Oxford may be known for its long history and its "dreaming spires," but it’s also a great destination for foodies. There are certainly plenty of historic spots, from coffee shops dating back more than 500 years to even older pubs where literary greats once drank. There are also classic experiences and institutions, like afternoon tea and punting on the Cherwell, as well as a wonderful selection of international food, and budget-friendly options, perfect for students.
I studied in Oxford on two different occasions during my college years and have tasted my way around the city, from historic to modern. Here’s how foodies can explore Oxford in three days.
Oxford’s weather is mostly temperate but unpredictable, so pack layers.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a traditional English pub, especially a historic one.
Spend the day in central Oxford. Fuel up with a hearty breakfast at Queen’s Lane Coffee House or The Grand Café, both dating back to the 1600s. Another historic stop is the Covered Market stalls—Pieministe`r for savory pies and Ben’s Cookies for sweets are local favorites—included in many tours.
Enjoy lunch or afternoon tea with a view at the Rooftop Restaurant at the Ashmolean Museum or at the Quod Restaurant in the Old Bank Building. End the day with a bite and pints at a historic and literary favorite pub, like the Bear Inn (likely Oxford’s oldest), Eagle and Child (where J. R. R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis would meet), and The Turf Tavern (where Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway drank).
Spend the day exploring outside of central Oxford. Neighborhoods such as Jericho, North Oxford, Summertown, and Cowley offer great dining options, including many local favorites and international options such as Gee’s Restaurant, Edamamé, Pompette, Kazbar, Oli’s Thai, and G&D’s. A hop-on hop-off bus tour makes it easy to get around.
Head to the Cherwell Boathouse, an Oxford Institution, for lunch or afternoon tea, which you can combine with a punt down the Cherwell, a classic Oxford experience. Alternatively, cruise the river without having to punt on a river cruise tour with afternoon tea or dinner included. Or, grab dinner by the River Thames at the Trout Inn.
Spend your last day out in the countryside, visiting the charming villages in the Cotswolds. A guided sightseeing tour with transport is a hassle-free way to explore and get insights into local favorite foodie spots (like The Porch House, the oldest pub in England, the Bell Inn, and the Wild Rabbit).
Alternatively, head to Brightwell Vineyard for a tour and wine tasting. Combine sightseeing and wine tasting with an e-bike vineyard tour around Oxfordshire. Or, head to Blenheim Palace and enjoy Champagne afternoon tea at the Orangery Restaurant. Meanwhile, spirits-lovers can indulge in an artisan distillery tour.