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8 best things to do in Cambridge

by Marina Fiorenti
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Bridge of Sights, Cambridge

Cambridge, located around 88 miles away from London, is the capital city of the county of Cambridgeshire. It is renowned for its university ambience and the popular rowing races that take place on the River Cam. In this article, you will get to explore some of the must-see attractions and activities during your visit to this picturesque city.


The punt is a traditional flat-bottomed boat that is navigated with a pole and used to travel on small waterways. Originally used for carrying cargo, it is now mainly used for leisurely river trips and has become an iconic image of places like Cambridge and Oxford.

You can decide to rent a boat and navigate it on your own, but I would not advise doing so without some practice as it is not as simple as it seems. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the various associations, often made up of former students, that organize river tours. However, when the weather is good, the River Cam can become quite crowded!

Punting boats, Cambridge
Punting boats, Cambridge

Cambridge Museums

There are over 30 museums in the city of Cambridge, most of which are affiliated with the University of Cambridge. Some of these museums offer free admission. To plan your visit, you can refer to the Cambridge Museums website for more information. Below is just a glimpse of what you can expect to see:

  • The Fitzwilliam Museum is the most important museum in Cambridge, as it houses over half a million objects, with an amazing variety of beautiful artefacts and art from all around the world
  • Cambridge University Botanic Garden is a treasure trove of over 8,000 plant species, including nine National Collections and a wonderful arboretum
  • Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collects two million years of human history, one million artefacts and countless amazing stories
  • Museum of Classical Archaeology is dedicated to the gods and heroes of classical era and showcase one of the largest surviving collections of plaster casts of Greek and Roman statues in the world
  • Kettle’s Yard is set in a beautiful and unique house and it’s the University of Cambridge’s modern and contemporary art gallery
  • The Polar Museum explains exploration, science and survival at the extreme ends of the Earth
  • Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the University’s oldest museum and illustrates the evolution of life in the oceans, on land and in the air, through thousands of fossils of animals and plants
  • Whipple Museum of the History of Science presents a vast array of scientific instruments dating from the Middle Ages to the present day
  • Museum of Zoology displays the diversity of animal life and tells stories of extinction, survival, evolution and exploration. 

Wander around the Markets

The Central Square Farmers Market is known for its liveliness and popularity among visitors. It offers a wide array of stalls that are open every day, and many of them offer delicious international cuisine for a quick and satisfying meal. On Saturdays, the All Saints Garden hosts a charming small craft market that is definitely worth a visit.

Tour of the old Colleges

Cambridge is a city that houses 31 colleges and universities, where students both reside and study. Peterhouse is the oldest college in the University of Cambridge, established in 1284 by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely. Peterhouse is also the smallest college in Cambridge, with a student body comprising just 270 undergraduates, 125 graduate students, and 45 fellows.

There are some colleges in Cambridge, such as King’s College, Queen’s College, Clare College, Trinity College, and St. John’s College that can be visited for a fee. On the other hand, some colleges such as Pembroke College and Downing College are open for free, and you can peep inside to admire their courtyards and beautiful lawns.

King's College Cambridge
King’s College Cambridge

Attending the Mass in the chapels of the historic colleges

One way to get a better look at colleges is to attend the Sunday services that take place in their chapels. The most well-known of these colleges is King’s College, whose choir is famous all over the world. In fact, since 1928, the BBC has been broadcasting its Christmas carol concert live on Christmas Eve.

Walking along the Backs

The Backs is a sprawling green space located along the riverbank in the western part of Cambridge. The name “The Backs” is derived from the fact that it provides a view of the rear facades of several colleges and two of the city’s most well-known bridges: the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge.

Christ's College Cambridge
Christ’s College Cambridge

Visit Imperial War Museum Duxford

The Imperial War Museum’s Duxford branch is situated approximately 8 miles outside Cambridge but is certainly worth the journey from the city. Duxford, a former RAF airfield, played a vital role in the defence of Britain during the Battle of Britain. Today, the hangars, some of which date back to WWII, house one of the world’s most significant aviation museums, showcasing everything from the biplanes used in WWI to the modern Concorde and Tornado. For more information, you can read about visiting Imperial War Museum Duxford (IWM Duxford).

As you can see, Cambridge and its surroundings offer many things to do. In the comments below, let me know your favorite activity in Cambridge.

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