We’ve all been there, alone in a new place. Some of us thrive on it, whilst others fear it. Nevertheless, whichever category you fall into, our list of the perfect activities for lone travelers gives you ample opportunities to meet new folks while enjoying the sights and activities that Oxford has to offer. Who knows, by the time you’ve made it down the list you may have made some new lifelong friends, so let’s get started on our whirlwind Oxford tour…
1. A morning stroll through Port Meadows
Following the meandering River Thames is Port Meadows on the northwestern side of Oxford, a large free common ground which is beautiful to stroll through in the early morning light. Enter through the southernmost tip and stroll along the river path, cross the river onto the Thames towpath or explore the 35 hectares of the neighboring Burgess Field. Expect to see fellow wanderers, commuters and native ponies which graze the land throughout the year.
If you want to take a stroll with others, join a Nordic Wellness Walk from 10 to 11 a.m. for £3 ($3.91) on Thursday.
Address: Walton Well Rd, Oxford, OX2 6ED
Website: Port Meadow
2. Grab a coffee (and cake...shh) at Barefoot Kitchen
After your refreshing walk around Port Meadow, we’re sure that you’ll be thirsty so head to Barefoot Kitchen, near the southern side of Port Meadows for a nice relaxing coffee and maybe a bit of cake. We’re sure you’ve earned it! They are well known in Oxford for their artisan baked goods, supplying many of the other independent cafes in the area. Their banana bread is a firm favorite of many locals, so be sure to get there early!
Address: 74A Walton St, Oxford OX2 6EA
Facebook: Barefoot Kitchen
3. Delve into our favourite vintage shops
Oxford has a number of vintage shops to peruse but our two favorites have earned their place. What makes them so special? Firstly we love that inside each one you can feel the atmosphere of a by-gone era and each is a treasure trove of goodies. First up is Unicorn known primarily for its ‘mishmash’ of everything vintage. Expect a mixture of decades and be prepared to rummage, but be warned this shop is small and so only about two or three people at any given time can enter. This kind of makes it feel like your own personal dress-up shop. Also, nothing is priced so don’t be afraid to ask the owner for prices. Unicorn is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The second of our favorite vintage shops is Reign, which hosts again a somewhat eclectic mix of eras, mainly from the 1960s to 1990s. The outfits found here are generally targeted towards a younger generation than some of the other vintage shops in Oxford. Why do we love it? Not only does it have a great women’s selection but you guys should also be able to find something that takes your fancy! Open every day; Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. while Sunday’s opening hours are 12 to 5 p.m. For general Oxford vintage updates visit: www.facebook.com/vintageoxford/
Address: 5 Ship Street, Oxford, OX1 3DE
Address: 134 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1HU
4. Check out the street art on Cowley Road
Just a few short minutes walk from Reign Vintage shop you’ll stumble upon the Cowley Art Murals, which run the whole strip of Cowley Road. Whether you are into street art or not, these beautiful pieces made from a variety of techniques are definitely worth seeing. Each piece is a labor of love and the results are incredible; from the tiniest secret graffiti stamps to the massive house-sized murals we promise that you won’t be disappointed. Want to get the perfect street shot? Simply follow the website link below.
Cowley Road Murals
Address: Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1HU
There are a number of restaurants on Cowley Road to choose from including Spanish, Japanese and Moroccan. But, if you want to eat closer to the location of the next activity you can’t go wrong with the many choices under the roof of Oxford’s Covered Market. Located in the middle of Oxford you can gain access from either the High Street, Market Street or through the Golden Cross in Cornmarket Street. The structure was built in 1770 and now hosts over 40 traders, whatever you can think of, you can probably purchase it here, from gifts to fashion to food. Take your pick from one of the many food stalls available on site.
The market is open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. It is worth noting that shop of the traders have set their own hours so we recommend checking online if there is a particular trader you want to visit.
Oxford Covered Market
Address: Market St, Oxford, OX1 3DZ
Website: Oxford Covered Market
From the Covered Market, the meeting place for this walk is just three minutes away. These walking tours last for two hours and cover all of the must see’s on a sightseeing trip including the Bodleian Library and Christ Church; both of which were Harry Potter film sites. Offered by Oxford students the tour started four years ago and has grown in popularity. There are a number of tours available throughout the day and at the end of your tour simply pay whatever you think it was worth. What a great idea!
Footprints Walking Tour
Address: 5 Broad St, Oxford OX1 3AJ
Website: Footprints Walking Tour
Instead of the generic sight-seeing tour we know that you Harry Potter fans wouldn’t want to miss on this two hour Harry Potter filming location tour. The tour takes in the main filming sites of the Harry Potter series, including New College and Divinity School, both of which featured as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll hear stories from the guides and have the chance to visit other beautiful locations that inspired the likes of C S Lewis, Tolkien and Lewis Carroll.
This tour is limited to 15 Harry Potter fans, keeping an intimate atmosphere and costs 30.53 GBP (39.80 USD). We recommend booking in advance and reading the additional information on the website for important updates.
Harry Potter Filming Locations Tour
Address: 15-16 Broad St, Oxford, OX1 3AS
8. Discover half a million years of history at the Ashmolean Museum
Half a million years worth of information and free entry, what more could you ask for? The Ashmolean Museum was founded in 1683 and today holds some of the world’s most important collections from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art pieces. They even have the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings. Behind the scenes this museum is constantly busy with researching, conservation and exploration into some of the world’s biggest questions.
The museum hosts popular ‘Live Friday’ nights from 7 to 10:30 p.m. allowing the general public to explore a more interactive side of the museum after hours. These popular events include theatrical performances, workshops and talks on a variety of topics; details of all Live Friday events can be found on the website.
General opening hours of the museum are Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Bank Holidays) from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Some exhibitions or events may be ticketed.
Address: Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PH
Website: Ashmolean Museum
9. Unwind in the University of Oxford Botanic Garden
The oldest Botanic Garden in Britain has been delighting visitors ever since 1621 with the mission ‘To promote the furtherance of learning and to glorify nature.’ With events for all ages running throughout the year and a dedicated team of horticulturalists we think that they are definitely on the right [garden] path.
The Botanic Garden is split into two sections, the Walled Garden and the Lower Garden, each with its own specific purpose and theme to be enjoyed. The Walled Garden is home to plants of a scientific and heritage nature, including a collection of medicinal plants. The Lower Garden follows a collection of thematic and ornamental areas, including Rock Garden, Gin Border and our favorite, Plants that Changed the World display.
Both pre-booked and ‘drop in’ tours are available but we recommend checking full details online as prices vary year on year.
Oxford Botanic Garden
Address: Rose Lane, Oxford, OX1 4A
Website: Oxford Botanic Garden
10. Step back in time and watch a movie at the Ultimate Picture Palace
Oxford has only one independent cinema and luckily for us, the ‘Ultimate Picture Palace’ is great. This beautiful cinema covers both independent, world and mainstream movies alongside events and live showings. They regularly have themed seasons, so if you are in town for a few days you could set yourself time to really delve into the world of movies.
This small cinema offers a relaxed vibe with a bar offering alcoholic drinks and snacks but absolutely no popcorn, which we love as a rule. A quieter experience than many multiplex cinemas.
The other thing we love about this cinema? The ticket booth is outside so yes, you can finally pretend that you are in the 1920s. If you’re into your films, you don’t want to miss out on this unique cinema. Tickets prices range from 6 - 9 GBP per adult (7.80 - 11.73 USD).
Ultimate Picture Palace
Address: Jeune Street, Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1BN
Website: Ultimate Picture Palace
Enjoy the sights of the dramatic Oxfordshire skyline with a cocktail and a meal at Varsity Club. Forget the lower floors and head straight to the roof for this one. Open all year round the Varsity Club is heated for those colder nights, but during the sunny seasons you can expect to see for miles. With a great selection of beers, ciders, champagne, wines and spirits you can easily spend an evening here.
Food is available from 6 to 9 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 9 p.m. on weekends, although tables are offered on a first come first serve basis so we recommend arriving early to enjoy the seat and the sunset. Note, it’s over 21 only on weekend evenings.
Prices are reasonable with a beer costing about £5.50 ($7) and cocktails coming in at £7.50 ($10) upwards. The roof kitchen offers small plates for £6 ($8) or larger platters from £12.50 ($16).
Address: 9 High St, Oxford, OX1 4DB
Website: Varsity Club
ReflectionCongratulations, you made it to the end of what we hope has been a jam-packed day. You’ve walked the length of Oxford, heard stories from the Harry Potter filming, learnt about the history of Oxford, sampled some amazing food from the market, rummaged into the art and fashion landscape and finally had a glorious cocktail with the perfect view. As the sun is setting over Oxford, it’s time to relax and think about what to do tomorrow. Phew.
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