- For other places with the same name, see Oxford (disambiguation).
Oxford is the oldest university city in the United Kingdom, some 50 miles (80 km) to the west of the capital London in its own county of Oxfordshire, on the rivers Thames and Cherwell. Together with Cambridge (the second oldest university city and Oxford's great rival), Oxford has long represented the English academic establishment and elite ("Oxbridge"), a haven of tradition and endeavour. Oxford's famous "Dreaming Spires" refer to the medieval churches and colleges that dominate the bustling modern town in all their Gothic splendour. Picturesque architecture and a vibrant modern life, driven by students, light industry and technology, all set in the rolling countryside of Oxfordshire, make this a great destination.
Oxford was first occupied in Saxon times, and was known as "Oxanforda". The settlement began with the foundations of St Frideswide's nunnery in the 8th century, and was first mentioned in written records in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 912. By the 10th century Oxford had become an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and was on several occasions raided by the Danes.
The University of Oxford was founded in the 12th century and therefore constitutes the oldest English-speaking university. Oxford, like Cambridge, differs from many other universities in that there is no 'campus' as such, and no central university building. Instead, the university consists of approximately 40 colleges and associated buildings, such as the Exam Schools (on the High Street: closed to the public), the world-famous Bodleian Library (main buildings in Radcliffe Square, off the High Street: limited access to the public), and several world-class museums. Each college has its own individual character, some date from the 13th century, others are merely a few decades old. Many of the colleges are closed to the public, particularly during term times, but some are open at different times. For example: Christ Church (the college of "Brideshead" fame) is mostly open, and has the added bonus of having a (small) cathedral attached, where excellent music is performed at Evensong everyday; it also has an excellent art gallery. Some of Christ Church's buildings are used in films such as Harry Potter. Other colleges of note are Magdalen (pronounced 'maudlin'), which has a deer park, and those along the High Street, all of which have an impressive list of alumni. Shelley fans should visit University College. Former women-only colleges such as the pretty Somerville (Woodstock Rd) further to the north of the centre are interesting to get a feel for the range of colleges in Oxford.
During World War II, Oxford was spared from the German carpet bombing that levelled many other British cities, making it one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the United Kingdom. The city has a population of 150,000, and the metro area 244,000.
One of the best online resources for planning a visit to Oxford is the Virtual Tour of Oxford, hosted by the university's chemistry department.
Central Oxford is bound to the west and south by the River Thames, which in Oxford is known as the Isis, and to the east by the Cherwell, which confluents into the Isis at Boathouse Island, a centre for university rowing. The city centre is built around two intersecting thoroughfares which cross at Carfax:
- the High Street — running east–west, this is the main road coming in from Headington and Cowley.
- George Street — runs west from the centre and is known for the New Theatre and its restaurants
- Running north–south is another road, essentially continuous, but with separate ancient names for its various stretches — St Aldates and St Giles, separated by Cornmarket (now a pedestrianised shopping boulevard).
- Jericho is an affluent area just north of city centre. Jericho is home of the Oxford University Press and its museum. It also has plenty of nightlife, including pubs and cocktail bars.
- Summertown is an affluent area north of central Oxford. Most of Summertown is directly on the Banbury Road, however there are shops and restaurants on the side roads such as the South Parade.
- Kidlington is north of Summertown. It is apparently Britain's largest village. It has a small high street with a Tesco's and Co-operative supermarket, several pubs, resaurants and a large Sainsbury's supermarket.
- Wolvercote is an affluent village to the north-west of Oxford. It has a church, three pubs (The Plough, The White Hart and Jacobs' Inn), a village store and a common for walking on.
- Headington is to the east, perhaps most notable for one of Oxford Brookes University's main campuses. It has a small high street and Thornhill Park & Ride nearby. There is also a house with a large shark sculpture in the roof, located just off the high street, which may be of interest.
- Botley and Osney are west of the train station. Much of the area is industrialized and therefore uninteresting to tourists. However the area has the city's Waitrose store and several retail parks such as Botley Retail Park and Seacourt Tower Park, along with Seacourt Park & Ride nearby.
- Cowley, to the south east of the city, has a plethora of restaurants, pubs and shops, many of which are independent. Confusingly the term Cowley can refer to two distinct areas: the area along the Cowley Road to the east of Magdalen Bridge tends to be more commercial and student focussed (and is the part which appeals more to tourists), while the suburbs to the south east of this are more residential and working class. In this more outlying area is Plant Oxford where cars have been made for over 100 years, the Templars Square Shopping Centre (and nearby Templars Retail Park), and the Oxford Retail Park with a large 24-hour (on weekdays) Tesco supermarket.
- Blackbird Leys is south of Cowley. It is a social housing (housing projects) area and is generally not recommended to tourists. However the Kassam Stadium, home to Oxford United F.C., and the Ozone Leisure Park nightlife complex opposite may justify a trip.
Oxford is linked to London by the 50-mile (80-km) south-eastern stretch of the M40 motorway. The journey takes 50–90 min, depending on traffic, which can be heavy. The north-western continuation of the M40 conveniently links Oxford with England's second largest city, Birmingham, and the West Midlands.
Parking and access restrictions are very stringent in the narrow streets of central Oxford, policed by both wardens and cameras, with heavy fines applicable. The one-way traffic systems are circuitous and confusing, making it difficult to get around by car. Visitors driving to Oxford from the south have easy access to the temporary car park on Oxpens Road next to Ice Rink whilst the new Westgate Shopping Centre is built. An alternative is to use one of the five municipal Park and Ride services which are located in the city outskirts on all sides of Oxford (these are well signposted). Some offer free parking depending on the site and bus takes about 12 minutes to reach the city centre. However £2.80 is charged for the return bus trip to the city centre. Forget about using the Thornhill Park and Ride on weekdays, it is invariably full.
- Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
1 Oxford station is large and located immediately west of the city centre and south of Jericho. Fast First Great Western trains run to and from London Paddington every half an hour, the trip taking about an hour. Commonly, these trains call at Reading, Slough (for Windsor Castle), and Didcot Parkway, though not all trains call at each of these stations. Without a railcard, tickets to London cost £20 off peak and £40 at peak times, although you can buy tickets for about £4 if you book in advance online. There are also stopping services to London calling at a large number of stations, which run every hour and take about 90 min. First Great Western also runs approximately hourly trains on the Cotswold line to Worcester.
Cross Country Trains run through Oxford, mostly running to/from Manchester and Southampton. These trains run approximately half-hourly in both directions until about 9PM. All of these trains stop at Reading going south, and Leamington Spa for Warwick and Warwick Castle, and Birmingham going north.
- 3 Gloucester Green. This bus station offers buses to locations all over England and make it very convenient to get out of Oxford. Buses leave from here to London, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and other national destinations. Most long distance buses do not take credit cards so make sure you have enough cash, but most services to London, Heathrow, and Cambridge also accept contactless card.
Frequent and comfortable coach services run from several convenient bus stops to Gloucester Green coach station in Oxford, normally starting at the London Victoria station, running westwards via Marble Arch, Notting Hill, Shepherd's Bush and Hillingdon, and then onwards to Oxford. Stops in Oxford include beside others Thornhill Park and Ride station, Headington, Brookes University, St Clements, High Street (Queens Lane) (which is best for daily visitors, as it is right in the middle of the majority of University Colleges) and finally Gloucester Green, which is also well situated. Bus services between London and Oxford include Oxford Tube run by Stagecoach and the low-cost Megabus.com (which one must book in advance via the website or by phone. The service uses the infrastructure of the Oxford Tube). The Oxford Tube runs very frequently and journey time is usually 100 min (longer during rush hours).
Prices for the Oxford Tube is £14 adult one way, £17 for an adult same day or next day return ticket, and £20 for an adult return that lets you return at any point within three months. They take slightly different routes in London, so the place that you want to go to/from may influence where you board the coach. If you wish to travel late at night, only the Oxford Tube runs 24 hours a day.
There are regular bus services between Oxford and London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports with The Airline, run by Oxford Bus Company.
There is also an X5 bus between Oxford and Bedford (via Milton Keynes), taking approximately two hours, along with the S6 service to Swindon. There are also several coaches to other parts of the country that are run by National Express.
Another useful (but infrequent) service is the 853, which travels using the A40 from Cheltenham to Oxford via Charlton Kings, Andoversford, Northleach, Burford, Witney and Eynsham. The bus terminates in Oxford at Magdalen Street near the Martyr's Memorial and leaves Oxford in the large lay-by next to the Taylor Institute (near the Ashmolean Museum). This is operated by Stagecoach and it is possible to buy a day ticket for it which allows you unlimited travel on it and allows you to make connecting journeys anywhere on Stagecoach's buses in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, or Wiltshire.
Local buses to Bicester, Blenheim Palace, and Banbury are run by Stagecoach, and depart from Magdalen Street, near Cornmarket. There are also bus services to Reading, Abingdon, and Didcot from St Aldate's, also in the city centre.
4 Oxford Airport (OXF IATA) at Kidlington is used mainly for private and charter aircraft and has only intermittently had scheduled airline flights; it is useful only if you fly your own plane, or are able to charter a small aircraft.
Heathrow (LHR IATA) is the closest major airport, followed by Gatwick (LGW IATA) in terms of size and popularity. Road access from both Heathrow and Gatwick (fastest) is by M25 (heading north and west respectively) and then the M40 to Oxford's outskirts (follow the signs).
Oxford Bus Company runs several airport bus services called The Airline to Oxford Gloucester Green bus station (running in from Thornhill Park & Ride, then Headington and up the High St with several convenient stops: check web pages below). The Oxford Bus Company recommend allocating a minimum of an hour for between when the coach arrives and flight check-in:
- between London Heathrow and Oxford. generally every thirty minutes. Travels to Heathrow Terminal 5 and then Heathrow Central bus station. The route takes an average of 1 hour 20 minutes, but this can be increased due to traffic congestion. The Oxford Bus Company recommend stopping at the Heathrow Central bus station for Terminals 1, 2 and 3. For Terminal 4, there's a free shuttle bus from Terminal 5 that leaves from bus stand 7. £23 single, £30 return.
- between London Gatwick and Oxford. hourly 7AM-11PM, less frequently thereafter. Travels to Gatwick South Terminal and then Gatwick North Terminal. The route takes an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes, but this can be increased due to traffic congestion. £28 single, £37 return.
Birmingham Airport (BHX IATA) has fewer destinations compared to the London airports (it still has quite a lot), but it is the closest to Oxford in terms of public transport travel time. Birmingham Airport has its own railway station called Birmingham International, which is connected to the airport terminal building via the free AirRail Link cable car shuttle, taking 1–2 min. From the railway station, trains depart to Oxford every hour between 6:14AM and 10:14PM and take about an hour. A non-advance, non-rail card single costs £25.50, a return £28.80 off-peak or £51 any time. You could do a lot cheaper by booking an advance ticket though (but be careful as tickets are valid only on the booked train, so if your flight is late and you miss the train, you will have to buy another ticket).
Oxford city centre is very compact and easily walkable. Many areas of the city centre are pedestrianised, and all major tourist sights are well signposted.
That the narrow streets of the city centre are pedestrian-friendly, difficult for cars and full of beautiful buildings that will draw your attention upwards (rather than onto a more horizontal plane) does not mean that the roads of the city are overspill pavements. You will find most cyclists quite forgiving on this point as they are used to it and are often themselves pedestrians tempted to do the same as long as you suppress the urge to pass comment on any near-misses actually arising from your standing in the middle of the road.
The preferred mode of transport for the university student is the bicycle and like Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Beijing, there are hundreds of them. Most trains into Oxford allow bicycles to be carried for free. Fortunately, there are cycle lanes on virtually every street near the centre, however you will sometimes be sharing the road with other motorists. Though the bus traffic can be daunting, the familiarity of cyclists to local drivers makes cycling safer than it seems at first. The best option is to follow the locals as they know what they are doing. It is illegal for cyclists to run red lights (although many do) and you must use lights at night, local police frequently set up checkpoints and there is a fine for cycling without lights. Bike parking is available everywhere, but make sure you get a strong lock as bike theft is common. Avoid cable locks as they are cut through frequently.
Avoid driving in central Oxford. Traffic is heavy, the one-way system is very confusing, the streets are often very narrow with restrictions, and parking is very expensive. Use the park and ride system, or forget the car and come in by public transport. If you have a motorcycle or a scooter, things are a little easier.
Local urban buses are mostly operated by the Oxford Bus Company and by Stagecoach. Fares are expensive and are charged by distance (starting at £1.10 single, £2 return (Oct 2018), pay the driver when boarding: cash or contactless; change is available), but if you plan on making more than two trips in one day, buy an all-day pass (£4.20, Oct 2018) to save money. The main hubs for local buses are the rail station and St Aldates.
If you are in town a while, there is also a rechargeable smart-card known as the Oxford Key that gives discounted bus fares for a week, month, 13 weeks or a year. It can take several hours for the Key to be ready once recharged.
- CityZone is the standard Key which allows travel only on Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel buses, the radius covers as far north as most of Kidlington to as far south as Cowley, Kennington and Blackbird Leys.
- SmartZone allows the same travel as CityZone but for Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel and Stagecoach buses (which is very convenient, particularly in rush-hour).
- CityZone Extra extends the CityZone radius to include as far north as Woodstock to as far south as Abingdon.
The Oxford Bus Company have two travel shops where you can top-up or ask questions in-person:
- 1 Gloucester Green Travel Shop, 89 Gloucester Green, OX1 2BU. M–F 8AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 9AM-4PM. You can sign up for an Oxford Key, top it up in-store and purchase tickets for the Airline bus.
- 2 High Street Travel Shop, 44 - 45 High Street, OX1 4AP. 9:30AM-5:30PM. Only provides sightseeing information.
Park and ride
Buses operate from 1 Pear Tree (north, near Wolvercote Roundabout), 2 Redbridge (south, in Donnington), 3 Seacourt (west, in Botley), 4 Thornhill (east, in Headington), and 5 Water Eaton (north, in Oxford Parkway). The buses operate from 6AM to 11:30PM on weekdays and Saturdays. Return fares start at £2.80 per adult, and children travel free when accompanied. Parking charges apply at Pear Tree, Redbridge, and Seacourt.
Oxford has Black Cabs (Hackney Carriage) which can be flagged down from the street or taken from taxi stands located around the city, and 'minicabs' which must be ordered by phone or app, 001 & Royal Cars are the most popular services. Black Cabs are quite pricey but are convenient for short hops if travelling in a big group. Minicabs are much cheaper for long-distance journeys; the fare should be agreed over the phone when booking or should be bargained with the driver for long distance, however within city the fare is set by meter within every taxi–never get in a minicab without agreeing the price.
Uber is not yet available in Oxford.
Visitors to Oxford should definitely visit at least one museum, visit at least one college and – if possible – hear one of the world-class college chapel choirs. A walking tour (see 'Do' below) is a good way of achieving this.
- 1 Bodleian Library. The main research library of the University of Oxford, the Bodleian is one of the oldest libraries in Europe (opened in 1602, based on the collection of Thomas Bodley), and in the UK is second in size only to London's British Library. The Bodleian now possesses numerous branches throughout the university; visiting bibliophiles will be most keen to peruse the central site, which includes Duke Humfrey's Library above the Divinity School, the Old Schools Quadrangle with its Great Gate and Tower, the Radcliffe Camera, Britain’s first circular library, and the Clarendon Building.
- 2 Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square. Built 1737–49, the round Camera functions as a reading room for Oxford students and so is not generally accessible. The grand exterior, however, is well worth viewing.
- 3 Hertford Bridge (Bridge of Sighs) (Hertford College). A quaint pedestrian bridge for the students of Hertford College which has popularly become known as the "Bridge of Sighs" of Oxford.
- 4 Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St. This unusual building was Sir Christopher Wren's first major architectural commission. At the time he was a professor of Astronomy at the university. There is a series of busts outside the theatre facing Broad St with strange expressions and facial hair.
- 5 Taylorian Institute (also known as the Taylor Institution), St Giles', OX1 3NA (corner of St Giles' and Beaumont St, opposite the Randolph Hotel). The university's centre for the study of modern European languages and literature, established in 1845. Its library contains the largest specialist collection in its field in Britain. It is in a neo-classical building designed by Charles R. Cockerell and erected between 1841 and 1844 by the university to house the institution and the Randolph Galleries (now the Ashmolean Museum).
- 6 Tolkien's House, 20 Northmoor Rd, OX2 6UR. Appointments only. Fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien lived in this mansion from 1930 to 1947, and wrote The Hobbit here. For the uninitiated little more than an average house in a residential street, but a must see for Lord of the Rings fans. Free.
- 7 University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High St (entrances from the High and from Radcliffe Square), ☏ . Some of the best views of Oxford are afforded from the tower of the church, dating to 1280. The church, rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries (with various additions after this time), is full of architectural and historical interest. The church has a coffee shop, the Vaults and Garden, now re-opened under the management of Will Pouget (already known for his 'Alpha Bar' in the Covered Market) and specialising in organic food and fair trade tea and coffee.
Many Oxford colleges allow tourists to visit their grounds during certain hours and certain seasons, although some are closed to tourists at all times. Those that do open are generally closed to tourists during certain times of the year, especially University terms (approximately October/November, January/February and May/June), particularly in May/June, which is when examinations are taken. It is advisable to visit the college's website before visiting, or to enquire at Oxford's local tourist information office to be certain you are not disappointed.
Each college has a unique history and something interesting to offer in terms of striking architecture or historical notoriety.
Balliol, University, and Merton Colleges each claim to be the 'oldest' in the university, with founding dates in the 13th century, although the exact year may be unclear or contested. They are fine examples of the collegiate Gothic architecture for which Oxford is renowned.
Exeter College on Turl Street is an example of one of Oxford's smaller colleges. Built in 1314, it is also one of the oldest and in its front quad exemplifies collegiate architecture in Oxford. The Victorian neo-Gothic chapel is modelled on the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and houses 'The Adoration of the Magi', the famous pre-Raphaelite tapestry by William Morris. The Fellows' Garden neighbours the Divinity School and the Bodleian Library and offers one of the best views in Oxford, over Radcliffe Square.
New College on Holywell Street is interesting for being the only college to be built straddling the ancient city wall, which cuts through the center of the grounds.
The Queen's College along High Street, founded in 1341, is renowned for its grand 18th-century Classical style architecture for which is unique among the ancient (medieval) colleges, which have otherwise each been rebuilt or expanded over the years in a largely Gothic or neo-Gothic style. Tourists are not admitted to this college.
All Souls, also along High Street, is famous not only for its striking towers, but also in that it does not accept undergraduate members, but rather elects only two graduate fellows each year based upon their performance in what has been described as the 'hardest exam in the world'.
Finally, two colleges (some of the largest and most famous in Oxford) that have somewhat established themselves as tourist destinations are Magdalen and Christ Church. You're as likely to see a tourist inside as a student, but they do offer regular visiting hours, tourist facilities, meticulously manicured and beautiful grounds, and ticket booths for charging admission fees.
- 8 Christ Church, OX1 1DP. The college of Brideshead Revisited fame, Christ Church is an Early Modern period college founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey as "Cardinal College". Noted for associations with Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and was a location for the filming of the first Harry Potter film. Although not used for the actual filming, its Great Hall served as the inspiration for the design of the Great Hall of Hogwarts set in the Harry Potter film series. The Christ Church Meadows south of the college is a beautiful green space offering nice views of the spires and quiet corners to relax. Admission is expensive at adults £6; seniors, children and students £4.50.
- 9 Magdalen College, eastern end of High St, ☏ . 1 October–21 June 1PM–6PM or dusk (whichever is earlier), 25 Jun–30 Sep noon–6PM, closed 22–24 June. Founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, Magdalen (pronounced Mawdlin) is frequently the first college seen by many visitors if coming into Oxford on the London Road, its high tower serving as a much-loved landmark. A must-see is the glorious deer park and the gothic chapel. Significant Magdalen alumni include C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney and Edward Gibbon. Visitor gift shop and afternoon café. Maximum 20 people in a group. Adults £5; seniors, children, students £4.
Museums and galleries
- 10 Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont St, OX1 2PH (between Worcester and St. Giles), ☏ . Mo–Su 10AM–5PM. Vast, impressive, and has undergone major redevelopment, the Ashmolean is Britain's oldest public museum, having been founded in 1683. The museum displays ancient art from Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome, a fine collection of Western art and artifacts and a sizable Eastern Art collection. Highlights include the Amarna Princess Fresco and the Alfred Jewel. A restaurant and gift store also feature. Free.
- 11 Christ Church Picture Gallery (entrance via Oriel Square), ☏ . Houses an internationally renowned collection of Old Master paintings and drawings – some 300 paintings and almost 2000 drawings. The paintings include works by Carracci, Tintoretto, Filippino Lippi, Van Dyck and Frans Hals. Christ Church’s collection of Old Masters drawings is one of the most important in the country and includes work by major artists such as Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Durer and Rubens. For reasons of space and conservation, it is not possible to show the entire collection but a selection of drawings is always on view. £3/£2.
- 12 Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke St. An art gallery often showing temporary exhibitions of art and photography by renowned contemporary artists, which are accompanied by well designed talks and workshops. Excellent cafe with cheap and great quality eats. Free.
- Story Museum, 42 Pembroke St OX1 1BP, ☏ . Family-oriented museum about the power of story-telling and fiction.
- 13 Museum of Oxford. The museum tells the tale of the growth of the city and university.
- 14 Museum of the History of Science, Broad St, OX1 3AZ. Tu–F noon–5PM; Sa 10AM–5PM; Su 2–5PM. Located in the Old Ashmolean building and housing an unrivaled collection of early scientific instruments. The Old Ashmolean building is the world's oldest surviving museum-purpose building. It is a department of Oxford University and a public museum. Its website offers an online database of their collection. Free.
- 15 Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Rd (opposite Keble College), ☏ . Daily 10AM–5PM except for Easter and Christmas. Houses the university's scientific collections of zoological, entomological, geological, palaeontological and mineralogical specimens, accumulated in the course of the last 3 centuries. The exhibits occupy a large central court with elegant Victorian cast-iron columns supporting the great glass roof, and surrounded on four sides by upper and lower arcades. They are devoted to the history and diversity of life on Earth and the rocks and minerals that form it. Highlights include the famous Oxford Dodo, the largest display of dinosaur remains outside London, a great collection of skeletons, and the nesting swifts in the museum's main tower. Free.
- 16 Oxford University Press Museum, Great Clarendon St, OX2 6DP, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10AM-4PM; closed on Bank Holidays and between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day – it is essential to contact the museum in advance to book a visit. This small museum explains the history of the University of Oxford's involvement in printing and publishing from the 15th century to the present day. Among other things, the exhibitions show the OUP's buildings, printing equipment, the first publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and how the Oxford English Dictionary came to exist. Free.
- 17 Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Rd. Daily noon–4:30PM. Oxford's museum of anthropology and ethnology, still largely arranged in Victorian style, making this a rare museum experience. The Pitt Rivers requires time and effort but gives great satisfaction. Look out for the shrunken heads! (Entrance to the museum is through the Oxford University Museum Natural History (OUMNH) on Parks Road – the entrance is at the far side of the lobby from the main entrance to the OUMNH; visitors therefore need to walk across the ground floor to reach it.) Free.
- 18 Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, St. Aldate's. M-F 14:00 - 17:00. Museum with a collection of 2000 instruments, run by the University.of Oxford. The collection focuses on orchestra instruments. free.
Parks, gardens, open spaces
Many of Oxford University's colleges have parks and gardens to walk through that are open to the public.
- 19 University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane and the High St (opposite Magdalen College), ☏ . Daily 9AM–4PM (Nov–Feb), 9AM–5PM (Mar/Apr/Sep/Oct), 9AM–6PM (May–Aug), last admission 45 minutes before closing. The oldest botanic garden in Great Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. £4.50 for adults, £3 concessions during peak season, free during weekdays out of season.
- 20 Oxford University Parks (entrances at Parks Road, Norham Gardens, and South Parks road, near Linacre College). Closing times vary according to the season. Large expanse of park along the Cherwell River with paths running from Marston to the City Centre.
Walking tours, that last about two hours, from St Aldates, near the centre, are an excellent way of visiting some of the more famous colleges, such as Christ Church and Merton. Independent general and ghost tours also start nearby in Broad Street.
The only Oxford-based Harry Potter walking tour is offered by the Oxford Tourist Information Centre. Like all the non-Oxford-based Potter tours, Duke Humfrey’s Library is not included (only Bodleian Library staff can lead visitors into this hallowed space). Harry Potter Places Book Two—OWLs: Oxford Wizarding Locations guides Potterites through the decision-making process required to enjoy all Oxford Harry Potter sites, including Duke Humfrey’s Library.
Sport and recreation
- 1 Oxford United FC, Kassam Stadium, Grenoble Rd, OX4 4XP, ☏ . The city's professional football team, who play at the Kassam Stadium which is 3 miles southeast of the city centre. They are in League One, the 3rd tier of English football, and won the League Cup in 1986. £20 (adult, East Stand).
- University Boat Races (usually W-Sa of Week 7 of Hilary Term and W-Sa of Week 5 of Trinity term - check www.ox.ac.uk for term dates) Twice a year, the river is taken over by the inter-college boat races. The races are a great way to experience the Oxford obsession with rowing first-hand. The river is full of people and there is a great atmosphere of college spirit. Races take place south of the city centre on the Isis, between Donnington Bridge and Christ Church Meadows. The best places to watch are either the towpath along the side of the river, or at the bottom of the meadows - both accessible by foot from the centre (about 10-15 minutes). Word of warning however for those watching along the towpath, the towpath is likely to be swarming with marshals and bike riders while the crews are racing. The towpath does however offer the best vantage points, particularly for the bumps races where crews will often 'bump out' halfway along the course. Most college boathouses will also be serving food and drink throughout the week of racing. Races take place 11AM-6PM, with the better boats racing later in the day.
- Punting. In the summer, punting is an ever-popular activity, involving propelling a wooden boat along the river with a pole. You can also hire someone to do the punting for you, although it is easy and fun to do it yourself. Bring a bottle of wine and good balance along for a more interesting trip (although it helps to have a sober crew member along!) Punt rental is available from several locations in Oxford.
- In the summer, check out the nesting swifts (birds) at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. These elegant little birds have been nesting in ventilation flues in the tower of the University Museum for many years, providing a wonderful opportunity for scientists. Visitors to the museum between May and August can watch live pictures from three of the nests in the tower on a television monitor.
Stage and screen
Oxford has five city-centre cinemas, screening mainstream (Odeon) and art films (Ultimate Picture Palace, Phoenix Picturehouse). The latter sometimes has showings at 11:30PM for night owls.
- 5 Odeon (Gloucester Green), George St, OX1 2BL, ☏ . Largest cinema in the Oxford city centre.
- 6 Odeon (St. Giles), Magdalen St, OX1 3AE, ☏ . Smaller Odeon cinema with a Costa café at the front.
- 7 Phoenix Picturehouse, 57-58 Walton St, Jericho, OX2 6AE, ☏ . Vibrant independent cinema with an assortment of viewings available.
- 8 Ultimate Picture Palace, Cowley Rd, OX4 1BN (opposite the church), ☏ . Small independent cinema housed in a majestic grade II listed building with an assortment of viewings available.
- 9 Vue, Ozone Leisure Park, Grenoble Rd, OX4 4XP, ☏ . Large mainstream cinema located just opposite the Kassam Stadium.
Oxford also hosts a number of London productions on tour, as well as playing host to a large number of student productions each year. Oxford has a lively student-drama scene. The following theatres put on amateur student productions during term-time, which are often very good value for money:
- 10 Burton Taylor Theatre, 11 Beaumont St, OX1 2LW, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-13:30PM. Tickets sold at the Box Office of the Oxford Playhouse (see above)
- 11 Old Fire Station Theatre (OFS), 40 George St, OX1 2AQ, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11AM-6PM. Charity-run culture hub showcasing contemporary UK and local art, plus drama and music. Also has a café.
- 12 The Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont St, OX1 2LW, ☏ . Worthwhile plays.
- 13 New Theatre, George St, OX1 2AG (east end of George St. near to St. Giles), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-10PM; Su 10AM-8PM. Popular shows, musicals and ballets.
- Oxford Show Details. Aggregation website that highlights shows worth seeing in Oxford.
- 14 The Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St, OX1 3AZ, ☏ , email@example.com. Once voted the most uncomfortable concert hall in England, the Sheldonian never has a shortage of both professional and amateur classical music concerts, and though it is "uncomfortable", it cannot be denied that its baroque majesty is truly beautiful.
Most lectures are only open to members of the University of Oxford; however, a variety of public talks and lectures are organised throughout the year.
It is also possible for members of the public to attend residential summer schools within the university, such as with Oxford Royale Academy or Lite Regal Education. The university's Department of Continuing Education also runs a series of short courses on various subjects.
As well as the obvious world-famous university, those wishing to study in Oxford may wish to enter at Oxford Brookes, an entirely separate institution.
- 1 Covered Market, Market St, OX1 3DZ. M-Sa 8:30AM-5:30PM; Su 10AM-4PM. High Street. Oxford has the oldest covered market in England. Unusual small shops, including a chocolate shop, cake shop, fine butchers, hat shop, florists, glassware, and charming cafes.
- 2 Clarendon Centre, 52 Cornmarket St, OX1 3JE, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30AM-6PM; Su 10:30AM-5PM. Small shopping centre located on the southern Cornmarket with modern shops for clothes, electronics and food.
- 3 Westgate Shopping Centre, OX1 1TR, ☏ . M-F 10AM-8PM; Sa 9AM-8PM; Su 11AM-5PM. Westgate has mostly designer clothing shops such as Levis, Timberland, Hugo Boss and Cath Kidston. There is also a large John Lewis and yet another Blackwell's store.
A large number of shops in the city centre specialise in selling the ubiquitous Oxford University range of souvenirs. One is official, the others less so, but all do a roaring trade in T-shirts, sweaters, calendars and paraphernalia:
- 4 University of Oxford Shop, Oriel College, 106 High St, OX1 4BW, ☏ , fax: . M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM. The official outlet for university souvenirs and gifts. (Bank Holidays and Sundays in June 11AM–4PM, Sundays in July and August 11AM–5PM.)
Larger stores selling apparel, electronics and furniture can be found in Oxford's retail parks at the Botley/Seacourt area:
- 5 Botley Retail Park, Botley Rd, OX2 0HA. Has a Currys/PC World, Argos, Pets at Home, Hobbycraft and other large stores.
- 6 Seacourt Tower Retail Park, OX2 0FB. Has a Sports Direct, Homebase, Dreams and Decathlon.
Unsurprisingly for a university city, Oxford is noted for antiquarian, specialist and new books.
- 7 Blackwell's Books, 48–51 Broad Street (opposite the Sheldonian Theatre), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Founded in 1879, Blackwell's main Oxford shop is a veritable tourist attraction in itself, the vast 10,000-square-foot Norrington Room excavated beneath Trinity College Gardens laying claim to being the largest space dedicated to book sales in Europe. Another 9 speciality branches of this Oxford institution dot the city.
- 8 Oxford University Press Bookshop, 116 High Street, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Stocks a wide variety of books published by Oxford University Press.
- 9 Waterstones, William Baker House, Broad St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Situated in the grade II listed William Baker House is one of the largest branches of Britain's dominant bookshops. The bookshop houses many different works both academic and leisurely catering to many tastes and preferences. There is also a café making it perfect for meeting friends or taking a break.
- 1 Alpha Bar, 89 Covered Market, Avenue 3, ☏ . 9AM–5PM(ish). One of the healthier options inside the Covered Market, Alpha Bar serves up organic, fair-trade food. Sandwiches are reasonably priced, at around £3.50, and you can choose from their many interesting fillings, including baked tofu, seaweed and roasted vegetables. Their salads are priced by the pound and you can fill your recyclable container with good-for-you grains. A favourite among students for lunch, but make sure you get there early — they tend to run out of the more popular ingredients by around 3:30PM. £.
- 2 The Alternative Tuck Shop, 24 Holywell Street, OX1 3SB, ☏ . One of the best sandwich shops in Oxford. Cheap, lightning-fast service, high-quality food. Offers a great selection of sandwiches (warm and cold), panini, pasties and cakes. Friendly and efficient staff. £.
- 3 Ben's Cookies, 108-109 Covered Market, OX1 3DZ, ☏ . M-Sa 9:15AM-5:30PM; Su 10:AM-4PM. Great little shop right in the centre of Oxford, and much better quality than some of the other, over-priced coffee shops. Also notable for being the first store in what would later become an international chain. Popular with Oxford University students!
- 4 Brothers and Georgina’s, Covered Market, OX1 3DY, ☏ . M–F 8:30AM–5PM. Georgina’s is tucked away on the upper floor of the Covered Market, and this small café has a fairly groovy, hippy-ish décor and atmosphere. You’ll pay more for your sandwiches and wraps here than you would at other places, but portions are huge and, for the most part, healthy. An exception to the latter is their loaded potato skins, which are slightly spiced and come with a heaping of sour cream. Delicious! £.
- 5 Dosa Park, 25 Park End St, OX1 1HU (next to the train station), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10:30PM, Su noon-10PM. Tiny South Indian restaurant/café/takeaway next to City Centre bus stands and train station, whose appearance belies its quality — some of the most mouth-watering authentic South Indian food out there, and dirt cheap too! Well worth a stop if travelling through Oxford Station and needing a snack or meal. £.
- 6 G&D’s (George and Davis), 55 Little Clarendon Street, OX1 2HS, ☏ . 8AM–midnight. The original G&D’s was opened in Little Clarendon Street by an Oxford University student and soon became an Oxford institution. No other ice-cream themed shop has survived long in Oxford due to the fierce loyalty of G&D’s customers. Popular flavours include ‘Oxford Blue’ (blueberry), Crunchie bar, Turkish delight and InLight Delight (white chocolate with chocolate chip cookie dough). G&D’s also offers bagels, salads and baked goods, all extremely reasonably priced and extremely tasty. Has a minimum of £5 spending for debit and credit cards. £.
- 9 The Grand Cafe, 84 High Street, OX1 4BG, ☏ . 9AM – 8PM. Lunch options include Waldorf salads, oak smoked salmon and varied sandwiches, but the real draw here is the afternoon tea. For £16.50 you get a couple of sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, handmade chocolate truffles, tea or coffee and a glass of champagne. True extravagance! ££.
- 10 Atomic Burger, 92 Cowley Rd, OX4 1JE, ☏ . 11:30AM-10:30PM. Gourmet burger joint with a nostalgic 1980s popculture theme throughout. Burgers are top-notch with many different toppings as well the option of choosing how you like it cooked. Also home to the Fallout Burger challenge where participants attempt a triple 6oz burger with triple chips all coated in ferocious ghost chilli sauce. ££.
- 11 [dead link] Byron's, 33 -35 George Street, OX1 2AY, ☏ . Part of a chain. An upmarket diner experience offering burgers, fries and milkshakes. Recommended to try are the "hard shakes" which add a shot of liquor (such as rum or Bailey's) to any milkshake.
Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indochinese
- 12 Angrid Thai, Threeways House, 36 George St, OX1 2BJ (Opposite the Odeon cinema in Gloucester Green.), ☏ . 11:30AM-11PM. An inexpensive Thai fast-food establishment right in the centre of Oxford that offers great value dishes and a casual atmosphere. Recommended to try are the panang curries and the prawn crackers with a helping of sweet chilli sauce. A 15% student discount is available. £.
- 13 New Dancing Dragon, 283 Banbury Rd, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7JF, ☏ . Contemporary restaurant specialising in primarily Cantonese cuisine, but has other Asian dishes too. Located on the site of former cheap buffet restaurant Dancing Dragon. ££.
- 14 Taberu, 100 Cowley Rd, OX4 1JE (west end of the Cowley Road opposite Big Society and the church), ☏ . M-Th noon-3PM, 5:30PM-10:30PM; F-Su noon-10:30PM. Authentic Japanese restaurant with a superb atmosphere and menu to boot. Start your meal with some delicious takoyaki, a snack dish originating from Osaka that involves frying octopus in dough and garnishing with sauces. Enjoy traditionally made sushi or go for katsu curry or a bento dish instead. While alongside having a sake beer or instead a Ramune which is a Japanese-made soft drink. ££.
- 15 Thaikun, 36 George St, OX1 2BJ, ☏ . noon-10:30PM. An extensively decorated Thai restaurant in the centre of town.
Indian, Nepalese, Bangladeshi
- 16 Kadai & Naan, 209 Cowley Rd, OX4 1XF, ☏ . Restaurant specialising in primarily Nepalese cuisine but also offers Indian dishes too. The Nepalese food here is strong and bursting with flavour particularly the rum-rum chicken. Also recommended are the momo dumplings, served with a delicious spicy tomato chutney they both compliment the meal or serve as an excellent appetiser. ££.
- 17 Majliss, 110 Cowley Rd, OX4 1JE, ☏ . Su-Th noon-2:30PM, 5:30PM-11:30PM; F-Sa noon-2:30PM, 5:30PM-midnight. Contemporary designed authentic restaurant specialising primarily in Indian cuisine but also caters to other Asian delicacies. Food is delicious regardless of the diner's spice preference and the service is excellent. ££.
- 18 Spice Lounge, 193 Banbury Rd, OX2 7AR, ☏ . Oxford Spice Lounge has a delicious Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine with a very friendly staff. They offer a lunchtime buffet on Sundays from noon to 3PM. At the Spice Lounge the emphasis is on organic and creative dishes. Ethnic recipes are used to provide a diverse, unusual menu, while focusing on healthy eating.
- 19 Pizzeria Trattoria Mario, 103 Cowley Rd, OX4 1HU, ☏ . M-Sa 6PM-11PM, Su 6PM-10:30PM. Rustic Italian restaurant with typical cuisine. Offers a selection of pizzas, pastas and a specials menu. Has plenty of vegetarian dishes and some vegan dishes as well. ££.
- 20 Pilgrims Pizza, Westgate Centre Roof Terrace RU12, OX1 1PG, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-10:30PM, Su noon-9:30PM. Very good pizza with in a relaxed atmosphere. The place has several arcade games set up to keep busy while the pizza is being prepared. £8.50 - £12.
- 21 El Mexicana, 92 Gloucester Green, OX1 2BU, ☏ . 11AM-9PM.
- The Mission, email@example.com. Chain of Mexican-inspired sandwich bars offering delicious California-style burritos for about £5. Also sells imported Jarrito's soft drinks and Corona beer to provide a true Tex-Mex experience.
- 22 The Mission (St Michael’s Street), 8 St Michael’s Street, OX1 2DU (off Cornmarket), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-W 11AM-10PM, Th-Sa 11AM-11PM.
- 23 The Mission (King Edward St), 2 King Edward Street, OX1 4HS (off High St.), ☏ , email@example.com. The King Edward St. location of the Mission chain. Delicious burritos at a low price.
- 24 Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill, 55 Walton St, Jericho, Oxford, OX2 6AE, ☏ . M-F noon-10PM, Sa Su 10AM-10PM. Upmarket restaurant primarily serving seafood. but also serves meat dishes. Oysters are excellent. ££.
- 25 The Mitre, 17 High St, OX1 4AG (the corner of High St and Turl St, city centre), ☏ . Su–Th 10AM–11PM, F–Sa 10AM–midnight. One of the oldest and biggest pubs in the city centre, it has been serving the public since 1261. It is a listed building with a pub and restaurant on three levels with lot of nooks and crannies which allow guests to have some privacy if they wish. Main courses are predominantly meat (succulent steaks, mixed grill, ribs), but the menu has something for seafood lovers, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. A fantastic deal - £5.99 on some meals before 6:30PM (including famous and popular rump steak with chips and salad).
- 26 The Nosebag Restaurant, 6-8 St Michael's St, OX1 2DU, ☏ . M–Th 9:30AM–9:30PM; F Sa 9:30AM–10PM; Su 9:30AM–9PM. An Oxford institution, The Nosebag is a favourite among students who come for the huge portions of their tasty, wholesome food. It’s worth paying the extra couple of pounds for the leftovers you’ll be heaving home – the varied menu includes Hungarian goulash, served with tagliatelle and green salad, spanakopita, pea, asparagus and salmon risotto, and blackeye bean curry. Or you can just pick up one of their delicious cakes. £.
- Wilding, opened in 2021, is a wine shop cum restaurant on Little Clarendon St. It's open daily 10:00-23:00.
- 27 Brasserie Blanc, 71-72 Walton Street, OX2 6AG, ☏ . 11AM – 11PM. Raymond Blanc’s French brasserie is intimate and full of charm. Considering the quality of the food, prices are extremely reasonable – a rack of lamb, potatoes and cabbage will set you back £17.50, and for vegetarians the grilled Crottin goats’ cheese and beetroot tart is an exquisite choice. A great place for a date or to bring your mother. ££.
- 28 Gees Restaurant (Gees), 61 Banbury Rd, OX2 6PE, ☏ . Gee's is an Oxford restaurant serving traditional British food with an emphasis on seasonal food, simple, good cooking and value for money
- 29 Quod Brasserie, 92–94 High Street, ☏ . Quod Brasserie & Bar on the famous High Street in Oxford, with its terrace and bar forms the hub of the Old Bank Hotel
- 30 The Randolph Hotel, ☏ . Afternoon tea at the Randolph is world-renowned, but a sit-down dinner in the beautiful dining room is an experience. Mains include roast loin of Highland venison, served with chestnuts and sprouts at £26.50, and fillet of wild seabass, fennel puree and langoustine sauce at £25.50. Their cheese trolley is an indulgent way to end the meal. £££.
Coffee shops and cafés
- 1 Brew Coffee Shop, 75B Banbury Rd, OX2 6PE. M-F 7:30AM-6PM; Sa Su 8:30AM-5:30PM. Serving up some of Oxford's best coffee in all its forms from espresso, to pourover. Brew also stocks coffee to buy from all over the world as well as everything you need to make the perfect cup at home. Run by friendly coffee experts and frequented by locals and students who enjoy its intimate atmosphere, delicious treats and excellent caffeinated beverages!
- 2 The Missing Bean, 14 Turl Street, OX1 3DQ (only 1 minute's walk from the main quadrangle of the Bodleian). 8AM–6:30PM. Hidden halfway down Turl Street is this little gem of a coffee shop; it only opened in October but already has a reputation for the best coffee in Oxford. Laid-back atmosphere & friendly staff. Ask for the famous flat white!
- 3 Quarter Horse, 76 Cowley Road, OX4 1JB (over the Magdalen Bridge, through the roundabout and a short walk up Cowley Road), ☏ . Venture over the Magdalen Bridge to the delights of East Oxford and take a break at Quarter Horse, another of Oxford's serious coffee ventures. They offer delicious, expertly crafted cups of coffee, some cold drinks and delicious baked goods and sandwiches. The Banana Bread is a must if you have a sweet tooth!
- 4 The Handle Bar Cafe and Kitchen (Zappi's Bike Cafe), 26-32 St Michaels Street, OX1 2EB (inside above Bike Zone), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-11PM; Su 10:30AM-6PM. Need to recharge after some hectic sightseeing in Oxford? Then Zappi's is the place to go for a fantastic cup of coffee or a simple lunch or snack. Located in the middle of town just off Cornmarket Street.
- 5 The Natural Bread Company, 29 Little Clarendon Street, Jericho, OX1 2HU (A short walk from the centre of town, in 'Jericho'), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 7:30AM-5PM; Su 9AM-4PM. Just north of the city centre on Little Clarendon Street, the Natural Bread Company offers a fantastic coffee as well as its famous cakes and sourdough bread. Perfect for a quiet break away from the standard tourist trail.
- 6 Costa Coffee, 29 Queen St, OX1 1ER. Costa Coffee has been named best chain coffee shop in UK, friendly staff & wide range of hot & cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes. ,
Pubs and bars
Oxford has many old pubs, as well as newer nightclubs.
Traditional pubs & inns
Oxford has a lot of traditional pubs and inns. While some are modern, many are hundreds of years old and are notable enough to have their own Wikipedia page.
- 7 Angel and Greyhound, 30 St Clement's St, OX4 1AB. Popular with Friday evening after-work crowd, letting their hair down. In quieter moments good for board games. Food is average.
- 8 The Bear Inn, 6 Alfred Street, OX1 4EH, ☏ , email@example.com. A small pub, but curiously full of old school ties. The oldest pub in Oxford by its own description, founded in 1492, and probably has the lowest ceilings of any pub in Oxford.
- 9 The Eagle and Child, 49 St. Giles, OX1 3LU, ☏ . Noon-11PM. Popularly known as "the bird and baby", this pub was the frequent haunt of the Inklings, a group of Oxford literary dons that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, authors of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings respectively. Very atmospheric, with a great range of ales and the best pork scratchings you've ever tasted!
- 10 The Fir Tree, 163 Iffley Rd, OX4 1EJ (on the corner of Bullingdon Road and Iffley Road), ☏ . Good beer, open till 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays, friendly atmosphere.
- 11 The Gardener's Arms, 39 Plantation Road, OX2 6JE, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Very pretty with a beer garden, and an excellent all-vegetarian menu with vegan dishes offered as well.
- 12 Half Moon, 17-18 St Clement's St, OX4 1AB. Ignore the plastic faux-Irish outlets in the city centre and head out along the High St and over Magdalen Bridge and enjoy the relaxed vibe in this small, friendly pub.
- 13 Head of the River, St Aldate's, 40 Pembroke Square, OX1 4LB (follow St Aldate's down past Christ Church college until you reach the river (the pub's on the far bank)), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-11PM; Su noon-10:30PM. Perfectly located, right on the Thames. This place buzzes on summer evenings, when the large garden gets extremely busy.
- 14 The King's Arms, 40 Holywell Street, OX1 3SP (opposite Broad Street and the Sheldonian Theatre), ☏ , email@example.com. 10:30AM-midnight. A popular student pub — selection of beers and reasonable food although perhaps prices are a little high. Excellent location.
- 15 The Lamb and Flag, 12 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JS, ☏ . M-Sa noon-11PM; Su noon-10:30PM. A big old pub, long, with lots of nook and crannies.
- 16 The Old Black Horse, 102 St Clement's St, OX4 1AB (opposite the Angel and Greyhound), ☏ . Quaint little pub used formerly as a coaching inn from the 17th century, still offers lodgings to those who need them to this day. Serves sub-zero Carling and often shows live football on an adequately sized TV. Sometimes there is the odd round of chess played among patrons too.
- 17 The Old Bookbinders' Arms, 17-18 Victor St, OX2 6BT (go down Great Clarendon Street, turn right into Canal Street), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Hidden in the back streets of Jericho. Has eccentric decorations, but friendly and with lots of beers. Bookings to made by telephone only.
- 18 Royal Blenheim, 13 St Ebbes St, OX1 1PT, ☏ . Quirky, friendly place with good beer and food. Check out the Chuck Norris quotes in the gents.
- 19 The Royal Oak, 42-44 Woodstock Road, OX2 6HT (opposite the Radcliffe Infirmary), ☏ . Graduate and North Oxford local pub, offering Schneider Weiße from Germany. Popular with scientists and doctors working in the area.
- 20 St. Aldates Tavern, 108 St Aldates, OX1 1BU (located on the former Hobgoblin site), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM; F-Sa 11AM-midnight. Small and traditional Victorian tavern but with adequate seating, with drinks varying in price depending on how early you get there.
- 21 Turf Tavern, 4 Bath Place, OX1 3SU (off New College Lane), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM–11PM; Su noon–10:30PM. A well-hidden pub, but also well known by locals. Good range of beers. Nice beer garden with coal fires where you can roast marshmallows on chilly evenings in spring and autumn. This ancient pub (a favourite with Inspector Morse) is an unmissable Oxford institution that many consider to be the best pub in the city — in the summer watch out for drenched students enjoying the end of their exams. Pint £3.50.
Oxford has a few cocktail bars. Most are in the Jericho area or on the Cowley Road.
- 22 The Cowley Retreat, 172 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE (located on the former Hobgoblin site), ☏ . Lively student pub with a decent cocktail selection. Staff are friendly until 11PM, at which point you'll be rudely kicked out.
- 23 The Duke of Cambridge, 4 Little Clarendon St, Jericho, Oxford, OX1 2HP, ☏ , email@example.com. Fashionable for young students wanting great cocktails with some cheeky bar staff. Swisher than you might expect.
- 24 Freud, 119 Walton St, Jericho, OX2 6AH, ☏ (morning), (afternoon), firstname.lastname@example.org. This bar and restaurant occupy a grand neo-classical church building producing a unique, slightly austere atmosphere. When buzzing with people, this becomes a great place for an evening out; the restaurant area is cleared to become a dance floor later in the evening. They serve a range of cocktails from about £3 upwards.
- 25 LJ's (Love Jericho), 30 Walton Street, Jericho, Oxford, OX2 6AA (situated on the old site of Sweet Browns and adjacent to Raoul's), ☏ . M-Sa 4:30PM-1AM. Cocktail bar with a great atmosphere and vibrant menu. There is a variety of flavours to be chosen from, ranging from sweet to spicy. Patrons consider the place to be trendy and also has a happy hour.
- 26 Raoul's, 32 Walton Street, Jericho, Oxford, OX2 6AA (adjacent to LJ's (Love Jericho)), ☏ , email@example.com. Su-Tu 4PM-midnight; M-Sa 4PM-1AM. A trendy and upmarket cocktail bar with a strange and rather futuristic interior design. Often very busy at weekends.
Oxford has a few gastropubs, often with clean modernist decor and a large emphasis on food.
- 27 Big Society, 95 Cowley Rd, OX4 1HR, ☏ . Noon-midnight. A modern bar with minimalistic decor and an emphasis on murals. Serves a US-inspired diner menu complete with burgers, fries and milkshakes (along with excellent Southern-fried chicken). Has free Wi-Fi with a password that rotates on a daily basis and plenty of entertainment activities including pool, table tennis and an upright arcade machine with a plethora of classic titles.
- 28 The Black Boy, 91 Old High St, Headington, OX3 9HT, ☏ . Headington gastropub named after a racehorse, hence its unusual name. Apparently has a nine year award winning streak.
- 29 The Dew Drop Inn, 258 Banbury Rd, Summertown, OX2 7DX, ☏ . Summertown's own pub is now a gastropub. The menu is a bit expensive, though recommended is the Bloody Mary station that allows customers to add their own amounts of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce.
- 30 Jacobs' Inn, 130 Godstow Rd, Wolvercote, OX2 8PG, ☏ . Tucked away in the affluent village of Wolvercote lies the Jacobs' Inn.
- 31 The Jericho Tavern, 56 Walton St, Jericho, Oxford, OX2 6AE, ☏ . An upmarket pub which is a great place for a drink and maybe some food. Also has a stage upstairs that is famous for being the place that Radiohead played their first show.
- 32 The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Rd, OX4 1UE, ☏ . Lively and unpretentious with a mixed clientele. Live music and club nights in the back room. Jazz club on Tuesday nights. Blues on Monday nights.
Certain weeknights are student-only at some clubs, so you should probably check before going.
- 33 The Bridge, 6-9 Hythe Bridge St, OX1 2EW, ☏ . Nightclub frequented by students. Two floors — R&B on one, dance on the other. Plenty of acceptable seating, long bars and quite importantly clean bathroom facilities! Drinks can be a bit pricey: bottled beer £3 (no draught), double vodka coke £2.70, entry £4–£5. VIP room.
- 34 [dead link] Atik (previously 'LavaIgnite'), Cantay House, Park End St, OX1 1JD, ☏ . M–W 9PM–2AM; Th–Sa 9:30PM–3AM. Nightclub frequented by students and locals. Come here to drink heavily and dance to uninspired pop tunes. £1-£5 cover, £3 pints, £3 mixed drinks (some nightly drink specials). Monday is Brookes student night, Wednesday is OUSU student night (many bottled drinks £1.50). Student ID required for both.
- 35 The Varsity Club, 9 High St, OX1 4DB, ☏ . Su-Th noon-midnight; F-Sa noon-3AM.
- 36 Purple Turtle, Frewin Court, OX1 3HZ, ☏ . 6PM-3AM. Characterful bar and nightclub located in one of the old Oxford University coal cellars. Playlist varies considerably depending on which night you go, with hip-hop night Brooklyn Zoo on Thursdays and rock/pop themed Propaganda on Saturdays being two of the most popular. Free entry from Mondays to Thursdays.
- 37 Anuba, 13 Park End St, OX1 1HH. Cocktail bar with decently sized dancefloor and heated smoking area. Can be used for entry to the Bridge via the beer garden on certain nights if you purchase a ticket.
- 38 O2 Academy Oxford (previously Carling Academy and The Zodiac'), 190 Cowley Rd, OX4 1UE, ☏ . Live music venue and stop-off for many a band's UK tour, turned nightclub after hours.
- 39 Thirst, 7-8 Park End St, OX1 1HH, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–W 6:30PM–2AM; Su 6:30PM–1:30AM. A small nightclub with a cocktail bar - drinks from £1.75. Also has an extensive outdoor smoking area with a bar and shisha.
- 40 JT's Cocktail Bar, Chester House, 29-31 George St, OX1 2AY (situated on the old site of Reppungi, middle of George St). Small underground cocktail bar and nightclub, decently air-conditioned and offers Texas Hold 'Em poker each Tuesday. Charges an entry fee.
- 41 The Cellar, Frewin Ct, Cornmarket St, OX1 3HZ (off Cornmarket St), ☏ , email@example.com. Underground nightclub catering largely to a house, techno, bassline and drum ‘n bass crowd. With more of an independent feel to the venue than other clubs in the city, some enjoy the experience very much and others are less inclined. £8 entry to non-ACS members, £5 with membership.
Oxford has a large number of B&Bs and guesthouses, located both centrally and in the suburbs. Check the website of the Oxford Association of Hotels and Guesthouses to get some ideas of available options.
Most hotels in the city centre are pretty expensive, and you pay almost London prices. Book in advance if you are travelling in summer: accommodation can be scarce during high season. The tourist information office in the city centre can help find available accommodation for a small fee.
For visitors of Oxford University, low cost residency may be available in St Edmund Hall.
- 1 St Edmund Hall (Teddy Hall), Queen's Lane, OX1 4AR, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A constituent college of Oxford University, and the oldest academical society for the education of undergraduates in any university. It is the last surviving medieval hall at the university, and offers double private rooms in a dormitory scheme with shared bathrooms and toilets to travelers visiting for academic purposes. Although you're likely to be housed in the brutalist concrete building behind the historic one, an eyesore to many, it still offers a great view at a reasonable price. Breakfast is included in the dining hall at ground level. £65.
- 2 Travelodge (Pear Tree), Moto Service Area, Peartree Roundabout, Woodstock Road, OX2 8JZ, ☏ . Located on the Peartree Roundabout services Premier Inn and next to the Pear Tree Park & Ride making it a great place to stay on a budget. From £49 per night.
- 3 Travelodge (Abingdon Road), Abingdon Road, OX1 4XG, ☏ . On the bottom of the Abingdon Road - 1.6 miles (2.6 km) away from Oxford city centre. It's next to Redbridge Park & Ride, making getting into the city centre convenient. From £57 per night.
- 4 Travelodge (Wheatley), Harvester A40, London Road, Wheatley, OX33 1JH, ☏ .
- 5 Premier Inn (Oxford), Oxford Business Park, Garsington Road, OX4 2JT (Close to Business Park), ☏ . Another budget hotel. From £49 per night.
- 6 Holiday Inn Express, Kassam Stadium Grenoble Rd, Oxford, OX4 4XP, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A modern hotel next to Kassam Stadium with free parking, free WiFi, inclusive breakfast and easy access to Oxford city centre, hotel is less than 5 miles (8 km) from central Oxford's bus and railway stations. £56 per night.
Alternatives in the centre include:
- 7 YHA Oxford, 2a Botley Road, OX2 0AB, ☏ 0870 770 5970 (high cost number), (outside UK), fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Housed in newish, purpose-built building next to the railway station and minutes from the city centre, prices from £20.50 adult, £15.50 under 18s. Prices are a bit steep, and unfortunately no longer include breakfast. Location is convenient although avoid getting a room facing the train station as the sound of passing trains and station PA announcements can become annoying after a while.
- 8 Central Backpackers Hostel, 13 Park End Street, OX1 1HH, ☏ . Close to the city centre. Clean and airy. Make sure to grab a pair of the free earplugs they hand out at the reception, though, as the bar crowd on the street can get noisy at night. From £14.
- 9 Oxford Backpackers, 9a Hythe Bridge Street, OX1 2EW, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Cheap and a little dingy. 2-min walk the rail and bus stations. Dorm beds from £13.
- 10 Victoria House Hotel, 29 George St, OX1 2AY, ☏ . Popular 3-star hotel in the heart of Oxford on George Street. From £71 a night.
- 11 Dial House Guest House, 25 London Rd, Headington, OX3 7RE, ☏ . Bed and breakfast from £91.
- 12 Jury's Inn (Oxford), Godstow Rd, OX2 8AL, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Located near the Wolvercote Roundabout with plenty of amenities nearby and easy access to the number 6 bus to the city centre. This 4-star hotel offers decent accommodation along with pool & spa facilities. From £125 per night.
- 13 Remont Boutique B&B Oxford Hotel, 367 Banbury Road, OX2 7PL, ☏ , email@example.com.
- Tower House, 15 Ship St OX1 3DA (one block west of Bodleian), ☏ . Comfy little B&B, only one shared bathroom and rooms are small, but great value for this location. B&B double £120.
- Oxford University Rooms. Some of the colleges rent out rooms out of term time, providing a B&B-like experience.
- 14 [dead link] The Galaxie Hotel 4-Star B&B Summertown, 180 Banbury Road, OX2 7BT, ☏ .
- 15 Burlington House Hotel, 374 Banbury Road, OX2 7PP. £157.
- 16 Ethos Hotel, 59 Western Road, Grandpont, OX1 4LF, ☏ . £130.
- 17 Royal Oxford Hotel, Park End Street, OX1 1HR (near the Saïd Business School), ☏ . Three-star hotel on the west-side of town. It has its own restaurant Jam Factory, and the city's first Korean restaurant called Bamboo.
- 18 Linton Lodge, 11-13 Linton Rd, OX2 6UJ, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Mid-sized hotel in a quiet side street of Banbury Road, 5 min from a bus stop and ca. 15 min from the University Engineering Faculty. Full Continental breakfast, garden, lounge, and well equipped rooms with bath tub and comfortable beds. No air conditioning. Express checkout available. Wifi is free, submit random name and room number on the landing page and click "Connect". £94.
- 19 The Bell at Hampton Poyle, 11 Oxford Rd, Hampton Poyle, Kidlington OX5 2QD, ☏ . Country pub of character with nine rooms and great cooking. B&B double £130.
- 20 Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Beaumont St, OX1 2LN, ☏ , fax: . Oxford's only 5-star hotel. Plush English accommodation, located directly opposite the Ashmolean Museum, could be hired for conferences and parties.
- 21 Malmaison Oxford Prison Hotel, Oxford Castle, 3 New Rd, OX1 1AY, ☏ . Set in the old prison, this modern quirky 4-star hotel also allows pets!
- 22 Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons (The Manor of Four Seasons), Church Rd, Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD, ☏ , email@example.com. 5* hotel with a 2 Michelin star restaurant run by Raymond Blanc.
- 23 The Old Parsonage Hotel, 1 Banbury Rd, OX2 6NN, ☏ . Small, modern luxury hotel in Oxford 5 minutes from the city centre.
- 24 The Old Bank Hotel, 92–94 High St, OX1 4BJ, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. This chic hotel is within walking distance to the cities theatres, museums and gardens. £150 (single).
- 25 Oxford Spires Hotel, Abingdon Road, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Close to the city centre but set in a large garden area. There's an indoor pool and spa treatments are available. £79-£229.
Although perceived to be a very affluent university city and is generally very safe, as with any city care should be taken with personal belongings and surroundings.
Street crime in the centre of the city, with the exception of bicycle theft, is low, though proper precautions as would be followed in any other city should be taken. Avoid getting caught up in drunken revelry or street fights, and, remember, traffic is on the left (so look both ways). Oxford has a lot of student cyclists, especially during term time (January, February, April, May, October, November), making hearing alone insufficient for checking whether a road is clear.
Though having seen improvement following local government investment, the suburb of Blackbird Leys on the southern outskirts of the city ranks amongst the 10% most deprived areas in the country, and has a higher rate of crime than one might expect in Oxford. Visitors are, however, unlikely to visit this area of the city other than on football matchdays.
Oxford has a relatively high rate of not only street performers but also beggars (though still a low number of the latter by international standards). Police advise not handing over money to those who expressly ask for it unless threatened.
For emergencies dial 999 or 112. For non-emergency situations use 101. 101 is a charged call.
- 3 Police Station (St Aldates), St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1SZ, ☏ . 8AM-10PM. Parking is for disabled badge holders only and fines are hefty.
- 4 Police Station (Cowley), Oxford Rd, OX4 2LE.
- 5 Police Station (Kidlington), Oxford Rd, Kidlington, OX5 2NX. M-F 8AM-5PM. Free parking available, closed on bank holidays.
Oxford has a small gay scene and a gay area, which is accepting and friendly. The city's LGBT population is not as high places like Manchester, Brighton, London, Blackpool; but it is safe and comfortable feeling for gay visitors. The Plush Lounge, Frewin Court, is the most popular gay nightclub in the city, busy on Friday & Saturday nights.
In a life-threatening medical emergency, dial 999 or 112. For urgent, but not life-threatening emergency issues it is recommended to call 111 and ask for assistance.
Hospitals and clinics
Although there are many hospitals in clinics in Oxford, the following are most likely to be of use to the sickly traveller.
- 6 John Radcliffe Hospital (JR Hospital), Headley Way, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU, ☏ . The largest hospital in Oxford, used for most illnesses. Has an Accident & Emergency department for severe injuries.
- 7 Churchill Hospital, Old Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LE, ☏ .
Oxford itself has reasonably good mobile signal available.
Oxford's own public library has free internet available. It has moved to the Oxford Castle temporarily due to the construction of the new Westgate Shopping Centre.
The hostels near the train station all provide the Internet to residents.
There are also internet cafes in the city. One to try is located above the baguette (sandwich) shop on the far south end of New Inn Hall Street (the little lane running perpendicular to George Street, right across from Gloucester Green bus station and immediately parallel to Cornmarket Street). They also offer international telephone calls, international fax, and printing.
- 16 La Baguette, New Inn Hall St, OX1 2DW. Sandwich shop with a whole internet cafe setup upstairs. Computers run Windows.
- 1 Woodstock. Located 8 mi (13 km) north-west of Oxford is the picturesque and historic market town of Woodstock, the location of UNESCO World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace, and birthplace of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.
- 2 Bicester. 10 mi (16 km) north of Oxford, a nice little town famous for its outlet shopping centre Bicester Village.
- 3 Goring-on-Thames. A small, typically English village on the Thames, with beautiful walks through the nearby Goring Gap, where the Chilterns meet the Berkshire Downs. Take the stopping service to Reading from Oxford railway station.
- 1 Waterperry Garden. Near Thame, A lovely wander through manicured gardens.
|Routes through Oxford|
|Birmingham ← Banbury ←||NW SE||→ Thame → London|
|Bicester ←||N S||→ Abingdon → Newbury|
|Cheltenham ← Witney ←||W SE||→ High Wycombe → London|
|Evesham ← Woodstock ←||NW SE||→ ENDS AT WOODSTOCK ROAD|
|Swindon ← Faringdon ←||SW NE||→ ENDS AT BOTLEY|