Bodleian Library

One of the oldest libraries in Europe and mostly underground, it has served the university for over 400 years.

TravelCurious Tip

Head over Broad Street to Blackwell’s bookshop for a truly vast variety of books to choose from

The Famous Five

The Bodleian, or simply ‘the Bod’, is Oxford’s main library and one of the oldest libraries in Europe: it holds over 12 million items. Over the centuries it has expanded along with the university. The Schools Quadrangle was added at the start of the 17th century. The tower over the main entrance is know as the Tower of the Fiver Orders, because it is ornamented with columns from each of the five orders of classical architecture: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite.


A walk around the perimeter of the Schools Quadrangle reveals the latin inscriptions over the doorways, such as Schloa Moralis Philosophiae. The inscriptions read like spells, but that’s not the only magic the Bodleian has seen: many scenes from the Harry Potter films were shot here too. For example, the Divinity School doubles as the Hogwarts hospital wing and Duke Humfrey’s Library is the Hogwarts Library. The students sometimes wear flowing gowns too!

Magnum Opus

The Bodleian, with all its history and wealth, is unsurprisingly home to a fair few treasures. For example, the Bay Psalm Book, although modest in appearance, is actually the most valuable printed book ever sold due to its status as the first book printed in North America. You can also find souvenirs from the Women’s suffrage movement, along with a 1217 engrossment of the Magna Carta and a draft of Wilfred Owen’s war poem Dulce et decorum est, written in his own hand.

Some animals are more equal than others

Most importantly of all, there is an outstanding compendium of beasts from the 13th century, and also a Victorian advert for a performance by Toby the sapient pig. Toby took London by storm in the 19th century with his mind-reading abilities.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in London
Home to the world's most famous university, dreaming spires and a million bicycles.
Christchurch College
One the oldest and most famous university colleges has over 800 years of history.
Harry Potter Great Hall
This magnificent interior featured in the Harry Potter films as Hogwarts' Great Hall.
Oxford Pubs
Hidden gem pubs, overflowing with academics. The above pub claims to have the highest IQ per square metre.
Radcliffe Camera
Known as the 'beating heart' of Oxford, this library has stood since the early 18th century.
Covered Market
A treasure trove of market stalls, souvenir stalls and kooky eateries - perfect for a quick bite.

Related Tours

Gown and Town: Oxford the City of Dreaming Spires (including travel from London)
  • Meet your guide at iconic Paddington Station, and journey together to Oxford - the city of dreaming spires! 
  • Experience the enchanting myriad of Oxford’s spellbinding streets and uncover the city’s fascinating history.
  • Visit one of the world’s best-known universities and explore the array of colleges, courtyards and the famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’.
  • Soak up the quintessential English atmosphere of Oxford.
From authentically magical locations used in the Harry Potter films, to one of the most-famous universities in the world, Oxford awaits – just a short train ride away from London. Deserving of a full day trip and not just a flying visit, Oxford is full of historical corners waiting to be discovered, as well as picturesque streets perfect for meandering and escaping the hustle and bustle of London. 

One of the best-known universities in the world and also one of the most beautiful, Oxford is a charming place to spend a tranquil day. Our guide will accompany you on the hour long train journey through the English countryside and take you on a fully guided stroll through the city streets through the most beautiful colleges, hidden courtyards and quadrangles, libraries, and Oxford’s ‘Bridge of Sighs’ – a distinctive landmark and highly-coveted photo opp. 
Oxford Tour: With a Former Oxford Union President
  • Take the very unique opportunity to enter The Oxford Union - the historic epicentre of debate at the University
  • Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill to Mother Teresa have all spoken here. 
  • Explore the debating chamber, the bar, the library and grounds - usually limited to members only. 
  • Venture through the enchanting, cobbled streets of Oxford visiting its most historic sites 
  • See the iconic Bridge of Sighs, Covered Market, The Bodleian Library and an array of colleges. 
  • Hear of strange traditions, its medieval beginnings and contributions to academia and humanity.
  • Take centre stage with your guide. No other groups or noise to drown out the experience.

Begin your day at London Paddington Station. Escape smoky London and zip across the rolling English countryside to sleepy Oxford. Steeped in history, outstandingly beautiful and famed for its ancient University (founded in 1096).  An institution which has produced some of the greatest minds throughout time. From Oscar Wilde, Edwin Hubble, to Stephen Hawking. 

Meet your friendly guide - a former President of The Oxford Union, a prestigious student position held by numerous former British Prime Ministers. Accompany your guide through the beautiful cobbled streets and squares of the City Centre. Explore the local market, churches,  hidden gardens, quaint shops and ancient pubs. And gain unparalleled knowledge and access to the University and its array of beautiful colleges. Hear of the University's ancient beginnings, strange traditions and invaluable contributions to academia and humanity. This is a very unique opportunity to see Oxford from a less travelled perspective. And a sure highlight to your trip!


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