Time to Discover: Oxford’s Covered Market
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Looking to explore Oxford’s Covered Market? Don’t miss this insider’s guide to all the best spots and shops, as well as a sneaky peek at the market’s history.
Situated in the centre of Oxford, the Covered Market has long been an iconic spot in the city for both tourists and locals alike.
Filled with restaurants, shops and cafes, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the delicious smells that waft out of the High Street, Market Street and the Golden Cross entrances.
Ready to explore?
Top Spots + Shops in Oxford’s Covered Market
It’s absolutely criminal to visit the Oxford Covered Market and not grab yourself a bag of Ben’s Cookies to save (or scoff).
What’s now a small chain across the south of England is the result of Helge Rubinstein’s hard work and passion. She first opened the stall to sell her homemade cookies in the Covered Market in 1984, deciding to name her business after her son.
Deliciously gooey and oozy, the best piece of advice we can give you is to time your visit for when a batch has just come out of the oven. You’ll thank us if you do.
And we’re so glad she did… we can’t resist a triple chocolate chunk cookie (or two).
Oxford Soap Company
Oxford Soap Company is another one of the iconic Oxford covered market shops that are run by a local, family-owned business – it was founded in 2008 after Ervin Tomkys Valteri became fed up with a lack of cosmetics that were tailored to the local climate.
Pop into the store and you’ll be able to see the soapmakers in action while you peruse the offerings.
If you’re looking for an extra special souvenir, ditch the keyrings and fridge magnets and pick up a traditional bar for your nearest and dearest.
Cardews of Oxford
If you’re after the best place to get yourself a coffee in Oxford, there’s no better place than Cardews of Oxford.
In fact, this shop is the oldest supplier in Oxford (established in 1948) of freshly-roasted coffees and teas in the City.
As well as sitting down for a relaxing brew, you can also pick yourself up a traditional British souvenir to take home.
Read More: The Best Coffee Shops in Oxford
If you can stomach something sweet after devouring a bag of cookies, pay a visit to Oxford’s very first gelateria: iScream.
It’s said that Founder and Head Gelatiere Graham had a bit of an epiphany a decade ago while he was on holiday in Tuscany, randomly deciding he was going to open his own Gelato shop.
Except, unlike the rest of us, Graham pulled through with his crazy dream… and iScream was born at Oxford’s indoor market.
With over 15 options to choose from, ranging from fruity to all-out indulgently creamy, you’ll need to allow yourself a good 10 minutes just to decide on your order.
If you’ve never been to Pieminister, drop whatever you’re doing and run there right now.
Classic British pies have been given a fancy makeover; the menu boasts everything from steak, bacon, and red wine to a chicken and veggie option. There’s even a healthy selection of vegan options to choose from – the Mooless Moo is a delicious jackfruit take on a steak and ale.
Trust us when we say to opt for the Mothership, which is your choice of pie accompanied by mash, minty peas, cheese, and crispy onions.
The Garden of Oxford
Since being established in the Covered Market in 1984, The Garden of Oxford has become one of the top florists and flower shops in Oxfordshire.
Inside the beautiful shop, you’ll find plenty of English flowers and plants that have been hand-selected from London’s Covent Garden Market, as well as a couple of more exotic additions.
If you’re looking for an extra-special bouquet, the friendly florists will be able to help your gorgeous vision come to life.
The Oxford Market Barber
While Oxford is home to loads of brilliant hairdressers, The Oxford Market Barber has got you covered if you’re in need of a fresh trim during your trip to Oxford.
Not only are the services decently priced (oh men, how jealous us ladies are of you for your £15 cuts!) but the salon is bright and spacious, and the staff are dressed rather dapper, we must say.
Tucked away in Oxford’s Covered Market, Teardrop is a nano-pub and concept store by Church Hanbrewery.
While seating is limited, it’s worth popping in to taste some of their delicious home-brewed Teardrop beer – the menu changes fairly often but they usually have around three different types of brew on the go.
Read More: Discover Oxford’s Best Breweries
The History of The Covered Market
Oxford’s Covered Market building itself dates all the way back to the 1770s when it was designed by architect John Gwynn (who just so happened to also design Magdalen Bridge just around the corner).
When the 1771 Oxford Mileways Act was introduced, the outdoor sale of meat, fish, and poultry was banned so that the streets could be cleared to allow traffic to pass through the City.
Therefore, the introduction of a covered market was originally intended to replace street markets and free up space for vehicles.
John Gwynn designed the High Street facade, and soon more than 20 shops had moved into the Covered Market and business was booming.
In 1839, it was decided that the Covered Market would get a brand new extension – and architect Thomas Wyatt the Younger was in charge of designing the New Market.
Keep your eyes peeled when you next visit Oxford’s Covered Market, as the current trader John Lindsey Butcher & Son is situated in the oldest part of the Victorian extension to the building.
Over time, the market developed from primarily selling meat and fish to being a bustling hub for local traders in all industries to gather and sell their goods. Today, over 50 stalls and shops sell food, fashion, flowers, and jewellery.
Practical Tips for Exploring Oxford’s Covered Market
What Time Does Oxford Covered Market Open?
Oxford’s Covered Market is open to visitors between 8am and 5:30pm Monday – Saturday and 10am until 4pm on Sunday.
Are Dogs Allowed in Oxford Covered Market?
No dogs are allowed in Oxford indoor market except guide dogs.
Who Owns the Covered Market in Oxford?
The Covered Market in Oxford is owned by Oxfordshire Council.