No city would be the same without a wide variety of watering holes, and Oxford seems to have hit the jackpot in this department, with enough pubs and bars to drown in — probably something to do with the huge student population and all those thirsty brains! From the famous historical venues, where revellers have worn the boards bare over the centuries, to the new and fashionable places to be seen, there will always be somewhere to suit your mood . . .

The Eagle & Child, St Giles is famous for being the place where a group called the Inklings, including C S Lewis and Tolkien, used to meet for literary gatherings. Drinks available vary, but usually include Oxfordshire brewed Hook Norton ales. 01865 302925.

Kings Arms, Holywell Street, is one of Oxford's best-known pubs. It is popular with both students and theatre-goers. It is often very busy, especially in term-time. Serves a fine selection of Young’s beers which change every two weeks or so. 01865 242369.

The Lamb & Flag, St Giles, is across the road from the Eagle & Child. The building used to be a 15th-century coaching inn and has a literary claim to fame. Thomas Hardy is said to have written parts of his novel Jude the Obscure here and ‘the obscure tavern in a rough place’ referred to near the end of the book is thought to be the Lamb & Flag. It serves London Pride, Spitfire, Skinners, Lamb & Flag Gold and a guest ale, which varies. 01865 515787.

The White Horse, Broad Street (near Blackwells), a favourite pub of the TV detective Inspector Morse. It is tiny, secluded and cosy, but can get very crowded. A good selection of real ales is available. 01865 728138, website:

The Bear Tavern, Alfred Street, dates back to 1242 and this shows in the original building and interior which is completely authentic. The huge collection of ties which adorn the walls add atmosphere to this cosy drinking den. 01865 728164

The Turf Tavern, Bath Place, off Holywell Street, could be the oldest pub in Oxford — and it may also be the most famous and hard to find! Like The White Horse, it has also featured in TV’s Inspector Morse. And it is one of the most popular places for students to celebrate after exams. You will find a huge range of traditional real ales here. 01865 243235, website:

The Britannia Inn, London Road, is one of the best real ale pubs in Headington — especially popular for its selection of cask ales which you can try before you buy. Good food is on offer too. 01865 760192, website:

The Brickworks, Cowley Road, a couple of doors down from The O2 music venue. This narrow red brick building houses a small front bar, an underground bar and a beer patio out the back. It is also used as a private function room and has played host to the impressive talents of The Ting Tings, Editors and Happy Mondays. 01865 245999.

Far From the Madding Crowd, Friar’s Entry, is still making a stand against chain pubs and fruit machines by relying on good old-fashioned conversation and great beer to draw the crowds. A reliable place to visit when you tire of techno music, alco-pops and shouting. A great selection of beers too. 01865 240900, website:

The Old Tom, St Aldates, is named after the bell in Christ Church college's Tom Tower opposite, the pub has undergone several recent refurbishments — and was the city’s first ‘no-smoking’ pub, but it remains a good place to get a feel for the atmosphere of ‘real’ Oxford. 01865 243034.

The Gloucester Arms, Friar’s Entry, reopened under new management late 2008 and not a lot has changed to the overall feel. It is still, thankfully, a rock pub. It serves Bass, Hook Norton’s Old Hooky and rock music at ear-splitting volume. 01865 241177.

The Head of the River, Folly Bridge — you can’t beat this pub on a hot sunny day. Sitting on wooden benches watching the rowers in action, it is a great place to sit down and soak in Oxford’s atmosphere. 01865 721600.

The Kite Inn, Mill Street, just off Botley Road. Traditonal pub untouched by the makeover artists. Outside there are picnic benches, inside are televisions usually showing music or sport. The food is good value and served in large portions, even when there is a credit crunch on. 01865 248546.

The Old Bookbinders Ale House is in the heart of Jericho. This charming back street pub, voted Pub of Year in 2008 by Oxford’s CAMRA branch, introduces two new guest ales each week and regularly holds mini-beer festivals and special events, such as open mic nights, quizzes and bands. For information about these and the guest ale timetable, call 01865 553 549 or visit the website:

The Rose and Crown, North Parade, has managed to maintain an intimate Victorian public house atmosphere by avoiding introducing themes, loud music and games machines. And it has taken the bold move of banning mobile phones. Anyone seen using one has to put a donation in the pub’s charity tin. Call 01865 510551, or visit the website: