Oxford is renowned for being home to one of the highest academic ranking universities in the world. The university is the oldest in English-speaking history and over its time has produced many heads of state, Nobel laureates and Prime ministers. In fact, David Cameron the current Prime minister graduated from Brasenose College back in 1988.
Aptly hailed by Matthew Arnold as ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’ based on its beautiful architecture; it is hard not to walk the streets of Oxford and exclaim “that looks like Hogwarts!”.
So grab your brooms and cloaks and take a look at the top five free things you can do in Oxford:
5. University Parks
The weather is nice and you’re feeling a bit peckish. Well pack your picnic basket and head down to the first activity on our list of the top five free things to do in Oxford – University parks!
Home to exotic plants, picturesque gardens and large sports fields; this is an ideal location for a family outing. In total the parks cover around 70 acres and are situated on the edge of the river Cherwell.
It’s hard to find anywhere in town as aesthetically pleasing and serene.
4. Pitt Rivers Museum
Pitt Rivers Museum can be found almost adjacent to the University Parks (perhaps adding a further activity to your day at the parks!) and is number four on our list of free things to do in Oxford.
Found in 1884, by one General Pitt Rivers; the museum is home to archaeological and ethnographic items from all over the world. These include pottery, ivory and bones, model dwellings and magic and ritual objects. A highlight is a Tahitian mourners costume gathered in Captain Cook’s Second Voyage.
A virtual tour can be found here , but we believe the best way to appreciate the displays is in person!
Admission is of course free to the museum and is open 12.00-16.30 on Monday and 10.00-16.30 Tuesday to Sunday.
3. Radcliffe Camera
Third on our list of the top five free things to do in Oxford; the Radcliffe Camera is one of the most distinctive landmarks in town. The construction of this magnificent dome located between All Souls and Brasenose College was funded by notable doctor, John Radcliffe. On the inside, the camera is home to the Bodleian Library containing more than 11 million printed items and 80,000 e-journals.
If you wish to explore the library; admission is free for Oxford Students, any Staff or Students of UK higher education institutions, those over 65 years old and those able to show evidence of hardship. Even if you don’t qualify for this, we believe visiting the Camera is a must, to appreciate the glorious architecture.
2. Iffley Road running track
4 laps of the track. A mile. In sub 4 minutes. Many believed it was impossible, with various medical journals claiming physiologically the human body was unable to break the barrier. Ironically, it was a medical student who proved all the critics wrong.
On a stormy day on the 6th May 1954 at Iffley Road in Oxford, the odds looked stacked against Roger Bannister with the wind gusting. As the gun went Bannister knew the attempt was on. The rest is history; Bannister crossed the line in a new World Record of 3.59.4, the first ever sub 4 minute mile.
The track where this phenomenal human achievement still stands. As a monument; the sports complex displays many of the memorabilia from the race including the finishing post and stopwatch which clocked the time!
In search of somewhere rich in history and mystery? Then Oxford Castle is the place for you. Consisting of old castle buildings with a dominant mound in the background; Oxford Castle is hard to miss.
Constructed in 1071 by Robert D’Oilly an ally of William the Conqueror, this Norman medieval castle can be located the western side of the city centre.
A word to the wise before you visit; in 1577 prisoner Rowlande Jenkins cast a curse which reportedly resulted in the death of 300 people in Oxford – so you may want to pack your Harry Potter wands as well!
That concludes our list of the top five free things to do in Oxford, if you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment!