Oxford nightlife guide

Oxford is one of the coolest cities in the UK. It’s got interesting history, incredible buildings, beautiful scenery and amazing bars. Here’s my guide to the best Oxford nightlife!

Best bars in Oxford

The City Arms

This is the perfect place to start a Cowley Road bar crawl. I fell in love with Cowley Road, one of the city’s main student areas, straight away. It’s a mile long stretch of bars, multicultural shops and restaurants and vibrant street art. The City Arms has a cute little beer garden at the side of the road that’s great for people watching as the street goes by. The drinks here are cheap too, which is rare in Oxford, so shouldn’t be missed!

best bars in Oxford

Best bars in Oxford

Photo @cityarmsoxford

Cowley Retreat

This is where we actually did start out, and it was dry to say the least. Expensive beer, minimal atmosphere… possibly better here at night but I probably wouldn’t return!

Cafe Baba

A small Moroccan themed cocktail bar, also on Cowley Road. I really like it here, partly because of its leafy, hidden garden, and partly because of its amazing cocktail deals. Most places on Cowley Road offer a happy hour but Cafe Baba’s 2 for 1 cocktails (5-8) were the cheapest, and nicest, and after 8pm they’re only £4 each anyway.

Best bars in OxfordBest bars in Oxford

Big Society

My favourite place on Cowley Road. A really cool student bar with good music and bar games, and it was busy even during the day. They also serve food and do THE BEST fried chicken. I had it with mac and cheese and it was unreal, see:

Best bars in Oxford

The Mad Hatter

An Alice in Wonderland themed speakeasy cocktail bar. It’s more the place for a civilised drink and a chat rather than to party; it’s pretty quiet apart from the soft jazz playing, and the cocktails are fancy but pricey. Oh, and you have to answer a riddle to get in. It’s a bit hipster but I love the novelty.

Best bars in Oxford

Turf Tavern

I totally recommend this pub to anyone who goes to Oxford, if nothing else for its location alone! It’s hidden just off the high street; a maze of cobbled lanes lead you past some incredible university buildings on the way there. I felt like I was in Harry Potter! It’s definitely worth trying to find, it’s a lovely, traditional English pub, and was completely packed out by the time we got there.

Best bars in OxfordBest bars in Oxford

Photo @turf_tavern

Purple Turtle

Memories from here are a bit hazy, but I’ll do my best… It’s an underground club/bar that’s dark, dingy and very messy! I think they have different music every night, but on Saturdays it’s mid 2000s pop punk, indie and emo. This is right up my street – I loved it but obviously not for everyone! If you aren’t sold yet it’s £2 for vodka mixers… come on!

Best bars in Oxford

Photo @purpleturtlebar

***Special mention*** Ahmed’s Bar B-Q Kebab Van

I had no idea what this takeaway van was called so I had to Google it, and the people of the internet seem to agree with me – it’s the best! Honestly, best drunk food ever. I had a falafel wrap and it was massive and so cheap, I had to give it a shout out. Right in the middle of the high street, you can’t miss it!

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