The junction of High Street, Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, and St. Aldgate’s, Carfax is a major meeting point in the heart of Oxford. The lofty St. Martin’s Tower (Carfax Tower), which offers some of the best views of the “city of dreaming spires,” sits at the intersection.
A useful navigation landmark and one of Oxford’s busiest intersections, Carfax was once the site of St. Martin’s Church, built in the 12th century and demolished in 1896 to widen the roads. Its tower, which stands 74 feet (23 meters) high, was constructed in 1818 and is the only remaining vestige of the church. Visitors willing to climb its 99 steps are rewarded with views of the surrounding cityscape.
Given its central location, Carfax can be glimpsed on city tours, including hop-on hop-off bus tours, and private taxi journeys. It is also an accessible public landmark that can be visited independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to look at Carfax Tower’s eastern facade, where two decorative figures chime bells every 15 minutes.
- The Carfax Tower is central Oxford’s tallest point, so it's both a highly visible landmark and an ideal vantage point for sightseeing.
- Carfax Tower has ticketed entry, though admission is priced affordably.
How to Get There
Located as it is in Oxford’s center, Carfax can be reached on foot (it’s a 15-minute walk from the Oxford train station), by taxi, or by bike. It’s also served by the 1 and 5 buses and hop-on hop-off bus tours.
When to Get There
Carfax itself is always accessible, and those wishing to visit the Carfax Tower can do so daily, with reduced hours in the off-season, especially November–February. The tower is closed on Dec. 25–26 and Jan. 1.
Carfax is conveniently located within walking distance of most of Oxford’s major attractions. The Oxford Covered Market, Museum of Oxford, Christ Church College, Magdalen College, Ashmolean Museum, and more are just steps away. Sightsee on your own or with a guided private or group tour for ease.