I have a proper soft spot for Cambridge and not just because it used to be home or even because Yaya studied there. One of the best parts about living in a city as incredible as Cambridge (and knowing someone with a student card) is that you have direct access to some of the best things to do in Cambridge.
Which, let’s be honest, is a win in itself.
Now, Cambridge is special for a lot of reasons but what I feel makes this English city truly incredible is its long, rich history and incredible buildings all across the city.
They are absolutely awe-inspiring to see and visit in Cambridge.
From the gorgeous King’s College Chapel to the many student halls in the various colleges and even just the regular old admin buildings, it’s sometimes hard to believe that such a beautiful piece of British history is used as an everyday facility by the city’s residents.
Someone’s room is that one high up in the turrets of Gonville and Caius, those grand dining halls serve students dinner, lunch and breakfast every day,and student bars are located within grand Gothic buildings.
The list just goes on and on!
Then there’s the opportunity to go punting (in my opinion, one of the laziest and best ways to see parts of the city you’d miss out on foot) and how close the city is to London.
This all makes it one of a handful of epic day trips from London. Though I’d suggest you stay for longer than just one day.
When you do decide to visit (and you really should) here are some of the best things to do in Cambridge.
1.) Pop inside King’s College Chapel
I never get bored of seeing King’s College Chapel and it’s rare that I use awe-inspiring in the literal sense, but this place is!
Book these tickets for a University of Cambridge college tour, with the option of including King’s College Chapel. It’s so worth it, and all these tours are run by alumni, too.
Just be sure to book this Kings College tour in advance – places fill up fast during peak times.
Pop inside and see the largest fan-vault ceiling in the world, explore the Rood Screen that was a gift from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn which is still considered some of the best Italian wooden carvings that still survive in the UK.
When you’re here, be sure to look at the stone flowers that adorn the walls inside. Underneath a few, you’ll find a few hidden stone animals that were carved by the stonemasons (look up for those).
Possibly the most famous site in Cambridge, King’s College Chapel is a place you can’t miss out on.
Like, seriously, even if you just have only 1 hour to spend in Cambridge – this is the place you’ll want to visit first.
2.) Go Punting
Splitting the city in two is the River Cam, which passes by some of the prettiest areas of the city like the city’s own water highway. Best of all, you can pop secure a spot on a punt and explore the city.
Over the years, punting has become a proper institution and a great way to see inside some of the colleges right from the river itself.
Before you arrive in Cambridge, book this epic punting tour of the city. Best of all, you will have a guide on board, talking you through all the highlights of Cambridge.
Just be sure to book this punt tour at least a few days in advance, this way, you’ll get the time you want – without any of the faffs or organising on the day,
Grab yourself a hot chocolate (or bubbles in summer) and relax whilst exploring the city.
3.) See the Mathematical Bridge
Fondly known as the Mathematical Bridge (the official name is the Wooden Bridge), this bridge is possibly one of the most famous wooden bridges in Southern England.
Due to its sophisticated design, it’s often thought that the bridge uses no nuts and bolts in its design or structure but it’s a common myth which is actually untrue but has somehow spread far and wide.
4.) Bruch at Fitzbilies
Fitzbillies is one of my favourite spots for brunch. Hop over to Fitzbilies, grab yourself one of their epic ‘Full Fitzbillies’ and gorge on some of their homemade cakes.
You won’t be disappointed and it really is one of the best things to do in Cambridge… for brunch, anyway!
Fitzbillies is based on Bridge Street or their Trumpington St joint.
5.) See St. John’s College
One of the largest and oldest colleges in Cambridge, St John’s is a great place to go. Now, although Trinity College is Cambridge’s ‘Royal’ college, St John’s Cambridge’s wealthiest college – evidence of which is showcased, not just in the general appearance of the college (or in the meals the students get to eat) but in it’s annual May Ball which makes the news round year after year as one of the best parties in Britain.
With over 500 years of history, St John’s College truly is an amazing place to see in Cambridge.
6.) Spot the Corpus Clock
Make sure to visit the Corpus Clock for a fleeting visit. Now, it’s unlikely you’ll spend hours here (most likely, a few minutes in fact) but it’s well worth a little gander at.
Situated on the corner of Benet Street and Trumpington Street, it was built and paid for by inventor and alumni, John Taylor.
If you want to make sure you’re not missing any of the best places in Cambridge, book this incredible guided walking tour that shares so much history.
The guides really know their stuff and it’s such an easy way to see Cambridge.
7.) Market Square
After strolling around the cobbled street, make sure to pop over to Market Square with its independent traders and craft stalls.
It’s a great place to grab a tasty pastry or cake. All made locally, of course.
8.) See the View from Great St Mary’s Church
Great St Mary’s Chruch is, in my opinion, the best (publicly accessible) viewpoint in all of Cambridge.
Head inside, see the church and take a look at the gorgeous building. Afterwards, buy a ticket to the top of the tower (with a payment of a small fee) and climb the stairs to the top.
Be warned, we climbed the stone tower when the bells were ringing and the whole tower was shaking as the bells went off (not crazily so but enough that you could feel it).
Once you’re at the top, enjoy some of the best views over Cambridge from a rather unique perspective.
9.) See the Bridge of Sighs
Built-in the earlier parts of the 19th Century, the Bridge of Sighs is a stunning bridge to see. Apparently, the bridge itself was Queen Victoria’s favourite spot in Cambridge and it’s easy to see why.
One of the best ways to see the bridge is whilst you’re punting as you’ll be able to go right under it.
11.) Find Christ’s College
Built-in the 15th Century, Christ’s College is one stunning place to see. It’s one of the more central colleges so is fairly easy to get to no matter where you are in town. When you’re here, make sure to see the Great Gate on St. Andrew’s Street.
Random Sidebar for the Science enthusiasts: Christ’s College is where Charles Darwin studied.
12.) Wander by Corpus Christi College
Possibly one of the prettiest colleges in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College is another stunning college you have to see.
I probably should have noted this college a lot further up on this list as it makes sense to pop into the college after you’ve seen the Corpus Christi clock…
…and perhaps before or even after you’ve been to Fitzbillies for brunch.
13.) See a piece of history at the Wren Library
Although a University Library, the Wren Library is open to the public every weekday between 12-2 pm.
Pop inside and see Sir Isaac Newton’s walking stick, AA Milne’s Winne the Pooh and even a lock of Newton’s hair.
14.) Go inside the Round Church
Technically called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and although dwarfed in comparison by the likes of St John’s Chapel, Kings College Chapel and the likes, the Round Church is a lovely little church worth popping into when you’re in Cambridge.
Sidebar: *The church is also next to a really cute sweet shop so, you know, if you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth, you’re in the right neighbourhood.
15.) Devour all the ribs at Smokeworks
If you’re game for a slap-up meal of BBQ ribs, chicken wings and all things ‘Southern‘ (… Southern America, that is), pop over to Smokeworks.
These guys make some of the best ribs in all of Cambridge so when you arrive, be prepared to get your hands messy and get stuck right in! Oh, and don’t forget to try their spicy fries!
Smokeworks is based on Station Road (and on Free School Lane) and is one of the best things to do in Cambridge as you make your way back to the train station once you’ve worked up an appetite.
16.) Relax with a cocktail at NOVI
After a long day of exploring, pop into NOVI which makes one of the best espresso-Martinis in the city. You deserve it after a long day exploring the city (that’s my excuse anyway).