Oxford has won many awards and accolades but unfortunately they include being the most expensive pint outside London and the most expensive staycation in the UK. It is a beautiful, inspiring and interesting city so if you are wary of the cost of visiting then don’t be deterred – here are some ideas of things to do which are free.
DIY Morse/Lewis/Endeavour tour
The Tourist Information place on Broad Street deliver what I imagine is a mighty fine tour but if you’re a bit skint then it is pretty easy to do one yourself. The city center is just full of locations and many, many pubs which Morse drank in. I developed one for my mum as part of her birthday trip to Oxford – in the evening I lined up clips, using various streaming sites, of the scenes from the places we had visited. It was a bit of work to do but totally worth it when watching a scene of Morse sat on a bench my mum excitedly said ‘Oh, that’s where I sat’!
Christ Church Meadow
A beautiful walk and a glorious spot for a picnic, making it a cheap lunch option. I can highly recommend getting your timing right and watching a rowing meet on the Thames. I once stumbled upon the Summer VIIIs, the big inter-college competition, and even though I had no affiliation with rowing or any of the colleges I randomly picked one and cheered and cheered and was certainly very cheered when my college won.
Ashmolean/ Weston Library/ Pitt Rivers
They are all free, with a donation option if you can, and they are all amazing. In fact I think Pitt Rivers may be my favourite museum I’ve ever visited – full to the rafters of everything from everywhere, it is an absolute joy.
Sheldonian Theatre and Divinity college
Not free but very cheap, only £3.50 and £1 respectively. The first was built by Sir Christopher Wren purely for the university’s ceremonial purposes and even though it is interesting to see inside, my favourite bit was climbing the squeaky wooden stairs to the cupola and the 360 degree view over the city. A wonderful way to really appreciate the city of spires.
Oxford seems to embrace almost every national day/celebration/anniversary/writer’s birthday possible and so many of these have free events as part of their offerings. This means that there are too many to list but I’m going to give a shout out to The Oxford Festival of Arts. I went last year with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in over 15 years, to an outdoor cinema showing of (aptly enough) Back to the Future – but that’s a whole other blog post.