Best Things to Do
in Cambridge

When you're looking for the best things to do in Cambridge there's plenty of choice - more than enough to keep visitors busy all day on a day trip from London. Our advice would be to spend a night in Cambridge and have two days to explore the city, but for those whose time is limited and only have one day to see the highlights, here is our choice of the best things to do in Cambridge:

The Backs

The Backs are simply what local people call the backs of the colleges that are on the River Cam. They're very different from the grand fronts of the colleges, with trees, lawns and colourful flowers, at their most attractive in Spring and Summer.

Cambridge Pubs

Cambridge has plenty of historic pubs and inns, some of which make good places to eat if visiting for the day. That way you can combine your lunch break with a bit of local atmosphere. Try the Pickerel Inn on Magdalene Street, the Anchor on Silver Street or the Eagle in Bene't Street.

Christ's College

Christ's was founded under that name in 1505, although it grew out of a college that had existed since 1437. Two of its most famous students were the poet Milton, author of Paradise Lost, and Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species, though a more recent graduate was the comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, better known for his characters Ali G, Bruno and Borat.

Emmanuel College

American visitors will enjoy seeing the window of Emmanuel College Chapel which has a portrait of John Harvard in it. Harvard studied here before going off to America in the 1630s, later to found Harvard University. The chapel was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who was also the architect for St Paul's Cathedral. Celebrated graduates include Monty Python's Graham Chapman, the critic F.R.Leavis and novelist Hugh Walpole.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Titian, Matisse, Rubens, van Dyck, William Blake and Picasso are just some of the artists whose work can be found in Cambridge's main museum, where you could easily spend a few hours. There are also good collections from ancient Egypt, Greece and China.

Jesus College

Jesus College Chapel is the oldest chapel in Cambridge, dating back to the 11th century and originally a Norman church. Samuel Taylor Coleridge attended Jesus College, as did more modern writers such as David Hare and Nick Hornby. Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and third son of Queen Elizabeth II, also studied at Jesus College.

Kettle's Yard

In total contrast to the vast Fitzwilliam Museum, Kettle's Yard (above) is a unique modern art gallery based in what was a private house, which was originally four old cottages. It's an intimate gallery, a totally delightful place with space given over to local artists as well as a permanent collection. 

King's College and King's College Chapel

One of the very best things to see in Cambridge is King's College, and in particular King's College Chapel. The chapel is a beautiful late-15th century building, whose Christmas Carol Service is broadcast live throughout the world on Christmas Eve. People queue up from dawn in order to get into the service. The College was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI, and famous students include the economist John Maynard Keynes, writers E.M. Forster and Rupert Brooke, and the first British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole.

Market Square

At the very centre of Cambridge is the Market Square, a good place to get your bearings from. It's also a good place for photos as it's always busy with local people doing their shopping at the many food stalls, and visitors checking out the craft and clothing stalls too. It's open Monday-Saturday, all day, while on Sunday it has a Farmers' Market.


Relaxing in a punt on the idyllic little River Cam is many people's idea of what Cambridge is all about. You won't be in the city long before you'll be approached by someone offering to rent you a punt or take you punting. These are usually students earning a bit of extra money, but don't give in too easily. Punting is big business in Cambridge and there are several places to choose from. Only agree to it if you really want to do it, and if you've never been punting before then our advice is to hire someone to do the punting for you, while you sit back and relax. Punting is trickier and harder work than it looks.

Queen's College

Queen's goes back to 1448, and one of its most photographed features is its Mathematical Bridge. It got its name because it was allegedly constructed on mathematical grounds so that it could be built without bolts and nails. The one there today is a 1905 copy of the 18th-century original, which does have regular nuts and bolts in it. Well-known graduates range from the theologian Erasmus to the comedian and actor Stephen Fry.

Trinity College

Trinity was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII, and is the largest college in Cambridge. Its wide-ranging list of past students includes famous names like Sir Isaac Newton, Wittgenstein, Tennyson, Bertrand Russell, Nabokov, Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

How to Get from London to Cambridge
London to Cambridge by Train
London to Cambridge by Bus
Driving from London to Cambridge 

And read our page on Cambridge's Comic History

Buy Our Best Day Trips from London Guide

The Ten Best Day Trips from London is a Kindle guide to the most popular attractions in England that can be easily reached and enjoyed in one day. It focuses on the practical information, telling you how to get to your destination by train, by coach, or by driving - and recommends the best choice to make.

For all ten destinations there are direct links to coach and bus timetables, the cheapest fares, and direct booking options for tickets. This travel guide also recommends the best things to see and do in each destination, with links to websites for opening hours and admission prices. 

The Kindle guide includes over 40 colour photos and 11 colour locator maps, showing you where every place is in relation to London.

Buy the guide at Amazon UK, Amazon USA or other Amazon stores worldwide.

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