Oxford is one of the most gorgeous and picturesque cities in England. It’s full of history in particular related to the ancient University and the colleges that make it up. Get lost down every colourful winding alley you find to discover hidden pubs, rainbow coloured houses and amazing architecture.
There are so many spots to find so check out these 18 that are some of the best to add to your Instagram feed (and I should know – I spent 4 years living here!).
1. St Mary’s Passage
This magical little spot is one of my fave Insta spots in Oxford because it incorporates the distinctive Radcliffe Camera library, typical quaint cobble stones and of course the infamous Narnia lamp post! CS Lewis is said to have been inspired by this alleyway as it incorporates not only the lamp post that may seem very familiar but also the Narnia door which is ornately decorated with a golden lion face and flanked by carvings of fawns!
2. Magdalene Bridge Boathouse
A traditional Oxford activity is to hire a punt from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse and punt leisurely along the River Cherwell for an hour or so. The punts lined up along the river underneath Magdalen Bridge make for a unique shot and the colourful boat cushions pop amongst the hues of brown wood.
3. Christ Church Memorial Gardens
Christ Church is one of the most famous colleges in Oxford because of its prominent location, its beautiful meadows and its inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall in Harry Potter. My fave spot for a photo (and it’s free!) is of the Christ Church Memorial Gardens which are directly on your left as you enter Christ Church Meadows from St Aldates. You get a great view of the college with the layers of garden, flowers and greenery below 🌿
4. The Rose & Crown
Follow St Giles north as it turns into Banbury Road and look left when you see North Parade Avenue. This bright and cheery street has some lovely independent shops and cafes as well as the GORGEOUS Rose & Crown pub! You can’t go wrong with a pink pub that’s covered in lush flowers 😍
5. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a classic Oxford Instagram spot which you will undoubtedly have to pose beneath! It joins two sides of Hartford College across New College Lane. You may know there’s also a Bridge of Sighs in ‘The Other Place’ (aka Cambridge – not sorry 😉) and of course Venice. The Oxford version is the most recent being completed in 1914.
6. The Grand Cafe
On the High Street you can find The Grand Cafe. This ornately decorated cafe is famous for its afternoon tea and also its beautiful blue facade with gold detailing. It’s such a perfect spot for an Instagram shot!
7. Holywell Street
Holywell Street is one of Oxford’s most colourful streets with lovely pastel coloured buildings all the way along one part of the street 🤩 it’s right opposite New College and that little green building you can see at the street corner is The Alternative Tuck Shop which does delicious cheese and marmite bagels 🥯
8. Oriel Street
Oriel Street is a narrow street in the heart of Oxford that runs between the High Street and Oriel Square. It’s enchanting little passages like this that you want to turn down and get lost in to really explore Oxford! In this Insta shot you get the contrast of the rainbow buildings on the left with the historic college wall on the right looking all the way down to the University Church.
9. Merton Street
Merton Street is a little bit quieter than some of Oxford’s other central streets because it’s a little out of the way although parallel to the High Street. In the Trinity (Summer) term this street is full of students celebrating the end of exams as Exams School is at the end of the street. At this spot you can see two colleges on the right.
Corpus Christi is closest to the right hand side and then Merton College is further along. In between the two colleges is a little gate that leads into Christ Church Meadow.
10. Brasenose Lane
Brasenose Lane is one of those quintessential Oxford lanes. Whichever direction you walk along the view is stunning with the Rad Cam rising tall on one side and the walls of Exeter College & Brasenose College enveloping you in the other. Just watch out for bikes coming flying round the corner!
11. Phone Box on St Giles
The red pop of a phone box gives a great addition to any photo and there are plenty to be found in Oxford! You can find this one outside St John’s College on St Giles right down from The Lamb & Flag pub which is where we used to have a pint before our annual college subject dinner!
12. Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library is one of the most amazing places in Oxford. It’s a series of impressive library halls for students to study in. Make sure to stay silent if you enter into the courtyard but come and admire the beautiful walls that surround you. If you are able to visit inside the library there are some special rooms. The Duke Humphreys library doubles as a restricted part of the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter series whilst the spell binding Divinity School features in a number of the films.
13. Radcliffe Square
The Radcliffe Camera may be one of the most iconic buildings in Oxford with its distinctive round shape and domed top. This is a must spot for photos in Oxford either of the building itself or walking up to the gate!
There are loads of beautiful angles – try and capture the side of the Rad Cam alongside All Souls College in the background! Take a look at where the entrance to the Radcliffe Camera leads to the entrance to the Bodleian. Underneath this spot there is a tunnel that runs between the two libraries! I walked along it once with a friend whilst studying and it was pretty creepy!
14. Turl Street
I might be biased but Turl Street may be my favourite spot in Oxford because this is where my college is and I spent a lot of time cycling down this street! There are entrances to three different colleges here – Lincoln, Exeter and (the best one of all 😉) Jesus. But it’s also a wonderful street because of all the shops and their signs close to the High Street end. Turl Street is still used as it is for tv shows such as Endeavour which I’ve seen filmed on the street!
15. Sheldonian Theatre
The Sheldonian Theatre sits right beside the Bodleian Library and looks out over Broad Street. The beautiful rounded building is an important location in the city as not only is it a great place to hear concerts but it’s also where students graduate at the end of their degrees! You can even climb up to the top of that little domed top for views across the city centre and the spires and rooftops of the central colleges.
16. Bath Place
Walking along Holywell Street from the King’s Arms you’ll notice a cute cobbled alleyway full of little pastel hued buildings! This tiny lane is called Bath Place and it’s definitely one of the most charming spots in Oxford!
Wander down the alleyway to see the adorable Bath Place Hotel and turn left at the bottom to find yourself at the Turf Tavern one of the city’s most infamous pubs! It is here that Bill Clinton said that he ‘didn’t inhale’…what do you believe?!
17. Broad Street
Broad Street is every bit as broad as it sounds! It has many impressive and historic buildings along its lengths including the History of Science Museum, the Sheldonian Theatre and the Weston Library as well as entrances to various colleges. I love this little shot as in one photo you can see parts of Trinity College and Balliol College plus the teeny tiny White Horse pub sandwiched between two different entrances to the distinctive blue of Blackwell’s book shop!
18. Catte Street
So seriously I think everywhere you look Oxford is totally Insta worthy because this is another spot around the Radcliffe Camera that is super pretty 🥰 Parallel to St Mary’s Passage, on the other side of the University Church is Catte Street which has another perfectly positioned lamp post with dreamy architecture on either side. It looks down to the High Street and you can just see Quod on the other side – a favourite for students to suggest to visiting parents for a Sunday lunch!
Did you know Oxford was this pretty and could fill your Insta feed for 18 days solid?! I hope you have a great time in this inspiring city and find all the spots you’re after 😍
If you’re after some literary inspired places in Oxford then click through to my post!