Vanbrugh House



Oxford is a wonderful city to visit, with iconic buildings, history, and a charming feel throughout. However, once you’ve budgeted for your hotel and meals, you might not have much left over for activities. The good thing is, there is plenty to see and do in Oxford for free. 

Read more for our list of the top 10 free activities to do in Oxford.


Visit the Oxford Museum of Natural History

Rain or shine, museums always make for an interesting day out! The Oxford Museum of Natural History contains various artefacts from the natural world, such as dinosaur fossils, precious gemstones, and animal exhibitions. All in all, it makes for a roaring good day out! 

Entry to the museum is free and it’s open between 10:00-17:00, Monday to Sunday. 

Learn more and plan your visit here.

Dinosaur fossils in a museum

Browse the Artwork at The Ashmolean 

For all art lovers visiting Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum is a must-visit. First founded in 1683, it contains world-famous collections featuring everything from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. Admission is free, and it’s open every day so it is a great place to come if you’re on a budget.

Plan your visit to the museum here.

Take a Free Walking Tour

There’s no better way to explore Oxford than by being guided by the locals! Footprint Tours is a student-run company run by students that offer free, two-hour walking tours around the city’s top attractions.  You’ll be guided to historical locations like The Bridge of Sighs and the Bodleian library. Some of the locations you’ll visit have even been used in some of the Harry Potter films, so this is the perfect day out for Potterheads! 

Discover the full route and book your tour here.


panoramic view of Oxford buildings and rooftops

Relax at Port Meadow

For some time out of the city to be at one with nature, then Port Meadow is the place to be. It’s one of the largest open spaces in the north of the city, with the River Thames flowing right through the heart of it. The flood plains are home to many animals such as cattle, horses, and wildfowl so it’s a lovely place to relax and watch the world go by. There are some static BBQs available to be used at the Godstow Road entrance or alternatively, you could pack a picnic to enjoy by the river. 

Plan your trip to the park here

Trees in the park surrounded by grass

Explore the University Parks

Situated on the grounds of Oxford University, the University Parks are an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and offer a green oasis of peace and quiet. There’s something for everyone here, with plenty of walks leading around the park, lots of trees and open spaces to enjoy games or picnics.  

Discover more about the University Parks here.

Park with Oxford building in the background

Sit by the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse

It wouldn’t be a trip to Oxford without seeing any punters along the river! Although you can book to do punting yourself, it can often be pricey, with tickets starting at around £30. Rather than shelling out to do it, why not take yourself down to Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, set up camp and watch the punters go by along the river? You could take snacks, refreshments, and you’re in the ideal location to go for a walk if you need to stretch your legs.

Find out more about the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse here.

Image of Oxford punts parked up on the river

Explore the Oxford Covered market

The Oxford Covered Market is a real hidden gem of Oxford. It’s located right in the heart of the city and is home to over 50 specialist independent retailers. Here you’ll find a variety of products, like fresh flowers, homemade souvenirs and an array of local foods to try. It’s free to visit the market provided you can resist the temptation of the stallholders!

Plan your visit to the Oxford Covered Market here.

Image of smoked sausages in wicker baskets at an English market

Discover the Christ Church Gardens

The Christ Church College is an iconic building that’s part of the Oxford University Campus. You can go and look around the inside, however this costs around £16 each, so the costs can add up if you’ve got other activities planned. Instead, you can walk around their beautiful gardens and meadows to view the building from the outside and marvel at the architecture. 

Learn more about the Christ Church Gardens here.

View from the Christ Church Gardens looking up at the Christ Church College in Oxford

Snap Some Pictures of the Radcliffe Camera

The Radcliffe Camera is a fully working library and one that’s part of the Oxford University Campus. Members of the public can’t go inside unless they’re part of a guided tour, however it’s definitely worth going to see it from the outside. If you book onto one of the free walking tours previously mentioned, they will stop here for a photo opportunity.

Plan your trip to the Radcliffe Camera here.

aerial view of the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford

Get Lost in the Pitts Rivers Museum

The Pitts Rivers Museum is home to archaeological and ethnographic  treasures  from all over the world. Their collections feature things like photographs, sound, historical items and even fashion from over the years. They have a horsebox cafe on their lawns outside for you to buy refreshments, or you can take your own if you’re on a budget. Entry to the museum is free, and it’s open every day. 

Image of different glass cases in a museum showing artefacts and sculptures

Find out more and plan your visit here.

We hope our blog has inspired you with lots of inspiration for your next trip to Oxford!

If you’re looking for more attractions to see and do while you’re here, check out our blog.

To book your next staycation at Vanbrugh House Hotel you can check availability here.

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