Oxfordshire is home to picturesque villages, centuries-old structures, sprawling lawns, nature and wildlife parks, and heritage sites galore. This beautiful county in South East England lies between the Chiltern Hills and the Cotswolds Area, with the River Thames flowing through its southern parts.

    You can visit museums to learn more about their rich history and walk along the public footpaths and discover hidden gems in cobblestoned alleys. If you prefer a leisurely way of sightseeing, go on a bike tour to see breathtaking landscapes and score unique finds in quaint shops around the villages. Indeed, there are many ways to enjoy a trip to Oxfordshire.

    What are the best things to do in Oxfordshire?


    Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre

    An enchanting Victorian arboretum in the heart of the Cotswolds

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    • Couples

    The Batsford Arboretum brings the beauty of the Far East to Europe with a vast collection of flowering cherries and maples from Japan. It’s home to 1,300 shrubs, trees, and bamboos that create a colourful display for every season.

    Stroll along leafy glades and under canopies of rare trees from around the world in this 56-acre arboretum. You can also enjoy a leisurely walk surrounded by spring blossoms beside the stream or enjoy a cup of tea in the Garden Terrace Café. Explore the Japanese Rest House with its majestic dragon guardian and marvel at the imposing Buddha sculpture. Make sure to drop by the garden centre before going home to get some potted plants of your own.

    Location: Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AD, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1386 701441


    Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

    An exciting parkland for humans and a haven for wild animals

    • Families
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    • Couples

    The Cotswold Wildlife Park is among the top safari parks in England – a 160-acre parkland that’s home to thousands of animals, including those endangered in the wild. It hosts various activities all year round for those who love animals and want to interact with them.

    The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is a place to learn and appreciate the wonderful diversity of nature. Get up close with more than 260 animal species as they move freely in their natural habitat. Walk with lemurs, feed penguins, and watch animals graze on grassy lawns. You can also stroll the gardens amid colourful blooms and rare species.

    Location: Bradwell Grove, Burford OX18 4JP, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1993 823006


    Broughton Castle

    Have a peek of medieval England inside a fortified manor house

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    • History

    Broughton Castle looks imposing as it stands grand and majestic, surrounded by idyllic parkland. Home to Lord and Lady Saye & Sele, the castle has seen battles and wars through the centuries. Today, its Hornton ironstone construction still holds strong and the entire estate is well-maintained.

    Take a tour around the manor and marvel at the elegant great hall before taking a stroll around the well-tended garden. Explore the stone-walled gatehouse as you look over the historic moat. A day tour in Broughton Castle can also give you a glimpse of how the Fiennes lived from the medieval times up to today.

    Location: Broughton Castle, Banbury OX15 5EB, UK

    Open: Wednesday and Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1295 276070


    Blenheim Palace

    Baroque architecture, exquisite gardens and interesting history

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    • History

    Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site to preserve its rich 300-year history. This 17th-century estate is the only palace in the area that's non-royal or episcopal, but it has such a rich history that it’s become a national monument.

    Go on a virtual seminar conducted by the palace historian, pay homage to the family in the ancestral mausoleum, or relax in the gardens and enjoy lunch on a terrace overlooking an Italian garden. From late afternoon to evening, you can have fun at various arts and music festivals or stroll along illuminated light trails through the festive gardens.

    Location: Woodstock OX20 1UL, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1993 810530


    Oxford Official Walking Tours

    A variety of 2-hour walking tours that show Oxford in different lights

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    • History
    • Adventure

    Explore various sites in Oxford through one of several walking tours led by knowledgeable guides. The University Tour takes you to Oxford University, Bodleian Library and other historic colleges while the City Tour covers well-known landmarks and how locals live.

    You can join themed tours that take you to popular filming sites. Kids can enjoy having their pictures taken in places where the Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland movies were filmed. Sign up for the Inspector Morse tour to see Oxford through Endeavour’s eyes or take one of the history tours and learn more about Oxfordshire’s past.

    Location: 15-16 Broad St, Oxford OX1 3AS, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9.30 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 686442


    Bill Spectre’s Oxford Ghost Trail

    Get a glimpse of Oxford’s past in an entertainingly spooky way

    • Families
    • Nightlife
    • History

    Bill Spectre’s Oxford Ghost Trail lets you see Oxford in a very unique perspective. Bill Spectre, an undertaker from the Victorian era, takes you on a 105-minute theatrical tour to discover the streets of Oxford and the mysteries they hide.

    Prepare to be spooked with artistic props and magical illusions, while ghostly characters reveal fascinating stories of their lives in old Oxford. What better way to learn about history than from the ghosts of centuries past?

    Location: Oxford OX1 1AY, UK

    Open: Friday–Saturday at 6.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)7941 041811


    Bodleian Library

    Oxford’s oldest library with a vast collection of books and manuscripts

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    The Bodleian Library is the second largest library in the entire United Kingdom. Established in 1602, it has been a library of legal deposit for over 400 years now. Today, it includes more than 11 million printed or published works in its vast catalogue.

    Aside from its collection of books and manuscripts, the Bodleian Library is known for its own history and impressive architecture. This includes the monumental circular-domed building of the Radcliffe Camera, the English Gothic building of the Divinity School, the medieval library of Duke Humfrey, and the underground bookstore beneath Radcliffe Square.

    Location: Broad St, Oxford OX1 3BG, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 277162


    Oxford Castle and Prison

    A 1,000-year-old castle and prison that captures the history of Oxford

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    • History

    Oxford Castle and Prison is an exciting place to discover the remarkable history of the City of Dreaming Spires. Discover more of Oxford’s past through an engaging guided tour around the remains of the medieval structure. 

    Climb to the top of the Saxon St George’s Tower for a panoramic view of the city and brave the underground tour to the ancient crypt beneath what used to be St George’s Chapel. Delve into the secrets of the Prison D-wing and the 18th-century Debtors’ Tower, then scale the manmade mound at the motte-and-bailey castle.

    Location: 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 260666


    Ashmolean Museum

    A collection of art and archaeology in the heart of Oxford University

    • History

    Aside from being the oldest public museum in the UK, The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public museum in the UK and the world's first university museum. Its well-curated collection includes ancient relics from Egypt to contemporary art from all over the globe. In 2009, 39 new galleries were added to include specialised private collections.

    The Ashmolean galleries feature different collections, such as paintings of Camille Pissarro, works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Anglo-Saxon artefacts, pre-dynastic Egyptian relics, and Chinese antiquities. The Ashmolean Museum also hosts exhibitions and other events throughout the year. Among the past ones are the Young Rembrandt, the Mediterranean Threads, and Tokyo: Art & Photography.

    Location: Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2PH, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1865 278000


    Bicester Village

    Bringing world-leading brands to a single shopping destination

    • Shoppers
    • Luxury

    Located near the Cotswolds, Bicester Village is in a prime central location that’s accessible by train and public transport from different parts of England. This village-style shopping mall is great for those on the lookout for bargains.

    A renowned global fashion destination, Bicester Village brings together popular brands from all over the world in 1 convenient shopping area. Lifestyle brands such as Burberry, Balenciaga, Prada, and Gucci are among the 160 boutiques that offer discounts and various promotions. 

    Location: 50 Pingle Dr, Bicester OX26 6WD, UK

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 9 am to 9 pm, Thursday–Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1869 366266


    Bletchley Park

    Crack WWII codes and discover how intelligence helped the Allied cause

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    Bletchley Park is an English country estate best known for housing the Government Code and Cipher School in WWII. Throughout the war, British Intelligence teams were based at the park, then known as Station X. They worked tirelessly to decrypt German communications, most famously the Enigma Code. Their efforts probably shortened the war by at least a couple of years and certainly aided the Allied victory.

    Bletchley Park is now a museum and heritage attraction. The information that visitors can browse was classified until the 1970s. Today, its interpretative exhibits offer a fascinating insight into the lives and work of those working for the British Intelligence agencies in the 1940s.

    Location: The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Dr, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 6EB, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1908 640404

    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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