Oxford Parks, Rivers,
Meadows & Zoos

Are you looking to explore the parks of Oxford? Or are you perhaps in the mood to see some cute animals from around the world? Then you have come to the right place! Oxford actually has an impressive range of green spaces and natural reserves, as well as a few unique botanical and zoology locations, like the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens and Crocodiles of the World. This comes as a surprise to many, as Oxford is commonly seen as an academic hub — with more buildings than trees (not the reality at all!).

On this page, you will see some of the best Oxford parks and tell you why you probably want to visit them all if you’re in the city! But apart from parks and meadows in Oxford and Oxfordshire, you will also be able to explore natural reserves and zoos.

I am not biased when I say that Oxford is notoriously beautiful. You don’t have to travel very far to enjoy the serenity of green trees. If you’re in Oxford, there’s always a stunning park nearby. The beauty of Oxford parks lies in their variety. From the manicured gardens of Christ Church Meadow to the wildflower fields of Shotover Country Park, there is something to suit everyone. The parks are also a great place to watch people, as they are always full of students, tourists, and locals enjoying the outdoors.

One of the best things about the parks in Oxford is also that they are always changing with the seasons. In the spring, they are full of blooming flowers and new life. In the summer, they turn into a green oasis in the city… and in the autumn, the leaves turn a beautiful golden hue. No matter what time of year you visit, there is always something to see in the parks of Oxford.

All of Oxford's Parks, Meadows,
Nature Reserves, and Zoos

The parks of Oxford are very different from regular parks – as they are designed with students in mind and have amenities that are more useful to them as well. These green spaces can tempt you with the following common activities: picnicking, playing sports, hiking, and bird watching. In addition, many parks in Oxford host special events throughout the year, such as concerts, festivals, and fairs. Here are all of them in detail, as well as zoos and natural reserves:

Oxford's Port Meadow - Image courtesy of Danny Chapman

Port Meadow

Port Meadow is a large open space in the north of Oxford. The River Thames flows through its heart and the plains are home to many animals.

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Brasenose Woods in Oxford

Brasenose Wood

Brasenose Wood is a woodland park featuring quiet walking paths and diverse flora. It’s also part of a larger nature reserve in Oxford.

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Oxford Parks and Meadows: Oxford Canal - A Breath-taking Walk

Oxford Canal

Oxford Canal is a breath-taking option if you’re looking for an enjoyable walk close to the city. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

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Self-Guided Walks and Wanders Around Oxford

The parks, meadows, and natur reserves of Oxford  are perfect for a quiet walk, a little bit of exercise, or to go on a romantic date. Below you will find free self-guided tours and wander ideas for both Oxford and its surrounding areas.  

Christ Church Meadow Self-Guided Walking Tour

A map with everything you should see if you’re going for a walk around Christ Church Meadow. 

Brasenose Wood Self-Guided Walking Tour

A short path if you’re looking to spend some quiet time walking around Brasnose Wood.

Oxford University Park

Oxford University Park is a large, open park located near the center of the city of Oxford. The park is home to several Oxford University colleges and buildings, as well as several other notable landmarks. The most notable feature of the park is the Radcliffe Camera, a large, round, domed building that is part of the Bodleian Library. Other notable landmarks include the Sheldonian Theatre, the Clarendon Building, and the Ashmolean Museum. The park is a very popular spot for students and tourists alike, offering a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. This Oxford park is also home to several events and festivals throughout the year, making it a lively and vibrant place to visit. Whether you’re looking to explore the history and culture of Oxford University or just want to enjoy a stroll in a beautiful setting, Oxford University Park is worth a visit.

Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum

The Botanic Garden is located in the center of Oxford, on the site of the original garden of the University of Oxford. The garden was founded in 1621 by Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby, and his son Robert. The first plants were brought from the garden of John Tradescant the Elder and were planted in the garden in 1632. Thi beautiful Oxford garden now contains over 8,000 different plant species and is open to the public daily. The Arboretum is located within the Botanic Garden and contains over 4,000 trees. The tree collection includes specimens from all over the world and is one of the largest tree collections in the United Kingdom. The Arboretum is open to the public daily. The Botanic Garden and Arboretum are managed by the University of Oxford.

Port Meadow

Port Meadow is a large area of wetland in Oxford. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area. The site is of international importance for the breeding and wintering of wetland birds. It is also an essential refuge for other wildlife. The site includes a large area of open water, reedbeds, wet grassland, and scrub. Several small islands in the meadow are important for nesting birds. Port Meadows is also a haven for a wide variety of wetland birds, including ducks, geese, swans, waders, and herons. The site is also home to several rare and protected species, such as the otter, water vole, and bittern. Port Meadows is a popular place for bird watching, walking, and other outdoor activities. The site is managed by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and the Environment Agency. To protect the fragile wetland ecosystem, visitors are asked to follow a few simple rules. These include not disturbing nesting birds, not feeding the birds, and not littering. Port Meadow is a wonderful place to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. It is an important haven for wildlife and a valuable asset to the local community.

Christ Church Meadow

Christ Church Meadow is a large open space on the north bank of the River Thames in Oxford. The meadow is owned by Christ Church, one of the colleges of the University of Oxford. It is leased to the city of Oxford for £1 a year. The meadow is a flood-meadow: when the river is in flood, the water flows across the meadow, and the grass and wildflowers growing there prosper. In the summer, the meadow is a popular spot for picnics, games, and sunbathing. There are several notable features in the meadow. The most prominent is the Oxford Botanic Garden, which is situated on the southern edge of the meadow. The garden was founded in 1621 and is the oldest botanic garden in the United Kingdom. The meadow is also home to the Oxford University Cricket Club’s ground. The club has been based here since 1881, and the ground has been used for first-class cricket since 1882. In the northwest corner of the meadow is Christ Church MeadowLido, an open-air swimming pool that was built in 1933. The pool is open to the public during the summer months. On the eastern edge of the meadow, next to Folly Bridge, is the headquarters of the Oxford Rowing Club. The club was founded in 1826 and has been based at this site since 1845. A meadow is a popular place for walking, jogging, and cycling. It is also used as a starting point for walks along the Thames Path National Trail, which follows the river for 184 miles (296 km) from its source in the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in London.

Conclusion: Why Visit Oxford's Parks

The parks of Oxford are well-managed and popular green spaces in the heart of the city. They provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and are a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. They are also an essential green lung for the area and are a valuable asset to the University of Oxford. Overall, they are greatly enjoyed by all who use them – so you definitely stop by if you’re visiting Oxfordshire.

Historical Places

Oxford's Carfax Tower

Carfax Tower

Carfax Tower, in Oxford, is a 23-meter-high bell tower that used to belong to a 12th-century church. Here’s how to visit it (and why!).

24-26 Cornmarket Street. Image courtesy of Chuca Cimas.

24-26 Cornmarket Street, Oxford

24-26 Cornmarket Street, Oxford is a timber-framed building built in the late 14th century. It belonged to a wine merchant and was an inn.

Museums & Art Galleries

Antiques on High - Oxford Museums, Art Galleries and Antiques Shops

Antiques on High

Antiques on High is an antiques and art shop from Oxford founded in 1997 and open seven days a week. It has won several awards.

Aidan Meller Gallery - Oxford Museums and Art Galleries

Aidan Meller Gallery

Aidan Meller Gallery is one of Oxford’s longest-established specialist art galleries. They showcase modern, contemporary and old masters.

Things to Do in Oxford

Oxford Hotels: The Randolph Hotel. How to Visit, When to Stay

The Randolph Hotel

The Randolph Hotel, situated in the heart of Oxford, stands as a distinguished landmark of the city, attracting guests from around the world.

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