If you’ve just moved to Oxford, one of the first things you might notice is how the city changes when the clock hits 5 pm. Why? Because this is the time most of the tour buses leave St. Giles! So, the busy mini-metropolis begins to calm down again. But what if you need a quiet and relaxing space before that? Well, I hope I can help! Here are my favourite spots to escape the masses in Oxford.
Are There Quiet Spaces in Oxford?
The question is, of course, a bit of an exaggeration. Naturally, all cities have spaces that are a bit quieter; little corners where you can relax in solitude. Oxford, luckily, is no exception. But if you’ve just moved here, you might feel there’s people… well, everywhere! And not just tourists. Students, sellers, performers… we are all here.
When I need to wind down or escape the noise, I have a few secret Oxford corners. And I’m happy to share them with you, my fellow introverts!
My Favourite Oxford Locations to Escape the Noise
I will now list a few of my secret hiding spots, which (I should say) also include some fairly popular ones, too. For example, the University Parks or Christ Church Meadow. These places have areas that are definitely quiet. However, I will start with the ones you may not know of yet.
A Quiet Corner and Hidden Gem:
Wellington Square is the first place that comes to mind when I think about secluded spaces within Oxford. The reason, perhaps, is the simple fact that this little square is both out of the tourist path and has a fence all around. I promise, though, it does not feel claustrophobic at all!
So, let me tell you a little bit about Wellington Square.
This secret garden is nestled within the heart of Oxford and stands as an oasis. The square is surrounded by elegant Georgian architecture and lush greenery, capturing (I think) the essence of Oxford’s timeless allure.
Wellington Square also happens to have a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. It was, in fact, designed as part of the grand expansion of Oxford University – and it’s named, if you haven’t figured it out, in honour of the Duke of Wellington. The square’s architecture echoes the neoclassical style prevalent during that era, too.
In the heart of a city known for its academic excellence and cultural richness, Wellington Square in Oxford remains, in my humble opinion, a hidden gem.
The Best Cultural Atmosphere:
The Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean is another one of my favourite quiet spots in the city. Not all of it, though. You have to pick the galleries! But this large, fresh museum in Oxford is indeed a wonderful choice if you’re seeking a peaceful corner to relax. Here’s why:
The Ashmolean is housed in a stunning neoclassical building, which in itself is a work of art. Its architectural beauty creates a serene and aesthetically pleasing environment for visitors. You can find picturesque spots both inside and outside the museum to sit, unwind, and admire the architecture. I personally like to spend time in the Egyptian room, which has seats that face the little temple.
What’s even better, while exploring the museum’s galleries, you’ll notice that many areas are designed to provide a quiet and contemplative space. These spaces allow you to take your time, absorb the art and history, and find a moment of respite away from the bustling city.
And, of course, the Ashmolean is conveniently located in the heart of Oxford, making it easily accessible to practically everyone.
Incomparable Beauty All-Year Round:
The Botanic Garden
The Oxford Botanic Garden is a true horticultural gem. What’s even better, it offers visitors a tranquil haven in the heart of the city. This beautiful location was established in 1621 and holds the distinction of being one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world! Maybe that’s why Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, and many others came here for inspiration.
The Botanic Garden is… sort of a living museum. One with an impressive array of plant species from around the globe. As you wander through its curated sections, you’ll encounter everything from exotic tropical plants in the glasshouses to native British flora in the outdoor beds. And it’s usually REALLY QUIET here. It’s not rare, in fact, to see people reading books for hours under the shade of some exotic tree.
Each season at this gem of a garden also brings new enchantments. Spring heralds the emergence of colourful bulbs and flowering trees, while summer showcases vibrant blooms and lush foliage. In autumn, the garden’s foliage transforms into a riot of reds and golds, and even in winter, the garden has its own unique charm, with evergreen specimens and a sense of serene stillness. Definitely a favourite when it comes to relaxing and beautiful spots in Oxford.