Oxford, the historic city nestled in the heart of England, is renowned for its prestigious universities and cultural heritage. But it is also known as one of the most popular and expensive cities to visit.
But luckily you can still do it on a budget with these free things to do in Oxford.
With plenty of free activities and attractions in this historic city, it really is possible to explore the City of Dreaming Spires without spending a penny.
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Free things to do in Oxford
From stunning architecture to beautiful parks, here are the top 6 free things to do in Oxford.
Explore Oxford’s Covered Market
One of the top free things to do in Oxford is wander around the Covered Market.
This historic market has been here for over 200 years and is a must visit for both locals and tourists.
Explore a wide variety of unique shops and local produce. Take your time and soak up the bustling atmosphere and discover hidden gems.
Don’t forget to grab something to eat at one of the many stalls, restaurants and cafes. We would recommend Rozana, a small Lebanese take away shop serving hot wraps and paninis. We had the chicken and salad wrap, which was delicious and cost under £5.00, which is ideal, when you’re on a budget in Oxford.
We then finished off with a sweet treat at Iscream, with a delicious but sweet ice cream in a cone. We couldn’t get better than that.
Admire the architecture of the Radcliffe Camera
One of the most iconic landmarks in Oxford and a must see from the outside.
While it is said that the interior is also incredible, you can only explore the interior on a guided tour.
Located in the heart of Oxford and only a few minutes’ walk from The Covered Market, the stunning circular building was designed by James Gibbs and completed in 1749.
It serves as the reading room for the Bodleian Library and best known for its beautiful neoclassical architecture.
The best Instagram worthy spots are from Radcliffe Square and University Church of St Mary the Virgin.
Visit Free Oxford Universities and colleges
Take a leisurely stroll around a few of Oxfords less famous and popular universities and colleges.
The likes of Christ Church University, New College, Hertford College, etc all have an entrance fee. But budget friendly travellers can still enjoy the stunning architecture and gardens, with many of the universities and colleges that offer free admission.
Some of the universities and colleges you can visit for free are:
Oxford is a famous university city, so a visit to one of the free universities in the city is a must.
Take a wander along the River Thames
Take a stroll along the River Thames, known as the Isis in Oxford.
Watch the ducks and swans or simply sit back and enjoy the tranquillity.
Pack a romantic picnic as you unwind along the Isis.
Visit the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford
Another iconic landmark that is free to visit in Oxford.
Only a short few minutes’ walk from the Radcliff Camera, you’ll notice some similarities with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, which is where the nickname derives from.
Officially named Hertford Bridge, it connects the two parts of Hertford College.
An Instagram worthy location in Oxford.
University Church of St Mary the Virgin
This isn’t completely free, but well worth a visit, just for the views.
This church is steeped in so much history. Little is known about the original church built on this site, but in later years it became a thriving place in the heart of Oxford.
The church is open to the public for free, although to climb the spiral staircase to the tower, will set you back as little as £5.00. The staircase is narrow with 127 steps, but the views of the Radcliffe Camera and the City of Dreaming Spires is worth it.
Check their website out here, for events during the time of visit. We were lucky to watch some of the students practise for a concert in the evening. AND rehearsals were completely free.
Embracing Nature in Oxford’s Parks and Gardens
Another free thing to do in Oxford that you can’t miss out, is taking a relaxing stroll through Oxford’s parks and gardens.
Admire the different flowers and displays. From tranquil water features, statues and colourful flower beds.
The parks offer plenty of open space, shady trees and picturesque views. Ideal for romantic couples or a family.
Bring a picnic and relax with nature.
While Oxford is known to be one of the most expensive cities to visit in the UK, it doesn’t have to be.
Take advantage of the free things to do in Oxford, from iconic landmarks, Instagram worthy spots, green spaces and more.
When you’re on a tight budget, with a desire to experience the history, culture and wander around the prestigious universities, it is all possible and without spending a penny.
Continue your travel planning, with these useful posts:
- Day trip to Oxford from London
- Best places to eat in Oxford
- How to get around Oxford
- Things to do in Eastbourne
- Travel guide to UK
- Day trip to Brighton from London
- Things to do in Dover
- Things to do in London with kids
- Day trip to Rye and Camber from London
- Driving in the UK for the first time