With attractive medieval streets, an assortment of beautiful buildings, and atmospheric old alehouses patronized by literary greats, Oxford is a joy to explore—even for time-tight travelers. In case you have only 24 hours to tour this world-famous hub of learning, we’ve put together the ultimate 1-day itinerary to help you maximize every moment.
Morning: Tour the University
The university has been at the heart of Oxford for centuries, and touring it is a must. Take a student-led walking tour for insights into college life, a filming locations tour to see backdrops used in Harry Potter and Inspector Morse, a bike tour to cover more ground in less time, or a flexible hop-on hop-off tour to craft your own itinerary. No matter your method, Oxford University highlights include the renowned Christ Church College, Bodleian Library, and the Ashmolean Museum, whose treasure-filled collection includes everything from Egyptian artifacts to J.M.W. Turner paintings.
Afternoon: Treat the Taste Buds
There’s more to Oxford than mere academic institutions—it also has a flourishing culinary scene. Join a guided food tour for a local’s take on the town’s eating highlights. Sample gourmet goods—including Oxford blue, a creamy and tangy veined cheese produced in the region—from artisan shops, markets, and street stalls. Sweet-toothed travelers may prefer a chocolate-themed tour with stops at Oxford’s finest chocolatiers, cafés, and candy shops. If you’re more partial to a tipple than a sweet treat, take a tour of the Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) instead, which produces spirits such as gin, absinthe, rye whiskey, and vodka.
Night: River Cruises and Pub-Hopping
Spend the evening drifting down the Thames, floating past the university boathouses, Christ Church Meadow, and tranquil riverside pastures. Choose a cruise that includes dinner at a riverside restaurant, or opt for a cruising package that includes a prepacked picnic to be enjoyed alfresco.
If all that sounds a little too genteel for your taste, opt for a pub-hopping tour instead. Oxford is packed with historic watering holes, many of which were frequented by famous writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. A guide can bring you to the best of them, reveal anecdotes about well-known clientele, and introduce you to the best of British real ale.