Banbury is a charming market town that is located heart of Oxfordshire, and it offers a delightful blend of historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and recreational activities.
As someone who has had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of Banbury, I can attest to the town’s rich history, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant local culture.
In this article, we will delve into the top things to do in Banbury, each offering a unique and enriching experience.
1. Visit The Broughton Castle
Broughton Castle stands as a testament to Banbury’s medieval past, beckoning visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in its captivating history.
This moated fortified manor house is located approximately 2 miles west of Banbury and has a storied legacy dating back to 1300.
In 1550, it underwent some significant renovation, which is why it is a pure example of architectural evolution in the 21st century
During the English Civil War, Broughton Castle found itself at the heart of the conflict, aligning with the Parliamentary side.
One of the highlights of a visit to Broughton Castle is its exquisite formal garden and park.
The meticulously tended gardens, adorned with an abundance of annuals and shrubs, provide a tranquil setting to stroll and appreciate nature’s beauty.
When touring the castle, you’ll find yourself immersed in 500 years of British history.
Knowledgeable guides in each room and informative signage help you unravel the fascinating stories behind the artifacts.
Broughton Castle has even served as a backdrop for several films and TV historical dramas, adding to its allure.
After a tour through time, you can indulge in a delightful light lunch or a scrumptious afternoon tea at the recently refurbished tea room.
This place is definitely a must-visit for history enthusiasts, architecture aficionados, and anyone seeking an immersive experience in Banbury’s rich heritage.
2. Explore Upton House & Gardens
Upton House & Gardens, the former country home of Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, offers a captivating blend of art, history, and natural beauty.
When planning your visit to Upton House, keep in mind that weekends tend to be busier, and entry to the house requires timed tickets.
However, it’s well worth the effort to explore the house’s remarkable art and porcelain collection.
Upton House & Gardens presents an ever-changing program of temporary exhibitions in the Pye Gallery, featuring a wide range of artistic expressions.
From Grayson Perry to Viking displays and Turner to Lego creations, there’s always something new to discover.
The house itself is a treasure trove of art and history, with knowledgeable guides ready to share insights into its illustrious past.
The gardens, predominantly laid to lawn with a fragrant rose garden, offer a serene setting for leisurely walks and relaxation.
While exploring Upton House, make sure to visit the on-site museum shop, where you can discover local artists’ crafts and souvenirs.
Don’t forget to recharge at Pavement Coffee Co. canalside, offering brunch, lunch, delectable cakes, and invigorating coffee.
3. Discover The Town’s Rich History At Banbury Museum & Gallery
Banbury Museum & Gallery is one of the top places to visit whenever you are in Banbury and it is open to visitors of all ages.
This museum offers a wealth of exhibits and information, making it an engaging destination for history enthusiasts and curious minds alike.
This museum frequently runs different exhibits that teach about the history of Banbury
One particularly intriguing historical tidbit you might discover is that, after the English Civil War, the people of Banbury appealed to Parliament for the right to dismantle the castle and use its materials to repair their war-damaged town.
It’s one of the fascinating stories that breathe life into Banbury’s past.
Even though the museum is not that big, it has different artifacts, exhibitions, and objects that help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the town’s history
For those with a penchant for art, the Pye Gallery hosts an ever-changing roster of temporary exhibitions, ranging from contemporary artists to historical retrospectives.
It’s a testament to Banbury Museum’s commitment to showcasing a diverse array of artistic expressions.
Don’t forget to explore the museum shop, where you can find local crafts and souvenirs.
And when it’s time for refreshments, visit the on-site partners at Pavement Coffee Co. canalside, offering a delightful array of brunch options, lunches, delectable cakes, and coffee.
4. Check Out The Farnborough Hall
Farnborough Hall is a 17th-century honey-colored country house, and it stands as a testament to the enduring influence of Rococo plasterwork and Sanderson Miller’s landscaping.
It was built in the late 17th century by William Holbech, and to date, the hall is still inhabited and managed by the Holbech family.
A visit to Farnborough Hall is unlike any other National Trust property experience.
Once you step inside, you’ll immediately notice that this isn’t a typical historical home open to the public.
Even though the number of accessible rooms may be limited, each room offers a fascinating blend of old and new.
Passionate guides add depth to your visit, sharing stories and insights about the house and its occupants.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside due to its status as a family home, but the memories you’ll create will be more enduring.
As you explore the grounds of Farnborough Hall, you’ll discover its charming gardens, which include a fragrant rose garden.
The well-kept gardens provide an ideal setting for leisurely walks and contemplation.
Though there isn’t an on-site café, there are ample spots to sit and enjoy a picnic.
However, you can easily find dining options nearby, allowing you to continue your exploration of Banbury’s culinary offerings.
5. SCRAMM Live Escape Rooms: Unleash Your Inner Detective
If you’re seeking an immersive and thrilling adventure in Banbury, then you should definitely check out the SCRAMM Live Escape Rooms.
These interactive experiences challenge your wit, teamwork, and problem-solving skills as you attempt to escape from themed rooms filled with clues, riddles, and mysteries.
SCRAMM offers a variety of exciting escape room scenarios, each with its own unique storyline and challenges.
Whether you’re a group of friends, a family, or a team building for work, SCRAMM Live Escape Rooms cater to all, with games suitable for players aged 10 to 99.
One of the standout features of SCRAMM is the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.
As you work together to decipher clues and unravel the mysteries, you’ll bond with your fellow participants and create lasting memories.
During your 60-minute adventure, you’ll need to think on your feet, communicate effectively, and make split-second decisions to find your way out.
The clock is ticking, and the pressure is on, adding an adrenaline rush to the experience.
Hand sanitizers are readily available, rooms are thoroughly cleaned between games, and mask-wearing follows government guidelines.
For a fun-filled outing that will test your intellect and teamwork, SCRAMM Live Escape Rooms in Banbury is a must-visit destination.
It’s an adventure that promises laughter, excitement and a unique sense of accomplishment.
6. Visit The Sulgrave Manor & Garden
Sulgrave Manor & Garden holds a special place in Banbury’s history, as it was built by the ancestors of George Washington, the first President of the United States.
The manor’s story is not just one of historical significance but also of international unity, as it was saved from ruin through contributions from both the UK and the USA.
A visit to Sulgrave Manor offers a glimpse into the past, inviting you to explore the ancestral home of the Washington family.
On your tour, you’ll encounter passionate guides who bring the manor’s history to life, sharing tales of its inhabitants and the legacy they left behind.
One of the more recent additions to Sulgrave Manor is a delightful tea room, where you can savor delicious meals.
The chef’s culinary skills shine through in every dish, making it a perfect place to recharge after your exploration.
Sulgrave Manor’s warm and welcoming staff and volunteers enhance the overall experience.
You’ll find the information presented thoughtfully in each room, helping you connect with the manor’s historical significance.
The introductory talk in the Great Hall provides valuable context, enriching your visit.
In addition to the manor itself, the gardens surrounding Sulgrave Manor are a tranquil haven.
The well-cared-for gardens offer a peaceful retreat, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a moment of reflection.
7. Castle Gin School: A Gin-Tasting Adventure in a 17th Century Castle
What do you get when you combine a 17th-century castle with award-winning local gin?
The answer lies in the iconic Castle Gin School, a distillery nestled in the picturesque Warwickshire countryside.
This unique establishment provides an opportunity to not only taste exceptional gin but also to craft your own signature blend.
A visit to Castle Gin School is an enlightening experience that begins with an insight into the world of gin production.
During the first hour, you’ll have the chance to sample various gins, discovering their diverse flavors and profiles.
The knowledgeable hosting team shares their expertise, making the tasting session both informative and enjoyable.
The highlight of the Castle Gin School experience is the hands-on lesson in crafting your very own gin.
You’ll have the opportunity to select from a range of ingredients to create a unique blend that suits your palate.
It’s a fascinating journey into the art of gin-making, and you’ll leave with a bottle of your own creation as a keepsake.
The hosting team at Castle Gin School is not only friendly but also adept at storytelling.
They’ll guide you through their journey of starting the business from scratch, sharing their experiences and insights. It’s a genuine and engaging experience that goes beyond a typical tasting.
If you are looking for a fun and educational outing that combines history, gin, and hands-on experience, Castle Gin School is a unique and memorable destination.
8. Shop at Deddington Farmers’ Market
Deddington Farmers’ Market stands as one of Oxfordshire’s most successful and beloved farmers’ markets.
It is located in the charming ironstone village of Deddington, this market boasts a carefully selected roster of over 40 food producers.
One of the things that makes this market truly special is its commitment to showcasing foods grown or produced within a 30-mile radius, ensuring freshness and supporting local agriculture.
The stallholders at Deddington Farmers’ Market take pride in their offerings and are more than happy to engage with visitors.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with the people behind the products and gain a deeper appreciation for local produce.
In addition to the delectable array of foods, Deddington Farmers’ Market hosts a craft market within the church on market days.
The market takes place on the 4th Saturday of each month, providing a regular opportunity for residents and visitors to indulge in fresh, locally sourced products.
However, it’s advisable to arrive early, as parking can be limited in the Market Place.
Despite the parking challenge, the stalls are consistently well-stocked, making it a culinary adventure worth embarking on.
One of the standout stalls at Deddington Farmers’ Market is the butchery section, offering an impressive selection of meats.
Knife & Fork Bakery UK is another favorite, known for its use of natural ingredients and flour milled in-house.
These are just a couple of examples of the market’s diverse offerings.
9. St. Mary’s Church: A Testament to Time
Located on the old coaching route that now sees far less traffic, St. Mary’s Church commands its location with a distinctive architectural style.
This historic church stands as a testament to time, with its unique features and the stories it holds within its walls.
While the exterior of St. Mary’s Church is an architectural marvel in itself, its interior holds even more intrigue.
The church has served as a concert space and a venue for public meetings, reflecting its central role in the community.
If you find the church open during your visit, it’s worth stepping inside to explore its interior and appreciate its historical significance.
The church embodies the rich heritage of Banbury and offers a glimpse into the town’s past.
10. Relax at People’s Park
Peoples Park in Banbury is a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility.
This well-maintained park offers a serene environment for leisurely walks, relaxation, and outdoor activities.
As you explore the park’s grounds, you’ll be greeted by beautiful trees, lush greenery, and vibrant flowers that change with the seasons.
The park’s landscaping is a testament to the care and attention given by the local authorities.
One of the highlights of Peoples Park is the aviary, which adds a touch of wildlife to the surroundings.
Watching the colorful birds in their natural habitat can be a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
For families, the park features a well-designed play area that’s ideal for younger children.
It provides a safe and fun space for kids to enjoy and expend their energy.
If you’re in need of refreshments during your visit, there’s a convenient van where you can grab a cuppa and sit back, taking in the peaceful ambiance.
11. The Fine Lady Statue: A Banbury Icon
In the heart of Banbury, there’s an iconic statue that has become a symbol of the town’s history and folklore—the Fine Lady Statue.
This enchanting sculpture, located at Banbury Cross, is a must-see for visitors exploring the town.
It’s not just a work of art; it’s a testament to Banbury’s rich heritage.
The Fine Lady Statue is a striking depiction of a lady riding a pillion on a horse, elegantly dressed in 17th-century attire.
Her hand is outstretched as if inviting you to take a closer look and uncover the stories hidden within Banbury’s past.
The statue’s significance lies in the popular nursery rhyme that it represents:
“Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.”
The origins of this nursery rhyme are steeped in mystery, but it has become an integral part of Banbury’s culture.
The Fine Lady Statue stands as a tribute to this beloved rhyme, and it adds a touch of whimsy and charm to the town center.
Banbury’s Fine Lady has become an emblem of the town, and taking a photo with her is a cherished memento of a trip to this historic market town.
Beyond its cultural significance, Banbury Cross, where the Fine Lady Statue resides, is a bustling intersection and a central point for exploring Banbury.
It’s surrounded by shops, cafes, and historic buildings, making it a natural starting point for your Banbury adventure.
So, when you’re strolling through Banbury’s streets, don’t forget to stop by the Fine Lady Statue.
12. Rugrats and Half Pints: Family Fun in Banbury
One of the best things to do in Banbury with kids is to visit the Rugrats and Half Pints.
If you’re looking for an indoor adventure that will keep your kids entertained for hours, Rugrats and Half Pints is the place to be.
This award-winning children’s activity center caters to kids aged 0 to 12, providing a wide range of sensory and soft play activities all under one roof.
From the moment you step inside Rugrats and Half Pints, you’ll notice the vibrant and colorful environment designed to spark imagination and creativity in young minds.
The center is committed to providing a safe, clean, and stimulating space where children can explore, learn, and, most importantly, have fun.
One of the things I personally like about Rugrats and Half Pints is the variety of activities available.
The center boasts a well-thought-out sensory play area, ideal for the youngest visitors.
For older kids, there’s a larger indoor play area with plenty of climbing opportunities and exciting slides.
What sets Rugrats and Half Pints apart is its commitment to maintaining a clean and well-cared-for environment.
The friendly and helpful staff are always on hand to assist and ensure that everyone has a great time.
If you work up an appetite during your visit, Rugrats and Half Pints feature an on-site café that serves a variety of snacks and drinks.
13. Have A Drink At Blinking Owl
If you’re seeking a quintessential British pub experience in Banbury, look no further than Blinking Owl.
This establishment captures the essence of traditional pubs from decades past, and it offers a welcoming atmosphere, home-cooked food, and a sense of camaraderie that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Blinking Owl is more than just a pub.
It’s a place where locals and tourists come to unwind, enjoy great food, and get a taste of Banbury’s rich cultural heritage.
The pub’s interior is a delightful blend of old-world charm and comfort.
With its classic décor, cozy nooks, and friendly staff, Blinking Owl feels like a home away from home.
The ambiance is further enhanced by the warm glow of traditional lighting and the welcoming hum of conversations among patrons.
One of the highlights of Blinking Owl is its menu, which boasts a range of home-cooked dishes that cater to various tastes and preferences.
The pub also offers a selection of fine ales, wines, and spirits, allowing you to enjoy a refreshing drink while you soak up the atmosphere.
14. Go Bowling At Banbury Bowl Alley
If you are looking for a place where you can bowl then you should definitely check out Banbury Bowl Alley.
It is located in the heart of Banbury, this bowling alley promises hours of strikes, spares, and all-around family fun.
Banbury Bowl Alley has earned its reputation as a go-to spot for both locals and visitors looking for an exciting and social activity.
Whether you’re an experienced bowler or a novice, you’re sure to have a fantastic time at this lively venue.
As you step into Banbury Bowl Alley, you’ll be greeted by the buzz of laughter and the sound of pins crashing, creating an atmosphere of excitement and camaraderie.
The modern facility is well-maintained and features several lanes, ensuring that there’s ample space for everyone to enjoy the game.
The facility provides everything you need for a great game of bowling, including comfortable shoes and a variety of bowling ball sizes to suit your preference and skill level.
There’s also a system for keeping track of scores, making it easy to compete with your fellow bowlers.
If you’re new to bowling or want to improve your technique, Banbury Bowl Alley offers assistance from friendly staff who can provide tips and guidance.
They’ll ensure that you have a fantastic time on the lanes.
Between games, you can take a break in the seating area, enjoy refreshments, or even have a go at the arcade games, adding an extra layer of fun to your visit.
Banbury Bowl Alley often hosts events and special offers, so be sure to check their schedule for themed nights or discounted bowling sessions.
15. Play Golf At Rye Hill Golf Club
Located in the countryside of Banbury, Rye Hill Golf Club beckons both avid golfers and newcomers to its beautifully designed 18-hole golf course.
With stunning views, excellent practice facilities, and a clubhouse that offers a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, Rye Hill Golf Club is the perfect place to enjoy a day of golf and camaraderie.
ts well-drained soil ensures that main greens are in play year-round, allowing golf enthusiasts to indulge in their passion no matter the season.
The course is thoughtfully designed, featuring a mix of holes that provide a variety of challenges, from long fairways to strategically placed hazards.
One of the standout features of Rye Hill is its excellent pace of play.
Unlike some other courses, rounds at Rye Hill move smoothly, ensuring that you can fully enjoy your game without unnecessary delays.
The greens are well-maintained and provide a consistent surface for putting, enhancing the overall golfing experience.
Golfers can take advantage of practice facilities, including a putting green and a par 3 course, perfect for honing your skills or introducing newcomers to the sport.
For those who are new to golf or wish to improve their skills, Rye Hill Golf Club also offers coaching and lessons from experienced professionals who can help you take your game to the next level.