Day Trip to Cambridge

What to do in Cambridge


Cambridge, a city renowned for its prestigious university and rich history, has captured the hearts of travelers worldwide. In October 2022, Cambridge received the prestigious title of the best city in the UK by Conde Nast Traveller Readers, surpassing major metropolises like London, Edinburgh, and Manchester. Nestled in the East of England, this charming city beckons visitors with its academic legacy, stunning architecture, lush green spaces, and a plethora of cultural attractions. Join us on an in-depth journey to uncover the secrets of a memorable day trip to Cambridge, highlighting the most enchanting things to do and places to visit.

Why Choose Cambridge for Your Day Trip?


Cambridge’s claim to fame lies in its illustrious university, which has produced some of the world’s brightest minds, including Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, Sylvia Plath, and Emma Thompson. Beyond its hallowed academic halls, Cambridge boasts a rich tapestry of history and architecture that spans centuries, from the 11th century to the modern day.

But Cambridge isn’t just about intellectual pursuits. It offers a lush green escape for both locals and visitors. Iconic green spaces like Parker’s Piece, where the ‘Cambridge Rules’ for football were born in 1863, add to the city’s allure.

Getting to Cambridge: Location, Location, Location


In an era where staycations have gained popularity, Cambridge’s strategic location makes it an ideal day trip destination. Situated in the East of England, it’s easily accessible from various parts of the UK.

Traveling by train, you can reach Cambridge within an hour from major cities like London Kings Cross, Peterborough, Kings Lynn, Bishops Stortford, Norwich, and Ipswich. If you prefer the road, a one-hour drive will take you from Northampton, Milton Keynes, St Albans, or Chelmsford to Cambridge. What’s more, many significant cities, including London, Canterbury, Lincoln, Birmingham, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Nottingham, and Guildford, are just a two-hour drive away.

Given its accessibility and the myriad attractions it offers, it’s no wonder that many choose Cambridge for a day trip or even longer.

Must-Do Activities in Cambridge


Punting in Cambridge

When in Cambridge, punting is a must-do activity. It’s synonymous with the city and provides a unique perspective on its beauty. The Traditional Punting Company offers VisitEngland Accredited guided punting tours that take you through the tranquil college backs, where you’ll enjoy exclusive views of the university only accessible by boat. During your tour, you’ll pass by seven colleges, glide under nine picturesque bridges and sight three libraries.

Choose between a shared punting tour or treat yourself to a private punting experience, each accompanied by highly trained and knowledgeable guides who share captivating stories about the history of the college backs, enriching your Cambridge adventure.


Kings College Chapel

Kings College Chapel is one of Cambridge’s iconic landmarks and a testament to the city’s historical significance. Founded in 1441 by Henry VI, it boasts the title of the largest stone-vaulted chapel globally. The chapel’s rich history includes serving as a training ground for Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentary troops during the English Civil War. In World War II, all stained glass was removed to protect it from potential bomb damage.

Today, King’s College Chapel is renowned for its enchanting Christmas carols, hosting events like ‘Carols at King’s’ and ‘A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ on Christmas Eve. To secure your visit to this architectural masterpiece, be sure to book your tickets in advance.

You can book your tickets in advance to your visit.

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

Nestled at the end of Station Road, Cambridge University Botanical Gardens houses an astounding collection of over 8,000 plant species. While primarily a hub for botanical research, the gardens welcome the public to explore their diverse landscapes. This tranquil oasis provides an ideal pitstop on your way into the city center, allowing you to escape amidst lush greenery.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

For art enthusiasts, The Fitzwilliam Museum is a treasure trove. It boasts one of Cambridge’s most extensive public art collections, housing over half a million works of art and historical artefacts. The museum also hosts a series of captivating exhibitions throughout the year. Acquired from Peterhouse in 1821, the museum opened its doors to the public in 1848 and offers free admission.



Local Recommendations for your Day Trip to Cambridge


Mill Road

A leisurely stroll down Mill Road is a delightful recommendation. Stretching for a mile, Mill Road exudes an eclectic charm with its array of charity shops, independent restaurants, and boutiques. Here, you’ll find a unique shopping and dining experience, as the only ‘chains’ are the two Co-ops and a Sainsbury’s. Mill Road is always bustling with people of all ages coming to savor its wonders.

For dinner, consider Fancett’s or Bedouin, both offering delectable options to satisfy your taste buds.

Evening Drinks

Cambridge, being a vibrant student town, boasts numerous options for evening drinks. Cafe Foy, nestled on the quayside, provides a relaxing ambiance with views of the Magdalene Bridge and punting boats along the River Cam. Alternatively, for a more panoramic setting, head to Varsity with its rooftop bar offering stunning vistas of Cambridge city.

Cafe's at Quayside, Cafe Foy, Independent Cafe/Bar Cambridge, Cambridge food and drink

View Points

Capture the essence of Cambridge from high vantage points. Ascend Great St Mary’s Church, explore the sixth floor of the Varsity Hotel, or venture to the top of Castle Hill for the city’s best photography spots. Witness a panoramic view of our historic city, where its beauty unfolds below.

st marys, st marys church, cambridge, cambridgeshire, market, city center, visit cambridge, st. marys church cambridge, university

Additional Points of Interest in Cambridge


While the above-mentioned activities and recommendations make for a fantastic day trip to Cambridge, there are more points of interest to explore:

  • Cambridge University Colleges: Beyond King’s College Chapel, Cambridge is home to numerous stunning college campuses. Take a walk around these historic institutions to soak in their architectural beauty.
  • Fitzbillies: Don’t miss out on trying the famous Chelsea buns at Fitzbillies, a historic bakery in Cambridge.
  • Grantchester Meadows: A short walk or bike ride from the city center, Grantchester Meadows offers a peaceful escape into the English countryside.
  • Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: Explore the fascinating collections at this museum, which offers insights into human history and culture.
  • Kettle’s Yard: An art gallery and house that once belonged to collector Jim Ede, Kettle’s Yard features contemporary and modern art.
  • Wren Library: Located at Trinity College, the Wren Library houses a remarkable collection of rare books and manuscripts.


A day trip to Cambridge promises an enriching experience filled with history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re punting along the River Cam, marveling at the architectural wonders, or savoring local cuisine, Cambridge offers something for every traveler. Discover the heart of this remarkable city, and let the Traditional Punting Company enhance your Cambridge experience. For more insights on punting in Cambridge, don’t forget to check out our ultimate punting guide. Plan your visit to Cambridge today and immerse yourself in the magic of this extraordinary city.

Posted on December 1st, 2022, by the Traditional Punting Company Editor