With attractive medieval streets, an assortment of beautiful buildings, and atmospheric old alehouses patronized by literary greats, Oxford is a joy to explore—even for time-tight travelers. In case you have only 24 hours to tour this world-famous hub of learning, we’ve put together the ultimate 1-day itinerary to help you maximize every moment.
The university has been at the heart of Oxford for centuries, and touring it is a must. Take a student-led walking tour for insights into college life, a filming locations tour to see backdrops used in Harry Potter and Inspector Morse, a bike tour to cover more ground in less time, or a flexible hop-on hop-off tour to craft your own itinerary. No matter your method, Oxford University highlights include the renowned Christ Church College, Bodleian Library, and the Ashmolean Museum, whose treasure-filled collection includes everything from Egyptian artifacts to J.M.W. Turner paintings.
There’s more to Oxford than mere academic institutions—it also has a flourishing culinary scene. Join a guided food tour for a local’s take on the town’s eating highlights. Sample gourmet goods—including Oxford blue, a creamy and tangy veined cheese produced in the region—from artisan shops, markets, and street stalls. Sweet-toothed travelers may prefer a chocolate-themed tour with stops at Oxford’s finest chocolatiers, cafés, and candy shops. If you’re more partial to a tipple than a sweet treat, take a tour of the Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) instead, which produces spirits such as gin, absinthe, rye whiskey, and vodka.
Spend the evening drifting down the Thames, floating past the university boathouses, Christ Church Meadow, and tranquil riverside pastures. Choose a cruise that includes dinner at a riverside restaurant, or opt for a cruising package that includes a prepacked picnic to be enjoyed alfresco.
If all that sounds a little too genteel for your taste, opt for a pub-hopping tour instead. Oxford is packed with historic watering holes, many of which were frequented by famous writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. A guide can bring you to the best of them, reveal anecdotes about well-known clientele, and introduce you to the best of British real ale.