Known for its world-famous university, Cambridge is dotted with historic buildings, leafy parks and fascinating museums. From its romantic medieval city centre to the beautiful riverside and green spaces, this modern city is where visitors go to experience punting down the river and indulge in its famed sweet treats. From exploring historic chapels to sipping pints in a cosy pub, here are the best things to do in Cambridge, England.
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Go punting on the River Cam (Nearby Hotels)
Punting is a traditional pastime in Cambridge, and you can’t visit this city without experiencing it first hand, as it’s said to be the apparent subject of a speech from Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. Hop on one of the punting tours and you’ll be able to soak up views of famous landmarks like the Bridge of Sighs as you float down the River Cam. Afterwards, you can enjoy a picnic on the riverbanks or cross the famous King’s College Bridge.
Visit the Cambridge University buildings (Nearby Hotels)
An iconic part of the city, visiting the buildings that make up Cambridge University is a must. See where some of the country’s top writers, actors, comedians and politicians went to schools as you browse the more than 30 colleges. Admire its beautiful architecture and learn about its rich history on a walking tour, where you can enter through the Great Gate in Trinity College and see examples of the earliest patterned brickwork in England.
Nibble on a Chelsea Bun from Fitzbillies (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re into sweet treats, there’s no better place to satiate your cravings then at Fitzbillies. Drop into the gorgeous shop on Trumpington Street and feast on one of their famed Chelsea Buns with sticky honey, chewy raisin and Cinnamon, as these sticky drops of goodness have been sold here since 1921. The buns and other delectable cakes are baked each day at the on-site bakery, and make for an ideal treat no matter the weather.
Have a picnic at Cambridge University Botanic Garden (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re a fan of colorful foliage, don’t miss a trip to Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Boost your mood with an exploration of the more than 8,000 different plant species on display, which is found in its 40 acres of beautiful landscape. Learn about the variety of plant species that come from all over the world in its several glasshouses, then take a stroll past the lake, rock gardens and collection of mature trees.
Browse the galleries of the Fitzwilliam Museum (Nearby Hotels)
The Fitzwilliam Museum is Cambridge University’s art and antiquities museum, housing more than half a million artworks in its collection. A perfect rainy day activity, explore the museum’s remarkable collection of English pottery and china, as well as Greek, Roman and Egyptian artifacts. Marvel at the fine gallery of works by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Turner, then admire the Impressionists and Dutch Masters of the Baroque-like Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Rubens.
Have a drink at The Eagle (Nearby Hotels)
A blend of cosy pub and fascinating English history, The Eagle was opened in 1667 and its proximity to the university made it a favorite for scientists and thinkers. One of the regulars was Francis Crick who worked at the Cavendish laboratory with James Watson, and on one afternoon in 1953, he made an announcement that they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, marking a pivotal moment in science. It was also a favorite spot for soldiers during World War II, and you can still see the graffiti of their name’s in the historic pub.
Visit St. Mary the Great Church and the Round Church (Nearby Hotels)
St. Mary is both a parish and a university, while the Round Church is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. Step inside St. Mary to see its 15th-century details and beautiful interior, then climb the tower for stunning views over Cambridge. Next, visit the Round Church and learn about its rich history that dates back to 1131, as it is one of only four Normal round churches left in England. This historic landmark has seen many familiar faces throughout the years, including Queen Victoria and the Dalai Lama.
Rock out at Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences (Nearby Hotels)
Be sure to add the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences to your list of activities in Cambridge, as it houses the university’s expansive geology collection. You will be transported back 4.5 billion years as you marvel at around two million minerals, rocks and fossils, with some of the highlights being the variety of meteorite specimens. Don’t miss the Beagle Collection, which boasts fossils and rocks that were gathered by Charles Darwin between 1831 and 1836.
See vintage aircraft at Duxford Imperial War Museum (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re a history enthusiast, head to the Duxford Imperial War Museum to see a collection of 200 vintage aircraft, including the historic Concorde and Spitfire. They’ve been carefully restored and are displayed at this museum, where you’ll find floor-to-ceiling artifacts at what is considered the largest aviation museum in Europe. Explore the seven main exhibition buildings and you’ll discover an array of fascinating displays, including military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels.
Admire the architecture of King’s College Chapel (Nearby Hotels)
Renowned for its 12-bay perpendicular-style interior, King’s College Chapel is one of the most recognizable buildings in Cambridge. The English Gothic structure was built between 1446 and 1515 and features the largest fan-vaulted ceiling in the world. Step inside to see its stunning examples of medieval stained glass and its ornate, 16th-century wooden organ screen and choir stalls. If you’re visiting terming term time, attend the Evensong to hear the King’s College Choir perform.
Stretch your legs along The Backs (Nearby Hotels)
Take a break with a walk along The Backs, a picturesque area where you can stroll past beautiful university buildings and the River Cam. Referring to the backs of the colleges, this walkway offers stunning views throughout the year, but it’s at its best in spring when its covered in a blanket of daffodils and crocuses. Along the way, make sure to cross some of the city’s famous bridges, including the Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs.