Cambridge, a city renowned for its prestigious university and stunning architecture, has so much more to offer than just academia. With a rich history and a plethora of activities to suit all interests, Cambridge is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. Are you ready to explore the city’s charming streets, immerse yourself in centuries-old traditions, and fall in love with Cambridge’s enchanting atmosphere? Let’s dive in and discover the top 25 things to do in this wonderful city in 2024, and find out Cambridge where to go!
From exploring iconic colleges and punting on the picturesque River Cam to indulging in delicious cuisine and experiencing the vibrant night life, Cambridge has something for everyone. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the must-see attractions, hidden gems, and unforgettable experiences that make Cambridge a truly magical destination. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or simply looking for a romantic escape, Cambridge is waiting to capture your heart.
- Explore Cambridge’s historic colleges & King’s College Chapel
- Punting on the River Cam, guided tours, shopping at Grand Arcade
- Outdoor activities like cycling and walking tours plus thrilling night life
Exploring Cambridge’s Historic Colleges
As you stroll along the River Cam, the majestic architecture and rich history of Cambridge’s world-famous colleges will captivate you. The University of Cambridge, founded in 1209, is home to numerous historic colleges, each with their own unique charm and fascinating stories. Some of the notable colleges include:
- King’s College, known for its iconic chapel
- Trinity College, one of the largest and wealthiest colleges
- St. John’s College, known for its picturesque grounds
These institutions have nurtured some of the world’s greatest minds, such as Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton.
Walking along the gravel path that threads through the Backs, a historic park connecting several renowned colleges and universities in Cambridge, allows for a deeper appreciation of their beauty. The Backs offer stunning views of the colleges’ grand façades, lush green lawns, and the serene River Cam. And don’t forget to visit the Church of St. Mary the Great, a Gothic church dating back to 1205, located in central Cambridge. The church’s tower, St. Mary’s Tower, offers breath-taking 360° views of the city, making it a popular spot for romantic proposals.
King’s College Chapel
King’s College Chapel, an absolutely stunning example of Gothic architecture, is undoubtedly one of Cambridge’s most iconic landmarks. Home to the world-famous King’s College Choir, the chapel showcases intricate stained glass windows, soaring vaulted ceilings, and exquisite stone carvings. As you explore this awe-inspiring masterpiece, you can almost hear the angelic voices of the choir filling the space with heavenly music.
Upon visiting King’s College, be sure to check out the intriguing Corpus Clock, which adorns the front of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College. This unique clock features:
- an insect that appears to eat the passing time as it goes by
- no hands or numbers to help you tell the time
- three rings of LEDs that give you hours, minutes, and seconds
Although it may be a little too creepy for some younger visitors, the Corpus Clock is definitely an exciting sight to see, especially after dark when the insect looks even more menacing.
Founded by Henry VIII in 1546, Trinity College is another must-visit college in Cambridge. Boasting an impressive Great Court, the largest of its kind in the world, the college is home to the Wren Library, an exquisite treasure trove of artefacts and manuscripts. Open to the public for a short period each weekday from 12 pm to 2 pm, the Wren Library houses various medieval manuscripts, a lock of Isaac Newton’s hair, his walking stick, and even the original manuscript for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
A leisurely stroll around Trinity’s beautiful grounds allows you to admire its stunning architecture and absorb the atmosphere of centuries of academic excellence. And if you’re feeling peckish after exploring the college, head to the nearby Michael House café for some delicious food and a cosy atmosphere.
St. John’s College
St. John’s College, another amazing constituent college of the University of Cambridge, is well worth exploring. Known for its picturesque Bridge of Sighs, the college also features the historic School of Pythagoras, which houses the college’s library. To take in the stunning views of Cambridge, climb the 123 steps up the nearby and popular St Mary’s Tower – a popular spot for romantic proposals, offering breathtaking panoramic vistas of the city.
After exploring St. John’s College, why not take a romantic walk to the Mathematical Bridge? Designed in 1748 and built in 1749 by James Essex, this fascinating bridge is famous for its sophisticated geometrical engineering design, which gives it its name.
And if you’re interested in trying some local wine, the Cambridgeshire Wine School is just a short stroll away, offering a unique experience for those looking to learn more about this delightful beverage. Additionally, the Cambridge Gin Laboratory provides an opportunity for gin enthusiasts to explore their passion.
Punting on the River Cam
Punting on the River Cam is an incredibly popular activity in Cambridge and a quintessential part of any visit to the city. Travelling along the River Cam in a flat-bottomed boat called a punt, you’ll be treated to a unique perspective of Cambridge’s famous landmarks, including:
- The awe-inspiring Bridge of Sighs
- The University of Cambridge
- Trinity College
- St. John’s College
Whether you choose to do the “stick-bit” yourself or hire a gondolier-like guide to navigate the river for you, punting on the River Cam is a relaxing and memorable way to see the city.
Start your punting adventure here, where you can choose between a guided tour with a knowledgeable guide or rent your own punt for a more adventurous and intimate experience. Whichever option you choose, you’re sure to create lasting memories as you glide along the tranquil waters of the River Cam.
Guided punting tours are an excellent choice for a more relaxing and informative experience. Knowledgeable guides will share fascinating stories about Cambridge’s history as you glide past the city’s stunning landmarks, offering an immersive and entertaining journey through time. You can opt for a private tour or a shared tour, and some companies even offer a variety of special punting experiences, such as afternoon tea punting, a champagne punt tour, and a gin punt tour.
Some popular guided tours both on and off the River Cam include:
- City Sightseeing Cambridge Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Cambridge’s Colleges and Classic Sights: A Self-Guided Audio Tour
- Private 2-Hour Cambridge Walking Tour
- Cambridge: Guided Punting Tour
With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect tour to suit your interests and provide a unique perspective of Cambridge’s rich history and beautiful architecture.
Renting Your Own Punt
For a more adventurous and intimate experience, consider renting your own punt. This allows you to explore the River Cam at your own pace, taking in the sights and sounds of the city as you navigate the waters yourself. When renting a punt, you can expect to be provided with a punt, oars, and a life jacket to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Various locations around Cambridge offer punt rentals, just remember to follow the river rules and stay aware of your surroundings. And, of course, don’t forget to wear a life jacket for safety, fif you’re concerned about falling in. Whether an experienced punter or a first-timer, renting your own punt provides an unforgettable River Cam adventure.
Discover the City Centre
The beating heart of Cambridge, the city centre is a bustling hub of activity, home to famous colleges, museums, shops, and restaurants. Exploring the charming cobbled streets and hidden passageways, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of historic attractions, delightful eateries, and picturesque views. From shopping at the Grand Arcade to indulging in delicious cuisine at one of the many restaurants, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Cambridge’s vibrant city centre.
Round Church Street is a particularly charming area to explore, with its historic buildings and stunning views. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as The Round Church, is a Grade I listed building and one of the oldest churches in the city.
Shopping at the Grand Arcade
The Grand Arcade presents a perfect destination for those seeking retail therapy. This modern shopping centre is located in the heart of Cambridge and offers an array of stores and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. From popular high-street brands like Apple, Ted Baker, and The White Company to independent boutiques, you’re sure to find something special at the Grand Arcade.
In addition to the fantastic shopping options, the Grand Arcade also offers a variety of services to enhance your experience. Take advantage of the convenient concierge service for assistance with shopping, dining, and entertainment, or make use of the helpful valet service and currency exchange facility.
Once you need a break from shopping, you can indulge in a delicious ice cream from a choice of eateries within the centre.
Cambridge boasts an incredible variety of dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to casual yet delicious eateries. Whether you’re in the mood for Indian, Thai, British, or American cuisine, you’re sure to find a restaurant that will tantalize your taste buds. Some of the amazing dining options in the city centre include:
- Taj Tandoori
- Golpo Bengal Cafe & Restaurant
- Restaurant 22
- Namaste Village
- Baan Thai
To name just a few.
For a truly memorable dining experience, consider booking a table at one of Cambridge’s Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Midsummer House or Parker’s Tavern. Or, if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, cosy cafes and pubs like The Orchard Tea Garden, The Clarendon Arms, Blue Ball Inn, and Bread and Meat offer delicious food in a laid-back setting.
Regardless of your preferences, Cambridge offers a variety of dining options that will satisfy your taste buds and create unforgettable memories.
Round Church Street
Nestled in the heart of Cambridge, Round Church Street is a charming area to explore, with its historic buildings and picturesque views. At the centre of the street is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as The Round Church. This stunning Grade I listed building is one of the oldest churches in the city and offers a fascinating glimpse into Cambridge’s rich history.
As you wander along Round Church Street, be sure to appreciate the beautiful architecture and take in the sights and sounds of this enchanting area. The street is also home to a number of shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing break. Whether you’re intrigued by history or simply seeking a charming escape, don’t miss a visit to Round Church Street in Cambridge.
Cambridge Museums and Art Galleries
For art and history lovers, Cambridge offers a diverse array of museums and art galleries to explore. Showcasing everything from ancient artefacts to contemporary art, these institutions provide a fascinating insight into the city’s rich cultural heritage. Two must-visit attractions are the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard, both of which house impressive collections and offer a unique perspective on the world of art and history.
Cambridge’s museums and art galleries cater to varied interests and tastes, from ancient civilizations and European masterpieces to modern art. So, why not spend a day immersing yourself in the captivating world of art and history, and discover the treasures that await within Cambridge’s remarkable institutions?
The Fitzwilliam Museum, the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge, houses an impressive collection of over half a million objects from around the world. As you explore the museum’s stunning galleries, you’ll encounter ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artefacts, as well as English and European pottery, glass, and furniture. Founded in 1816 with a generous bequest from Viscount Fitzwilliam, the museum is a testament to the enduring importance of art and history in our lives.
The Fitzwilliam Museum is particularly attractive due to the free admission it offers, making it an accessible and enjoyable experience for everyone. So, whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply curious about the world’s cultural treasures, the Fitzwilliam Museum is a must-see attraction in Cambridge.
Kettle’s Yard, the University of Cambridge’s modern and contemporary art gallery, is set in a beautiful house, offering a cosy, intimate atmosphere to enjoy the works of renowned artists. The gallery features a unique collection of art, including sculptures, paintings, and prints, as well as regularly hosting changing exhibitions of modern art from both local and international artists.
Kettle’s Yard, an independent arts venue, houses a diverse array of artwork to suit all tastes, whether you’re into abstract expressionism, minimalism, or pop art. So, why not escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the inspiring world of modern art at this charming and unique gallery?
Outdoor Activities in Cambridge
If you’re looking to enjoy some fresh air and explore the great outdoors, Cambridge has plenty of activities to offer. Here are some options:
- Visit the tranquil oasis of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden
- Take a cycling tour to explore the city’s beautiful green spaces
- Join a walking tour to discover picturesque landscapes
There’s no shortage of ways to experience the beauty of Cambridge’s outdoor spaces.
Cambridge, a wonderful city, caters to all, whether you fancy a leisurely stroll through lush gardens, a romantic picnic, or an active bike ride along the River Cam. So, why not embrace the great outdoors and discover the many wonders that await you in this enchanting city?
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
The Cambridge University Botanic Garden, a 40-acre oasis of greenery and tranquillity, is the perfect spot for a romantic picnic or leisurely stroll. Home to over 8,000 species of plants, including rare and exotic species from around the world, the garden offers a stunning backdrop for a relaxing afternoon in nature. As you wander through the beautifully landscaped grounds, be sure to explore the various sculptures, ponds, and glasshouse, each offering their own unique charm and appeal.
Open throughout the year, the Botanic Garden offers:
- Several family activities and events
- An exciting trail full of prehistoric plants for children to hunt down
- Free guided tours during the summer months to learn more about its history and plant life.
So, whether you’re a keen gardener or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the botanic gardens at Cambridge University are a must-visit attraction in the city.
Cycling and Walking Tours
Guided cycling and walking tours provide an engaging and enjoyable experience for those seeking a more active exploration of the city. With options such as Cambridge Bike Tours, which offers guided sightseeing tours of the city and colleges, as well as tours to Granchester, you can cover more ground and discover hidden gems that may be missed on foot.
Walking tours, such as the free Cambridge walking tour offered by Footprints Tours, provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the city’s history and culture, led by knowledgeable guides who share fascinating stories and insights.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a fun day out, cycling and walking tours are a fantastic way to see the city from a new perspective and create lasting memories.
Nightlife and Entertainment
As the sun sets and the city lights up, Cambridge’s vibrant night life and entertainment scene comes alive. From live music and stand-up comedy to spooky ghost tours, there’s something for everyone to enjoy once the day’s activities have come to an end. With a wide variety of venues and events to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect way to let your hair down and have some fun during your visit to Cambridge.
From catching a theatre performance at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and dancing at a live music venue to unwinding with a drink at a cosy pub, Cambridge’s night life and entertainment scene has much to offer. So, as the stars come out and the city comes to life, why not embark on a new adventure and make the most of Cambridge’s exciting night time offerings?
Live Music and Stand-Up Comedy
Cambridge boasts a range of exciting venues and events for lovers of live music and stand-up comedy. The Cambridge Junction, a multi-arts venue located in the city centre, hosts an array of live music, theatre, comedy, and dance performances, offering something for everyone to enjoy. Similarly, the Cambridge Arts Theatre provides a diverse program of live music, theatre, comedy, and dance performances in a stunning setting.
If stand-up comedy is more your style, comedy clubs like Jongleurs and House of Stand Up offer regular shows and events featuring both local and international comedians.
And for live music lovers, venues such as The Six Six bar and The Brewery Tap in Peterborough host a fantastic variety of live music and entertainment events, providing the perfect backdrop for a night of fun and revelry.
Dare to discover the city’s haunted history and eerie tales on a spooky ghost tour, led by professional actors who bring the past to life with their immersive storytelling. Several ghost tours are available in Cambridge, including:
- Tangential Cambridge Tours
- The Cambridge Tour Company
- Atlas Walking Tours
- Haunted Cambridge
These tours provide an unforgettable journey through the city’s dark past.
Embarking on a ghost tour will uncover chilling tales of lost souls, spectral apparitions, and mysterious happenings from Cambridge’s history. Whether you’re a fan of the supernatural or simply looking for a unique night time activity, a ghost tour is sure to send shivers down your spine and leave you with spine-tingling memories of your visit to Cambridge.
From exploring Cambridge’s historic colleges and picturesque River Cam to indulging in delicious local cuisine and experiencing the vibrant night life, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this enchanting city. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and diverse array of attractions and activities, Cambridge is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
As you embark on your journey to discover the many wonders that Cambridge has to offer, we hope that this guide has inspired you and provided a fresh perspective on this truly magical city. So, pack your bags, lace up your walking shoes, and get ready to fall in love with Cambridge – a city that will capture your heart and create lasting memories.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth visiting Cambridge UK?
Cambridge is a charming destination filled with cobble-stoned streets, peaceful green spaces, Gothic spires, and cosy cafes – making it well worth visiting!
How to spend two days in Cambridge?
Spend two days exploring all that Cambridge has to offer – from visiting the iconic Cambridge University Buildings, taking a walk to see the Mathematical Bridge and Corpus Clock, and climbing St Mary’s Church Tower to admiring the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum and Sedgwick Museum. Your perfect trip awaits
Where can I rent a punt in Cambridge?
Why not take a punt around Cambridge? Several Punting Companies can hook you up with the perfect rental
Are there any free admission museums in Cambridge?
Yes, you can explore the wonders of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge for free! Enjoy a beautiful day out and take in the incredible works of art that the museum has to offer. The Fitzwilliam Museum is home to a vast collection of art, from ancient Egyptian artefacts to modern masterpieces. It is a great place to explore and learn about the history of