Oxford is a charming city, famed for its prestigious university. It can be stuffy at times, feeling a bit too proper and strict, lacking the cut-loose university town feel that Bristol has. However, it’s beautiful here, and you really feel like you’re in Old England. I loved wandering through the campus and having a cheap beer at one of the student pubs. There is a lot of history in this city, and if that’s something you are into (I am), then consider a visit – it’s a short ride from London anyways.
Hostel prices – Hostels range from 15-20 GBP for a dorm room, and some offer a discount for staying a week (usually around 72 GBP for the week). Budget hotels are affordable, so check them out if you’re looking for a private.
Budget hotel prices – The average private room in a hotel costs between 50-80 GBP per night Hotels and B&Bs outside the city center are cheaper.
Average cost of food – If you eat out, stick to the cafes centered close to the university. Most give discounts to students, and whether you pick up a sandwich, salad, or bagel, you won’t pay more than 7 GBP for a meal (even if you aren’t a student). A pint at a tavern will cost 3 GBP, and groceries from the super market will cost around 42 GBP a week.
Transportation costs – Oxford is an easily walkable city and compact enough to get around by foot wherever you need to go. The town is also bicycle friendly, so consider renting one for less than 13 GBP a day.
Money Saving Tips
Get cheap food – Head out to student housing areas like Jericho and the Cowley Road for food. A taste of local flavor and an affordable meal make this a good option.
See the student theater – You can see cheap and cutting-edge student theater during term time for a couple of pounds at the Burton Taylor theater (near the bus station).
Top Things to See and Do in Oxford
The Ashmolean Museum – Founded in 1683, this is Britain’s oldest public museum. It recently went through a renovation and displays Ancient Egyptian art, as well as an impressive Eastern Art collection. Make sure to see the Amarna Princess Fresco and the Alfred Jewel before you leave.
Tour Oxford – You can take guided tours of all the colleges in Oxford. They provide a look at university life, the history of the school, the architecture, and more. Most colleges require an entrance fee, but if you go on the tour set up through the tourism office, you can avoid the cost.
University of Oxford Botanical Gardens – The Gardens are one of Oxford’s most scenic spots to take in the scenery and slower pace of town.
Visit the Covered Market – This historical market is a great place to walk through and taste the local food. There are a lot of homemade meals served here, and it’s the best place to do some cheap shopping for groceries in the city.
Visit Balliol College – Founded in 1263 and part of Oxford College, this college was one of the first to create academic opportunities for women. Sit on the lawn, bring a lunch, and soak up the friendly and informal vibe of Balliol College for an afternoon.
Hertford Bridge – Known to the locals as the ‘bridge of sighs’ because college students would sigh under it on their way to take their exams. It’s a pretty bridge, and you can walk underneath the bridge to the Turf Tavern and commiserate with the students over a pint.
South Park – Located in east Oxford, South Park is the largest park in Oxford, with a free admission price and with a sweeping view of the city. On a nice day, the park is filled with people getting a tan, playing sports, and eating.
Bodleian Library – As the main research library of the University of Oxford, the Bodleian is one of the oldest libraries in Europe (opened in 1602, based on the collection of Thomas Bodley) and has one of the largest collections of books in the world. The architecture on the building is very beautiful.
Punting – During the summer, punting is an ever-popular activity. Punting is essentially pushing a boat around the rivers and canals of the university of a pole. You can rent a boat or hire someone to take you, and many bring food and wine with them to make for a more interesting day.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History – This museum holds the University’s scientific collections of zoological, entomological, geological, paleontological, and mineralogical specimens. The exhibits are devoted to the history and diversity of life on Earth. If you are interested in learning about nature, then this extensive collection is for you.
Oxford Castle Unlocked – This 1000 year old castle/prison is an interesting exhibit of medieval life. Originally built in the 11th century, there are plenty of stories to read about past inmates and the crazy forms of punishment that were practiced at the time. There is also a two-hour historical ghost walking tour that departs from here.
St. Mary’s Church – Located on the Thames, you have to travel by boat to get here. The architecture of the church is really unique and well preserved. It is too often overlooked.
Blackwell’s Books – For the bookworm in you, this 10,000 square foot store is the largest bookstore in Europe.
Blenheim Palace – This underrated attraction is just eight short miles outside of Oxford on the way to Woodstock. Featured in the movie Hamlet, it’s a magnificent place to check out. Aside from the amazing architecture, the rooms are preserved with their original furniture; there is a beautiful garden, a butterfly house, and a