Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in England and has history woven through its streets from the colleges and buildings that make up the fabric of the city centre. Its origins are cemented in the 9th century and its transformation is still ongoing which makes for a wonderful mix of streets and alleys to explore! Check out these 12 most picturesque streets in Oxford for perfect photo opportunities and to take a step back in time.
1. Turl Street
First up is Turl Street which extends between the High Street and Broad Street with four different University Colleges squeezed within its length. This is one of my favourite streets in Oxford, not just because it’s where the college I attended is located but also because of the wonderful old style shop front signs that take you back to the 1950s/60s! It’s not a surprise that this makes it a popular spot for filming period dramas and series. I’ve seen Endeavour being filmed here before!
2. 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 on the other. Just watch out for bikes coming flying round the corner as you walk down.
3. Merton Street
Merton Street is very close to the busy High Street but is a relatively quiet street in Oxford except from during exam time! In this photo you can see the entrances to Corpus Christi college and further along the Merton College entrance as well. Keep walking along and you’ll reach the back of Exam Schools. In summer term this is where joyous students venture out into the street dressed in Sub Fusc to celebrate finishing their finals!
4. Holywell Street
Holywell is a pastel coloured dream street that New College can be found along. It has plenty of pretty buildings as well as some restaurants and at the end closest to Broad Street you’ll find the King’s Arms pub which is popular with students – we always had our college Chemistry freshers drinks here!
5. Bath Place
Bath Place is a little passageway between Holywell Street the in Tavern pub. You duck under the Path Place Hotel sign to find it, passing the wonderful pastel coloured yard that the Hotel sits within. It’s super cute and completed with some lovely flower boxes and an old school lamp as well 💕
6. St Mary’s Passage
St Mary’s Passage is a teeny tine stretch of pavement between Radcliffe Square and the High Street. On one side is Brasenose College and the other the University Church but its charm lies in the lamp that stands perfectly along the lane. This lamp (and the Narnia door) are said to have inspired CS Lewis when writing the Chronicles of Narnia series whilst living in Oxford. It’s a super photogenic spot!
7. North Parade Avenue
North Parade Avenue is the furthest North street on this list but it’s worth the walk out of the city centre! You can finding it by following Banbury Road up towards Summertown where it is hidden off to the left of the main road.
There’s a cheery mix of pubs and businesses along this street and both the Gardeners Arms and the Rose & Crown have super colourful flower baskets hanging outside! The streets is so pretty and one of my favourite spots to photograph in Oxford 🌸
8. Oriel Street
Oriel Street is a colourful little lane that runs between the High Street and Oriel Square where you can find the entrance to Oriel College as well as a back entrance to Christ Church College. It makes for a great shot because of the sandy coloured brick of Oriel College on the right contrasting with the brightly coloured buildings on the left hand side of the street!
9. Catte Street
Catte Street is on the opposite side of the University Church to St Mary’s Passage but is every bit as beautiful. Instead of the lamp post in the middle of the lane, there are lamps down the left hand side and a view to Quod, a favourite restaurant for students lunching with their parents.
10. Queen’s Lane
Queen’s Lane hides the entrance to one of Oxford’s more inconspicuous colleges, St Edmund’s Hall (aka Teddy Hall). Queen’s Lane is a peaceful spot just off the High Street but a very typical Oxford corner with red post box and the many bikes piled up against the bike racks. What really makes this street picturesque is the sight of The Grand Cafe peeping out on the other side. This is the oldest coffee house in England!
11. Magpie Lane
Magpie Lane has an interesting history which whilst not evident from its current name but one of its old names gives a bit of a clue: Grope Lane. This was a typical name for certain streets during the Middle Ages in Britain as it often referred to streets frequented by prostitutes!
Today it’s a wonderfully historic narrow lane with excellent views in both directions. Looking North you can see the spire of the University Church rising up above the buildings and looking South you can see the gorgeous details of Corpus Christi College (which actually holds an annual tortoise race!).
12. New College Lane
New College Lane stretches round New College and opens up to the Sheldonian Theatre where the Bridge of Sighs reaches across two parts of Hertford College. There are some beautiful college buildings all along its length and as it turns into Queen’s Lane.
The Bridge of Sighs is a very popular and incredibly picturesque spot in the city and is actually the latest of the three Bridge of Sighs to be built! You can see its look-a-likes in Cambridge and Venice.
Which streets do you want to see?!
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