So you’ve done all of the pubs in George Street more times than you can count, explored the historic University buildings with visitors so often you know them like the back of your hand, and spent more afternoons in the Bodleian Library than you can even remember. Oxford may have over a millennium of history, but it can still feel like a pretty small town sometimes.
Maybe it’s time to look a little further afield, and see what adventures await you on the outskirts of Oxford, beyond the postcard-perfect centre. For those willing to travel just five or ten minutes further out than usual, a whole new world of culture, entertainment, and dining is on the cards. Here’s your guide to exploring the outskirts of Oxford.
The adventurous traveller will be rewarded with centuries of fascinating history if they are able to go further afield than the Radcliffe Camera. A quick drive out to OX29 will take you to the breathtaking Minster Lovell Hall, a decaying manor house from the 15th century, now in the care of English Heritage. Situated on the banks of the River Windrush, the faded beauty of the building and its sprawling grounds makes for a memorable and illuminating day trip.
A journey to OX4 will bring you to the gorgeous Iffley Lock, a 17th-century lock on the River Thames, straddled on all sides by beautiful cottages and cosy pubs, perfect for the autumn months. Best of all, it makes a perfect place for a spot of punting away from all of the manic tourist crowds of OX1.
Journeying off the beaten path will also present you with endless options for entertainment for both the daytime and evening. Oxford’s performing arts scene is rather small in comparison to other major UK cities, but a trip out to OX10 to the jaw-dropping Corn Exchange Theatre will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the heart of the Edinburgh Fringe. This historic theatre hosts a number of indie and art-house performances almost every night of the week, meaning there’s never a bad time to go.
For something a little more laid-back, swing by OX4 for a night at Buzz Bingo, a sprawling, trendy bingo hall with a youthful vibe and lively atmosphere. The place makes a solid alternative to the overpriced bars and venues of the city centre, offering up cheaper drinks, including health-conscious cocktails and hipster food staples like pulled pork burritos and pizza fries for a fraction of what you’d pay in the centre.
While Oxford certainly has its fair share of acclaimed eateries, it’s the outskirts which have the really good stuff. Try OX4 for the now-legendary Oli’s Thai, offering up what is quite possibly the most authentic Thai cuisine in the Western hemisphere for very reasonable prices.
For more local fare, a three-course meal at the historic Magdalen Arms gastropub will be an experience you’ll never forget, thanks to their delicately curated seasonal menu and an extensive list of British wines.
While a trip to the suburbs might seem like a chore to some, those who appreciated the benefits that accrue with a little bit of effort will recognise it as necessary and worth every mile.