16 Best Things To Do In Cambridge – Attractions, Tours & Sights

(Last Updated On: September 17, 2022)

If you want to get an authentic British experience, there is no better place to go than Cambridge.

This historic city is located in the south-eastern part of England, about 50 miles north of London.

It is home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, the University of Cambridge.

The city has a long and rich history dating back to the Roman era and was an important trading centre during the Middle Ages.

Today, Cambridge is a thriving cultural hub full of historic sites and plenty of things to see and do.

Things To Do In Cambridge

1. King’s College Chapel

King's College Chapel

King’s College Chapel is one of the most iconic buildings in Cambridge, and definitely worth a visit!

This late Gothic masterpiece was built between 1446 and 1515, and features the world’s largest fan vault.

The Kings College Chapel chapel is used for daily services and also hosts numerous musical events throughout the year – so even if you’re not religious, it’s definitely worth popping in to see this stunning building.

If you’re visiting King’s College Chapel, make sure to take some time to admire the exterior as well as the interior.

The façade is absolutely breath-taking, with its symmetrical design and beautiful carved details. And don’t forget to look up at the fan vaulting inside – it really is an incredible sight!

Tickets for the Chapel and Grounds can be bought online and all visits are self guided.

Address: King’s College Chapel, King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST

2. The River Cam

The River Cam

The River Cam is a beloved spot for visitors and locals alike in the city of Cambridge.

The river runs through the heart of the city, and is lined with beautiful buildings and parks.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the river, or go for a rowboat ride.

There are punts for hire, or chauffeur punts, which will take you along the river to admire the views.

There are also many pubs along the river, which are perfect for stopping in for some refreshment.

The River Cam is also home to many different kinds of wildlife, including ducks, geese, and swans and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a deer or two!

The river is truly a beautiful spot to relax and take in all that Cambridge has to offer.

Address: The River Cam, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

3. The Polar Museum, Scott Polar Research Institute

The Polar Museum, Scott Polar Research Institute

The Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) is a world-leading centre for research into the Arctic and Antarctic.

Founded in 1920, SPRI has an international reputation for its work on all aspects of polar regions, including climate change, environmental protection, geopolitics, history, oceanography and glaciology.

The Institute is part of the University of Cambridge and has one of the world’s most comprehensive polar libraries, with over 60,000 items relating to the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Institute has a small museum which tells the story of polar exploration, and visitors can also take a look at some of the historic artefacts in the collections.

The Museum is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.

Address: The Polar Museum, Lensfield Rd, Cambridge CB2 1ER

4. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university.

Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.

Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent colleges and over 100 academic departments organised into six schools.

Cambridge University Press, a department of the university, is the world’s oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world.

Visitors to the university can get a look at more than 800 years of history by venturing inside the Colleges of Cambridge and their gardens.

A day out discovering the colleges can be a good way to get to know the city, although some charge a small fee, most allow visitors to enter for free.

Address: Cambridge University, Cambridge

5. Corpus Christi College

Corpus Christi College

Corpus Christi College (often called “Corpus”, or more colloquially, “C AI” by its students) is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

It is notable as the only college founded by the Cambridge townspeople: it was established in 1352 by the Guild of Corpus Christi and the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary, making it the sixth-oldest college in Cambridge.

The college occupies a site in the centre of Cambridge, and its main entrance is immediately recognisable by the large wrought-iron gate surmounted by a portcullis.

During the summer months, the College is open to visitors between 10.30am and 16.30pm.

Address: Corpus Christi College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RH

6. Mathematical Bridge

Mathematical Bridge

This iconic bridge was built in 1749 and is famous for its unique design.

The bridge is made up of thirteen wooden beams, each of which is curved in a different way.

This gives the bridge its distinctive shape and makes it one of the most photographed landmarks in Cambridge.

The Mathematical Bridge is also known for its connection to Isaac Newton.

He was the President of the Royal Society when the bridge was built and is said to have designed it himself.

However, there is no evidence to support this claim and it is more likely that the bridge was designed by James Essex, the carpenter who built it.

If you’re visiting Cambridge, make sure to take a walk across the Mathematical Bridge and take in its unique beauty.

Address: Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge CB3 9ET

7. Trinity College

Trinity College

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

The College was founded by Henry VIII in 1546 and is the largest of the 31 Colleges that are part of the University of Cambridge.

The college owns and operates a publishing house, Trinity College Press, and is home to the world-renowned Cavendish Laboratory.

It also has a longstanding tradition of rowing, and has produced several Olympic-level rowers.

There is a small charge for visitors to enter the College but access is restricted to the Great Court and the Chapel.

Address: Trinity College, Cambridge CB2 1TQ

8. Fitzwilliam Museum

Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum is located on Trumpington Street, opposite Fitzwilliam Street in central Cambridge.

The museum was founded in 1816 by Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion.

It houses over half a million objects, with a wide variety of artefacts from different periods and cultures, including Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and British artefacts.

For anyone interested in art this is a must see, as the Museum’s collection of paintings comprises of nearly 1700 works.

Among the highlights are paintings by Italian artists, with masterpieces by Titian, Veronese, Bellotto and Canaletto.

The museum is open daily and has free admission.

Address: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB

9. Corpus Clock

Corpus Clock

The Corpus Clock is a unique sculptural clock located outside the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College in Central Cambridge.

It was invented, designed and given to Corpus Christi College by Dr John C Taylor OBE and was installed in 2008.

The face of the clock is plated in pure gold and it has a dominating visual feature on top, that is a sculpture of a creature similar to a grasshopper.

There are no numbers or hands, so the hours, minutes and seconds are demonstrated by blue LED lights which are revealed by opening slits in three concentric rings.

It also contains a number of optical illusions, such as anamorphic images which can only be seen clearly from certain angles.

The Corpus Clock is one of the most popular attractions in Cambridge and well worth a visit.

Address: The Corpus Clock, 58 Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RH

10. St. John’s College

St. John's College

St. John’s College is a large constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

The college was founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, in 1511.

St John’s is located in the city centre, close to the main shopping area and is easily accessible for visitors.

St. John’s College extends onto the famous ‘Cambridge backs’ on the River Cam and has magnificent gardens for visitors to explore.

The College also features many listed buildings with some grand architecture.

Entry into St John’s College is via the Great Gate and the College is open to visitors weekdays and weekends from 10am with a last entry at 4pm.

Address: St. John’s College, St John’s Street, Cambridge CB2 1TP

11. The Round Church

The Round Church

The Round Church is a 12th-century church and the second oldest building in Cambridge.

It is one of four churches in the University and has been used as a place of worship, a venue for academic lectures and a repository for university records.

The church was built on the site of an earlier Saxon church, and its circular nave and ambulatory are unique among English churches.

Great for anyone interested in history, just stop by the Round Church Visitor Centre and explore this unique part of Cambridge’s history.

Address: The Round Church, Round Church Vestry, Bridge St, Cambridge CB2 1UB

12. Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The Cambridge University Garden is one of the oldest and most famous botanical gardens in the world.

Although the original garden was founded in 1762, it was moved to it’s present site by John Stevens Henslow, Professor of Botany at Cambridge, in 1846.

Today it’s a wonderful place to visit and contains over 8,000 different plant species from all over the world.

If you’re interested in learning about the history of the garden, then be sure to check out the Garden Museum.

You can also take a guided tour of the garden, which will give you an up-close look at some of the most beautiful plants and flowers in the world.

These 90 minute, pre-bookable tours are ideal for adult groups wishing to make the most of their visit to the 40 acre site.

Address: Cambridge University Botanic Garden, 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE

13. The Centre for Computing History

The Centre for Computing History

The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge is the perfect place to learn about the history of computing.

With over 10,000 items on display, it is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.

The museum covers the entire history of computing, from early mechanical calculators to modern day supercomputers.

There are plenty of interactive exhibits and educational workshops to keep families and visitors entertained.

One of the most popular is the Babbage Engine, an early mechanical computer that was designed by Charles Babbage in the 19th century.

Visitors can also try their hand at coding on one of the vintage computers or play some classic video games.

The centre also has a well stocked gift shop selling a selection of gifts and souvenirs to purchase after your visit including t-shirts, mugs, keyrings, games and retro items.

Address: Centre for Computing History, Rene Court, Coldham’s Rd, Cambridge CB1 3EW

14. Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is the only World War II cemetery maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) outside of the United States.

The cemetery contains the remains of 3,812 American military dead, most of whom died during the Battle of the Atlantic or during air raids over northwest Europe.

The headstones are arranged in nine semi-circular arcs on a lawn and in the centre of the cemetery is a chapel with a statue of Christ on the altar.

The cemetery also contains a Wall of the Missing, which bears the names of 5,127 Americans who died but whose bodies were never recovered or identified.

It is a beautiful place to see and there’s a Visitor’s Centre at the Cemetery that conveys the history behind the cemetery, that also worth visiting.

Address: Madingley Rd, Cambridge CB23 7PH

15. Market Square

Market Square

Market Square is the central square of Cambridge.

The square is dominated by two large buildings: the Guildhall and the Market House.

The area is a popular meeting place and is also home to an outdoor Cambridge market, a number of cafes and restaurants, and shops.

The outdoor market has some great gourmet food stalls, plus Cambridge University clothing and souvenirs for sale.

If you’re visiting Cambridge, then be sure to check out Market Square.

It’s a great place to hunt for souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, or just take in the sights.

Address: Market Square, Market Hill, Cambridge CB1 0SS

16. Kettle’s Yard

Kettle's Yard

Kettle’s Yard was the home of art collector Jim Ede, and in 1966 he gave the house and its contents to the University of Cambridge.

It contains a significant collection of twentieth-century art, as well as modern and contemporary art.

The gallery hosts a changing programme of exhibitions, and it is also used for educational purposes such as lectures and workshops.

The house itself is a fascinating example of vernacular architecture, and it contains a number of interesting artefacts from Ede’s travels around the world.

Admission to the house and galleries is free although it is recommended that visitors book a timed entrance ticket online.

Address: Castle St, Cambridge CB3 0AQ

FAQ

How long do you need to visit Cambridge?

Visitors can explore Cambridge in about 2 days, however if you are a history lover or admire architecture we recommend at least 3 to 4 days to fully explore the cities museums, colleges and magnificent buildings.

Can you take a walking tour in Cambridge?

A walking tour is a great way to explore this wonderful city.

Visitors can book an official Green or Blue Badge guided walking tour at the visitor information centre.

What is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols?

King’s College Cambridge’s iconic Christmas service the ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’, is broadcasted across the world every Christmas Eve.

Taking place at 3pm, the service always begins with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ the first verse of which is sung as a solo by a boy treble.

Can you climb Great St Mary’s, the University Church Cambridge’s Tower?

Visitors can climb the 123 steps of the Church tower and get a 360° view from the outdoor viewing platform.

Tickets for the tower are for sale in the gift shop.

Author

  • Tamara M

    Hey there! My name is Tamara, welcome to my little world! I’m a 20-something-year-old from Toronto, Canada (though I’m rarely there) and I’m super passionate about exploring the world, photography, and cooking delicious plant-based recipes. I created this blog to share my favorite places, adventures, restaurants, accommodations, and travel tips with all of you and keep a bit of a travel diary for myself.

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