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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 04 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Oxford University’s Ashmolean spreads 3,000 years of history over five floors, with Egyptian rooms to rival the British Museum, a whole floor dedicated to 19th-century and pre-Raphaelite European art, and a unique collection of artefacts from every corner of the world.

Browse through the centuries – from ancient terracotta figures and sculptures from the Near East, statues and sculpture from ancient Greece and Rome, up to more recent ceramics from Delft and intricately-carved Islamic artefacts. There’s a cleverly thought out ‘Spotlight Trail’ that will guide you through the museum, stopping off at 12 highlight objects. Great for adults and kids.

While you’re there 

Once you’ve soaked up as much culture as you can, head up to the roof terrace for afternoon tea overlooking the city’s dreaming spires.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 6+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Fast trains from London Paddington to Oxford take about an hour; the museum is a few minutes’ walk from the station.

Entry is free and you can just turn up, but it’s advised to book tickets in advance to guarantee entry, especially at peak times. If you book an afternoon tea, that includes an entry ticket. Download the Spotlight Trail PDF before you go, or pick one up at the door.

The website has a helpful section on the museum’s greatest treasures – worth a glance before you go (or while you’re there). There are also a number of short videos explaining the stories behind the key artifacts and their behind-the-scenes care.

The Ashmolean restaurant offers full meals, or an excellent afternoon tea. Sandwiches and snacks are available at the ground floor café.  Alternatively, if the weather is good, stroll to the nearby Head of the River pub located on the banks of the Cherwell and with plenty of outside seating.

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, seven days a week.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Tower House

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

A charming B&B in a 16th-century townhouse, right in the heart of the city centre and close to all the main sights.

Official star rating:

Old Parsonage

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.5 miles]

History and style combine at this elegant hotel and restaurant. Art-filled and centrally located, it’s the perfect romantic escape.

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Old Bank Hotel

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

A 5-star boutique heritage gem in a converted bank, with luxurious rooms and an excellent central location.

Official star rating:

Porterhouse Grill & Rooms

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.9 miles]

A super-chic small boutique hotel with rooms above the best steak house in the city.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Oxford

Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)

One of Britain’s most beautiful and historic cities, graced by heartstopping architecture and home to the world’s second-oldest university.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Oxford University Colleges

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

Oxford’s extraordinarily beautiful colleges have housed everyone from prime ministers to presidents, and pair centuries of British history with spectacular architecture.

Best for ages: 13+ | £3

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Punting on the River Cherwell

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[1.6 miles]

Glide along the Cherwell in a traditional punt, and take in the spectacular architecture of Oxford’s iconic colleges from the tranquillity of the river.

Best for ages: 6+ | £16 | 1+ hours

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Blenheim Palace

Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[11.8 miles]

One of Britain’s greatest country houses, and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim boasts 300 years of history in a spectacular setting.

Best for ages: 13+ | £32

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Oxford Castle and Prison

Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.4 miles]

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