Not too big but not too small, Oxford is much more than a world-famous college town. Discover the city's beautiful Cotswold honey stone buildings, its many green and wild spaces, and so many leisure plans with the help of this useful guide curated by our Journalist Fellows and the members of our staff. Here are just a few highlights to fully enjoy the place we call home.
Gee’s. Five minutes from the Institute is this pricey restaurant, based on a Victorian conservatory built in 1898. Octopus starter and aubergine parmigiana are strongly recommended. White chocolate cheesecake is especially good. Book here. Map
Quod. This iconic restaurant at the heart of Oxford’s High Street offers great menus and has some outdoor seating at the back. The artichoke soup, the pizzas and the pavlova are especially good. Book here. Map
G&Ds. This local chain of ice cream parlours also serves bagels, waffles, cakes and more. If you can’t choose, go for the Daim Bar Crunch ice cream. Try before you buy the Marmite ice cream.
The Breakfast Club. With its colourful kitsch decor and bright roof-top setting, this is a fun place to go for breakfast and brunch but is also open well into the evening. Serving English and American-style dishes like fry-ups, stacks of pancakes, breakfast burritos and more. Map
2 North Parade Produce. Five minutes from the Institute is this small grocery shop where you can find local cheeses and a great selection of seasonal fruit. Sweet strawberries and gooseberries in the summer and tasty apples in the fall. They advertise any daily additions on their lively Twitter account. Map
Jericho Cheese Company. This unassuming shop in Little Clarendon Street is a paradise for any cheese lover. You can either visit or order straight from their website. If you don’t know what to try, we suggest you try St. Jude cheese. You can also buy excellent bread from Sourdough Revolution. Map
Cowley Road. Too many ethnic food shops to mention individually, but go here for South Asian, Middle Eastern, Korean, Chinese, Greek, Brazilian, Eastern European groceries and more. Hamblin’s on nearby Iffley Road is probably the best place in town for bread and pastries. Map
Farmers markets. East Oxford Farmers Market and South Oxford Farmers Market are great places to source locally grown fruit and vegetables as well as store cupboard ingredients, eggs, meat, artisan bread, homemade dishes and much more.
Brew. Five minutes from the Reuters Institute is this small coffee place, also selling brownies and pastries. You can also buy awesome croissants from French bakery Gatineau at 2 North Parade nearby. Map
The Magdalen Arms. The best pub for food in East Oxford, but also a nice place to have a quiet drink.
The O2 Academy. Live music venue with a packed calendar of rock, pop and hip-hop acts. Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy have played here. Used for the filming of local band Radiohead’s single Creep. Map
Oxford Coffee Concerts. If you prefer classical music, we recommend this series of concerts held every Sunday morning at the Holywell Music Room. said to be the oldest purpose-build concert hall in Europe. Map
Oxford Bach Soloists. This is a Baroque ensemble whose ambition is to perform, in sequence, the complete canon of Johann Sebastian Bach’s vocal works over 12 years. Founded by Tom Hammond-Davies, they offer concerts on Sundays in one of the most beautiful venues in Oxford: New College Chapel. Map
Port Meadow. Home to many species of horses, cattle and wildflow, this large green space is often called “Oxford’s oldest monument”, as it hasn’t changed much since prehistoric times. Its origins are traced back to the 10th century, when the city was given these 120ha or pasture by King Alfred in return for helping to defend his kingdom against marauding Danes. It’s a wonderful place for a long walk. Map
Oxford Canal. Built in the 19th century, this 77-mile Victorian waterway connects Oxford and Coventry through the English countryside. The Oxford section takes you through Jericho and Summertown and is a great place for a walk. Map
Thames Path. From Donnington Bridge to the ruins of Godstow Nunnery, where Lewis Carroll first conceived Alice in Wonderland, this path along England’s longest river is full with wildlife and gorgeous Oxford views. You’ll find nice eateries along the way like The Perch and The Trout Inn. Map
Christ Church Meadow. Bordered by the Thames and Cherwell rivers, this is a sea of tranquility. The meadow itself is inaccessible and inhabited by longhorn cows but a wonderful footpath around the edge takes about half an hour to walk round. Map
South Park. A large park on a slight hill a mile or so from the centre. Go here for the best views of Oxford’s dreaming spires. And also visit neighbouring Headington Hill Park for an amazing range of beautiful trees. Map
Hinksey heated outdoor pool. Open for lane swimming or just splashing around. It has hot showers, changing rooms and a large grassy area for sunbathing (yes we get sun in the UK). Only open from April to October. Map
Buzz Gym. Relatively cheap, modern gym in the middle of Oxford, on top of the Westgate shopping mall. Well-equipped with loads of classes to choose from. Open 24 hours for those casual 3am iron-pumping sessions. Map
Punting. Take a relaxing trip up the Cherwell river on a traditional flat boat, propelled by a long pole. Don’t stand at the wrong end or you’ll be mistaken as coming from Cambridge. Hire and go from Magdalen Bridge (where chauffeurs are available) or Cherwell Boat House.
Ashmolean Museum. This art and history museum wouldn’t be out of place in London. Incredible collection of artifacts, art and statues from around the world. Past exhibitions include Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Raphael. The collection includes this masterpiece by Paolo di Dono. Free apart from major exhibitions. Map
Oxford Castle and Prison. Take a guided tour of the site of an 11th century castle which later became a prison (the last prisoners were there as recently as 1996) and get a good insight into the history of the city. The tower and mound provide nice views of Oxford and the surrounding countryside. Map
Cinemas. Oxford has its fair share of multiplex cinemas but the Phoenix Cinema and Ultimate Picture Palace are worth visiting for both mainstream and more independent movies as well as special events like directors Q&As.
Whitehorse Hill. The highest point in Oxfordshire with an ancient chalk horse set into the hill is lovely for walking and for panoramic scenes of the area. It’s also home to an Iron Age fort. Nearby is an early neolithic burial ground called Waylands Smithy dating back over 5,000 years. Around one hour by car. Map
Broadway Tower. This 65-foot building is placed on the top of a beautiful hill at the heart of the Cotswolds. Conceived by the great landscape designer ‘Capability Brown’, the tower is now home to a nuclear bunker and has a rich history related to artists William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Edward Burne-Jones. There’s a great café at its feet. Around one hour by car. Map
Harcourt Arboretum. 130 acres of rare and endangered trees and plants including giant redwoods, acers, bluebell woods and wildflower meadows. And look out for the charming ‘Oxford Forest’ pigs, and less charming but beautiful peacocks. Free to university members. Just outside of Oxford, so accessible by taxi. Map
Blenheim Palace. This stunning stately home surrounded by magnificent parkland, with miles of paths, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s expensive for a single visit but worth it. Accessible by bus from Oxford, which also gets you a 30% discount. Map
London. A comfortable, 24-hour bus service (the Oxford Tube) calls at a number of locations both in Oxford and London before reaching Victoria Station. Around a 90-minute/2-hour journey and cheaper than taking the train. Map
Brighton. Visiting this iconic seaside town takes about 3 hours on public transport: take the bus to Victoria and then the train to Brighton. Go for fish and chips on the beach, a colourful assortment of eclectic shops and cafes, fun and games on the Victorian-era Palace Pier, and ice cream-stealing seagulls. Map
Oxford children’s library. A great place to take kids, with a wide range of books to borrow for all ages from toddlers to teens. Part of Oxfordshire Central Library at the entrance to the Westgate shopping centre. Map
Playgrounds. Oxford has loads of parks, most of which have their own children’s playground with swings, climbing frames and roundabouts. South Park, Florence Park, and Cutteslowe Park (which has a splash park) are amongst the best.
Oxford Brookes climbing wall. This is a brilliant facility for anyone from around 6-years-old right up to pro climbers. Four rooms of walls for bouldering or using ropes. No special equipment necessary. Classes and drop-ins available. Register and book first. Map
Oxford United. Enjoy the lively atmosphere at the home of the Yellows, currently in the third-tier of English football, alongside 8,000 other screaming fans. Two blocks of seats are designated for families (although anyone can sit there). Book online. Take the number 1 or 5 bus to Blackbird Leys and follow the crowds. Map
Dinosaurs. Situated in a magnificent neo-gothic building, the Museum of Natural History has a full-scale replica of a T-Rex skeleton, an array of prehistoric remains, live insects, geological collections and so much more. Cafe upstairs. Free. The equally intriguing anthropological Pitt Rivers Museum is at the back. Map
The Story Museum. A super-immersive experience for kids (from toddlers to 10-year-olds) based on their favourite story books and characters. Enter the Whispering Wood, home to Anansi the Spider, where every tree has a story to tell, visit Alice's Wonderland or walk through the wardrobe into Narnia. Take part in workshops, exhibitions and shows, and also visit the lovely cafe and shop. Map
Blackwell’s. The best bookshop in Oxford and also the oldest one: it opened in 1879. It includes the legendary Norrington Room, built in 1966 in a basement that used to be a swimming pool. It was then the world's largest single display of books in one room, with 160,000 volumes on two-and-a-half miles of shelves. Map
Oxfam Bookshops. As well as several general charity shops (including a superstore), Oxfam has a couple of second-hand bookshops in the city on Turl St and St Giles, which are great places to pick up classic titles and rare editions at low prices.