Oxford University - Jesus College. Image courtesy of Billy Wilson.

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Oxford Free Self-Guided Walking Tour to Plan a Visit at Your Own Pace

Oxford University - Jesus College. Image courtesy of Billy Wilson.

Oxford is a gem of a town. There’s so much to see, and you can visit practically all of their attractions on foot. This is why walking tours are an excellent option for those coming to Oxford. Some will choose to have a guide, while others might prefer to explore the city, its University museums and sights at their own rhythm. We’ve created these maps to help you do exactly that. Below, you will find free walking tour maps (you can download them to your phone if you prefer) to see all that Oxford has to offer. Pubs and restaurants? We got it. Colleges and libraries? Of course! How about a bit of shopping or a Harry Potter-themed adventure? Look no further. 

(Want to see a self-guided walking tour for Oxford Museums only? Check this link). 

Oxford Basic Free Self-Guided Walking Tour

Let’s start with a quick overview of the town. This walking tour is perfect for those visiting Oxford for just a few hours. It is a leisurely tour that should give you a great idea of what the town is all about. There are two paths I like to do myself when walking around Oxford:

In pink: Start from the train station or bus station and make your way to the centre of the city. This short walk should take about 30 minutes to an hour at a relaxed walking pace – and cover the best attractions in Oxford: Its colleges, churches, museums, and shops.

In purple: If the day is nice and you have an extra 40 minutes, you can also walk down St Aldate’s and into Christ Church meadow, where you will be able to relax in the shade and see the famous Cherwell river. Make your way back north through the Botanic Garden path and enter the city through the east, where you will see some of the oldest colleges of the university. 

Let’s go into a little more detail if you want to do the short (or pink) self-guided walking tour. 

  • Arriving at the train or bus station, walk down George Street. If you are already hungry, this is the perfect opportunity to grab a bite, as there are several restaurants and bars here. If not…
  • Continue walking until you reach St Michael at the North Gate. This was the city limit when Oxford was surrounded by a wall!
  • Turn right and walk down Cornmarket Street, the central commercial vein. Don’t miss 24-26 Cornmarket Street, a house dating back to the 14th century (it’s on the left, right across the tower).
  • You can continue walking down the street and check out the Covered Market, or turn left on Market Street and continue down Braselose Lane, which will eventually lead you to the landmark Radcliffe Camera library. To your right, you will also see the Church of St Mary the Virgin, and to the left, the Bodleian Library.
  • Turn left again after you exit, and you’ll see the Sheldonian Theatre and, right across Broad Street, Trinity College.
  • Walk up to Corn Steet and turn left again, so you can enjoy a pleasant stroll up Parks Road and see the Natural History Museum and Keble College.
  • You can continue until Keble road to close the circuit or turn left on Museum Road to see a secret passage and the most beautiful tree in Oxford!

What You Shouldn't Miss in This Self-Guided Walking Tour

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

This is the largest church in Oxford and is popular with students, professors, and visitors. The first church here was built in 1086, although the building that can now be seen on the north side of the chancel is from 1320 (when the Univesity was officially founded). The Baroque porch (considered “the most beautiful porch in the world”) was designed by Nicholas Stone, and the tower (also from the 13th century) can be climbed and offers an excellent view of Oxford. 

A view of Oxford Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

This circular library is probably considered by most locals and visitors as “the very centre of Oxford”. It was built in 1749 by James Gibbes and has an Edwardian Palladian style. Although it appears to have three stores from the outside, it’s actually one main floor. This floor is divided into different bays separated by Corinthian columns. Today, the Radcliffe Camera holds over 600,000 books. It’s open to students but not to the public. 

A view of the Oxford Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs

Although you also won’t be able to cross this bridge (unless you are a Hertford College student), you can still admire its beauty from the street level. The bridge was built in 914 by Sir Thomas Jackson and received its name because it looks like its homonym in Venice. The geometrical concept is also inspired by Archimedes in the 3rd Century BC (the area of the parabolic segment is 4/3 of an inscribed triangle). 

The Sheldonian Theatre - Oxford

The Sheldonian Theatre

The Sheldonian Theatre is where graduation ceremonies are held (they have been for hundreds of years). It was designed by Christopher Wren, who used an impressive geometrical grid pattern for its ceiling. If you get a chance to go into the building, don’t miss the 32 oil-on-canvas panels telling the story of Truth, Arts, and Sciences (who are kicking ignorance out of the University). 

Oxford Colleges

Oxford University - St John's College. Image courtesy of Billy Wilson.

St John’s College

A constituent college of the University of Oxford, St John’s College was founded in 1555 as a men’s college but turned coeducational later.

Oxford College - Keble College. Image courtesy of David Nicholls.

Keble College

Keble College is one of the University of Oxford’s constituent colleges. It is located on Parks Road, opposite the University Museum.

Oxford University - Exeter College. Image courtesy of Billy Wilson.

Exeter College

A constituent college of the University of Oxford in England, Exeter College is the fourth-oldest college of the university.

Oxford Christ Church College - Image courtesy ofArnaud Malon

Christ Church College

Christ Church is college of the University of Oxford. It was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII and is one of the larger colleges.

Oxford University - Brasenose College. Image courtesy of Billy Wilson.

Brasenose College

Oxford University’s Brasenose College (BNC) was founded in 1509 and is home to one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world.

Oxford University - All Souls College. Image courtesy of Gary Campbell Hall.

All Souls College

All Souls College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford. It was founded by Henry VI and it has no undergraduate members.

Oxford Museums

Oxford Libraries

A view of Oxford Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera is a neo-classical style building inside Oxford University, built from 1737 to 1749 for the Radcliffe Science Library.

Bodleian Library - Entrance. Image courtesy of Billy Wilson.

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is one of Oxford’s most famous landmarks. Among the oldest in Europe, it’s easy to visit and incredible to see.

Un-Missable Stops in an Oxford Walking Tour

If you’re exploring Oxford on your own, there are a few places you should consider stopping by. This includes colleges (which are normally open to visitors during the day), museums, the Botanic Garden, shops, and definitely, if you can, the Bodleian Library!

Of course, Oxford has something for everyone, so if you’re looking for places to shop or parks to relax, you can see some good options in the list below this section.

However, before you move on, if you’re interested in visiting the best Oxford museums (and combining them with the city walking tour), you can use this map.

Also, here’s the complete guide covering the most popular Oxford Museums.

And the direct link to download the museum walking tour map

Oxford self-guided Museums Walking Tour
Oxford self-guided Museums Walking Tour

Best for Shopping in Oxford

There are two – possibly three – shops you should NOT miss if you’re visiting Oxford and doing a self-guided walking tour. These are Alice’s Shop (with tons of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia, all beautifully displayed in a historically-relevant little building!), The Shop of Secrets (more Harry Potter merch than you can dream of), and Blackwell’s Bookshop, founded in 1879.

Of course, as Oxford continues to grow, there re several other places you can visit if you’re looking for unique gifts or just a memorable experience. Below is a more comprehensive list with all of them. 

Shops to See in Oxford: Blackwell's Bookshop. A Massive Historical Store. Image courtesy of Chuca Cimas.

Blackwell’s Bookshop

Blackwell’s Bookshop first opened its doors in 1879, on Broad Street, Oxford. They have been trading continuously from there ever since. The History of Blackwell’s Bookshop The first Blackwell’s Bookshop

Oxford Shopping: Alice's Shop

Alice’s Shop

Alice’s Shop is a little shop placed exactly where Alice Liddell (the “real” Alice that inspired the books) used to buy sweets.

Best shops in Oxford: Arcadia

Arcadia Bookstore

Arcadia is a popular bookstore in Oxford, offering second-hand books and stationery with a vintage and whimsical vibe.

Shops to See in Oxford: The Shop of Secrets. Harry Potter Collectibles.

The Shop of Secrets

The Shop of Secrets is Oxford’s chamber of Harry Potter collectibles and merch. A shopping must-to in the city, this is why you should visit.

Parks and Meadows

Oxford has many beautiful parks and meadows – which make perfect spots for a picnic or a relaxing stop. These parks are large and tend to have exotic plants and students practising sports or reading a book under the shadow of a tree. The best thing about adding a visit to a park during your self-guided walking tour is that you can visit them any time of the year. University Parks, for example, are evergreen and have seats no matter the season. Of course, if you like plants and quietness you should not miss the Botanic Gardens, they are included in the map above and have exotic species, lots of secret corners, and even a pond with fish!

Oxford Christ Church Meadow - Image courtesy of Matthias Rosenkranz

Christ Church Meadow

Christ Church meadow is open to the public all year round. This open space in the heart of Oxford is an ideal choice for recreation.

Oxford University Parks. Image courtesy of Piers Nye via Flickr Commons.

Oxford University Parks

Oxford University Parks (or University Parks) is a large park area northeast of the city. The park is open to the public during the day.

Oxford's Port Meadow - Image courtesy of Danny Chapman

Port Meadow

Port Meadow is a large open space in the north of Oxford. The River Thames flows through its heart and the plains are home to many animals.

Learn More About Oxford

Explore new and familiar locations, visit the parks, step into a college, or drop by one of the many quirky shops Oxford has to offer. Browse All >

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