Oxford's best areas: Find Your Next Home
You probably already know a few things about Oxford.
Its historic university. Its hodge-podge collection of often-medieval architecture. Kooky confines of old-school pubs. Historic museums. Harry Potter filming sites. Close associations with Cambridge. A lofty reputation founded on charm.
Yeah, yeah, yeah—you already know that stuff.
But here’s something you’re probably a bit less familiar with: Oxford (like all major cities!) is made up of various neighborhoods, all with different perks and personalities.
And unless you’ve spent a long time in the city, you won’t know which ones will be suited to you, your lifestyle, and exactly what you’re looking for.
So in this guide to the best neighborhoods in Oxford, we’ve brought you the top choices. We’ve featured an eclectic collection of various types of districts, along with handy insights into which type of people are best suited to each one.
In our list of the best areas in Oxford, we’ve covered the following 9 spots:
- Oxford City Center
- North Oxford
- Iffley Village
Looking for the best neighborhoods in Cambridge? Coming up next, your good friends at Homelike are covering all 9—so slip into your college gown and come join the party!
1. Oxford City Center
Best for: short-term stays, those who like city epicenters, and anyone with buckets of money.
If you like being surrounded by tourists, sights, and loads of activity, this is the district for you.
The very-central part of Oxford is bigger than most people expect… and it encompasses pretty much all the sights you’ve heard of.
If you’re only gonna be around for a short while, you’ll think this is one of the best areas in Oxford. You’re close to all the stuff you’ll want to see, you have endless pubs and restaurants to choose from, and you’ll always be able to find friends.
All that said, it can be tough to find a home here. Prices are high, unscrupulous landlords like taking advantage of newbies, and the good places get nabbed quickly. So if you want to live here, it’s often easier to get yourself a furnished apartment or serviced apartment.
Attractions and parks in Oxford City Center: Christ Church Cathedral, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Castle & Prison, endless colleges, Oxford Botanic Garden, many big meadows and parks, and lots more. Basically, if it’s famous, you’ll find it here.
Transport in Oxford City Center: you won’t need to use much public transport here… and you can walk from one central part to any other in around 30 minutes. But for reaching other Oxford districts, you have plenty of buses—the journeys are short, and the timetables are very regular.
Best for: hanging with hipsters, canalside strolls, and good city-center proximity.
Jericho is a chilled-out bohemian hangout, with plenty of quirky venues packed into its surprisingly-small size. Bordering the city center to the northwest, it’s littler than most people expect, and (partially because of its centrality), it’s a popular spot.
For independent venues, kooky chums, and some round-the-clock slurping, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Oxford. The atmosphere is low-key rather than rowdy, but it serves up plenty of fun—check out The Old Bookbinders Ale House for beers, and Opera Cafe for great coffee and tea.
Jericho is best-suited to young professionals and young families. But the prices can be pretty prohibitive—although it’s not quite as expensive as Oxford’s very-central stretch, it’s not far off.
Just like we said about the city center, it’s tough to find a place to live here—so (again!) nabbing a furnished apartment or a serviced apartment can be a wise choice.
Attractions and parks in Jericho: the southern part of the huge Port Meadow (86 acres, with hiking, paddleboarding, wild ponies and more), and stretches of both the Oxford Canal and the Thames. Because it’s a central district, you’re close to all the city’s big attractions… especially the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the University Parks.
Transport in Jericho: you can swiftly stroll to the city center from here, but the S1 and S3 buses will get you to the very-center in around 10 minutes. You’re also close to the train station—perfect for heading out of the city.
3. North Oxford
Best for: finding a residential pocket close to the center, and heading north to the suburbs.
This neighborhood sits north of the city’s very-center (hardly a revelation, we know), and east of Jericho.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the place—it’s pretty similar to Jericho, but a little less hip, and a little less young. It’s very central, with the prices to match its appealing location.
From here, it’s super easy to head north out of the city center, perfect if you’re working in Summertown or Sunnymede… or if you need regular access to the airport.
It’s not the most fun district in the city, but it borders the best of them. All in all, a good choice for families with money—and in terms of pure location, among the best areas in Oxford.
Attractions and parks in North Oxford: none worth noting, but you’re close to all the city-center parks and attractions—and you’re just a very-short wander from both Port Meadow and the University Parks.
Transport in North Oxford: the 2, 2A, S5 and S7 buses run through the center of the neighborhood, and head both north and south. Super convenient!
Best for: families with money, lots of independent schools, and living outside the central sprawl.
One of the best neighborhoods in Oxford for families, Summertown is a leafy residential suburb with big pricey homes, and a welcoming small-town vibe.
The houses here (usually) have gardens and parking, along with a bit more space than the accommodation options in city-center areas.
The location is also very family-friendly. It’s far enough from the center to be quiet and relaxed; but close enough to the center to allow for fun weekend action.
Along with great homes, you’ll find toy shops, kid-friendly restaurants, and plenty of small convenience stores. And if you head north along Oxford Road (just 5 minutes by car), you’ll find a big Sainsbury’s.
Attractions and parks in Summertown: none—but you’re close to the green spaces of both Port Meadow and Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park (the second of which offers mini-golf, playgrounds, train rides, a skate park, waterside stretches, and loads more fun).
Transport in Summertown: you’re only a 15-minute bus ride from the center of the city—and at least 8 different bus routes tackle the trip, so you’ll never need to wait for a ride. A 5-minute drive north of the neighborhood, you’ll also find Oxford Parkway railway station (which has super-regular connections to London Marylebone).
Schools in Summertown: many—and some of them are among the best in the city. Top picks include Dragon Pre-Preparatory, Wolvercote Primary School, and some of those we’ve already brought you (including Summer Fields School).
Best for: exploring many green spaces, endless waterside stretches, and living a quiet life.
An outskirt part of Oxford, Wolvercote is one of the smallest and least-known entries on our list.
It sits northwest of the northern part of Summertown, and borders the northern part of Port Meadow. Because of that, it’s a pretty rural place, surrounded by (and inhabited by) green spaces, riverside walks, woodland areas, and little lakes.
It’s therefore one of the best areas in Oxford for fresh air, exercise, and enjoying the outdoors.
It’s tiny, it’s quiet, and it doesn’t have much excitement beyond all the natural stuff. So it’s best suited to older people, and outdoor adventurers. Younger folks (and families with kids) are gonna find the place a bit boring.
Attractions and parks in Wolvercote: there are no famous attractions here—but you’ll find a bunch of great green spots, including Port Meadow, Wolvercote Lakes, North Oxford Golf Club, and a load of cycle-friendly and hike-friendly canal stretches.
Transport in Wolvercote: the number 6 bus runs 4 times per hour, and takes you to the city center in around 15 minutes. For heading out of the city, Wolvercote is in a great location—you’re within super-quick reach of the A34, A40, and A44 roads.
Schools in Wolvercote: there aren’t many in the district (even the same-named Wolvercote Primary is technically outside of the neighborhood)… but there are plenty within a 5/10-minute drive.
Best for: nabbing a (relatively) affordable home, quietly raising a family, and finding your own fun.
The least-exciting area we’ve brought you so far, this is one of the best areas in Oxford for families seeking a low-cost home.
The neighborhood sits northeast of the city center, it sort of feels like a small homely village, and it offers access to schools, small shops, and the huge John Radcliffe Hospital.
Other perks include playgrounds, some gentle walking trails, and a cycling route to the center. And for a snack or a slurp, there are a handful of pubs and restaurants in and around the neighborhood.
If you’re young and want fun, don’t live here. If your priorities are elsewhere, you might still fancy it. It’s a sensible and unexciting choice—but that’s sometimes what you need.
Attractions and parks in Marston: there are some small (but pleasant) non-notable parks, but you won’t find any attractions.
Transport in Marston: you can quickly reach the center via both the 14 and X3 buses—there are around 7 buses per hour. The journey will take 15-20 minutes
Schools in Marston: the neighborhood doesn’t have a huge number of schools (though both St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary and New Marston Primary have great reputations)… but you’re not far from any of the city-center or north-of-the-city-center options.
Best for: a residential life, more attractions than you’d expect, and choosing from plenty of homes.
Headington sits east of the city center, and stretches for around 4 miles (6 km). Because it’s large and relatively affordable, it has a booming population, and residents of all ages.
It’s a convenient place to live… and you’ll find everything you need here (including restaurants, shops, schools, hospitals, pubs, city-center green escapes, and more). And because it’s home to Oxford Brookes University, you’ll find a load of young people living in the neighborhood.
Headington has more attractions and parks than most people expect—and as you head to the further-east stretches of the district, you get a decent chance of finding an affordable place to live.
All in all, it’s among the best neighborhoods in Oxford, and it’s a logical place to live (no matter who you are).
Attractions and parks in Headington: kid-friendly Science Oxford Center, the bold and bizarre Headington Shark, Oxford Artisan Distillery, C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve, Shotover Country Park, view-packed South Park, and Oxford Golf Club.
Transport in Headington: no matter which part of the district you live in, you’ll find connections to the city center. Most bus journeys take between 15 and 25 minutes.
Schools in Headington: you get a huge number of excellent options—some of the best include St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, East Oxford Primary School, and super-central Oxford Spires Academy.
Best for: always feeling at home, exploring edgy hangouts, and getting knee-deep in carnival chaos.
South of Headington (and southeast of the city center), it’s the hipster hub of Cowley.
The most trendy district in the city, it’s a mish-mash of various different vibes. You get a diverse cast of locals (you’ll feel welcome no matter where you’re from), lots of great nightlife, and an eclectic mix of restaurants.
You can also expect lots of cyclists, a bunch of brunch spots, and a whole load of street art.
Cowley is most well-known for hosting the annual Cowley Road Carnival, the biggest party in the city. Every summer, the festival descends upon the neighborhood, and totally transforms the place.
In summary, this district is one of the best areas in Oxford for pretty much everyone. You get affordable houseshares for students, affordable apartments for young professionals, and affordable family homes for… well… families.
Attractions and parks in Cowley: there aren’t any ‘attractions’ as such—but you’ll always find somewhere to eat, drink, and hang with friends. It’s one of the least-green parts of the city, but it’s surrounded by parks.
Transport in Cowley: many buses regularly run to the city center—journeys usually take between 15 and 25 minutes.
Best for: outdoor adventures, living in a charmfest, and sipping local beer in local pubs.
Also known simply as ‘Iffley,’ this southern neighborhood is the coziest part of the city.
Depending on who you ask, Iffley is actually a small village of its own—and that’s exactly how the place feels.
It’s one of the best neighborhoods in Oxford for older people… or any relaxed souls who like cycling and walking (and don’t enjoy the busy bustle of a city center). Outdoor adventures here include along-the-Thames wanders, the grasslands of Iffley Meadows, and many streamside stretches.
The neighborhood also offers a welcoming community spirit, a couple of old-school-style pubs, and plenty of friendly faces.
Though it’s a pretty laid-back district, Iffley is also fairly popular with students—they come here for the relatively hip vibe, the relatively low rents, and the relative proximity to the center (it’s only a 40-minute walk from here).
Attractions and parks in Iffley Village: there aren’t any ‘attractions’ as such, or even many parks—but you get lots of meadows, many streams and rivers, and very-close proximity to remote and rural areas.
Transport in Iffley Village: the 3, 3A and X40 buses run from here to the center. Depending on which part of Iffley you start from, your journey might take less than 15 minutes.
Schools in Iffley Village: a surprising number of schools dotted in and around the area. Top picks are Iffley Academy, Rose Hill Academy, and Greyfriars Oxford Catholic School (which is actually slightly outside the neighborhood).
Best Neighborhoods in Oxford: Final Thoughts
Okay, that’s us done—they’re the 9 best neighborhoods in Oxford!
If you’re struggling to find a nice home in the city, you might want to get yourself a serviced apartment or a serviced flat. Moving into a ready-made place can save you the hassle of having to furnish it… and the hassle of having to deal with landlords, viewings, or wasted time.
For more juicy tidbits on moving to the UK, here are guides on everything you need to know about living in the UK, and moving to the UK with your pet.
… and if considering moving a little further east, here are the best neighborhoods in London.
Thanks for reading, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for checking out Homelike. Bye for now!