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Carfax Tower

Carfax Tower: 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's Literary Legends and Landmarks" A Self-Guided Tour

2. Oxford's Literary Legends and Landmarks" A Self-Guided Tour

From the Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland to Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials, what is it about Oxford that has inspired several fantasy fiction classics? On this walking tour, Hears stories about how Oxford itself nurtured the minds of these fantasy literature giants. See where the famous wordsmiths behind these titles lived, worked and played, and some of their favourite haunts. You’ll be amazed at the sheer breadth of talent and imagination that’s concentrated in one city. Starting in front of Carfax Tower, you’ll wander through the city centre and along the Board Walk, along the way you’ll hear about Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I’ll show you the locations where JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was filmed, with the University of Oxford adapted to become Hogwarts. We’ll step into the world of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, where you’ll follow in the footsteps of Will and Lyra and make your way around Radcliffe Square to the Bodleian Library. After wandering through different parts of the university, your tour reaches the end in front of the Eagle and Child pub, a popular hangout for the Inklings, an informal literary club in the early to mid-1900s. Whether you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, classic literature, a newcomer to Oxford, or just plain curious, this tour offers a fascinating glimpse into another world – that of the imagination!

Oxford: City and University of Oxford Audio Guide

3. Oxford: City and University of Oxford Audio Guide

Matthew Arnold, a Victorian poet, once described Oxford as “the City of Dreaming Spires”. He was referring to the stunning architecture of the 39 colleges that make up the world famous University of Oxford. Join me on this leisurely walking tour around the beautiful city and I’ll tell you the stories behind the spires. This easy stroll takes you from Carfax Tower, around the historical city centre where the majority of the colleges are situated, to finish on Magdalen Street next to the Martyrs’ Memorial. Along the way, I’ll fill you in on some of the quaint traditions and ceremonies that still take place around the colleges today, like why Great Tom, the bell above the entrance to Christ Church College, chimes 101 times at 9.05pm. You’ll hear about the famous authors, politicians and poets that have contributed to Oxford’s history too, and I’ll show you the filming locations for numerous TV series such as Morse, Endeavour and Midsummer Murders. You’ll even follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter as you take in Christ Church and its own great hall. By the end of this tour, you’ll: • Discover why Oxford’s time is 5 minutes behind the rest of the country • Find out why Oxford students are forbidden from jumping into the River Cherwell • Learn about a riot that lasted three days and cost the lives of 93 people • See the college that has produced no less than 13 of this country’s Prime Ministers • Visit the spot where three senior members of the church were executed on the orders of Bloody Mary Give yourself 90-minutes or linger along the way as there are plenty of opportunities to stop for a drink, a light snack, or even a very civilised afternoon tea.

Oxford: Original Uncomfortable Tour – by Oxford Students

4. 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: City, University & Pub Walking Tours

5. Oxford: City, University & Pub Walking Tours

Be escorted by local experts who are on hand to meet you throughout the day. Use the app to track your nearest guide and begin to discover countless visitor hotspots, including the University of Oxford, Radcliffe Camera, Carfax Tower, and Oxford Castle. Stepping Through Oxford walking tour includes: Radcliffe Camera Bodleian Library The Tower of the Five Orders Bridge of Sights Hertfort College Clarendon Building University of Oxford The Wenston Library The Old Schools Quad The White Horse Town and Gown walking tour includes: Carfax Tower Christ Church The Old Tom St. Aldates Tavern Oxford Town Hall Swindlestock Tavern High Street University Church of St. Mary the Virgin Bodleian Library Alice's Shop Historical Pubs walking tour includes: The Crown Covered Market St. Micheal at the North Gate Oxford Martyrs Cross The bear Inn The Wheatsheaf St. Aldates Tavern History of Science Museum Sheldonian Theatre Holywell Music Room New College All Souls College Our 6 self-guided route's main sights: St. Margaret's Well Port Meadow Folly Bridge Oxford Castle and Prison Trill Mill Stream Nuffield College Martyrs Memorial Ashmolean Museum Jericho University Parks Rhodes House Headington Shark ...and many more!

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

6. 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.

Other Sightseeing Options in Carfax Tower

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What people are saying about Carfax Tower

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 161 reviews

A very interesting tour of Oxford, lots of Interesting history and some amusing anecdotes too. The guide was very friendly and extremely knowledgable. I loved it and so did my 13 year old daughter . Will definitely do again,

Our guide, Rob Walters, was knowledgeable and entertaining. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk and talk and would have loved it if he had carried on for another hour or two! We cannot recommend him highly enough.

A very enjoyable introduction to Oxford and its literary history! My nerdy husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and were very impressed by its navigation functionality.

Our tour guide Walter was splendid and cheerful, we had a jolly good time. His knowledge on the south asian connection of Oxford University was kinda cool.

Terrific 2 hours. Learnt a lot from a very informative and pleasant guide. So much history in Oxford.