Dog-Friendly Oxford, UK: Visiting Oxford with a Dog

The picturesque university city of Oxford is a delightful spot to visit in southern England. But how dog-friendly is Oxford and what can you do when visiting with a dog? Read on to find out tips for your visit.

Dog-Friendly Oxford

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Oxford

While there are certain things that are off-limits in Oxford when visiting with a dog, from entering the many colleges to the Bodleian Library, there is still plenty of dog-friendly things to see and do. Consider some of the following…

#1 Wander Past the Colleges

The city of Oxford is centred around its prestigious university. Unfortunately, as far as I know, dogs are not allowed inside any of the colleges, some of which are otherwise open to the public with an entry fee at certain times. For example, dogs are allowed in the Christ Church visitor centre, but not in the college itself.

Colleges in Oxford
Stroll around Oxford with your dog

However, it’s still possible to take a wander through Oxford, passing its many beautiful colleges and other sights. Don’t miss taking in the exquisite exterior of the distinctive Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library, plus of course the Bridge of Sighs.

Bridge of Sighs Oxford
The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford

#2 Take a Guided Tour

The majority of guided tours around Oxford don’t allow pet dogs to join their tours, only assistance dogs. This applies for both the Oxford Official Walking Tours (including their ghost tour) and the tours led from the Bodleian Library.

However, I’ve uncovered one guided tour company that does permit pet dogs on its tours, Footprint Tours. Dogs are permitted on both their free tours and their Alumni guide tours, as long as they don’t disrupt the tour.

On the latter tour, you’ll also need to stay outside the Bodleian Library and the college when the tour enters them. Double check the rules haven’t changed before making a booking.

Bodleian Library Oxford
Admire the Radcliffe Camera from the outside

#3 Go Punting on the River

One of the quintessential things to do when visiting Oxford is to enjoy a punt on the river. Luckily, your dog doesn’t need to miss out, with Cherwell Boathouse on the northern side of Oxford welcoming dogs on their punts.

Punting Oxford
Spend a classic afternoon punting in Oxford

The punts can hold up to six people (or less if you have a large dog). The best availability is on weekdays, otherwise try to arrive by 11am on the weekend. The season runs from mid-March to mid-October.

Punts can also be hired from the more centrally located Oxford Punting, next to Magdalen College, but are not advertised as dog-friendly.

Punt Hire Oxford
Oxford Punting next to Magdalen College

#4 Follow the Christ Church Meadow Trail

For a greener walk during your time in Oxford, a great walking trail to follow is the Christ Church Meadow Trail, which circles around the historic meadow behind Christ Church College, home to the college’s heard of longhorn cattle.

Allow about 30-40 minutes to complete the 1.5 mile (2.4km) long walk along flat, well-maintained paths. The easiest access is through the War Memorial Garden next to St Aldate’s. Make sure you keep your dog on a leash on the entire trail, with bins provided along the route.

Walking with Dog in Oxford
Walking pass the Christ Church Meadow Building

The trail passes by the Oxford Botanic Gardens, the oldest botanic gardens in Great Britain. Unfortunately though the gardens are off limit to dogs.

#5 Take a Day Trip to Blenheim Palace

A great day trip from Oxford is a visit to Blenheim Palace, just a 25 minute drive away. One of the largest homes in all of England and a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is also the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.

Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace near Oxford

While dogs are not permitted inside the palace itself, plus the Great Court, West Courtyard, Formal Garden and Walled Garden, dogs are welcome elsewhere. This includes the East Courtyard and the outdoor seating areas of the Oxfordshire Pantry and the Pizzeria, plus the 2,000 acres of parkland surrounding the palace.

Follow the Park Perimeter or Queens Pool walks with your dog. Just make sure you keep your dog on a leash at all times. Dog water bowls are provided, plus doggy ice cream is available from the ice cream stands.

#6 Visit the Stowe Gardens

A more dog-friendly garden to visit with your pup near Oxford are the Stowe Gardens. These gardens run by the National Trust are more distant (about a 45 minute drive away) but are far more dog-friendly.

The extensive 18-century landscape gardens and surrounding parkland are perfect for long rambles with your dog. Leashed dogs are welcome through all of the garden, parkland and inside the Parlour Rooms. Just note that only assistance dogs are allowed inside the cafe. Water bowls are provided, as well as doggy bins.

Monthly dog walks are organised, on the third Wednesday of every months. It’s a great way to enjoy a social walk with other dogs and dog owners in a beautiful environment.

Dog-Friendly Dining in Oxford

During our visit to Oxford we headed to the Gloucester Green Market. This outdoor market is open every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, just a short walk from the colleges of Oxford. There was a variety of street food stalls to choose from, with no prohibition against dogs.

Note that dogs are not allowed inside the Oxford Covered Market, also a popular food destination, other than assistance dogs.

There are plenty of dog-friendly pubs around Oxford. The famous Turf Tavern in the heart of Oxford dates back to 1381 and welcomes dogs. It has a dog station with water and treats, its own walled beer garden, and even an ale named after the pub dog!

Another centrally located spot is the St Aldate’s Tavern. Dogs are welcome to join you in the Main Bar, just not the upstairs dining room. If making a booking, indicate you’ll be bringing a dog.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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