A Guide to the Best Pubs in Oxford

From hidden historic gems to idyllic spots by the river, Oxford has a pub for every taste. In fact, the pubs in Oxford are so popular, that on a sunny day it can sometimes be hard to get a seat at some of the city’s most famous watering holes. Here at British Study Centres, we want you to be able to get to explore all of them, so we’ve created a list of some of the best pubs Oxford has to offer.

Historic Pubs in Oxford

The Turf Tavern

Exterior of the Turf Tavern Oxford




Photo credit: Eugene Burchall

The Turf Tavern has an incredibly rich history. With a building dating back to 1381,  the this historic pub has been used as a meeting place for Oxford students for centuries and has even been visited by celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Blair, CS Lewis and Margaret Thatcher. If that wasn’t enough, it was also a favourite hangout spot for the Harry Potter film crew when they were on location in Oxford.

The King’s Arms

Exterior of the Kings Arms Oxford


Photo credit: Lewis Clarke

The King’s Arms is thought to be one of the oldest pubs in Oxford. In fact, the pub is so old that the staff even claim it’s haunted by not one, but four resident ghosts. Situated close to Radcliffe Square and the Bodleian library, the pub can get very busy during the summer so make sure you get there early if you want a table!

The Chequers

The Chequers Pub Oxford

Photo credit:  Len Williams

Another historic pub to add to our list, the Chequers is situated right on Oxford’s high street and dates back all the way to the 1500s. Serving up traditional British food in a cosy setting, if you’re looking for a typical British Pub then the Chequers might be the perfect place.

The Bear

View of the Bar at the Bear Inn Oxford

Photo credit: Jorge Royan

Not far from Christchurch college, the Bear is yet another pub claiming to be one of the oldest in Oxford. One of its most distinctive features, however, is the expansive ‘tie clipping’ collection that is displayed on the pub walls which started when members of sports clubs and university societies would cut pieces from the end of their ties and pin them to the walls. The ‘Tie Collection’ is now made of over 4000 pieces of tie.

The Eagle and Child

The Eagle and Child Oxford

Photo credit: Jim Linwood

Just across the way from St John’s College Oxford, the Eagle and Child was once the meeting place for the iconic Inklings writer’s group, which had members such as CS Lewis ( the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings). Years later, the pub kept up its reputation as a fountain of creativity when crime writer, Colin Dexter, began to visit the pub and later used it as one of the settings for the Inspector Morse series.

Pubs in Oxfordshire by the River

The Head of the River

Exterior of the head of the River Pub Oxford

Photo credit: Jonathan Hutchins

The Head of the River may not count on such a rich history as some of the other pubs in Oxford, but its the perfect place to relax on a summer’s day by the River Thames (yes, the Thames is in Oxford as well as London). With a large patio garden and a great range of food and drink, you’ll find it hard to leave this charming riverside pub.

Pubs in Summertown, Oxford

The Gardener’s Arms

Street view of the The Gardener's Arms Oxford

Just north of Oxford’s city centre is the Gardener’s Arms. Although it might look like a regular pub from the outside, the Gardener’s Arms is one of Oxford’s edgier venues. Its menu is totally vegetarian (with vegan options too) and its large and graffiti-covered patio is the perfect place to relax on a summer’s day. If that wasn’t enough, the pub is home to weekly quiz nights and its famed Steampunk (Victorian SCI-FI) events.

The Rose and Crown

Exterior of the Rose and Crown pub on A sunny day



A local favourite in Oxford’s trendy North Parade, the Rose and Crown was established in 1863 and has been run by the same landlord for over 30 years! Previous locals have included Thom Yorke of Radiohead who even wrote some of his songs there. The pub also holds a mini beer festival in May of every year.

Want to learn more about Oxford’s pubs? Join the BSC team every Thursday at 8pm at the Martyr’s Memorial, for a fun-filled tour of some of the city’s historic watering holes. Or, check out the school’s social calendar.

 Would you like to live in Oxford and improve your English? Check out our Adult English Courses in Oxford.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Bars and Pubs in West Hampstead

10 of the Best Bars and Pubs in Hove

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About Beth

Beth is a language enthusiast and former EFL teacher. After studying Modern Languages at university, her love of adventure led her to travel all over the world. Now settled in sunny Brighton, she loves writing blogs to encourage people to visit her native England.

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