The Turf is one of Oxford's oldest pubs. It is accessible only down a narrow alley, nestling up against a section of the old city wall. For trivia buffs, this was the scene of the hero's courting in Thomas Hardy's, 'Jude the Obscure'. Inside, the low-ceilinged rooms are arranged on two levels. Outside, there are rows of benches in the courtyard, which is warmed by braziers in the winter. The Turf offers a good range of beers, lagers and real ales, plus mulled wine on colder nights. Food is served from noon until 8pm.
Raoul's Bar is an old favorite on Walton Street. It sells the strongest and tastiest cocktails you could want, at very good prices. The music is loud, but once you're cozily ensconced in a nook, you won't mind the lively, busy ambiance almost seems to demand the volume. While in some ways quite trendy, Raoul's is not at all intimidating as its decor gives it a mawkish charm.
Bear Inn, dating back to the 13th Century, claims to be Oxford's oldest pub. It is very small, and its popularity ensures that it is often packed in the evening. Located off the High Street down Wheatsheaf Yard, it can also be reached down an alley off St. Aldates, past Oxford Museum. You'll easily spot the pub by the cut-out of a chained bear adorning one of its white walls. The Bear serves real ales, ciders and fairly standard pub food is also available. It shares an outside seating area with the nearby Wheatsheaf Pub.
The Three Goats Heads is a stunning town-center pub. Entering by way of precarious stairs, you find yourself in a light, airy, but somehow suitably seedy cellar bar. The curious German lager they sell is both cheap and tasty, and makes for suitable fuel for a good night out. The boudoir-like upstairs is dominated by red velvet—this is certainly the place to visit if you want to linger over your beer. They're not known for serving real ales, however.
The Old Tom, situated opposite Christ Church College, is one of Oxford's most famous and popular pubs. Its position and name clearly help it to pull in the passing tourist trade, but the pub is worth a visit in its own right. Its atmosphere is always calm and tranquil, bookish even, but don't be misled into thinking that this means dull. The Old Tom's Irish pub feel, with its superb Guinness and fine Irish whiskey, could easily make you feel as though you have been whisked away to the Emerald Isle.
The Wheatsheaf is hidden away down a tiny alley opposite the High Street entrances to the Covered Market, but it is marked by a barrel-sign hanging overhead. It has a reputation for being an old man's pub. That said, they also schedule regular gigs, including live bands, jazz and even improved shows, making this pub well-known as a live music venue. It does offer a good range of real ales, and standard pub food is served at lunchtime. There is also an outside seating area which is shared with The Bear.
Based in a Victorian factory building, where the famous Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade was made, this lively restaurant, bar and art gallery opened in 2006. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, the space open, the food and service excellent. Promotions include a happy hour, half-price wine, special offers on food and drink, and discounted world beers as well. On the cultural side there are exhibitions, art classes, discussion groups, and a theatrical rehearsal space. The Jam Factory is just around the corner from Oxford Railway Station, and a short walk from the town center. Well worth a visit.
Atik is a sprawling nightclub that is popular with the locals and is a great place to dance the night away. The club boasts five individualistic rooms with some of the best DJ's in the region playing a variety of genres of music. They also host talented artists and touring bands that entertain with some great live music. A number of bars that serve delicious cocktails, beers, wine, and spirits ensure that a drink is always at hand. If you're looking for a fun night out with a bunch of friends, head over to Atik for a party that never ends.
The Bridge is one of Oxford's best nights out. This multi-purpose venue serves as a lounge, bar, and nightclub all week long. Most nights of the week have something special going on, and the numerous dance floors ensure that you will be able to find something to dance to, any night of the week. For those interested in a more relaxed space, the lounge has tables and drink services that can be bought.
The Oxford Retreat claims to be a boutique bar and restaurant that truly shines amid the other traditional pubs of the area. The bar overlooks the river, a great view if you're sitting on the private terrace; if not, pull up a seat at the chef's table to watch the workings in the kitchen or by the log fire to warm up in the chilly English weather. Patrons sink into meals of seasonal produce, fish and game, while the bar entertains guests who've come for a fancy cocktail concoction or a simple hearty ale.
The Jolly Farmers is Oxford's original gay pub. It's a traditional pub, with fruit machines, carpets and conventional furniture, but at night the high-energy disco music that pumps out of the stereo brings it into its own. On a Friday, it is one of only two pubs which get packed by revelers on their way to the Loveshack at The Coven. The furniture is pushed back to make room for the crowds. The crowd comprises mainly men, and the pub is sometimes thought to be not very woman-friendly. That said, it is a cozy traditional-style watering hole and is in a very pleasant part of town.