ale house.

This is just a sampling of all the magic Oxford has to offer, so why not wander its cobbled streets and see what you discover!

Richard Collett

Produced in association with Eyesite, Oxford – a leading chain of independent opticians with six practices across the South East of England.

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