Oxford
Cruises & Boat Tours

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Our most recommended Oxford Cruises & Boat Tours

Oxford: University and City Walking Tour with Alumni Guide

1. Oxford: University and City Walking Tour with Alumni Guide

This Oxford University and city walking tour begins in central Oxford and is designed to show you the world behind the doors. The small group size enables the student guide to give a personalized account of university life. Visit one of the university’s oldest colleges and the Bodleian Library. Learn about the history of the university colleges, including All Souls College, Trinity College, Oriel College, Hertford College, and Merton College, the Radcliffe Camera, and the University Church of St. Mary. You’ll get an equally in-depth history of the town. Hear about ceremonies at Oxford, famous graduates, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and also how the most powerful Archbishop of Canterbury was burned at the stake in Oxford.

Oxford Experience Cruise

2. Oxford Experience Cruise

This 50-minute long river cruise takes you on a fascinating stretch of the Thames River, starting with the University Regatta Course and heading towards the quaint Iffley village. This section of the river – referred to by the locals as the Isis – is one of the liveliest, and paints an accurate picture of the bustling river life. As you make your way down the river, you'll see the ancient Folly Bridge, Christchurch College and Meadows, the university rowing houses, and Iffley Lock. The waterways next to you contain rowers, punt boats, and pleasure cruisers, and are equally interesting to watch. During the cruise, your captain will share some history of the river and gladly answer any questions. Your cruising vessel will be one from a fleet of many Edwardian-style river launches. These boats combine the elegant lines and teak interiors of the early 1900s with environmentally-friendly zero-emission technology of today.

Oxford: Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise

3. Oxford: Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise

Traveling down the University Regatta course, the boat passes Christ Church Meadows, the University College Boat Houses, and other landmarks on your way to Iffley lock. This is often a busy and vibrant section of the river where training rowing crews, punts, and pleasure boats jostle for river space in a wonderful display of Oxford at play. Passing through the lock at Iffley is an experience in itself. The river scenery and fascinating buildings combine to form a picture perfect location. Beyond Iffley you will travel into the tranquil water meadows that surround Oxford and there are abundant opportunities to spot wildlife amongst the green banks and overhanging willows. The boat turns for home at Rose Island, a favourite destination of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell on their river journeys. Aboard the boat an indulgent afternoon tea is provided by the renowned riverside restaurant, the Folly. The traditional menu typically includes: a selection of finger sandwiches, homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes, tarts, or petit fours, and tea.

Oxford: Scenic Sightseeing Cruise with Gourmet Picnic

4. Oxford: Scenic Sightseeing Cruise with Gourmet Picnic

This cruise travels through the city past famous landmarks including Christchurch College and Meadows, the University boathouses and regatta course, the Head of the River and Folly Bridge . From the river passenegers take in a side of Oxford's heritage rarely seen by visitors to the city. Quaint Osney Island, well-loved allotments and gardens and majestic and ancient Port Meadow are off the tourist trail but represent some of Oxford's most beautiful and intriguing scenery. Port Meadow, a vast area of common land, has remained little changed since prehistoric times and supports plants and bird-life in abundance. At the top of Port Meadow is Godstow. Godstow was the ultimate destination of Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll when they followed an identical route to this trip while composing 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. It is also the site of Trout Island, an inspiration for another of Oxfords literary icons, C S Lewis, and his stories of the land of Narnia. Your picnic lunch is provided by riverside restaurant, The Folly, and typically includes: • An selection of finger sandwiches • Homemade quiche or tart of the day • Homemade scones with strawberry jam, clotted cream and fresh strawberries  • Elderflower presse Served in a traditional picnic basket with napkins, crockery and glasses (to be returned to the crew at the end of the cruise). Drinks to take aboard can be purchased at the departure point.

Oxford: Punting Tour on River Cherwell

5. Oxford: Punting Tour on River Cherwell

Relax in style: A highly experienced trained punter can take up to four passengers out onto the River Cherwell for as long as is required on one of our beautiful hand-crafted Oxford punts. As you set off south from the boathouse you will be chauffeured gently past Oxford’s famous Botanic Gardens, past Magdalen College School fields, through Christ Church Meadows, where Lewis Carroll was teaching students in the mid 19-centuary, when he wrote the famous Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland. Then pass St Hilda’s College gardens and back to the Boathouse. Alternatively, if you have the time and are feeling adventurous, our chauffer will continue south towards the Isis (Oxford’s name for the River Thames), where the river opens up and you can enjoy being chauffeured at a leisurely pace along this stunning natural river environment.

Oxford: Christ Church Harry Potter Film Locations Tour

6. Oxford: Christ Church Harry Potter Film Locations Tour

Enjoy a 2-hour walking tour introducing the making of Harry Potter in Oxford and a 1-hour entry ticket and audio guided tour inside Christ Church College. See and hear about both Harry Potter and Lewis Carroll’s legendary characters, such as Alice and the Mad Hatter. Book in advance to beat the queues at Christ Church, Oxford's most popular tourist attraction. Admire views onto Christ Church Meadows on the borders of the rivers Cherwell and Isis. See longhorn cattle graze and the dreamy spires of Merton College and Corpus Christi. Access permitting, you will also see inside another Harry Potter film site, the Divinity School at the famous Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. On any dates when Christ Church may be closed, you can instead visit inside of New College instead, another great Hogwarts film site. On this tour, you will visit 2 of the 3 film sites (where and when access is permitted). While you may visit Divinity School, you will not visit inside the medieval library as it is not open to private guides.  On Saturday mornings, Christ Church Hall is rarely open but the tour runs anyway as the hall is not the actual film site. The film sites were the cloisters and staircase but the hall is one of three Oxford colleges which Warner Bros asked to film at and thus is an inspiration for the Great Hall.

Oxford: River Cruise plus 3-Course Dinner

7. Oxford: River Cruise plus 3-Course Dinner

Your Oxford evening begins when you board an elegant Edwardian gentleman’s riverboat for a cruise to take in the highlights of river life in Oxford. See Folly Bridge, Christchurch Meadows, the university boat houses, and part of the regatta course while sipping a complimentary glass of Prosecco. This is the perfect time to be on the river as the light takes on a magical quality. Disembark at The Folly restaurant, where your dinner will be served in charming surroundings either inside the restaurant or, weather permitting, on the floating river terrace. The Folly's evening a la carte menu offers relaxed fine dining. You’ll find a comprehensive wine list if you’d like to purchase wine to complement your meal.

Oxford University: Combo Walking & Punting Tour with Alumni

8. Oxford University: Combo Walking & Punting Tour with Alumni

See Oxford University through the eyes of Alumni and current students on this combo alumni-led campus walking tour and student-led punting trip. Get an authentic look at the colorful story of the oldest English-speaking university in the world.  Walking Tour Oxford is nothing without its students, and it’s the students who make this walking tour so special. Your guides will either be graduates or current students who combine their personal experiences of the city with their deep passion for its history, architecture, and stories. In just a 1.5-hour walk, follow your guide to discover pivotal moments of human history: from petty and outlandish rivalries to architectural masterpieces with confusing names. Inspiring, baffling, and downright outrageous: Oxford is a city full of stories waiting to be told. See the lamppost which inspired Narnia and the architecture that inspired His Dark Materials. Visit the meadows where Lewis Carroll first recounted the story of Alice in Wonderland. Marvel at some of the world’s greatest examples of Gothic and Baroque architecture. Hear all about what the students really get up to – from BOPS to secret societies to which all-night library permits outside snacks. Discover which college is the poshest and the oldest and which one has traditions designed only to mock the traditions of other colleges. As well as hearing it all from past and current students themselves, you’ll get to see inside colleges (entry included), with highlights including the Jesus College gardens. This is the real Oxford, experienced as a student, through busy streets and college grounds. Punting TourAfter your walking tour, enjoy a 30-minute student-led punting tour along the River Cherwell. As you set off south from the boathouse, you’ll be chauffeured past Oxford’s famous Botanic Gardens and Magdalen College School fields. Continue through Christ Church Meadows, where Lewis Carroll was teaching students in the mid-19-century when he wrote the famous Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland. Pass St. Hilda’s College gardens and make your way back to the boathouse. You can ask questions throughout your trip and even have a free punting lesson upon request.

Oxford: Punting River Trip with Optional Walking Tour

9. Oxford: Punting River Trip with Optional Walking Tour

See Oxford from the river on this punting or rowing tour. Your guide will meet you and walk you along Broad street to the boat house. On route there, you will walk past some of the most famous sights of Oxford and learn about them from your guide.  Then, go out on the beautiful river for an hour. While on the river, you'll get lots of insight into Oxford student life and traditions. This is in fact how almost every Oxford university student celebrates their graduation.  Locals often take picnics or Pimms on the river, which is sold at the boat house. The boating activity is ideal for private groups couples and families as the boats only fit max 3 or 4 customers. You also have the option to book a private group or a public shared group walking tour which lasts 90-120 minutes to schedule either before or after the 1-hour boat trip.

Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

10. Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

Embark on an extended 3-hour tour of the best Oxford has to offer with a local student guide. Go behind closed doors with an energetic and knowledgeable student guide who will help you to peel back the complex layers and mystique of this world-famous institution. First, visit one of the oldest colleges at Oxford University for a peek inside this restricted world of academia. Stroll the gardens, unearth the peculiar Oxford traditions, and see from a real student, how this elite educational institution operates. Then, head over to the Bodleian Library - a colossal site that houses over 13 million books. Enter the first purpose-built lecture room at Oxford, where you can admire some of the most ornate medieval architecture in Europe. Listen as your guide explains the early rituals and tests students underwent, how the British Parliament was held in the building by King Charles I and later King Charles II. Discover the library’s role in the most defining ceremony at Oxford and see the locations where multiple scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Along with these focal points, also cover the most famous landmarks in Oxford city and at Oxford University. Your private tour can be tailored to the specific locations or subjects you wish to cover. Just contact the operator in advance if you have anything specific in mind and they will do their best to incorporate anything that’s available to the public on the day (additional entrance fees may be required for such requests).

Frequently asked questions about Oxford Cruises & Boat Tours

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Other Sightseeing Options in Oxford

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What people are saying about Oxford

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 223 reviews

Iona was an amazing guide! It was a fun tour and we learnt a lot about Oxford life and about the history & architecture . Her photography skills are great too and we have some great photos to remember Oxford by. We can't comment on the Punting aspect of the tour as the river was flooded when we went to Oxford but the walking tour was great! I recommend this tour for anyone who's visiting Oxford!

it was really enjoyable, relaxing 90 minutes. It was the first time I had the afternoon tea served aboard and love it, enjoyed the weather, beautifully green landscapes along river sides and short stories about Oxford from the tour guide

Fantastic afternoon, Informative and enthusiastic 'driver', lovely picnic, brilliant pub stop at The Perch. Just really lovely time. Thank you and would definitely do it again when next in Oxford.

Wonderful host... Had a great boat ride with all the fascinating facts about the nearby places. A definite go to place as per my opinion...

An excellent example of Customer Service. Thanks, James and team for fitting me on a cruise. Highly recommended. All the very best Jatin