Today I want to bring you my guide to things to do in Cambridge, England. This university town is known for its stunning colleges, and it’s one of the best places to visit in the UK if you love architecture and history.
Things to Do in Cambridge
This morning I set out on a day trip from London to Cambridge. I’ve been to Oxford many times, but have largely–albeit unintentionally–ignored its rival to the northeast.
I traveled on a train from King’s Cross station to rectify the imbalance. I was excited to see how the two universities compared and take in as many things to do in Cambridge as I could.
1. Visit the Cambridge Colleges
My Cambridge day trip started with visits to many of the famous colleges, including King’s College, Trinity College, St. John’s College, and Jesus College.
Some of the colleges were closed to visitors, but thankfully I managed to get into a few of the main ones. I ducked into some smaller colleges as well, and it was worth seeing them.
2. See the Sights
Afterwards I made my way up to the Castle Mound, out to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, and over to The Round Church. They’re some of the best things to do in Cambridge, and I was glad to get to see them.
The Castle Mound is what remains of a Norman castle that was built to control the route to the north of England. Today the hill covering the ruins offers views of the town.
The Cambridge University Botanic Garden is a beautiful green space with all kinds of flowers, fountains, and greenhouses to explore.
The Round Church in Cambridge dates back to 1130 and is one of only four surviving medieval round churches still in use in England today.
3. Explore Cambridge Town Center
Once finished, I made my way into the center to see the shops and streets, markets and squares.
I particularly liked browsing the stalls in Cambridge Market Square. It’s next to Great St Mary’s Church, a historic place of worship with a tower offering views over the colleges.
Given exploring side streets is one of my favorite ways to spend time when I travel, seeing Cambridge’s little alleys and narrow lanes was one of the most exciting things to do in Cambridge for me.
What I discovered was that Cambridge is a town with beautiful historic architecture and perfectly manicured college lawns (keep your tourist feet off, please).
There’s a meandering river and churches galore, and lots of libraries, books, and academic paraphernalia lying about.
4. Walk the College Grounds
Despite its superficial similarities with its rival university, however, Cambridge somehow felt bigger and grander than Oxford, as if someone took the latter and blew it up or added more space between the buildings.
The Backs, or the green spaces behind some of the colleges, were enormous, as were some of the colleges’ courtyards. They were great places for a self-guided walking tour of Cambridge.
There also seemed to be more buildings or at least bigger ones, and the ceiling of King’s College Chapel was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Seeing it was one of my favorite things to do in Cambridge.
5. Go Punting
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I liked Cambridge better than Oxford (I don’t want to make enemies in England!).
In fact, one of the things I was disappointed in was that all the boat rental kiosks were closed for the winter. I was looking forward to trying (or at least trying vicariously through others) the English art of punting.
Sadly, all I could do was look at the empty boats. At least it gave me a reason to come back someday for another visit.
Best Things to Do in Cambridge
My train home was non-stop and took less than an hour, which makes me think that this won’t be my last day trip from London to Cambridge.
Given there are so many great things to do in Cambridge, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to occupy my time on future visits.
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