20 best things to do in Cambridge

King's College Chapel

The historic city of Cambridge brings together culture, heritage and charm to make the perfect weekend getaway or day trip from London. If you can, allow several days to explore this quaint city, as there are countless amazing things to do in Cambridge. 

From punting down the river and cycling around the city to world-famous museums and breathtaking architecture, Cambridge offers something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting to explore the university colleges or to make the most of the amazing shopping provisions, here are the best things to do in Cambridge.

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Go punting

Punting down the River Cam in Cambridge is a must-do activity when visiting the city. Cambridge is world-renowned for its picturesque bridges and gardens, and punting is the perfect way to see them.

Sights you’ll spot from the river include the unmissable Bridge of Sighs, the iconic Mathematical Bridge, the majestic King’s College Chapel and the beautiful Wren Library. Glide under the famous bridges, past the manicured gardens of the colleges, and explore some of the quieter spots along the river. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the heart of a thriving city.

Punting Down The River in Cambridge

The best spot to go punting in Cambridge is from Quayside with Scudamore’s. For an extra treat, Scuadamore’s offers various experiences. These include Gin Punts, Champagne Punts, Afternoon Tea Punts, Treasure Hunt Punts and Bat Safari Punts.

Whether you’re punting solo, as a romantic duo, or with a group, this is a quintessentially Cambridge experience.

Top tip: I highly recommend getting someone to do the punting for you, rather than trying it yourself. It’s harder than it looks and it’ll be a far more enjoyable experience! 


2. Cheese and wine tasting

For a cosy and romantic evening in the city, be it with a partner or group of friends, head to Cambridge Wine Merchants for wine and cheese tasting. The shop itself has row upon row of wine, each with their own handwritten label.

Cambridge Wine Merchants

The wine tasting involves a flight of four wines and at just £14.99 is incredibly good value. For an extra indulgent treat, pair the wines with a mouth-watering selection of cheeses.

The knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the wine selection and explain the taste profiles of each wine. Or you can just read the notes provided to you. 

Get access to my itineraries

Subscribe to my email newsletter and get exclusive access to my itineraries. My weekly newsletter is filled with luxury travel inspiration, destination highlights and exclusive discounts. Get immediate access to my FREE Edinburgh itinerary when you subscribe. 


3. Join a ghost tour

Imagine taking a stroll through the historic city of Cambridge after nightfall. The streets are eerily quiet and the only sound is the soft clatter of your feet against the cobblestones. As you walk, you begin to notice the ghostly figures that seem to be lurking in the shadows…

This is not a figment of your imagination – you are taking part in a guided ghost tour of Cambridge! Led by a knowledgeable guide, you will discover the hidden history of the city and learn about its many ghostly residents.

From the Headless Scholar to the White Lady of Great St Mary’s Church, you will hear tales of hauntings that will send a shiver down your spine. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, this is a fantastic way to experience the city after dark and of the best things to do in Cambridge.

Book via Cantab Tours.


4. Explore the Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden in Cambridge is a beautiful place to explore. With so many different plants and flowers, it’s a great place to learn about the natural world. The garden is also home to a variety of birds, bees, and other wildlife. 

Botanic Gardens in Cambridge

With its peaceful atmosphere and stunning views, the Botanic Garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Bring a book, settle down on one of the benches, and take a moment to breathe.

There’s a Garden Café here too, so you can pause for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Note that dogs are not allowed in the Botanic Garden, with the exception of assistance dogs. Entry tickets for a standard adult cost £6.80 at the time of writing.


5. See the Corpus Clock 

Corpus Christi College is home to one of Cambridge’s most unique and interesting landmarks: the Corpus Clock. Also known as the Grasshopper clock, this monument was designed by Dr John Caylor and unveiled in 2008.

The clock is famous for its unusual design, which features a life-size bronze grasshopper on top of a large brass-and-copper globe. Every hour, the grasshopper ‘chirps’ and the globe rotates to mark the passing of time. 

It is not only a fascinating work of art, but also a functioning timepiece. The Corpus Clock is a popular attraction for both locals and visitors alike.


6. Visit the Haunted Bookshop

The Haunted Bookshop, located in a quiet passage off a busy street in Cambridge, is a must-visit for any book lover. The shop is filled with old books, some of them dating back centuries.

The Haunted Bookshop in Cambridge

Shelves are lined with leather-bound volumes, and the air smells of dust and parchment. The shop is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former owner, who has been seen wandering among the stacks.

The Haunted Bookshop is a truly quaint place, and is well worth a visit if you’re passing by.


7. Soak up the cafe culture

Cambridge has a thriving café culture that must be experienced by any visitor. With various cafés dotted around the city, they are the perfect place to cosy up with a book or to catch up with friends over coffee.

There are cafés to suit every taste in Cambridge, from hipster hangouts serving specialty coffees to quaint spots serving traditional breakfast and brunch fare.

One of my favourite spots for a coffee is Bould Brothers, which has two locations in the city. For those who love sweet treats, be sure to pay a visit to the ever popular Fitzbillies to pick up an iconic Chelsea bun.

Discover the best cafés in Cambridge.


8. Go for a cycle around the city

Cycling is a wonderful way to see the sights of Cambridge. Not to mention that you can burn some calories in preparation for those Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies! There are many scenic cycling routes that wind through the city, past iconic landmarks such as King’s College and the River Cam. 

The city is relatively flat, so it’s not too strenuous. Plus, there are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way. In fact, Cambridge has the highest level of cycling in the country, with one in three residents cycling to work! So you can rest assured that the city is very well designed for cyclists.

Top tip: Some Cambridge hotels like the University Arms provide bikes for their guests. So if you plan to cycle, check whether the hotel you were planning to book offers them. Find cycle routes and maps for Cambridge.


9. Climb St Mary’s Tower

St Mary’s Tower in Cambridge is a beautiful Gothic structure that was built in the 14th century. Visitors can climb the 123 steps of the tower’s spiral staircase to reach the top. Here you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Cambridge.

On a clear day you can see for miles, plus you can get a beautiful bird’s eye view of various Cambridge landmarks. There is no need to pre-book and entry is £6 for adults and £4 for children. 

Top tip: The staircase is very tight and enclosed, so make sure you’re comfortable with this before heading up. You may have to wait at the top before you can descend, as it’s impossible to pass anyone on the staircase as it’s so small. The staff will announce on the speaker once you’re able to ascend and descend. 


10. Visit the Fitzwilliam Museum

A visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the best things to do in Cambridge. Housed in a grand neoclassical building, the museum boasts an impressive collection of art and antiquities from around the world.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Highlights include Egyptian sarcophagi, Roman mosaics, and Rembrandt paintings. But the Fitzwilliam Museum is more than just a repository for rare and valuable objects. It is also a place of learning, where visitors can explore the history and culture of different civilisations.

With its fascinating exhibits and passionate staff, the Fitzwilliam Museum will educate and inspire everyone who walks through its doors.


11. Discover the University colleges

There are 31 university colleges in Cambridge, each with its own unique history and identity. Many of the colleges offer tours to visitors, so it’s a great way to get a feel for university life in Cambridge.

Fans of Harry Potter will also feel right at home. Many of the colleges look as though they’ve been lifted from the pages of the famous Wizarding World.

Some of the most popular college tour destinations include Trinity College (founded in 1546 by Henry VIII), St John’s College (the largest college in Cambridge), and Jesus College (known for its beautiful gardens).

If you’re interested in architecture, be sure to check out Kings College, which is home to the world-famous Chapel. Whether you’re a university student yourself or just curious about the history and heritage of the colleges, I’d really recommend exploring the world-renowned University of Cambridge.


12. Stop by the Scott Polar Research Institute Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute Museum in Cambridge is one of the world’s leading centres for research into the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The museum houses an extensive collection of archives, artefacts and scientific equipment, and is open to the public throughout the year.

Scott Polar Research Institute

Visitors can explore the history of polar exploration, learn about the challenges of life in the extreme cold and see some of the unique animals that make their home in these hostile environments.

The museum also has an active programme of events and talks, so do check what’s on before you plan your visit. The Scott Polar Research Institute Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and a great day out for all ages.


13. Explore the vintage shops on Mill Road

There’s something special about vintage shopping. Maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt, or the feeling that you might find a hidden gem. There’s no better place to enjoy vintage shopping than Cambridge’s Mill Road.

This historic street is lined with vintage shops, from antique dealers to independent boutiques. When you need a break, there are plenty of independent eateries to enjoy, ranging from traditional cafes to modern-day bistros. 

Despite being located in the heart of the city, Mill Road has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Browsing this charming part of the city is one of the best things to do in Cambridge for shopping lovers. 

Get access to my itineraries

Subscribe to my email newsletter and get exclusive access to my itineraries. My weekly newsletter is filled with luxury travel inspiration, destination highlights and exclusive discounts. Get immediate access to my FREE Edinburgh itinerary when you subscribe. 


14. See the art at Kettle’s Yard

Kettle’s Yard is a unique art gallery set within a beautiful Georgian townhouse at the University of Cambridge. The brainchild of collector and curator Jim Ede, Kettle’s Yard is home to an outstanding collection of modern and contemporary art, ranging from British paintings to Cubist sculptures, as well as a host of fascinating personal objects and artefacts.

Kettle's Yard Cambridge

For anyone with even a passing interest in art, Kettle’s Yard is well worth a visit. Tickets are free but it is recommended to book a time slot in advance, as it’s one of the most popular things to do in Cambridge.


15. Visit the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge is a fascinating place to visit. It houses an incredible collection of artefacts from around the world, spanning many different cultures and periods of history.

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The exhibits are well-designed and provide visitors with a real sense of the past. There is also an excellent café, which is the perfect place to relax after a few hours of exploring. Admission is free and you don’t need to book in advance.


16. Go shopping at Market Square

Market Square is a historic market square located in the heart of Cambridge. The square is lined with a variety of stalls, selling everything from fresh produce to flowers to handcrafted goods.

Market Square Cambridge

Market Square has been a central part of Cambridge life for centuries, and it remains an important gathering place for locals and visitors alike. In addition to its many shops and stalls, the square is also home to a number of historic buildings, including the Cambridge Market House, which was built in 1670. 

Top tip: You can get lovely views over the colourful stalls of the Market Square from the viewing platform at the top of St Mary’s Tower.


17. Geek out at the Centre for Computing History

The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge houses an impressive collection of vintage computers, games consoles, and other technological artefacts. Visitors can explore the evolution of computing technology, from early abacuses and mechanical calculators to modern supercomputers.

The Centre also has a fascinating exhibit on the history of video games, tracing the evolution of this popular pastime from its earliest days to the present. In addition to its exhibits, the Centre offers a variety of hands-on activities, such as coding workshops and computer-based crafts. 

Whether you’re a computer nerd or simply curious about how we got to where we are today, a visit to the Centre for Computing History is one of the top things to do in Cambridge.


18. Marvel at King’s College Chapel

King’s College Chapel is one of the most iconic buildings in Cambridge. Built in the early 15th century, the chapel is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its beautiful exterior is adorned with intricate carved stonework, while its interior is filled with stained glass windows and soaring vaulted ceilings.

King's College Chapel

Every year, King’s College Chapel attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. For many, it is the highlight of their visit to Cambridge.

Both self-guided and guided tours are available of the chapel. Whether you are admiring the exterior from afar or soaking up the atmosphere inside, King’s College Chapel is a must-see attraction in Cambridge.


19. Visit the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Science in Cambridge is a geological museum housing one of the most important collections of rocks, fossils and minerals in the world. It was founded in 1873 and named after its first curator, Adam Sedgwick.

Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences Dinosaur Skeleton

Located in the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Cambridge, The Sedgwick Museum is open to the public and offers a wide range of educational programmes for children and adults.

Visitors can explore exhibits on the history of the Earth, tour a working coal mine, and even go on a dinosaur safari. Admission to the museum is free and pre-booking is not required.


20. See the Round Church

The Round Church in Cambridge is one of the city’s most historic landmarks. Built in the early 12th century, it is one of the few remaining examples of Romanesque architecture in England.

The Round Church in Cambridge, UK

The church was built by the Knights Templar, a mediaeval order of warrior priests, and its Round design was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was designed as a chapel for the Holy Trinity Guild, a charitable organisation that helped the poor and sick. 

Today, the Round Church is open to the public to visit. Its unique architecture and fascinating history make it one of Cambridge’s most fascinating landmarks.


Planning a visit to the historic city? Browse the best hotels in Cambridge, discover my Cambridge guide, or read my guide to the best spas in Cambridge.

Get access to my itineraries

Subscribe to my email newsletter and get exclusive access to my itineraries. My weekly newsletter is filled with luxury travel inspiration, destination highlights and exclusive discounts. Get immediate access to my FREE Edinburgh itinerary when you subscribe. 

Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to my newsletter & get exclusive access to my itineraries

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Pocket Travel Edit, filled with luxury travel inspiration, destination highlights and exclusive discounts. Plus, get my FREE Edinburgh itinerary when you sign up. Only email subscribers have access to itineraries.