Stretching both south and east from Magdalen Bridge, the Cowley Rd area is primarily a residential neighbourhood. As such, Oxford’s southeast quadrant holds few tourist attractions, though both the meadows belonging to Magdalen College, and the Botanic Garden – beside the Cherwell north and south of the bridge respectively – offer irresistible riverside strolls. The students who live along and off Cowley Rd tend to spend their days elsewhere, but come the evening they’re out in force in its many bars, pubs and restaurants.


Magdalen College and the Botanic Garden count as major Oxford attractions, but the only reason you’re likely to venture across Magdalen Bridge into the city’s southeastern quadrant – unless of course you’re lodging here – is to enjoy the nightlife and dining along and around Cowley and Iffley Rds or St Clement’s St. The evening especially, from around 5pm until at least midnight, is very much the time to come. And note, too, that during the university year Magdalen College and its outdoor spaces are only open to visitors in the afternoon.


Magdalen College Frolicking amid the fritillaries in Magdalen’s timeless riverside meadows, and admiring the ornate cloisters that inspired the creatures of Narnia.

Magdalen Arms Relaxing over a leisurely lunch or drawn-out dinner in Oxford’s finest gastropub, perhaps sharing a steak pie that’s built for two.

Spiced Roots Trying out the tempting tastes of the Caribbean, whether you’re a dedicated vegetarian or die-hard carnivore, and rounding things off with a rum cocktail.

Botanic Garden Learning about the plants and spices that have brought the world together, or dozing on the bench where Philip Pullman’s Lyra met her otherworldly lover.

Oli’s Thai Joining in-the-know locals at a pocket-sized neighbourhood restaurant that packs a spicy punch.

Top Tips

There’s an obvious concentration of pubs and restaurants just across Magdalen Bridge from central Oxford, at the northwest end of Cowley Rd, but it’s well worth heading a mile southeast to Magdalen Rd, which connects Cowley Rd with Iffley Rd, and holds gems like the Magdalen Arms and Oli’s Thai.