Oxford, England is one of those cities that leaves an impression long after your visit. Known for being home to one of the most impressive universities in the world, Oxford is a haven for anyone who loves museums, history, and architecture.
When I visited Oxford, I didn’t do my usual Pinterest-inspired exhaustive itinerary. I mostly just walked around.
It was raining that day, but that totally added to the charming, historical atmosphere of the city. The architecture is stunning and way older than my American self can even imagine. The “new” college, for example, was created in the 1370s!
How To Spend A Rainy Day In Oxford England
Whether you’re traveling from far away or just need a fun day trip from London, here’s how to spend a rainy day in Oxford, England.
Tour the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History will delight any nature enthusiast. With an impressive display of paleontological finds, skeletons, fossils, and modern exhibits about our natural world, The Oxford Museum of Natural History is a great place to enjoy your rainy day in Oxford!
Visit a Pub
I spent a big chunk of my day holed up in the Turf Tavern pub. This cozy place to grab a pint is actually one of the most popular Oxford attractions.
From the signs around the pub, I learned that they have quite an infamous history of important people misbehaving there. The place was packed and the pub seemed to extend for ages with a maze of patios that snaked around the old buildings.
Inside, the roof was so low I could only stand up straight if I was between the thick wooden studs. I made knowing eye contact with all the other tall people in the bar and we watched as person after person bonked their head on the first low beam in the doorway.
Eat a Pie at the Oxford Covered Market
The Oxford Covered Market is an indoor market that dates back to the 1700s. There are dozens of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes inside, so head this way around lunchtime and you won’t be disappointed.
I had an excellent asparagus and mushroom pie for lunch from Pieminister. My veggie pie came on a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy, which was the perfect warm comfort food for a cold and wet traveler with soaked through Toms. (Why do I keep wearing my Toms in the rain? Will I never learn?)
Admire an Astrolabe at the Museum of the History of Science
The museum is full of historical scientific devices The main exhibit was a room full of astrolabes, sundials, and stargazing devices from hundreds of years ago. The basement of the museum was set up as an old-timey chemistry lab with beakers, chemicals, and journals of famous chemists.
On the wall hung a chalkboard that had been written on by Albert Einstein himself when he gave a lecture at Oxford in 1931. It is amazing that something as fragile as writing on a chalkboard has survived this long without getting lost or accidentally erased.
Tour Christ Church
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you won’t want to miss Christ Church in Oxford, England. You can book tickets in advance on the Christ Church website and admission includes access to the Cathedrale of Oxford, Christ Church college, and an audio guide.
Explore the Oxford Castle and Prison
At the Oxford Castle and Prison, you can literally step back in time. The castle dates back to 1066 and was later transformed into a prison. Today, you can take a guided tour to learn about the history of the grounds and see the architecture first hand.
On the tour, you’ll get to explore prison cells and ancient crypts. You can even climb up St. Georges’s tower for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
Final Thoughts: A Rainy Day in Oxford England
Walking around Oxford felt like a surreal experience. Even though the rain made it difficult to do a lot of the traditional Oxford tourist activities, I still feel like I got a good sense of what the town is all about. I can’t wait to visit again and peel back more layers of this fascinating destination.