From the quirky little oddities hidden down side alleys to the famous mainstays of the main streets, Oxford has no shortage of places to grab a pint; old literary and musical haunts of today’s household names, cute little taverns with histories that outweigh some towns, or just local watering holes with their own distinct flavours. Take a trip back in time with hoo’s pick of the best traditional and old-fashioned Oxford pubs in this beautiful city.
What’s better than a drink by the river? The Head of the River is literally what it says it is, a stunning pub on the end of River Isis in Oxford. With beautiful foods and a wide range of drinks to choose from, the Head of the River is definitely a pub to check out. Plus, if you get a little too eager with the drinks, you can also stay overnight in one of their equally beautiful rooms.
Situated just a few minutes away from the University of Oxford, the Old Black Horse has everything you need for a nice pub experience. From exquisite foods and a wide variety of drinks - the Old Black Horse is the perfect place for a quick drink. Should you want to stay a little longer, they have modern rooms available so you can relax after your fun pub experience.
Turf Tavern is exactly what you might think it is! Turf Tavern has been serving ales and appetisers to many famous politicians, presidents and movie stars since its opening in 1831 and is still serving the lushest dishes and high-quality drinks around Oxford. Being a Greene King pub, also means that you can be assured quality is nothing short of perfect.
The King’s Arms is a modern and sleek-looking pub that has a stunning array of drinks and a delicious selection of foods, including seasonals and Sunday roasts. Originally built in 1607, the Kings Arms stands as the oldest pub in Oxford, and their amazing service and offerings show that they’re one of the best too. If you want the best of British in Oxford, then the Kings Arms might be the pub for you.
Despite having a quite untraditional name, the Old Bookbinders is the perfect, family-run and very traditional pub in Oxford. Since 1869, this pub has been serving locals and travellers some of the best pub food and drink and continues to do so to this day. With events and a pure-hearted community within, the Old Bookbinders pub is definitely one to check out if you’re in the area.
Want to feel like you’re on top of the tree? Okay, The Perch is firmly on the ground but is another amazing pub that you can visit in Oxford with friends and family. This newly renovated building is not only a pub but has several outdoor seating areas in its beautiful garden that make the experience that much more enjoyable. Not to mention the bustling entertainment that you might find on some evenings.
Are you, or do you plan on going to a pub with someone who is vegan? The Gardeners Arms might make you feel a little more welcome than other pubs on this list! The Gardeners Arms is the only 100% vegetarian pub in Oxford, meaning you can have a great time with a wide variety of drinks, followed by some all-vegetarian foods to make sure everyone can get involved! We love this from them, and we think you’ll love them if you’re in the area.
If you’re looking for a traditional pub that can blow you and your friends away - then The Crown in Oxford is a great choice. Serving perfect pub classics and some seriously tasty seasonal pies, The Crown should be up there with some of the best around. If you manage to stop by, be sure to pick up one of the Seasonal Pies with your beverages, we promise it won’t let you down!
The Old Tom is a traditional pub in Oxford with a bit of a Thai twist. The Old Tom is traditional in nature and has a brilliant selection of drinks that you and your friends will enjoy - not to mention the very best of Thai cuisine. If you’re not a fan of Thai food, they do have some pub classics like fish and chips to help you along! The Old Tom makes our list as it’s one of the nicest, and friendliest pubs on this list.
If you’re looking for a true traditional pub, then The Bear Inn is ideal for you. Branded as the “Small Pub with a Big Appeal”, this traditional Oxford pub is one of the oldest around, where serving started back in 1242. Although small, you and your friends can sit down or stand at the bar with a wide range of drinks and an even bigger range of foods that can help calm that appetite. If you’re swinging by and want to grab a drink, don’t be scared of the Bear!
Sister pub to The Crown, The Chequers is another pub that will not let you down when it comes to an experience and a good time. Regardless of if you’ll be eating or not, grabbing yourself a traditional pub classic drink or some mouth-watering food, the Chequers pub might be perfect for you. Check it out if you’re in the area.
Right next to Oxford City Centre, St. Aldates Tavern stands tall and welcomes all kinds of guests, and even dogs (it’s preferred that they’re also with their owners). Offering a staggering range of real ales, craft beers and homemade food - St. Aldates Tavern is not a place to pass up if you’re in the area. Plus they have entertainment of some kind every night, so why not just enjoy yourself and chill out at St. Aldates Tavern?
You might walk past The White Horse in Oxford as it’s a small, tucked away pub in the heart of the city - but this grade two listed building is home to some of the nicest pub food in Oxford. Not to mention that their range of worldwide ales and craft beer (including homemade) is something we really want you to try if you’re in the area. We promise that it won’t let you down, and because you’re in the city centre, there’s plenty to do before (or after if you’re feeling brave) your adventures in The White Horse.
Jolly Farmers is an amazing pub serving both exquisite traditional pub food and a wide range of drinks (both homemade and sourced from around the UK), but is also known as one of the oldest LGBTQ+ venues in Oxford. Regardless, Jolly Farmers makes its way to our list as it doesn’t only provide a great experience for everyone equally, but provides some beautiful food and drink too.
The Rose & Crown pub is a slightly newer establishment compared to others on this list, but provides the biggest selection of drinks around. Not only does the Rose & Crown show itself as a modern, yet loved pub - but also provides amazing food choices and live entertainment on most nights. We think that if you’re passing by and want a quick drink or bite to eat to pass the time, then the Rose & Crown could be ideal for you.
A quite well-known pub in the area, The Eagle and Child is a small pub located in central Oxford and has been a landmark for university-goers for quite some time, especially because of its associations with the Inklings writing group that included famous names such as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. This pub used to serve some great drinks and food for its guests and was a hotspot for communal gatherings amongst Oxford students. At the moment, the Eagle & Child (known as the Bird and Baby to locals) is currently closed for a ma-hoo-sive £1 million renovation, but we know it’ll come back bigger and better than before.
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Get a taste of history and culture along with your ale and traditional lunch with one of these lovely old-fashioned Oxford pubs, a great way to take a load off while exploring the city. If you’re looking to stay in the area and explore more, take a look at our pick of the top Oxford city centre hotels, and wherever you decide to stay, remember… just hoo it!