The Ultimate Guide to The Best Walks in Oxford (2023)

CityDays’ ultimate guide to the best walks in Oxford, including walking tours, free walks, walks in Oxfordshire, and short walks in Oxford.


...Oxford I have no doubt, is the finest city in the world - it is full of old Gothic buildings, spires, towers, quadrangles, cloisters, groves etc and is surrounded with more clear streams than I ever saw together.”

– John Keats

The glorious city of Oxford, an urban tapestry of rich, historic buildings and cosy boutiques, has been a hikers heaven for centuries. From rustic public footpaths in rural Oxfordshire to antique city streets, there is a trail to suit all interests and abilities - you just have to know where to go.

Is Oxford a Walkable City?

In short - yes! According to recent statistics, Oxford is the UK’s sixth most walkable city. As the only city in the county of Oxfordshire, Oxford is the county’s cosmopolitan capital and has been a well-established city since the 8th century. 

Since then, the fame of the University of Oxford and its close proximity to London has made it a must visit for tourists and locals alike. Packed with history and pedestrian-friendly passageways, Oxford is the ideal destination for walkers.

The Best Walks in Oxford

Ancient Echoes


Length:  3.0 kilometres / 1.9 miles
Average time to complete: 2 hours
Key sights: Oxford Castle and Prison, Ashmolean Museum, Christ Church Meadow, University Parks

One of the best walks in Oxford for sightseeing, The Ancient Echoes trail by CityDays turns a stroll around Oxford into a treasure hunt for the city’s most fascinating landmarks and facts. 

Starting from Oxford Castle and Prison, walkers on The Ancient Echoes route uncover the history of Oxford by solving clues and deciphering riddles, all the while basking in the northern half of the city’s bustling streets and gastronomic grandeur.

Ideal for tourists and locals alike, the route contains a perfectly balanced blend of famous sights and hidden gems, allowing you to absorb Oxford’s tumultuous history while your step count reaches dizzying heights!

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to Oxford
  • Locals: we’ve taught them things they didn’t know! 
  • Seeing Classic Oxford Landmarks and discovering quirky stories unique to the city of Oxford
  • Exploring Oxford’s hidden gems
  • Couples, friends, families or solo!

Scholars and Spires


Length:  3.2 kilometres / 2 miles
Average time to complete: 2 hours
Key sights: Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, Carfax Tower, Edmund Halley House

Second on our best walks in Oxford list (but by no means second-best), Scholars and Spires is a specially-curated trail that takes you on one of the best walks through Oxford city centre. 

Home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the Oxford English Dictionary and an impressive intellectual alumni list, Oxford is the perfect city for those who possess a curious mind.  

Be a boffin for the day by answering cryptic clues and cracking chronograms which lead you around Oxford’s picturesque views and fabulous academic architecture, uncovering stories about medieval tunnels and even a martyr’s jail. 

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to Oxford
  • Oxford locals who want to explore more of their city
  • Seeing Classic Oxford Landmarks
  • Date nights for couples
  • A family/friends day out in Oxford
  • Exploring Oxford’s history in a fun way

Free Walks in Oxford

Oxford Jubilee Walk


Length:  16.5 kilometres / 10.3 miles
(There is a shorter loop available at 12.3km / 7.7m)
Average time to complete: 3+ hours
Key sights: Boars Hill, Jarn Mound, Picturesque views of Oxford from afar

If your idea of going for nice walks in Oxford involves plenty of fresh, country air, then the Oxford Jubilee Walk is probably for you. 

Inaugurated in 1985 by the Oxford Ramblers Association, the Oxford Jubilee Route takes walkers on a long, sprawling trail out of Oxford and into the Oxfordshire countryside. The walk begins at Folly Bridge and meanders towards natural beauty spots such as Chilswell Valley, Boars Hill, the Thames Path and Jarn Mound. 

Psst: As with all walks in Britain, beware that during autumn and winter months (and, if you’re unlucky, during spring and summer too) heavy rain can flood parts of this route. Exercise caution and be warned that there’s a moderate to high chance of getting muddy!

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to Oxford
  • Oxford locals
  • Adults / Older kids (the walk is quite long and rated moderately difficult)
  • Getting plenty of fresh air
  • As an option for pub walks in Oxfordshire (there are 6 en route or nearby)
  • Taking alternative photos of Oxford

The Oxford City Walls Trail

Oxford Prison Sunset-2

Length:  5 kilometres / 3 miles
Average time to complete: 2+ hours
Key sights: Christ Church Meadow, Northgate, St George’s Tower

One of the best circular walks in Oxford, the Oxford City Walls trail takes walkers around the perimeter edge of what used to be the walled city of Oxford.

City walls have existed in Oxford since the late 9th century. Originally built by Saxons to keep pesky Danish Vikings out, the walls were restored and repaired all the way up until the English Civil War in 1642. 

These days, the remaining walls form a wonky, broken circle around the city with small stretches of original surviving walls. Begin at Folly Bridge and walk anticlockwise around the loop, stopping off at Southgate, Paradise Street, Turl Street, making your way towards New College and Christ Church Meadows. 

Find out more here

Perfect for:

  • First time visitors to Oxford
  • Adults, kids, families, couples
  • Walking in the footsteps of history
  • Seeing Oxford’s famous historic sights

Castle Mill Stream Walk

Thames Path Sign-2

Length:  5.6 kilometres / 3.5 miles
Average time to complete: 1-2 hours
Key sights: Oxford Castle, Thames Path, River Thames

For the best river walks in Oxford, one need only follow the delightful path on the Castle Mill Stream walk. Walkers on this route follow a quaint meandering stream that joins the mighty river Thames and through the city centre of Oxford. 

Ideal for walking your dog or catching up with friends and family; the Castle Mill Stream Walk is also great for people arriving in Oxford by train - you can join the walk on the railway station side of the Osney Bridge or walk to the traditional start point of the Walton Well Road Car Park. 

Perfect for:

  • Tourists in Oxford
  • Oxford Locals
  • Following a flat, circular route
  • Seeing Oxford’s famous historic sights such as Oxford Castle

Oxford University and City Centre Walk

Christ Church College Oxford-2

Length:  3.2 kilometres / 2 Miles
Average time to complete: 1 hour
Key sights: Old Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera, Christ Church College

For a classic walk in Oxford city, you can’t go wrong by journeying through the heart of the historic city centre. 

Start at Carfax Tower, the remnants of a 12th century church, and wind your way through charming narrow streets leading to some of Oxford’s most popular landmarks such as the Old Bodleian Library and Christ Church College.

Rain or shine, Oxford’s academic architecture is show stoppingly beautiful and steeped in fascinating history.

Perfect for:

  • First time visitors to Oxford
  • People of all ages
  • Seeing University of Oxford buildings
  • Getting great photographs of Oxford

Oxford Canal and Port Meadow Walk


Length:  6.4 kilometres / 4 Miles
Average time to complete: 2+ hours
Key sights: Jericho, Oxford Canal, Oxfordshire Countryside

While there are many Oxford canal walks to choose from, this is undoubtedly one of the best. Beginning at the trendy neighbourhood of Jericho, the Oxford Canal and Port Meadow walk is a perfect blend of urban splendour and natural beauty.

Formerly an industrial area, Jericho became especially important in Oxford during the late 18th century when the Oxford Canal opened. It was once the site of the famous Oxford University Press and also had a slightly dodgy tenure as Oxford’s red light district in the 1950s.

Follow the scenic canal towpath from Jericho to Port Meadow, where you can stop and watch the cows grazing on sublimely green pastures. 

Perfect for:

  • Returning visitors to Oxford
  • Couples, friends, families
  • Young kids (it’s a great place to play I spy!)
  • Enjoying the Oxfordshire countryside close to the city

University Parks and Cherwell Boathouse Walk


Length: 2.4 kilometres / 1.5 miles
Average time to complete: 45 mins - 1 hour
Key sights: University Parks, Cherwell Boathouse, Cherwell River

Yet another fantastic river walk in Oxford, the University Parks and Cherwell Boathouse walk takes walkers through some of the city’s immaculately-preserved green spaces.

Start the trail at Parks Road and take a leisurely stroll through the University Parks of Oxford, following the neatly-kept sprawling lawns and tree-lined avenues before reaching dazzling flower gardens. 

Continue on until you reach Cherwell Boathouse, a famous Oxford venue that offers the chance to hire punts (flat-bottomed boats made for pushing yourself along a slow-moving body of water). Punting started as a Victorian hobby that has since become synonymous with the city of Oxford, especially along the River Cherwell, a tributary of the Thames.

Walks in Oxfordshire


Length:  Variable
Average time to complete: 30 mins to 2 hrs
Key sights: Ancient woods, meadows, CS Lewis’ House

Just east of Oxford lies Shotover Country Park, a glorious 117 hectares of barely disturbed forest and lush greenery complete with ready made walking trails.

Shotover was known to the Saxons but gained special notoriety during the English Civil War when it ceased to be used as a Royal forest by hunting noblemen. Packed with meadows and marshes, Shotover Country Park is especially lovely during spring and summer months when the wildflowers are in bloom. 

Walking in Oxfordshire’s delightful green spaces couldn’t be easier, since Shotover Country Park is open to everyone. It contains three trails of varying difficulty, colour coded to help you decide: red (which takes roughly 30 mins), yellow (45 mins) green (2 hrs) and all start near Mary Sadler’s Field, just beyond the car park. 

Find out more here.

Devil’s Quoits Trail

Length:  Variable
Average time to complete: 10 mins to 1+ hrs
Key sights: Devil’s Quoits henge, Oxfordshire lake, Stanton Harcourt

Just outside of Oxford lies a little-known yet ancient hidden gem called Devil’s Quoits. Located just beyond the picturesque village of Stanton Harcourt, the ancient henge and stone circle of Devil’s Quoits is well worth a visit for tourists and Oxford locals alike.

The site can be tricky to find, but if you follow signs for the nearby recycling and landfill centre you’ll soon see a small car park for Devil’s Quoits. From there, take the 10 minute footpath to the ancient site where you’re invited to stay and admire the view or walk around the lake and beyond to Stanton Harcourt.

Learn more about Devil’s Quoits here.

Iffley Village and River Thames Walk


Length:  4.8 kilometres / 3 Miles
Average time to complete: 1.5-2 hours
Key sights: Iffley Village, River Thames, Cosy British Pubs

Just 2 miles south of Oxford lies the charming village of Iffley. Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, Iffley has preserved its village feel despite technically being part of Greater Oxford. 

One of the nicest river walks in Oxford, the Thames Path to Iffley is lined by idyllic meadows bursting with local flora and fauna. This route is especially popular during summer months as it does get quite muddy following rain. 

We recommend starting from Oxford on the Thames Path and finishing in Iffley, where you can explore the delightful Norman church and thatch-roofed cottages to your heart’s delight before settling down at a pub for a well-earned meal.

Blenheim Palace and Park Walk

Blenheim Palace gardens-2

Length: Variable - 3.2 - 9.7 kilometres / 2 - 6 miles
Average time to complete: 1hr-3hrs
Key sights: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire Cotswolds

Just to the north of Oxford lies Woodstock, a charming Oxfordshire Cotswolds town that is home to the spectacular Blenheim Palace.

Ideal for walks in Oxford that cater for just about everyone, Blenheim Palace and its verdant parklands are ideal for exploring. Stroll around the palace grounds, soak in some sunshine beside the lakes or go for a jolly jaunt through the woods!

Otmoor Nature Reserve

Otmoor Nature Reserve

Length: Variable - 3.2 - 9.7 kilometres / 2 - 6 miles
Average time to complete: 1hr-3hrs
Key sights: Birdwatching, Seeing undisturbed Oxfordshire countryside

Otmoor Nature Reserve is home to some of the best circular walks in Oxfordshire. Teeming with local wildlife, particularly birds, the Otmoor Nature Reserve walk is especially popular with ramblers and nature enthusiasts.

The premade trails inside the nature reserve offer walkers a unique opportunity to observe diverse bird species up close and to absorb the undisturbed beauty of Oxfordshire’s countryside. 

As long as you’re dressed for the weather, everyone from couples to families with young children can get something out of the splendid wetlands of Otmoor Nature Reserve.

Wytham Woods Walk


Length: Variable - 6.4 kilometres / 4 miles
Average time to complete: 1 - 2+ hours
Key sights: Wildlife, natural beauty spots

Owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942, Wytham Woods has been dubbed one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world. With 1000 acres to explore, Wytham Woods is the ideal place to discover new and delightful displays of nature.

While the woods themselves are teeming with wildlife and other avid walkers, Wytham Woods is an ideal place to escape to if you’re in need of some peace and quiet. After just a few paces in this enchanted woodland, you’ll feel a million miles from the hubbub of the city - despite it only being a few miles northwest of Oxford’s city centre.

Short Walks in Oxford

Christ Church Meadow

2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles)

Enjoy a quick stroll through the magnificent Christ Church Meadow and War Memorial Gardens. Start at the entrance to St Aldate's and continue along the path until you reach the sweet-smelling rose and iris gardens. 

Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park

2.2 kilometres (1.4 miles)

This locally adored trail takes you around the delightful Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park. Skirting around the Cutteslowe Allotments and through the Community Woodland, you’ll get just enough steps in to cover a mile and plenty of fresh air to boot!


Burgess Field Nature Park

1.6 kilometres (1 mile)

Now a reclaimed landfill site, Burgess Field is a nature reserve on the edge of Port Meadow. Start the circular walk at the entrance from Aristotle Lane and follow the perimeter path around the open grass area for a short but nice walk in Oxford.

Lazenbee’s Pond

274 metres (300 yards)

Located within Oxford University Parks, a short trip around Lazenbee’s pond is enough to raise your step count and immerse yourself in green, clean surroundings. For a longer walk, loop around the pond and rejoin the path, passing Tolkien’s Bench parallel to the Cherwell River.

Before you go...

So there you have it - the best walks in Oxford that everyone can enjoy. 

Whichever route you end up taking, you can be sure that you’ll be exploring the marvellous city of Oxford in the best way possible. Not to mention doing your bit for the environment, your health and happiness! 

Whether it’s a historic walk through Oxford or a long riverside ramble along the Thames you’re after, CityDays have something for you. 

Want to combine your love of walking with puzzle-solving and historical Oxford trivia? Of course you do! 

Christ Church Meadow-2

With CityDays, we take the stress out of your walking adventure. 

You pick the day, time, who you play with and how you receive your messages. If you get stuck, you can always ask for a handy hint. 

Answers to any questions you have can be found on our FAQ page or contact us to talk about a walking tour for corporate team building in Oxford. 

Finally, don’t forget you’ll find us in cities all over the world. Wherever you are, we’ve got places to take you!

Psst: Going on any of our walks in Oxford means you can also participate in one of our monthly challenges where you could win cash prizes each month!