Budget Travel Guide Oxford UK
Oxford: A budget guide to help you save
Historic Oxford, located in the heart of the England, is jammed packed with an incredible array of visitor attractions from the iconic university colleges to beautiful parks and gardens and can be enjoyed on the smallest of budgets. It has been home to learned scholars and royalty for more than 800 years and today it remains a bustling cosmopolitan city.
Explore the fascinating mix of medieval and modern architecture, wander down cobbled alleyways, stroll across cloistered courtyards and along the leafy canal paths. Make the most of your visit to Oxford and let us help you discover some great places to eat, places to sleep and a whole host of things to do all at affordable prices.
Must-See Visitor Attractions
The main allure of Oxford is its golden-toned colleges that cluster around the city’s medieval streets. Either join a free guided walk, such as Footprints Walking Tour, or venture round on your own and soak in the unique atmosphere of the college buildings and grounds. Lincoln College, All Soul’s, Corpus Christi and several others are free to enter. Do check their opening times as they vary between colleges.
Balliol, Brasenose and Jesus College charge a small admission fee of £2. Christ Church College, the location for filming scenes for Harry Potter and Brideshead Revisited films, opens its chapel to visitors for evensong every evening and is a truly magical experience.
Don’t miss Radcliffe Square with its architectural gems: the neo-classical style Radcliffe Camera, the ancient University Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe.
World-Class Museums Galore!
Oxford boasts a variety of internationally renowned museums that are all free of charge to visit. The impressive and recently redeveloped Ashmolean Museum, the world’s oldest public museum, displays richly diverse collections including Egyptian mummies and Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Oxford University Museum of Natural History houses an exciting selection of zoological, geological and paleontological exhibits collected over the last 300 years.
Or visit the extraordinary Pitt Rivers Museum bursting with over 20,000 weird and wonderful knick-knacks from around the globe including ethnic masks, shrunken human heads and mummies. Children and adults of all ages are fascinated by the museum’s corpiconia of anthropological and ethnological exhibits.
Culture lovers should also call into the Modern Art Oxford. It has an international reputation for its displays of contemporary painting, sculpture, crafts, photography and mixed media installations. Entrance is free.
Oxford is a particularly green city with 28 nature reserves and several large parks. It is home to Britain’s oldest botanic garden, the £5 admission fee offers great value as it allows you entry on the same day to the Harcourt Arboretum. Right in the heart of the city, the Botanic Garden is compact but has an amazingly diverse collection of plants, with inspiring herbaceous borders and tropical glasshouses.
Away from the town centre there are some large green spaces like Christ Church Meadows that affords excellent views of Oxford’s famous spires. Enjoy the 70 acre parkland of Oxford University Parks on the banks of the River Cherwell, it features beautiful plants and trees and is the perfect spot for a picnic. Used for a wide range of sporting activities such as cricket, football, lacrosse and rugby, there is always something to watch or even join in. There is also the special opportunity to play Quidditch for Harry Potter fans.
Port Meadow is also a lovely spot for leisurely walks, situated along the banks of the River Thames it is over 440 acres of grazing land teaming with a great variety of wildflowers and wildlife.
A long-time favourite activity for visitors, students and Oxford residents is to hire a punt for an hour or two on the canals. Glide serenely pass the college grounds and under the bridges that connect the colleges. Punts will accommodate up to 5 people so to get the best value from the hourly charge (around £20-£25 per hour) share the cost with your friends and family.
Smaller rowing boats are also available to hire, or have fun on a pedaloe which can take up to 4 people.
There is a vibrant selection of cafes and restaurants offering low cost menus throughout Oxford’s city centre. Try the eclectic dishes at St Giles Café and their delicious own-baked bread sandwiches, all honest affordable food.
The Covered Market is a great place if you are feeling hungry, with a tempting selection of foodie shops and cafes, such as the Alpha Bar that offers great tasting, great value dhals, veggie chilli and spicy vegetables. Fasta Pasta and Pieminister are well worth checking out too.
Pop into the Natural Bread Company, hidden away on Little Claredon Street, for a tasty treat from one of Oxford’s best artisan bakeries. Look out for street-food vendors who pop up at weekly pitches and markets such as Taste Tibet who cook up wonderful curries at give away prices.
Where To Stay
Another option to consider are the University Rooms that are offered out of term time to the public. The college rooms, self catered or B&B, are a great alternative to cheap hotels and offer a unique experience to stay in these historic buildings looking out over lawned quadrangles and dining in the student halls at breakfast.