Oxford is well-known for being a tourist trap. Summer in this city always involves jam-packed pavements and fully booked High Street bars. It is no surprise that the locals stay away from the highly publicised pubs. Instead, they flock to the secret places that only they know about. So, if you want to live life like a true Oxford local, here is our guide to 5 secret bars in Oxford.
Address: 32 Walton Street, Oxford, OX2 6AA
This charming place is officially Oxford’s oldest cocktail bar, established in 1979. Its modern refurbishment ensures a vibrant interior and warm, welcoming feel. Its highly knowledgeable staff aren’t limited to cocktails, as Raoul’s also serves a collection of beers, ciders and wines but it is most famous for its extensive liquor collection. Despite high popularity amongst locals, Raoul’s is still an independent bar and has no interest in changing its heritage. Raoul’s is located in Jericho, an area usually frequented by Oxford residents away from the bustle of the city.
Address: 5 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX1 2HP
This bar is known as the secret student jaunt, it is tucked away near some of the University of Oxford’s Colleges in the Park Town/Jericho area. It has a lively atmosphere during the evenings and serves wines, spirits, cocktails and beers and a selection of international foods. It is favoured by attendees of the Oxford Union as a place to socialise after the infamous Union debates, so the bar is always an interesting place to people-watch.
Address: 25-27 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1HP
This bar escapes the main hustle and bustle of Cowley Road by being located at the southern end of the road, away from the energetic but busy atmosphere of the bars and pubs located further up the road next to the O2 Academy. Its unique interiors and exteriors show off the Mediterranean theme, be sure to grab a seat in the outdoor patio in the summer. The Spanish music and dance nights ensure a cheerful atmosphere making customers feel like they are on holiday for the night. The wide range of cocktails does not disappoint and there is also an authentic tapas menu. It is no wonder this bar is a well-kept secret amongst students and young professionals.
Address: 28 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RB
This informal pub is located in the residential area of Cowley, a five-minute walk away from the Cowley Road. It is very intimate; at peak times you may struggle to get a seat due to its popularity as a local’s pub. It serves a select menu of traditional pub pizzas and burgers and the cosy atmosphere ensures it is a popular retreat all year round. The pub has also recently launched a ‘DIY Burger Kit’ to recreate the burgers at home, so there is always another option to get your hands on the much-loved food if the pub is full.
Address: 14 North Parade Avenue, Oxford, OX2 6LX
Founded in 1836, the Rose and Crown is another pint-sized Oxford pub popular hidden away from the city centre. It is in the residential Summertown area in North Oxford and its bright pink exterior makes it easy to spot, but only if you know where to look. Sunday Jazz nights are always popular in the outdoor courtyard, the pub is owned by a local couple who take pride in its history of being one of the first developments of this area of Oxford. Traditional homecooked pub food is served alongside a collection of Oxfordshire draught beers and staff take pride in sharing their knowledge of the menu with customers who are keen to sample new beers and ales.