Last Updated on July 20, 2023 by Louise
Oxford is a beautiful city with a surprisingly numerous amount of fun things for teenagers to do.
Oxford is famous for having one of the world’s oldest and most esteemed universities, a wealth of history, beautiful colleges, and remarkable architecture.
As well as exploring the city, teenagers may enjoy punting on the river, shopping, climbing St. Mary’s tower with amazing views, a ghost walk and lots more.
Read on for the best suggestions of things to do with teenagers in Oxford.
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Enjoy a Boating Experience
There are numerous boating experiences you can have on the River Thames and River Cherwell that teens will enjoy. Check out the options below:
Punting involves moving a boat along with a metal pole. There is no minimum age to go punting but under 16s need to be accompanied by an adult. There are two rivers running through Oxford (the Thames and the Cherwell) and you can go punting on both.
For punting on the River Cherwell, hire your punts from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.
Hire a Row Boat or Pedalo
If punting is not your teen’s idea of fun, other options include hire of a row boat or a pedalo, also from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.
Top tip – go punting before noon to avoid the queues in the summer.
Sightsee on a Boat Cruise
A cool way for teens to see Oxford from another perspective is a sightseeing boat cruise. Cruise down the Thames, along the University Regatta course. Pass Ancient Folly bridge and see Christ Church college and meadows plus the university rowing houses. The tour takes 50 minutes. Book in advance on the website.
Hop On and Hop Off the Bus Tour
The hop on and off bus tour is a fantastic way to get to all the tourist attractions and sights in Oxford. You can hop on and off the bus as many times as you like for the duration of your ticket. Some of the stops include Oxford Castle, Christ Church College, The Natural History Museum and The Radcliffe Camera.
The tickets include a free 30 minute optional walking tour as well.
Visit the Inspiration for Hogwarts Dining Hall at Christ Church College
If your teen is a Harry Potter fan, a visit to Christ church College is a must. Several Harry Potter scenes were filmed at Christ Church College. The famous entry scene where Professor McGonagall meets Harry, Ron, and Hermione was filmed on the stairwell. The Tudor Huge Dining Hall served as inspiration for the great Hogwarts Dining Hall. The hallways of Christ church was where Hermione gives Harry the Quidditch trophy his father earned. Book your ticket in advance.
Spot Deer at Magdalen College
The highlight of a visit to Magdalen College is the beautiful grounds and deer park. If your teenager is interested in spotting a deer, this is the college to visit. Evensong at the cathedral is lovely too.
Shop Til You Drop
If your teenager enjoys shopping a visit to the Westgate shopping centre will be a delight. For a more quirky shopping destination, go to the covered market which is packed with independent shops, cafes and stalls.
Climb the tower of St Mary the Virgin’s Church
Teens will love the amazing views of the city from the top. Great for Instagram and other social media pics. The church itself is also worth a visit.
Other Places to Get Amazing Views in Oxford
There are a couple more places to get some amazing views of this beautiful city:
Go to the Top of the Carfax Tower
Carfax Tower is all that remains of the 13th century St. Martin’s Church, which was the main church in Oxford in 1122. Today you can climb up the 74 feet tower for an amazing view of the city of Oxford. There is a small charge to climb up (£3 at the time of writing).
The Cupola at the Sheldonian Theatre
Go to the cupola at the top of the Sheldonian theatre for amazing 360 degree panoramic views of Oxford.
Eat on The Roof Terrace, Westgate Shopping Centre
If you’re shopping at Westgate Shopping Centre take your teen for a bite to eat on the roof terrace. Enjoy great views while you have a break from your shopping expedition.
Explore Oxford on a Walking Tour
Oxford walking tours are the oldest walking tours in Oxford. Discover the history of the city and the university on a 90 minute tour with about one mile of walking. The tours are very good with funny and knowledgeable guides.
The day tours go into the oldest colleges including New College, founded in 1379, and seen in the Harry Potter films and television productions of Inspector Morse and Lewis.
Go on a Ghost Walk
The same company that run the Oxford walking tour also lead a ghost walk in the evening. Discover the phantoms of Oxford’s past and the horror and torment that took place on Oxford’s streets.
Enjoy a Harry Potter Walking Tour of Oxford Including Christ Church
If you teenager is a Harry Potter fan, the Harry Potter walking tour is a must when you’re in Oxford. The itinerary varies but you visit places where the Harry Potter movies where filmed. You may go to the the Bodleian Library and Christ Church college, both used for Hogwarts settings.
The guides are very knowledgeable and their talks are filled with movie and character trivia. There’s even an entertaining quiz as you walk between locations.
Cover More Ground on a Bike Tour
Another tour that active teenagers will enjoy is a bike tour. Bainton bikes has a family friendly tour of 8 miles where you explore Oxford. The tour involves a mix of cycling, seeing the sites, discovering the city and some rural cycling too. A guide provides you with interesting commentary along the way.
Play board games at Thirsty Meeple
Thirsty Meeple is a cafe where you can choose between numerous board games to play. There is a wide range of games to choose from, including new releases and popular classics. There is table service at the cafe, so you don’t need to leave your seats to stock up on food while you play. Great for a rainy day activity.
See the Oxford Dodo at the University Museum of Natural History
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is well worth checking out with your teenager. Entry is free so if they don’t like it, you can move onto other attractions and no money will have been lost. Highlights include the skeletons of both animals and dinosaurs (including a T-Rex) and the Oxford Dodo. Also make a trip to the top floor to see the bee hive, fascinating to look at too.
Discover the Fascinating Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum
The entrance to the Pitt Rivers Museum is in the Natural History museum. It’s also free of charge so worth a visit if you’re already in the Museum of Natural History. It’s the home of collections of fascinating objects from all over the world. Highlights include the weaponry and caricature masks. If your teen is interested in history or anthropology, they will find it very interesting but even if they’re not there is something in here to pique most people’s curiosity.
See Egyptian Mummies at The Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean museum is a museum of art and archaeology. Their collections include Egyptian mummies and telling human stories across cultures and time. It’s particularly great for teens who are studying art or interested in different cultures. It’s a fascinating museum with lots to look at. The museum is free, so if your teenagers aren’t fans you’ve lost nothing by having a quick visit. There’s also a restaurant on the rooftop.
Tour Oxford Castle and Prison
To get the best out of a visit to Oxford castle and prison, book a guided tour. A costumed guide takes you on a tour around the prison and you will see the cells the prisoners lived in, hear the tales of the prisoners and discover how a prison worked for children in bygone times. Many teens will enjoy the thrill of the 100 stair climb up a winding staircase to the top of the tower, where the views are excellent.
Other Things to Do
All teenagers are different. Here is a list of two more popular attractions in Oxford they may enjoy.
Walk around Oxford Botanic Gardens
The Oxford botanic gardens are beautiful to walk around. It’s worth checking out their website as they often have tree climbing events which may appeal to your teen.
Tour the Bodleian Libraries
Take a tour of Bodleian library one of the oldest working libraries in the world. The tours have amazing reviews over on trip advisor. There are 3 different tours which include 30 minute, 60 minute and 90 minute tours. They are suitable for kids from 11 plus.
More Fun Things To Do:
Here is a list of some more fun things that Oxford has to offer.
Self Guided trails – Oxford has numerous treasure trails that you can do from your smart phone at your own pace. The Oxford detective mystery trail is one to try out. It’s a 2.3 mile loop trail which takes about 2 hours. There’s a text message service with clues if you get stuck
Escape Rooms: Like many cities, Oxford has many Escape Rooms that are perfect for teenagers. One to try is Escape Hunt in the Westgate Centre.
Axe Throwing: Teens are going to love this activity of throwing axes at a target. No experience is necessary. Book your axe throwing at Max Events.
Cinema : if you fancy seeing a movie while you’re in Oxford try the Cuzon cinema in the Westgate Centre. Watch all the latest movies the state of the art screens.
Bowling – Hollywood bowl is based in Ozone Leisure Park. It’s about a 10 to 15 minute drive out of the city centre.
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Where to Eat
Here are some suggestions of places teenagers might like to eat!
The White Rabbit does nice pizzas and has a good big outdoor area
The Missing Bean on Turl Street is great for coffee and pastries.
The Bear has been going since the 1200’s (more or less) and is nice.
The Turf Tavern – a quirky and historic pub which is popular with locals and tourists. It serves all the pub food including English classics such as steak and ale pie.