Oxford with Kids: A Perfect UK City Break Guide

Oxford with kids is a perfect weekend break. The iconic dreaming spires of Oxford University, punting along the river and seeing a piece of history around every corner is unforgettable. Aside from that, fantastic parks and playgrounds, interactive museums, an impressive castle, and Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland experiences will ensure a fabulous weekend break. 

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Is Oxford Good for Families?

Oxford, UK, is typically associated with its infamous university, but it’s also a fantastic city to visit with a family.

Aside from the stunning architecture and open green spaces, there are many fun things to do on a weekend break in Oxford, and the city is also an excellent base for family days out in Oxfordshire and London.

Read on to find your ultimate Oxford city break guide!


When is the Best Time to visit Oxford?

If you are looking to visit Oxford, England, you need to visit between April and September to experience some typically pleasant weather. June is an excellent month in terms of the climate and fewer visitors, and September has the lowest usual rainfall. 

Oxford in June: Perfect month to visit Oxford as the weather is excellent (20ºC). This month is quieter than July and August when there are school holidays and increased visitors. Many festivals are held in June, such as Oxford Bike Week, The Lord Mayor’s Celebration, Henley Regatta, and the Blenheim Palace Flower Show.

Oxford in September: The weather is typically mild in September, so visiting Oxford with the kids is great. St Giles’ Fair (dating back to 1625) is an excellent funfair for the kids to enjoy in early September. The Henley Literary Festival is held in September and includes a Children’s Festival, where the kids can meet their favourite authors.


How to Get to Oxford

London Airports: If you fly into London Heathrow or Gatwick airports, take the 24/7 coach service or the train from Heathrow (via London) or Gatwick (via Reading). London Stansted has a train service to Liverpool Street, then take the tube for trains to Oxford city centre, or you can use the National Express 757 coach service. View cheap flights to London here >>>

Trains: Oxford train station is about a five to ten-minute walk to the city centre and is served by direct services from London, Birmingham and Reading. Book trains to Oxford here >>>

Buses: The main bus station is in Gloucester Green in the city centre and offers bus services across the county and 24-hour direct services to London.


Where to Stay in Oxford UK with Kids

The best places to stay in Oxford, England would be in the city centre so that you can enjoy the many beautiful Oxford attractions with the kids on foot. Another option is to stay in the outskirts of the city centre and enjoy the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside with excellent public transport links in and out of Oxford.


Budget: Jurys Inn Oxford

The Juries Inn Oxford is located near Port Meadow, Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park and is only five minutes from Oxford, England. The bedrooms are very comfortable and spacious. An excellent on-site restaurant and heated indoor swimming pool and sauna are available.


Mid-Range: Malmaison Oxford

Offers a unique, memorable experience for a weekend in Oxford. The Malmaison Oxford hotel is a converted Victorian prison, with a breathtaking entrance, amazing décor, unique ‘cell’ rooms (that are extremely stylish and comfortable!) and atmospheric mood lighting. Cots and extra beds are available, and the hotel has a reputable restaurant on-site.


Splashing Out: The Randolph Hotel

This amazing five-star hotel offers a luxury Oxford weekend break in the city centre, opposite the Ashmolean Museum. The décor and rooms are sumptuous, with high ceilings, period features, and modern bathrooms and amenities. Cots and extra beds are available, and the restaurant serves fabulous European dishes (including the kids’ menu). 


Top 10 Things to do in Oxford with Kids 

What is there to do in Oxford with children? While it is a relatively small city, Oxford packs a lot of punch in terms of great family days out. Combining breathtaking architecture with the quaint countryside and modern amenities, here are the top ten things to do in Oxford with kids:

oxford, street, England, UK, British city

#1 Visit the Oxford Colleges

oxford colleges, oxford city break, oxford with kids

One of the top things to do in Oxford, England, is to visit one of the 39 beautiful colleges. If your kids love Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland, they will love exploring these impressive colleges.

Queen’s College is beautiful and has lovely grounds for the kids to enjoy. Don’t miss the oldest college, Balliol, including a stunning hall, chapel and gardens, as well as Christ Church and the Alice shop on St. Aldgates.

Why not try this Oxford City and University walking tour?


#2 Ashmolean Museum

visiting oxford with kids, oxford museum
(Credit: Julie Johnson)

This fabulous (and free!) museum of art and archaeology, dating back to 1683, is one of Oxford, the UK’s best tourist attractions. The kids loved the Egyptian mummies and Greek mythology exhibits. You can book the interactive Ashmolean Adventure digital guide or follow one of the free family trails.

Head up to the Rooftop Restaurant for some food and great views over Oxford, then visit the gift shop for some great souvenirs. 

Why not spend the morning doing this Harry Potter Walking Tour of Oxford?


#3 Cutteslowe Park

Cottesloe park, oxford, oxford with kids
(Credit: James Cummings)

The largest park in Oxford offers another top thing to do in Oxford with kids, and it’s free! Explore the many green open spaces, sports pitches, aviary, lake, nature area and community woodland.

There are three playgrounds, splash park, sandpit, miniature railway, crazy golf, orienteering course and skate park. A small café next to the mini-golf and tennis courts serves various snacks and drinks.

Sunnymead Park is linked to Cutteslowe Park via a bridge, and this area has some beautiful countryside and meadows.


#4 Oxford Castle & Prison

Oxford castle and prison, things to do in Oxford
(Credit: Meraj Chhaya)

Dating back to Norman/Saxon times and used primarily as a prison, this impressive castle is one of Oxford’s best things to do and see. Climb the 101 steps up St. Georges Tower (children 5+) visit the candle-lit crypt and the 18th Century prison cells.

Admission to the castle is only a 45-minute guided tour (hosted by a costumed guide), but you can explore by yourself. There is a shop with great gifts and a café on site.


#5 Story Museum

This magical, visually stunning museum is a great experience for children and adults. Highlights include the Whispering Wood (indoor forest with storytelling trees), the immersive Enchanted Library (great for older children) and Small Worlds for younger children. There are also many special events/exhibitions, live theatre performances and a café. 


#6 Oxford Botanic Gardens

Oxford botanic gardens, lake, ducks
(Credit: Gardeners Tips)

One of the great things to do in Oxford with kids is a visit to these beautiful gardens. The kids will enjoy visiting the greenhouses, pond with giant lily pads, and the rose garden maze and completing the trails, which are tailored for both young and older children.

Finish the visit off with ice cream at the café. On request, you can use ‘Botanic Backpacks’, which have tools and fun learning games for the kids to enjoy.


#7 Bodlein Library

This world-famous Oxford city library is one of the oldest in Europe and a must-see for any Harry Potter fans. The spectacular Duke Humfrey’s Library was used as the Hogwarts library in the film, and the equally stunning Divinity School was the hospital in the Harry Potter films.

The museum offers a family walking tour for younger children in the area around the Bodleian, and there are guided tours of the library for children over 11.


#8 Punting

Punting in oxford, fun things to do in Oxford with kids

One of the best things to do on a city break in Oxford, UK, is punting. Head to Magdalen Bridge boathouse (or other boathouses along the river) to hire a pedalo, rowing boat, or take a chauffeured punt.

The chauffeured punt is a great option to tour the city with the kids, where you will see the famous Botanic Gardens, Christ Church Meadows (where Lewis Carroll taught in the 19th Century), and the beautiful St Hilda’s College gardens. 

Why not try this combo walking and punting tour?


#9 Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford museum of natural history
(Credit: Mangus D)

Kids will love the dinosaur, whale skeleton, and Dodo exhibitions, as well as seeing fossils and unique gemstones. There are many free kid-friendly events at the museum, and Pitt Rivers Museum is next to the museum, where you can see curiosities, including shrunken heads! The museum is a beautiful building with a cathedral-like glass roof, and in the summer, the tower is a nesting site for swifts.


#10 Port Meadow

Port Meadow
Horses on Port Meadow (Credit: Danny Chapman)

Picturesque ancient meadowlands next to the River Thames to the north and west of Oxford, with different cattle, horses and birds, gorgeous wildflowers and plants, and many barges/boats to see.

This is a lovely place to explore with the kids and another one of the free things to do in Oxford. You can take a picnic, but some of the animals may want to join you! Another option is to visit The Perch Pub and Restaurant, which offers a great place to enjoy lunch by the riverside and a garden area for the kids.


What Can Toddlers do in Oxford?

Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park, Oxford Botanical Gardens and Port Meadow offer great outdoor spaces for toddlers to explore and play. The Story Museum is a great mini-museum in Oxford to visit with toddlers, including Small Worlds sessions with themed zones, storytime, crafts and messy play for babies and young children. 


Where to Eat in Oxford for Families

Oxford is home to great cafes on St Michael’s Street, the covered market is family-oriented, and the riverbank offers amazing food and scenery for your visit to Oxford with kids.

Covered Market: Amazing to explore with the kids, don’t miss IScream for fabulous ice cream and gelato, Moo-moos for amazing milkshakes and Ben’s Cookies for great cookies! Enjoy a delicious Earl Grey tea when your kids indulge in yummy treats.

The Perch: One of the oldest pubs in Oxford and located by the riverside in the Port Meadow area, the kids can enjoy the garden area, and you can enjoy some tasty, classic British food (children’s menu available).

Ashmolean Roof Top Restaurant: Great rooftop location at the museum. This Oxford city restaurant serves delicious British and European food across lunch and afternoon tea (kids have their lunch and afternoon tea menus).


2 Days in Oxford UK Itinerary

2 days in Oxford, building

Whether you have one or two days to spare on your city break, there is much to do with kids in Oxford. Combining activities that you and the kids will enjoy is easy to do in Oxford. Here are recommended things to do on a day trip to Oxford or if you have 48 hours to spare. 2081.


Day 1: 1 Day in Oxford UK

Morning: Visit Queen’s College (plenty of open spaces) and Christ Church College for breathtaking architecture and dining rooms featured in the Harry Potter movies. The infamous Alice shop is close to Christ Church Cathedral, and the kids will love the Covered Market for some lunch (a 5-minute walk from the cathedral). The Ashmolean Museum and the Story Museum are also close by for a visit, and a hop-on/hop-off bus tour will help any tired legs!

Afternoon:  The kids will enjoy Oxford Botanic Gardens located in the city centre, particularly the maze and the trail activities that will inspire their curiosity (particularly after visiting the Alice Shop!). The Magdalen Boathouse is located next to the botanic gardens, so you can take a punting tour to end the perfect day (many offer a pre-booked picnic).


Day 2: 48 Hours in Oxford with Kids

Morning:  Head over to Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park so the kids can let off some steam and have endless fun across the three playgrounds, splash park, sandpit, miniature railway, and crazy golf. The park also has orienteering, various sports, and a skate park visiting with older children. Port Meadow is close by for a scenic lunch at The Perch, with its traditional thatched roof, great food and pretty gardens by the riverside.

Afternoon:  Once your batteries are recharged, travel back into the city centre to visit Oxford Castle and Prison. The castle is centrally located in the city, so close to many cafes, restaurants and the Covered Market for dinner later. Don’t miss a climb up St. Georges Tower, the underground crypt and the 18th Century prison cells.


Day Trips from Oxford with Kids

Oxfordshire is a great place to visit with the kids and offers breathtaking locations, including palatial buildings, wildlife, picturesque market towns and unique family events. The Cotswolds and Chilterns surrounding Oxford are recognised as areas of natural beauty and, with the bonus of numerous Oxfordshire attractions, you will be spoilt for choice in terms of day trips.


Blenheim Palace

Amazing day out for kids in Oxfordshire. Take a guided tour of the impressive palace (where Winston Churchill was born) and visit the gardens. Visit the Pleasure Gardens via miniature train from the palace, where there is an adventure playground, butterfly house, maze, kitchen garden and picnic areas. Travelling by car takes about 20 minutes, or the bus takes just over an hour, then a 10-minute walk / five-minute taxi journey.


Cotswold Wildlife Park

 This 160-acre park has diverse species and beautiful parklands. Home to over 130 species of birds, giraffes, camels, Asiatic lions, lemurs (the Madagascan Walkthrough is fab!), reptiles and many amphibians. The giraffe walkway lets you come eye to eye with a giraffe and don’t miss the adventure playground. The park is located about 20 minutes west of Oxford, and it’s easiest to travel via car.

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Henley-on-Thames

Travel to Henley-on-Thames from Oxford via car in 45 minutes or take a one-hour bus journey. is a beautiful English market town with historic buildings, market squares, shops, and a cinema.

The Royal Regatta is held at the end of June / early July and attracts some of the world’s best rowers. Take a boat trip with the kids and visit the interactive River and Rowing Museum. Henley Bridge is nice to see and hosts a music and arts festival each July, with Friday Street close by that takes you back to the Victorian era.   


How to Get Around Oxford

The best way to get around Oxford with kids and avoid the traffic is to explore it on foot. Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach offer great bus services, and you can buy day passes for around €5. Cycling and punting are also great ways to explore.

Parking can be tricky and expensive in the city centre, so park and ride are great options. There are five parks and ride sites around Oxford’s ring road (Bicester, Oxford Parkway, Pear Tree, Redbridge, Seacourt and Thornhill) with regular bus services. 

If you want to see the main sights in Oxford with kids, why not try the hop-on-hop-off bus tour?


Plan Your Trip to Oxford with Children

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More UK City Break Destinations

Birmingham

Plymouth

Newcastle

Cambridge


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