Character Cottages

Things to do in Oxford


If you’re planning a trip to the Cotswolds this year, we can recommend a day out in Oxford to enjoy all the sights of this beautiful city, famous worldwide for its prestigious University – the oldest in the English-speaking world. Wander the ancient streets, enjoy the river and the castle, and of course the ‘dreaming spires’ of the stunning University Buildings.

Here’s a small selection of some of our favourite things to do in Oxford.


Blenheim Palace

This incredible place certainly lives up to its name - ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’ - there’s so much to see and do here. Home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a definite must-visit.

• Walking tours, seasonal specials such as Halloween Entertainment, spectacular Christmas Lights and changing Art exhibitions.
• Find out more about Blenheim’s stories through the ages, and links to MI5 and Winston Churchill.
• Get lost in the Maze, wander through the Pleasure Gardens & Adventure Playground, or get all aflutter in the Butterfly House.
• The Palace is set in over 90 acres of formal gardens, including water terraces, the rose garden and landscaped parkland.
• The Palace has been host to many film settings, including Gulliver’s Travels and Harry Potter.
• Booking your visit is essential. If you travel by public transport or on foot/bike, you can get 30% off your ticket.


National Trust

The National Trust in Oxfordshire has stunning mansions and houses, countryside and parkland for you to enjoy. If you’re not a member, it might be worth joining as there is so much to visit!

Grey’s Court, Stowe, Waddesdon Manor and Basildon Park all offer dreamy mansions with gardens and estates. The rolling hills and rambling deer parks and woodlands invite gentle wanderings. You can always finish off with tea and a scone too!


Retail Therapy

If shopping is your thing, Bicester retail park is home to over 160 designer brands from Swarovski to Saint Laurent, with savings all year round. Or if you love a wander around a city centre, you’ll enjoy the labyrinth of streets and walkways, with lots of quirky boutiques, independent shops, antique stalls and markets. Oxford’s Covered Market offers further delights where traditional meets the unusual. The Westgate Shopping Centre offers the usual national large retailers. Westgate has a limited car park, but why not try one of Oxford’s Park & Ride schemes. You simply park your car and jump on a bus into the City Centre. Buses stop just outside the Westgate Shopping Centre, so you won’t have to walk far.


The University of Oxford

Made up of 38 independent colleges, including the magnificent Christ Church, you’ll discover historic buildings all over the city. Why not join an Oxford Official Walking Tour and learn so much more about this fascinating city’s heritage.

Visit a museum

Oxford boasts an eclectic mix of museums. Most are free, but you’ll need a timed ticket so we recommend booking. The Ashmolean Museum, the world’s oldest public museum, is home to major collections of artefacts from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. The Museum of Natural History holds an internationally significant collection of natural history specimens and archives in stunning neo-Gothic architecture. There is also Pitt Rivers Museum, the History of Science Museum, the Botanic Garden & Arboretum and the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe.


Take a punt on the water

Oxford’s famous waterways are a joy to glide along on a punt or a boat, or simply to walk alongside. The mighty River Thames, the River Cherwell and the historic Oxford Canal all allow the city to be seen from a different perspective. Take a punt, a cruise, or simply wander along the riverside and enjoy the amazing views.

If animals are your thing

Head to the Cotswold Wildlife Safari Park & Gardens. Here you’ll see 260 species in 120 acres of beautiful parkland, from Rhinos and Penguins, to Lions and Giraffes. Encounter reptiles, sloths, birds and bats. The setting is as free-roaming as possible for the animals, and is a brilliant family day out. We'd also recommend a trip to Cogges Manor Farm, a 17th century 15 acre farm with animals, a café and an adventure play area.

Oxford Castle & Prison

Do you believe in ghosts? Find out about 1,000 years of gruesome history by hearing the tales of prisoners and criminals held here. Costumed guided tours really bring this place to life, and if you are brave enough to go into the crypt of St George's Chapel, you can see the stones where Oxford University first began, and stand in the birthplace of King Arthur.

Visit Oxford’s famous filming locations

Whether you’re a fan of Inspector Morse or Harry Potter, you’ll find out plenty of film and TV trivia on a themed two hour meander through Oxford’s gorgeous streets. It’s a perfect way to get to know the place.

These are just a small selection of the ways you can easily fill a few days in inspiring Oxford. We hope they tempt you to stay awhile with us in one of our nearby characterful cottages.

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