There are plenty of green spaces in Oxford, for all ages to enjoy, relax and take part in recreational as well as sports activities. These green spaces are crucial for maintaining and improving our physical and psychological well-being. It has been suggested that a brisk walk every day in a local green space can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, so head outside and soak in nature- come rain or shine!
We have picked up 10 popular free green spaces in Oxford.
This is a beautiful and historic open space located at the heart of Oxford. At the main entrance from St Aldates, you’ll find the War Memorial Gardens, which are a very busy area, with more than a million people passing through every year to the Great Hall as well as the meadow of Christ Church. Oxford’s two rivers – the Thames and the Cherwell – run along either side of the meadow, making it an ideal place to watch the rowers in training and also the boat races.
A hotspot of free green spaces in Oxford for tourists and locals, Christ Church Meadow is a Grade 1 listed landscape in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Just behind the Natural History Museum is a huge open area of free green spaces for sports and recreation. It is where Oxford University Parks is located. The park was originally owned by Merton College and purchased by the university in 1850s. Now there are gardens and large sports fields, with a large collection of trees and plants and space for games and picnics. You can watch cricket for free in summer, or just walk by the river side at any time of the year.
#3 Port Meadow
Port Meadow is an ancient meadowland situated in north Oxford, running from Jericho to Wolvercote. Entrance from Walton Well Road or from the canal and riverside tow-paths. With River Thames flowing through the heart of this large area of grazing land, the meadow is still used for horses and cattle today.
Port Meadow is also a magnet for migrating birds. Annual winter floods bring spectacular flocks of wildfowl and waders along with many gulls, terns and song birds.
This is one of the ideal free green spaces in Oxford to enjoy the wildlife.
Measuring 42 hectares, it is the largest park in Oxford, split with the old Cutteslowe Park to the north and Sunnymead Park to the South. It has a semi-natural wildlife and community woodland for the public to enjoy. In addition, there are a number of play areas, with the mini rail being one of the most popular spots among children and even adults. There is also a variety of sports courts for playing tennis, table tennis, football, cricket, basketball, beach volleyball as well as mini golf. No wonder it is one of the top free green spaces in Oxford.
#5 South Park
It is the largest park within Oxford city limits and among the top free green spaces in Oxford. A good view of the city centre can be obtained at the park’s highest point. Many major events of the city are held in the park, including the annual parade of the Lord Mayor and the annual fund-raising fireworks display of Oxford Round Table. Every Saturday morning, Darlington South Park parkrun, a free and friendly 5K community run, also takes place there.
One of the popular free green spaces in Oxford, Headington Hill Park is considered a nice venue for weddings, private parties and theatre performances with its picturesque parkland setting. It is within walking distance to the city centre. Because of its close proximity to Oxford Brookes University, it is also a favourable place for a health walk/run among the university students and staff members.
Located in East Oxford, Florence Park is just five minutes’ walk from Cowley Road and Templare Square. It is a stunning park with beautiful flowerbeds and a tree avenue. Its natural features have been able to attract many species of pollinators, mammals and birds. There are also several tennis courts and a mini golf course as well as a few play areas designed for children including a sandpit.
Bury Knowle Park is another Green Flag-awarded free green space in Oxford. In addition to play areas, sports grounds and green spaces commonly found in other parks, Bury Knowle Park is unique with its artistic sculptures and being home to a local library. With an area of about 7 hectares, it is located off London Road in Headington.
#9 Hinksey Park
With a lake and boating pond, Hinksey Park is a wonderful green and watery haven for people and wildlife. There is an outdoor pool for swimming. The park is within walking distance of the city centre – just a 15-minute walk or cycle ride, off Abingdon Road.
However, due to safety concern, the children’s splash park at Hinksey Park does not open in the summer of 2023. This is because it needs major work to the concrete base as well as the surface and fountains.
Blackbird Leys Park forms a green heart in the middle of the Leys estate, with a tree-lined meandering brook and open grass areas. Measuring 9 hectares in total, this Green Flag-awarded free green space is located in the South East of Oxford, next to Lyes Pools and Leisure Centre.
Want to further explore the wildlife in Oxford? You can gain more ideas from the article: Celebrate Green and Wild Oxford on World Wildlife Day 2023.