Balliol College

Balliol College: Our most recommended tours and activities

Oxford: Official University and City Walking Tour

1. Oxford: Official University and City Walking Tour

Explore Oxford, the city of Dreaming Spires, on a walking tour with an expert guide from the city’s tourism board. Be shown the city’s most famous sights, uncover its hidden history, and enjoy all the astonishing stories about Oxford's key characters- real and fictional. Meet your guide at the grand and very old Broad Street (once the city's ditch) let them know where you come from and any special Oxford interests you may have and they will do their best to incorporate those.  Go to Martyrs' Memorial, the scene of terrible religious retributions in medieval times, and on to the oldest tower at St Michael of the Northgate built in Saxon times. Then, make your way to the very heart of the University and the inspiration behind Harry Potter's Hogwarts School. Pass by the pubs where the Inklings used to meet to discuss their writing as well as the pubs where Inspector Morse was filmed and the most popular student drinking holes in days of old. Discover the city that is home to several of Britain's most famous literary characters - both fictional and real - such as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, and Colin Dexter as well as some of their most famous creations like Lyra and Will, and Inspector Morse. Admire Oxford's stupendous architecture, gargoyles and grotesques, so wonderfully preserved from every historical period and style, and take a stroll through the breathtaking Radcliffe Square. Cross the whimsical Bridge of Sighs as it's fondly known, just like the ones in Venice and Cambridge. See the Bodleian Libraries from the outside in the splendid Old Schools Quadrangle. Learn about the city’s famous museums including the Museum of the History of Science, containing Einstein's blackboard, The Pitt Rivers, once home to shrunken heads, and the fabulous Ashmolean, which was one of the very first ever museums in the world. If time allows, walk as far as to the beautiful Christ Church Meadows, where punting happens and cattle graze; a truly pastoral and quintessential English scene.

Oxford: Official “Haunted Oxford” Ghost Tour

2. Oxford: Official “Haunted Oxford” Ghost Tour

Discover all the key haunted places in and around Oxford on a nighttime walking tour loosely based on the book 'Haunted Oxford' by local author Rob Walters, just one of the experienced and talented Guides. Experience the best way to 'see' Oxford’s ghosts on a route that takes you around the heart of central Oxford and its University. Meet your guide and get whisked away into the night, starting on the corner of Turl Street and Broad Street, which was once the city ditch and site of terrible murders and religious persecution. Learn about the history of Oxford and hear many splendidly spooky stories dating back to Danish Viking times. Walk past Oxford University, Radcliffe Square, and peer into the Old Schools Quadrangle - of Harry Potter fame. Admire the gorgeous and imposing architecture of Oxford and feel the history in the walls, which are well preserved and represent every period of architecture from Medieval through Classical to modern.  Look up at the Bridge of Sighs, so-called as it is reminiscent of the one at Venice which led prisoners to their doom. Wind down the ancient walled lane to New College, built in the late 1300s, and see its dark gates against the gloom.

Oxford: 3-Hour Private Tour with Student Guide

3. 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).

Oxford Day Trip from London: City Tour, Colleges & Lunch

4. Oxford Day Trip from London: City Tour, Colleges & Lunch

Travel back in time on this Private Day Trip Tour into one of the world's most academic and intellectual cities. Get away from busy London and tour Oxford with a private local guide. Admire not only the city's medieval architectural beauty and its river and natural environment, but also its traditional English cuisine. Learn about the history of Oxford Castle, an ancient castle over 1,000 years old, famous for having once been a prison. Visit the only 12th-century tower still standing in the city. Take the opportunity to enter the History of Sciences Museum to see the famous blackboard that Einstein once used during a lecture at some Oxford University, and which still preserves its formulas. Relax and enjoy a delicious British lunch with a typical English beer in a traditional 14th-century tavern. Enjoy the best views of this university city by climbing to the top of the 13th-century tower of the University Church of St Mary. See the most prestigious colleges in the world, from Balliol College (the oldest in Oxford) to the most important college in the city: Christ Church College. Enter and breathe the university and intellectual air of Oxford. Get to know its beautiful Gothic building and discover how its students live. Enjoy Oxford in-depth, with its History, its Culture, Gastronomy, Colleges, and local’s lifestyle in this amazing Private Day Tour.

Oxford: Complete University Tour with optional Christ Church

5. Oxford: Complete University Tour with optional Christ Church

You will begin in central Oxford, with a brief and engaging introduction which will lay the foundation for the vast periods of history to be covered! Then the tour will enter a college renowned for having the most beautiful lawns in Oxford along with an iconic dispute with its neighbour - resulting in a supposed theft of the College tortoise (Oxford Annual Tortoise Race explanation included!). Then the group will visit the Sheldonian Theatre, where students experience the most iconic ceremony at Oxford University. You can hear from your student guide how the experience was for them. Next you will enter a historic museum -complete with a chalkboard used by Einstein in Oxford - and visit the Weston Library, a great example of a hybrid historic and modern interior. This tour will then cover sites that none of our other tours do! Including Rhodes House, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The latter is known to have one of the most exceptional collections in England, including Victorian shrunken heads. The tour stops for lunch at the Eagle and Child pub, a second home to J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis while they were members of the Inklings. After lunch, you can get a photo under the Bridge of Sighs before gazing up at the first round library in England, where your Oxford student guide will give you rare insights into the labyrinth of underground tunnels students. Not to be forgotten, All Souls College. With entrance exams as complex as they are bizarre, this site will highlight how exclusive a College can be and how influential its members are. Heading down to the southern part of Oxford, we visit a hidden door depicting the most famous characters in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Before entering the largest College at Oxford, Home to Oscar Wilde and C. S. Lewis, and its own deer park. Explore the iconic grounds which have been home to Oxford’s most influential writers, complete with medieval cloisters. The tour will head over to Merton College, home of Tolkien, to discuss not only its literary importance, but it’s multi million pound kitchen, funded by the current Emperor of Japan! The tour will then go to Christ Church College, exploring the unique meadows - such a stunning expanse of land incredibly rare in a medieval city. Here you will learn about its close connection to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - along with its decision to be held to a different time zone than the rest of Oxford. Those who have selected the option to enter Christ Church will then have their pre arranged tickets given to them, and they will be free to explore the college at their own pace. The guide will be at hand before entering to offer further advice and guidance. Please note - the structure on the day may differ.

Oxford: City and University of Oxford Audio Guide

6. Oxford: City and University of Oxford Audio Guide

Matthew Arnold, a Victorian poet, once described Oxford as “the City of Dreaming Spires”. He was referring to the stunning architecture of the 39 colleges that make up the world famous University of Oxford. Join me on this leisurely walking tour around the beautiful city and I’ll tell you the stories behind the spires. This easy stroll takes you from Carfax Tower, around the historical city centre where the majority of the colleges are situated, to finish on Magdalen Street next to the Martyrs’ Memorial. Along the way, I’ll fill you in on some of the quaint traditions and ceremonies that still take place around the colleges today, like why Great Tom, the bell above the entrance to Christ Church College, chimes 101 times at 9.05pm. You’ll hear about the famous authors, politicians and poets that have contributed to Oxford’s history too, and I’ll show you the filming locations for numerous TV series such as Morse, Endeavour and Midsummer Murders. You’ll even follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter as you take in Christ Church and its own great hall. By the end of this tour, you’ll: • Discover why Oxford’s time is 5 minutes behind the rest of the country • Find out why Oxford students are forbidden from jumping into the River Cherwell • Learn about a riot that lasted three days and cost the lives of 93 people • See the college that has produced no less than 13 of this country’s Prime Ministers • Visit the spot where three senior members of the church were executed on the orders of Bloody Mary Give yourself 90-minutes or linger along the way as there are plenty of opportunities to stop for a drink, a light snack, or even a very civilised afternoon tea.

Oxford: Costumed Ghost Tour with Special Guests

7. Oxford: Costumed Ghost Tour with Special Guests

Prepare for the unexpected and keep your wits about you as you undertake one of the most entertaining experiences in Oxford. Home to some of the most brutal murders in England's long history, Oxford is uniquely known as the epicenter of troubled souls, dark energy, and flesh-eating beasts. Venture through the dark alleyways and haunted squares of the town while enjoying mysterious tales of ghosts, horror. and sinister happenings. Learn about Oxford’s terrifying history with a combination of stories and dramatic performances by expertly trained actors who will play out the most barbaric and brutal punishments exacted during Oxford's Medieval and Civil War years. Be prepared for the surprise appearance of multiple wild beasts! After an exhilarating and entertaining wander around the city, finish up at one of the famous pubs in Oxford.

Oxford: Famous Alumni Exploration Game

8. Oxford: Famous Alumni Exploration Game

Explore Oxford in a unique way, by playing an exploration game on your phone via an app. Learn about famous alumni who walked through the city's streets and university's walls, visit locations where Harry Potter was filmed, and have fun with your whole family or friends. Reenact the story of a brilliant former Oxford professor trying to figure out the mystery of their lab partner’s death during your engaging game. Solve challenges and watch the story unfold on your app, as well as exact directions that guide you to your next location. Start your exploration game from The Eagle and Child pub. Best of all, play the game at your own pace, pausing it whenever you feel like a coffee or food break and resuming anytime from the location where you paused it.

Oxford: City Bike Tour with Student Guide

9. Oxford: City Bike Tour with Student Guide

Discover Oxford’s historic town center, and the magical parks on the outskirts of town with this guided bike tour. Pedal past the city’s best attractions and cover more ground. Meet your guide in the city center to start your experience. Cycle through the city alongside a student guide, and learn about the history of Oxford. Marvel at the university buildings where Oscar Wilde, J. R. R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and many British politicians studied. Admire the architecture of Oxford colleges, and enter the famous Bodleian Library. Marvel at the scenery of Port Meadow, and visit sites you can’t reach on foot. Enjoy plenty of stops along the route, and finish back at the original meeting point.

Oxford: The Bullingdon Burglar Treasure Hunt Adventure

10. Oxford: The Bullingdon Burglar Treasure Hunt Adventure

The legendary Oxford mystery... unsolved for 50 years... until now. Start your adventure at the historic Chequers tavern, and embark on a quest to unravel Oxford's unsolved mystery of The Bullingdon Burglar! In 1972, Oxford’s annual Town Vs Gown cricket cup ended in disaster, when a mysterious burglar broke into the clubhouse and snatched the golden trophy… Was it an act of revenge? Nobody knew... But the villain left a trail of clues and this is where you come in. The pages of your Mystery Guide™ take you on an exciting puzzle adventure through the heart of historic Oxford, as you follow the maps, unlock the clues, and unravel the epic tale. Your challenge is to track down hidden objects, decode symbols, and uncover hidden messages, as you eliminate suspects and gradually unpick the crime. And an exciting twist awaits… Make it to the end and you'll be struck by an amazing ‘wow’ moment when the case is solved and the villain is revealed before your eyes! Simply grab your Mystery Guide™, head to the start, and set off at a time that suits you. Don’t let the villain get away... Your time to start is now!

Other Sightseeing Options in Balliol College

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What people are saying about Balliol College

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 210 reviews

The guide is very professional. You could tell his deep love for Oxford through the tour. Highly recommend for those who want to know more about history of Oxford not just give only a passing glance to the place.

Jonathon was very knowledgeable and interesting. He lead us beautifully through some history of Oxford. Good pace, very engaging tour. Thankyou

Nice overview of the colleges and the city. Lots of tid bits that you would not find in a guide book. Small group- easy pace.

Sally was a fantastic guide! She had a wealth of knowledge and was able to answer all our questions.

This was a fantastic tour with a very knowledgeable guide!