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Oxford on a budget -10 free things to do in Oxford

Oxford is an amazing city to visit. Home to the oldest university in the English speaking world, it's chock full of history, with a castle, cathedral, Medieval churches and of course, its 43 beautiful colleges.

Like many destinations in the south of England, Oxford isn't cheap. In fact it's up there with London and Cambridge on lists of the most expensive cities in the UK! However, that doesn't mean that you can't visit Oxford on a budget, and we're all about saving pennies while travelling - here are 10 fun and free things to do in beautiful Oxford:

1. The Ashmolean Museum - start your visit at Oxford's most famous museum, the amazing Ashmolean! Chock full of art and archaeological treasures from the Romans to the Ancient Egyptians, its collection reminds us of London's British Museum. See if you can find Guy Fawkes' lantern on the lower ground floor - said to be the one he was using when he was discovered guarding barrels of gunpowder beneath the Houses of Parliament and arrested on November 5th 1605.

2. Natural History Museum - Fossils galore beneath a dramatic glass roof including a towering T-Rex and an impressive Triceratops skull. Check out the 126 supporting pillars, all made from different rocks from around the UK!

3. Pitt Rivers Museum - attached to the Natural History Museum, this is an enormous anthropological collection founded by a famous archaeologist, General Augustus Pitt Rivers. The museum consists of 1 vast room over 3 levels, filled with glass display cabinets absolutely stuffed with artefacts from all over the world.

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4. Radcliffe Square - take some photos and stroll around one of Oxford's loveliest squares, home to the iconic Oxford landmarks the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library. The Bodleian Library is the 2nd largest in Britain after London's British Library and as a Legal Deposit Library, it hols a copy of every book published in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

an aerial view of Radcliffe Square, Oxford. Radcliffe Camera

5. Blackwell's Norrington Room - Oxford has some outstanding literary connections: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein and Lewis Carroll all taught at Oxford University, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley studied at, and was expelled from, the university and the city features in numerous books including Brideshead Revisited, Philip Pullman's (another former Oxford student) Northern Lights and the Inspector Morse series. Head to Blackwells on Broad Street and pop downstairs to see 3 miles of bookshelves holding over 150,000 books - The Norrington Room opened in 1966 and once held the Guinness World Record for the world's largest display of books in one room!

The Norrington Room, Oxford. a famous room in Blackwells bookshop, full of thousands of books

6. Alice's Shop - another one for literary fans, this whimsical little shop stocks all kinds of Alice in Wonderland themed gifts and memorabilia - in Victorian times it was a grocers where the real Alice Liddell bought her sweets, and family friend Lewis Carroll wrote his book while he was a maths professor at nearby Christ Church College.

7. Covered Market - Constructed in the 1770s and bombed in WWII, head inside to window shop the historic corridors and wander your way around 50 independent shops and cafes. This is a great place to pause your sightseeing and stop for lunch, and it's also home to the original flagship Ben's Cookies!

8. Weston Library - this building, part of the Bodleian Libraries often hosts free exhibitions. It's currently running one about Geoffrey Chaucer until April 28th and from the end of May it will be replaced by an exhibition about the works of Franz Kafka, to mark the 100 year anniversary of his death.

9. Walk under the Bridge of Sighs - just like Venice and Cambridge, Oxford has its own Bridge of Sighs connecting two buildings. Part of Hertford College (it's official name is Hertford Bridge), you can't walk over it but you can stroll beneath and follow the road round to explore a lovely route down the historic lanes surrounding Queens College. The Bridge of Sighs is also close to other architectural gems like the Sheldonian Theatre, Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library.

Oxford's Bridge of Sighs, evening.

10. Christ Church Meadows - take a picnic and enjoy this beautiful green meadow. Walk along the river, watch the punts go by and if you're lucky you might spot the Oxford rowing team out training! If you have the money to buy a drink, the Head of the River is a really lovely waterside pub.

How to Get to Oxford

Located right in the centre of the south of England, Oxford is easy to reach from other major cities - less than 2 hours drive from London, Birmingham, Bath and Portsmouth, Oxford is only 3 stops (53 minutes) by train from London Paddington or the Oxford Tube coach runs from London Victoria all the way into Oxford's city centre.

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Travel blog - 10 awesome things to do in Oxford for free


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