The Most Picturesque Places in Oxford

| © Vindice / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Dawson

Take a walk around this historic city and you’ll be blown away at every turn. From the grand, golden-coloured colleges, libraries and inviting cobbled alleyways to the tranquil River Cherwell that flows through the city, Oxford is a place of beauty, just waiting to be explored.

The Botanic Garden

It’s hard to believe this quiet idyll sits just a stone’s throw from Oxford’s busy High Street. Oxford Botanic Garden is Britain’s oldest botanical garden and once inside its stone wall you’ll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Beautiful formal gardens, glass houses, a conservatory, pond and romantic herbaceous borders all come together to create a horticultural wonderland that is truly spectacular.

Radcliffe Square

Arguably one of the most famous views in Oxford, Radcliffe Square is truly a feast for the eyes. Surrounded by awe-inspiring historic buildings including the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Bodleian Library, it’s undoubtedly the imposing centrepiece of the Radcliffe Camera that steals the show. Walk around the cobbled square and take in the marvel of some of the finest architecture the city has to offer.

The Grand Café

This gilded, mirror-clad and marble-pillared café is an Oxford institution. Standing on the site of the oldest coffee house in England, according to Samuel Pepys’ diary in 1650, The Grand Café is a masterclass in opulence. No visit to Oxford would be complete without taking in the beauty of this little piece of history. Treat yourself to Grand High Tea, where you can indulge in smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, tea and a glass of Champagne, in the grandest of surroundings.

The River Cherwell

Running through the city, the beautiful River Cherwell is as much an iconic part of Oxford as the University. Throw down a blanket and enjoy a summer’s picnic (and some excellent people watching) on the banks of the river, or take to the water on one of the many punts for hire. Punting is great fun, but if you don’t fancy your chances at staying upright, you can hire a rowing boat or pedalo to cruise down the picturesque river instead.

Christ Church College

If you can only visit one college when you visit Oxford, it has to be Christ Church. Founded in 1524, it’s the largest of the city’s colleges and stepping inside feels like going back in time. Visit the Great Hall, the college’s spectacular dining room that was the inspiration for the dining hall in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, then take a stroll around Tom Quad, arguably the grandest quadrangle in the city. Make sure you also find time to explore the dramatic 12th-century cathedral and tranquil Christ Church meadow.

The Bridge of Sighs

Hertford Bridge, commonly referred to as the Bridge of Sighs due to its supposed similarity to the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice, is a distinctive Oxford landmark that has a charm all of its own. The ornate bridge is a popular spot for tourists to stop and pose underneath for a photo, and it’s not hard to see why. Providing the prettiest backdrop, join in and get a snap of your own.

The Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is a familiar part of the Oxford landscape; as one of Europe’s oldest libraries, it’s still used by students and scholars today, but is also a very popular destination with visitors keen to explore this ancient institution. You can’t fail to be wowed by the magnificent architecture of The Bodleian Library, but it’s the interior which is truly breath taking. From the lofty grandeur of the medieval Divinity School to the atmospheric beauty of Duke Humfrey’s library, the sense of history inside The Bod is palpable.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,665 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article