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Balliol College

  • Guided tours
  • Day trips
  • Other experiences
  • Private tours

Balliol College: Our most recommended tours and activities

Oxford: Official University and City Walking Tour

1. Oxford: Official University and City Walking Tour

Explore Oxford, the city of Dreaming Spires, on a walking tour with an expert guide from the city’s tourism board. Be shown the city’s most famous sights, uncover its hidden history, and enjoy all the astonishing stories about Oxford's key characters- real and fictional. Meet your guide at the grand and very old Broad Street (once the city's ditch) let them know where you come from and any special Oxford interests you may have and they will do their best to incorporate those.  Go to Martyrs' Memorial, the scene of terrible religious retributions in medieval times, and on to the oldest tower at St Michael of the Northgate built in Saxon times. Then, make your way to the very heart of the University and the inspiration behind Harry Potter's Hogwarts School. Pass by the pubs where the Inklings used to meet to discuss their writing as well as the pubs where Inspector Morse was filmed and the most popular student drinking holes in days of old. Discover the city that is home to several of Britain's most famous literary characters - both fictional and real - such as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, and Colin Dexter as well as some of their most famous creations like Lyra and Will, and Inspector Morse. Admire Oxford's stupendous architecture, gargoyles and grotesques, so wonderfully preserved from every historical period and style, and take a stroll through the breathtaking Radcliffe Square. Cross the whimsical Bridge of Sighs as it's fondly known, just like the ones in Venice and Cambridge. See the Bodleian Libraries from the outside in the splendid Old Schools Quadrangle. Learn about the city’s famous museums including the Museum of the History of Science, containing Einstein's blackboard, The Pitt Rivers, once home to shrunken heads, and the fabulous Ashmolean, which was one of the very first ever museums in the world. If time allows, walk as far as to the beautiful Christ Church Meadows, where punting happens and cattle graze; a truly pastoral and quintessential English scene.

Oxford: City Bike Tour with Student Guide

2. Oxford: City Bike Tour with Student Guide

Discover Oxford’s historic town center, and the magical parks on the outskirts of town with this guided bike tour. Pedal past the city’s best attractions and cover more ground. Meet your guide in the city center to start your experience. Cycle through the city alongside a student guide, and learn about the history of Oxford. Marvel at the university buildings where Oscar Wilde, J. R. R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and many British politicians studied. Admire the architecture of Oxford colleges, and enter the famous Bodleian Library. Marvel at the scenery of Port Meadow, and visit sites you can’t reach on foot. Enjoy plenty of stops along the route, and finish back at the original meeting point.

Oxford: Official “Haunted Oxford” Ghost Tour

3. Oxford: Official “Haunted Oxford” Ghost Tour

Discover all the key haunted places in and around Oxford on a nighttime walking tour loosely based on the book 'Haunted Oxford' by local author Rob Walters, just one of the experienced and talented Guides. Experience the best way to 'see' Oxford’s ghosts on a route that takes you around the heart of central Oxford and its University. Meet your guide and get whisked away into the night, starting on the corner of Turl Street and Broad Street, which was once the city ditch and site of terrible murders and religious persecution. Learn about the history of Oxford and hear many splendidly spooky stories dating back to Danish Viking times. Walk past Oxford University, Radcliffe Square, and peer into the Old Schools Quadrangle - of Harry Potter fame. Admire the gorgeous and imposing architecture of Oxford and feel the history in the walls, which are well preserved and represent every period of architecture from Medieval through Classical to modern.  Look up at the Bridge of Sighs, so-called as it is reminiscent of the one at Venice which led prisoners to their doom. Wind down the ancient walled lane to New College, built in the late 1300s, and see its dark gates against the gloom.

Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

4. Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

Embark on an extended 3-hour tour of the best Oxford has to offer with a local student guide. Go behind closed doors with an energetic and knowledgeable student guide who will help you to peel back the complex layers and mystique of this world-famous institution. First, visit one of the oldest colleges at Oxford University for a peek inside this restricted world of academia. Stroll the gardens, unearth the peculiar Oxford traditions, and see from a real student, how this elite educational institution operates. Then, head over to the Bodleian Library - a colossal site that houses over 13 million books. Enter the first purpose-built lecture room at Oxford, where you can admire some of the most ornate medieval architecture in Europe. Listen as your guide explains the early rituals and tests students underwent, how the British Parliament was held in the building by King Charles I and later King Charles II. Discover the library’s role in the most defining ceremony at Oxford and see the locations where multiple scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Along with these focal points, also cover the most famous landmarks in Oxford city and at Oxford University. Your private tour can be tailored to the specific locations or subjects you wish to cover. Just contact the operator in advance if you have anything specific in mind and they will do their best to incorporate anything that’s available to the public on the day (additional entrance fees may be required for such requests).

Oxford: Famous Alumni Exploration Game

5. Oxford: Famous Alumni Exploration Game

Explore Oxford in a unique way, by playing an exploration game on your phone via an app. Learn about famous alumni who walked through the city's streets and university's walls, visit locations where Harry Potter was filmed, and have fun with your whole family or friends. Reenact the story of a brilliant former Oxford professor trying to figure out the mystery of their lab partner’s death during your engaging game. Solve challenges and watch the story unfold on your app, as well as exact directions that guide you to your next location. Start your exploration game from The Eagle and Child pub. Best of all, play the game at your own pace, pausing it whenever you feel like a coffee or food break and resuming anytime from the location where you paused it.

Oxford: Original Uncomfortable Tour – by Oxford Students

6. Oxford: Original Uncomfortable Tour – by Oxford Students

The Decolonial Walking tour of Oxford focuses on the question of how the University of Oxford gained power first locally, then globally, becoming the recognizable name that we know today. The tour starts with the history of Oxford itself as a town contending with a growing university, a history marked by violence and power imbalance, the effects of which still shape the space of the modern city. Yet quickly, the question of who holds power over the city streets takes a new turn as the tour takes participants to the much-debated statue of Cecil Rhodes, throning above two kings of England on the façade of an Oriel College building facing the High Street. The discussion is about both the power of statues and the historical legacy of the individual, and invites views coming from over places, to better understand how heritage debates are more about the present than about the past. This approach continues throughout the tour, creating connections between the past and the present that go beyond simple simplistic narratives. All Souls college library tells us the story of how West European countries benefited from the institution of slavery through the example of Christopher Codrington, an early modern almunus and donor, who was himself a slaveholder in Barbados. It asks its audience to wonder about how these histories still shape our lives today, who is remembered or forgotten, how to meaningfully diversify and transform what we see in the public space? The tour continues across the old city centre, stopping at famous sites such as the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre or again Oriel College, asking the question of who is represented in the urban landscape and architecture, who is invisible, and what it meant in the past. Leading discussions on the access of women to education, the opening of the University to students coming from the British colonies and the discriminations they faced, or the question of class and unequal access to the University, the guide will lead the participants through complex but productive and respectful discussions of uncomfortable topics and their lingering effects in the present. Finally, the tour will end on Bonn Square for a discussion of war memorials, colonial wars, and imperial amnesia, to encourage participants to continue these discussions together once the tour is over. The Decolonial Tour is also an introduction to the ethos and mission of Uncomfortable Oxford, with a systematic questioning of modes of memorialization: who is commemorated, who is overlooked, what do statues, names, and memorials really mean, and how does the historical significance we ascribe to individuals and events change over time?

Oxford: Costumed Ghost Tour with Special Guests

7. Oxford: Costumed Ghost Tour with Special Guests

Prepare for the unexpected and keep your wits about you as you undertake one of the most entertaining experiences in Oxford. Home to some of the most brutal murders in England's long history, Oxford is uniquely known as the epicenter of troubled souls, dark energy, and flesh-eating beasts. Venture through the dark alleyways and haunted squares of the town while enjoying mysterious tales of ghosts, horror. and sinister happenings. Learn about Oxford’s terrifying history with a combination of stories and dramatic performances by expertly trained actors who will play out the most barbaric and brutal punishments exacted during Oxford's Medieval and Civil War years. Be prepared for the surprise appearance of multiple wild beasts! After an exhilarating and entertaining wander around the city, finish up at one of the famous pubs in Oxford.

Oxford: Complete University Tour with optional Christ Church

8. Oxford: Complete University Tour with optional Christ Church

You will begin in central Oxford, with a brief and engaging introduction which will lay the foundation for the vast periods of history to be covered! Then the tour will enter a college renowned for having the most beautiful lawns in Oxford along with an iconic dispute with its neighbour - resulting in a supposed theft of the College tortoise (Oxford Annual Tortoise Race explanation included!). Then the group will visit the Sheldonian Theatre, where students experience the most iconic ceremony at Oxford University. You can hear from your student guide how the experience was for them. Next you will enter a historic museum -complete with a chalkboard used by Einstein in Oxford - and visit the Weston Library, a great example of a hybrid historic and modern interior. This tour will then cover sites that none of our other tours do! Including Rhodes House, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The latter is known to have one of the most exceptional collections in England, including Victorian shrunken heads. The tour stops for lunch at the Eagle and Child pub, a second home to J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis while they were members of the Inklings. After lunch, you can get a photo under the Bridge of Sighs before gazing up at the first round library in England, where your Oxford student guide will give you rare insights into the labyrinth of underground tunnels students. Not to be forgotten, All Souls College. With entrance exams as complex as they are bizarre, this site will highlight how exclusive a College can be and how influential its members are. Heading down to the southern part of Oxford, we visit a hidden door depicting the most famous characters in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Before entering the largest College at Oxford, Home to Oscar Wilde and C. S. Lewis, and its own deer park. Explore the iconic grounds which have been home to Oxford’s most influential writers, complete with medieval cloisters. The tour will head over to Merton College, home of Tolkien, to discuss not only its literary importance, but it’s multi million pound kitchen, funded by the current Emperor of Japan! The tour will then go to Christ Church College, exploring the unique meadows - such a stunning expanse of land incredibly rare in a medieval city. Here you will learn about its close connection to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - along with its decision to be held to a different time zone than the rest of Oxford. Those who have selected the option to enter Christ Church will then have their pre arranged tickets given to them, and they will be free to explore the college at their own pace. The guide will be at hand before entering to offer further advice and guidance. Please note - the structure on the day may differ.

Oxford Day Trip from London: City Tour, Colleges & Lunch

9. Oxford Day Trip from London: City Tour, Colleges & Lunch

Travel back in time on this Private Day Trip Tour into one of the world's most academic and intellectual cities. Get away from busy London and tour Oxford with a private local guide. Admire not only the city's medieval architectural beauty and its river and natural environment, but also its traditional English cuisine. Learn about the history of Oxford Castle, an ancient castle over 1,000 years old, famous for having once been a prison. Visit the only 12th-century tower still standing in the city. Take the opportunity to enter the History of Sciences Museum to see the famous blackboard that Einstein once used during a lecture at some Oxford University, and which still preserves its formulas. Relax and enjoy a delicious British lunch with a typical English beer in a traditional 14th-century tavern. Enjoy the best views of this university city by climbing to the top of the 13th-century tower of the University Church of St Mary. See the most prestigious colleges in the world, from Balliol College (the oldest in Oxford) to the most important college in the city: Christ Church College. Enter and breathe the university and intellectual air of Oxford. Get to know its beautiful Gothic building and discover how its students live. Enjoy Oxford in-depth, with its History, its Culture, Gastronomy, Colleges, and local’s lifestyle in this amazing Private Day Tour.

Oxford: Private Walking Tour with University Alumni Guide

10. Oxford: Private Walking Tour with University Alumni Guide

Whether you’re coming for a family holiday or a day trip with friends, Oxford is the perfect historic destination. If you know where to look, you’ll find Harry Potter filming locations; the alma maters of some of the world's most famous literary figures, politicians and philosophers; the pub in which the first copies of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe' were handed out; and much, much more. But how do you make the most out of your time in this magical city? A private tour is a great way to get an intimate and tailored insight into Oxford and the beautiful university. You can completely tailor the experience: from meeting and starting points to any particular themes you wish to be covered (please email the local supplier in advance with any requests). Speak to your guide if you would like to visit any paid sites  this can be discussed and arranged for you. Depending on what you would like to see, there may be additional entrances fees but your guides can discuss all available options for you at the start of the tour. Your guides have a great insight into Oxford and are committed to providing interesting and enjoyable tours of this beautiful city, rather than tours which put people to sleep. Most of your guides have themselves studied at The University of Oxford and can provide you with details on how the institution really works. Cover the highlights of Oxford to ensure you see the best the city has to offer. A typical itinerary includes: • Balliol College • Trinity College • Sheldonian Theatre • The Divinity School • Bridge of Sighs • The Bodleian Library • The Radcliffe Camera • The University Church of St Mary The Virgin • Christ Church College • All Souls College • Oriel College • Merton College

Other Sightseeing Options in Balliol College

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What people are saying about Balliol College

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 135 reviews

Hannah is knowledgeable and humble. I enjoyed the tour, I will surely reffer my friends and family to take part in the tour. Hannah is very diplomatic and avoided controversial or political topics. I am from Zimbabwe formally known as Rhodesia, after Cecil John Rhodes, Hannah handles the topic very well, I was impressed. I learnt so much about Oxford that I didn't know about.

Hannah was extremely well informed about Oxford and the places we visited. She was easy to understand and to listen to. Excellent tour guide.

Totally worth it! Dont't just wonder around looking at buildings, get yourself a guide, hear some great stories and learn a few things!

She did a wonderful job telling us ghost stories on our walk about Oxford. And bonus we found some new pubs to try.

very informative.Guide very knowledgeable.Made the whole experience worthwhile.