Cambridge, a distinguished city with a rich history and the River Cam flowing through its centre, stands out as England’s premier destination for a perfect holiday. Apart from its famous university and colleges, Cambridge offers a wealth of captivating museums, restaurants, and cultural experiences. Additionally, the city is adorned with architectural wonders and abundant green spaces. Here are some of the best things to do in Cambridge.
1. Fitzwilliam Museum
Located at the heart of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum houses an extensive collection spanning centuries and continents. It is composed of five departments, each focusing on a specific historical field.
The museum was established in 1816 and is dedicated to art and antiquities. Among its artefacts, you will find musical manuscripts, paintings, oriental arts, and objects from ancient empires. One of its main highlights are paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas, among others.
2. King’s College Chapel
King’s College Chapel stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Cambridge’s commitment to both academic and spiritual pursuits.
This gothic building dates back to the 15th century and is renowned for its stained-glass windows and its impressively large fan vault. The rood screen, which was erected as Henry VIII’s gift to Anne Boleyn, is another stand-out feature of the building.
The chapel is still functional and is used for mass and concerts. It is open to the public who want to perform their choral services and the students during their term time.
3. Cambridge American Cemetery
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is a war grave cemetery that houses the remains of more than 3000 American soldiers who died during the Second World War.
Set amidst meticulously landscaped grounds, the cemetery provides a tranquil space for reflection and remembrance. It also has a visitor centre where visitors can find different objects, displays, and photographs, each giving a clearer insight into the war and its victims.
4. Queens’ College
Nestled along the River Cam, Queens’ College boasts picturesque gardens, architectural wonders, and a rich academic heritage.
The college was established in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou, the then Queen of England. Visitors will be able to detect this mediaeval background in its gardens and buildings. Among its oldest and most famous buildings, one can name the Old Library, Old Court, and Cloister Court.
5. The River Cam
The River Cam provides a serene backdrop for picnics, walks, and reflections, creating a peaceful escape within the bustling city. The river itself has been a provider of great opportunities for fun activities and entertainment. Different parts of the river are used for boating, canoeing, fishing, and even swimming.
Punting is a very popular activity in Cambridge, for which various tours are available. Embark on a punting adventure to leisurely drift along the scenic riverbanks, passing iconic landmarks and historic colleges.
6. The Backs
Whether enjoyed during a leisurely walk or a punting excursion on the River Cam, the Backs provide an idyllic setting for contemplating the city’s architectural splendour and natural beauty.
The name is a reference to the backs of Cambridge colleges, which are on the River Cam. While seeing the front of these colleges is a treat, it is also worth visiting their rears. It also gives you the chance to get away from the usual bustle of shops and restaurants and take a more tranquil walk along a path full of natural beauty and serenity.
7. Grantchester Village
Escape the city and venture into the charming Grantchester Village, just a short distance from Cambridge. Known for its quaint thatched cottages, lush meadows, and cosy tea rooms, Grantchester offers a delightful retreat.
For an authentic apple orchard experience in the village, visit the Orchard Tea Gardens. Revel in the idyllic setting, deckchairs, and the traditional afternoon tea. The gardens are not only open for leisurely afternoons but also offer a delightful breakfast menu, featuring delicious toasties and hearty soups to complement your visit.
8. Great St Mary’s Church
Dominating the skyline of Cambridge, Great St. Mary’s Church stands as a magnificent example of Gothic architecture and serves as the university church for the University of Cambridge. It is positioned directly across from the largest college, King’s College. Its origins trace back to the 13th century, with the current structure built between 1478 and 1519.
By climbing its tower, you will have a beautiful panoramic view of the whole Cambriddge on top. There, you will get the chance to check out the old cobblestone streets, old buildings, and rooftops that surround the church.
9. The University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge provides a captivating blend of academia, culture, and architectural splendour. Wander through historic colleges, each with its own unique charm and architectural beauty.
The University of Cambridge is the second oldest university in the UK and features old buildings and some newer ones. When visiting Cambridge, it is definitely worth checking out some of its colleges and libraries.
10. Cambridge University Botanic Garden
The Cambridge University Botanic Garden offers a rejuvenating experience surrounded by the beauty of the plant kingdom. Spanning 40 acres, the Botanic Garden collection boasts a diverse array of flora from around the world.
Some of the main highlights of the garden include its beautiful fountain, expansive glasshouses containing around 3000 species, and lovely trails, ideal for a relaxing stroll. The garden presents many unique plant varieties that are not commonly found in other garden settings. The café is a pleasant addition, offering reasonably priced and delicious cakes.
11. University Museum of Zoology
With a focus on education and exploration, the University Museum of Zoology offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages, fostering a deeper understanding of the natural world.
A key highlight in Cambridge, the University Museum of Zoology underwent a five-year redevelopment and reopened in 2018. Visitors can now enjoy newly designed galleries that showcase the rich diversity of animal life. It is also suitable for family visits, and there are plenty of experts and staff members who can explain complex issues to kids of all ages.
12. Sedgwick Museum of Geology
The Sedgwick Museum offers a captivating blend of science and history. Here, you can explore the evolution of the planet and the groundbreaking research conducted by Cambridge geologists. The museum accommodates a vast array of geological specimens from various locations and is a valuable resource for scholars in the field.
The Museum boasts an impressive collection of approximately 2 million specimens spanning over 4.5 billion years of Earth’s history. Some of the most important exhibits include those of Charles Darwin, Sir Abraham Hume, and John Woodward.
13. Market Square
Cambridge, known as a market city, has a historic market square in its city centre, where trading has taken place since mediaeval times. Surrounded by historic buildings and lively shops, this bustling market offers a delightful mix of local produce, handmade crafts, and a variety of delicious street food.
The market square is a market with a wide variety of stalls, from fruit and vegetables to second-hand books, handicrafts, and food trucks, that offers a huge range of options. It’s a favourite spot for eating outdoors, featuring a decent selection of vendors serving delicious foods. Whether you’re looking to idle away an hour or so or buy yourself a snack or souvenir, the diverse offerings make it a delightful destination.
14. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Located within the historic University of Cambridge, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology houses an extensive collection of artefacts from diverse cultures and time periods.
Some of the objects date back millions of years, and they have both local and international value.
The diverse array of objects on display, which range from stone tools and ancient pots to tribal sculptures and paintings, will captivate every visitor. The collection is not only extensive but also impeccably curated, showcasing a rich tapestry of human history and creativity.
15. Mathematical Bridge
A marvel of engineering and an iconic symbol of Cambridge, the Mathematical Bridge spans the River Cam with its distinctive design and mathematical precision.
It is one of the most popular sights in the city and was built in the 18th century. To get the best view of the bridge, you should get on a punting tour. However, you can also visit it by entering Queen’s College and paying a fee.
16. Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Another museum on our list is the Whipple Museum of the History of Science. Housed within the University of Cambridge, Whipple Museum showcases a remarkable collection of scientific instruments, apparatus, and rare books dating back to the Middle Ages.
The museum is named after Robert Stewart Whipple, a 19th century scientist who donated a collection of artefacts with scientific value. Some of the highlights of the museum include a copy of Newton’s greatest work, Principia Mathematica, and some microscopes that belonged to Charles Darwin, the renowned naturalist.
17. Kettle’s Yard
Originally the home of Jim and Helen Ede, Kettle’s Yard now houses a carefully curated collection of modern and contemporary art. Most of the art on display belonged to the Edes, who left Cambridge for Edinburgh and donated the house to the University of Cambridge. The place now also holds various exhibitions throughout the year and hosts different events catering to all ages.
Kettle’s Yard provides a distinctive experience, deviating from the conventional gallery setting by showcasing artworks within a home environment. The passionate staff enhance the overall atmosphere.
If, by any chance, you are visiting Cambridge as a honeymoon destination or just on a simple trip, consider Minstrel Court for your stay. Situated outside the city, near Royston, the property offers a tranquil and enjoyable atmosphere for both groups and individuals.