Join us for this 3-hour Oxford guided tour. This is England’s must-see city, home for over 800 years to both Royalty and Scholars.
Your private Blue Badge Guide will lead you on an unforgettable journey around one of the 38 colleges that make up Oxford University. You can marvel at the amazing architecture, learn what it’s like to study here, and discover the most famous alumni.
We will then wind our way through the city learning about the foundation of the University, as well as more modern history in the shape of Harry Potter. Your guide is full of facts and stories to engage and entertain you during the tour, making for a terrific experience.
Starting right in the centre of Oxford at Carfax Tower, this is the only remaining structure of St Martin’s church. The tower is just over 23m/74ft high and it’s a point of reference for architects, as no building is allowed to be taller than this. Look for the quarter boys and listen to them hammering into the bells every 15 minutes. Carfax is an unusual name, let your guide explain what it actually means.
Walking down Saint Aldate Street, you will pass many shops and the Town Hall before arriving at Tom Tower. This is a great chance to look into the Tom Quad of Christ Church College.
Admire the structure built by famous architect Christopher Wren in the late Gothic style, even though at that point it was many centuries out of date. Find out who or what Great Tom is, as well as the difference between Oxford time and Greenwich time.
If you like shopping, now’s your chance to grab some souvenirs in the fantastic Alice in Wonderland shop. It occupies the same spot where Alice Liddell, inspiration for the famous C S Lewis character Alice, used to buy sweets as a child.
Let’s not abandon Alice just yet…your guide will tell the hidden story about this world-famous character, her creator Lewis Carrol is one of many famous alumni of Christ Church College. This is our first example of a college, it’s also the largest with some impressive royal connections.
Fans of Harry Potter will recognise the dining hall. See if you can spot where JK Rowling might have taken her inspiration. We will explore the quads, the dining hall, and the Cathedral of this spectacular College.
Next, we pass another of Oxford’s 38 Colleges: Merton. Staking a claim as one of the oldest, it is also one of the smallest. Don’t let the size fool you though: this prestigious institution was once home to famous Nobel Laureates TS Eliot and JRR Tolkien.
Heading back towards the busier part of Oxford, we snake through narrow lanes towards a magnificent view of St Mary’s University Church. Let’s wander through the church, soaking up the atmosphere as your guide explains how this church formed the very beginning of Oxford University.
Our next stop is the Radcliffe Camera. This impressive building dominates Radcliffe Square. Featured in all guide books and on many postcards, it is perhaps one of the most iconic sights in Oxford.
Today it serves as a reading room for the Bodleian Library, home to hundreds of thousands of books. Where do they all fit, you might wonder. Your guide will explain where they are hidden.
We have one more college en route, this time with a very unusual name. Find out the history of the name Brasenose College and its meaning from your guide.
In a University town like Oxford, you are surrounded by sources of knowledge, but this is perhaps the most impressive. Remember the reading room we saw earlier? Well, over the years, the Bodleian Library expanded and, today, you will find various library buildings around the city. But this is the original.
It is open only to its members, who must sign a formal declaration on the first admission. It serves mainly as a reference library and members are not allowed to remove books. This rule was even upheld in the 17th century when King Charles I wanted to borrow a book!
Next up, we’ll visit the Divinity School. Look up and admire the beautiful vaulted ceiling. In the past it was home to the study of theology, these days it’s used in a ceremonial role.
This is where the students don their gowns and get ready before they cross the yard to The Sheldonian Theatre for their graduation ceremony.
We now make our way to look at the Bridge of Sighs, named after its famous counterpart in Venice. It forms part of Hereford College, famous as one of the first colleges to accept women as students.
We’ll head to the beautiful, classical Sheldonian Theatre next. This is the second building we visit designed by Christopher Wren and it’s also where students celebrate the start and the end of their academic life with matriculations and graduations.
Once inside you can admire the spectacular painted ceiling offering the illusion of an open sky.
We have spent our Oxford tour surrounded by beautiful architecture, listened to stories of various colleges, and we learnt about famous alumni. We will finish here at the Weston Library to give you an idea of how the University works and looks today.
Your guide will happily direct you to gift shops, restaurants, and other sites which you may like to visit.
Our guided tour of Oxford covers all the main sites in the city centre. It includes a visit to one college. We have chosen Christchurch, however from time to time there are last-minute closures for events and we will adjust the itinerary. Your guide will confirm the itinerary at the start of the tour, aiming to give you the best possible experience on the day.
Queen St, Oxford OX1 1ET
Mon – Sun 9:30am, 2:00pm
Your Guide will meet you outside Carfax Tower. Your Guide will be holding a sign showing the lead customer name.