The best things to do in Cambridge are often compared against that of “the Other Place” – also known as Oxford. But while this city on the River Cam in eastern England is a similarly exquisite university town, it exudes a charm uniquely its own.
The ancient colleges are as grand as it gets while the shimmering gardens behind them provide picture-postcard images of tranquillity and expanse. The historic buildings stand as wonders of architecture, unchanged for centuries, and the cobbled passageways and manicured lawns still serve many a student, as well as the once great minds who have walked the Earth including a long list of poets, writers, scientists, and prime ministers.
Have a wander around these splendid surroundings and unravel the many reasons that make Cambridge special, apart from the obvious stellar academic achievements. Take a cue from this list of the 10 best things to do in Cambridge and enjoy a good start.
1. King’s College Chapel
In a city filled with grandiose buildings, King’s College Chapel proves extraordinary; in fact, this 16th-century church epitomises the best of Gothic architecture in all of England. It is every inch stunning, from its 80 metre-long fan vaulted ceiling that explodes to a series of stone fireworks, to the lofty stained-glass windows, magnificent bat-wing organ, and elaborately carved wooden screens. Visit to see its world-famous choir too or attend the Christmas Eve show – undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cambridge.
Price: £9 for adults and £6 for children
Hours: 9.30 AM to 3.15 PM every Monday to Saturday and 1.15 PM to 2.30 PM every Sunday term time; 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM daily, 9.30 AM to 3.30 PM every December, January, and University holidays
Location: King’s Pde, Cambridge, England
2. Trinity College
Founded by Henry VIII, this college is the largest and most venerable in Cambridge. Alumni include Newton, Francis Bacon, Lord Byron Tennyson, Prince Charles, and over 30 Nobel Prize winners. Imposing and dramatic, Trinity College features a beautiful Tudor gateway and a court that is the biggest of its kind in the world. It is also the home of the popular Wren Libary and the May Ball – the biggest party in town happening annually every June.
Price: £3 for adults and £1 for children
Hours: Open daily at 10 AM to 4.30 PM; closed early April to mid-June
Location: Trinity St, Cambridge, England
3. Wren Library
An incredible gem inside Trinity College, Wren Library packs over 55,000 books dated before 1820. It is a special place not only for students but for all literary lovers. Its shelves also contain over 2500 manuscripts, including the original Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne.
Hours: 12 PM to 2 PM every Monday to Friday, plus 10.30 AM to 12.30 PM every Saturday, on a term time only
Location: Trinity College, Cambridge, England
4. Imperial War Museum
Take a day trip with the kids – this turns out one of the best things to do in Cambridge. They will go crazy over the flight simulators and rocket launchers! Exhibits are enormous and spectacular, exactly what you expect from the biggest aviation museum in Europe. Highlights include vintage dive bombers, biplanes, Spitfire, and Concorde, a large collection of American civil and military aircraft, and displays on British and Commonwealth aviation and modern warfare.
Price: £16.35 for adults and £8.15 for children
Hours: Open daily at 10 AM to 6 PM from Easter to October, up to 4 PM from November to Easter
Location: 9 miles south of Junction 10 of the M11, Duxford, Cambridge, England
5. Fitzwilliam Museum
From the outside, the Fitz looks completely over-the-top but it is only the beginning. Inside, it houses incredible treasures that belonged to the seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam. Must-sees include Greek, Egyptian, and Roman artifacts, illuminated manuscripts, and notable artworks by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Constable.
Price: Free entrance but donations are requested; guided tours cost £6
Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM every Tuesday to Saturday and 12 PM to 5 PM every Sunday
Location: Trumpington St, Cambridge, England
6. Portland Arms
A sea of students is a common sight in this 200-capacity place. Pick a seat in the spacious balcony and catch some live music, and comedy on some nights, to unwind after a long week of study and work.
Hours: 12 PM to 11.30 PM every Monday to Thursday, up to 12.30 PM every Friday and Saturday, and up to 11 PM every Sunday
Location: 129 Chesterton Rd, Cambridge, England
7. Cambridge Arts Theatre
Included on any list of the best things to do in Cambridge is watching a performance in the city’s biggest theatre. Shows from London’s West End are frequently staged, plus highbrow drama, panto, and dance.
Location: 6 St Edward’s Passage, Cambridge, England
8. Midsummer House
Flavour and technical skill seamlessly meld to bring about unforgettable dishes here in Cambridge’s top table. Coal-baked celeriac, Cornish crab, and roast pigeon are some of the best-sellers. Vegetarian versions of the menus are available, too.
Price: 5-course meals start at £48 and 8-course meals start at £105
Hours: 12 PM to 1.30 PM every Wednesday to Saturday and 7 PM to 9.30 PM every Tuesday to Saturday
Location: Midsummer Common, Cambridge, England
9. Urban Shed
Having a meal at Urban Shed proves one of the best things to do in Cambridge because it makes you feel at home. In this quirky sandwich bar, personal service is a mission – it is done so well you will come back day after day. The wide range of sandwiches ensures there is always something great for you to try while the house blend coffee captivates and inspires caffeine cravings.
Price: Sandwiches start at £4.25
Hours: 8.30 AM to 5 PM every Monday to Thursday, 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM every Friday, 9 AM to 6 PM every Saturday, and 10 AM to 4 PM every Sunday
Location: 62 King St, Cambridge, England
10. Oak Bistro
Classy yet friendly, this bistro is a neighbourhood favourite, serving locally sourced duck, lamb, and beef dishes. The flavors are heady, including lots of rosemary, fresh salsa verde, and hypnotic truffle oil – definitely a treat for food lovers!
Price: Mains start at £14; 2-course set lunches cost £14 and 3-course set lunches cost £17
Hours: 12 PM to 2.30 PM and 6 PM to 9.30 PM every Monday to Saturday
Location: 6 Lensfield Rd, Cambridge, England
Budget – Ashley Hotel
Mid-Range – The Bull Pen
Luxury – Madingley Hall
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