Things to see and do in Oxford (how to be a tourist the Indie Oxford Way)

 In Inspiration, News

I don’t know about you, but as someone who has lived in, or very near Oxford my whole life, I find I sometimes take the beauty of Oxford for granted. Transport me to another European city with buildings, cobbled street and hidden shops like we have in Oxford and I’m fawning all over them. Bring me back to Oxford and where I’m lucky enough to work in two incredible buildings and all too often I find I don’t look up and admire Oxford for how beautiful she is.

The answer? For visitors and locals alike, be a tourist for the day!

Step One. Bring your bike!

Oxford is famous for cycling so get on your bike! Hire one or bring your own if you live nearby or can hop on the train. It helps the environment, saves the hassle of parking and it means you get to experience and explore more of the city! Why not go the whole hog and stop off at Bicycle Blooms and grab a bunch of beauties to stick in a basket? If you really want to prepare ahead of time, adorn your bike with one of these from The Basket Room…

Step Two. Fuel up for the day with your morning coffee

Oxford knows good coffee, so start your day with a trip to one of Oxford’s many indie coffee houses. Just select cafes in the Directory or pick up our collaborative book, the Indie Oxford Compendium ahead of time, and have a flick through to find somewhere that tickles your fancy.

Society Cafe

Step Three. Start sightseeing!

Where to start!?! There are so many beautiful places to visit that are oozing with charm and history (and thoroughly instagrammable too). Highlights include The Radcliffe Camera, the Bridge of Sighs and the Sheldonian Theatre. If you live here, don’t be ashamed to join the crowds of tourists for that selfie under the bridge, though the selfie stick is optional! There is also a fantastic array of world renowned museums all within walking distance of the centre such at the Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of Natural History. For more on museums visit here.

The Bridge of Sighs taken from the Sheldonain Theatre Cupola, Credit – John Cairns

Step Four. Lunch time.

There are so many great places to eat in Oxford but with summer in full swing, a picnic is order of the day. Take a look at the bakeries and groceries section of the Directory that includes businesses which sell utterly mouth-watering local and regional produce. Once the picnic is sorted, head to the Botanic Gardens and find a moment of calm in this city centre oasis.

Heads Up: we’re writing all about picnicking the Indie Oxford way in the next few weeks so make sure you head back for some tips!


2 North Parade – Produce Store

Step Five. Shopping!

Bypass the chains and head for some of the awesome indies that Oxford has to offer. Start by visiting some stalwarts of Oxford’s retail scene – Payne & Son and Boswells. Jewellers Payne and Son are an eighth-generation family business and were established in 1790. After you get your jewellery fix, hop on down to Boswells – the 2nd oldest department store in the UK, founded in 1738.
A must see for any visitor or staycationer is also the Covered Market. Many of our indies are based in this Georgian market that houses everything from butchers to florists, bakeries to gift shops – check out the Directory for further details. It’s a feast for the senses!

Step Six. And relax.

Pick up some gelato from iScream and head towards Magdalen Bridge for a spot of punting down the river (be sure to use the Oxford end). Alternatively book a table at the 17th century Old Parsonage for a traditional afternoon tea. If you’re staying late in the city, why not head to Gee’s Restaurant and Bar for dinner and some delicious cocktails in their iconic Victorian greenhouse.


Step Seven. Bed Time.

After a full on day of taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of Oxford it’s time for bed! If you want to prolong your stay, look to one of Oxford’s indie hotels and B&Bs. Built into the centuries old city walls, the charming Tower House B&B is a home from home. If you’re after a spot of luxury, then made a bee-line for Old Bank Hotel.

Have you been to Oxford as a tourist recently? Do you live in Oxford and find you need to stop and look up more? I’d love to know – use #indieoxford on Twitter and Instagram or leave a comment below.

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