If you know one thing about the city of Cambridge in England, that will probably be the fact that it is home to one of the most famous universities in the world. And sure enough, the University of Cambridge is quite a sight to behold, but it would be a mistake to spend your whole day on it. The city really has a lot to offer, and thanks to its university there is a very special vibe permeating its streets. Plan your visit to Cambridge with the help of this itinerary and you will discover an absolutely fascinating place with an incredibly captivating history. Enjoy!
When it comes to the weather, the best time to visit Cambridge is summer. The temperatures are warm, but usually not too hot, so you can enjoy your day out. Keep in mind that you will encounter typical British weather here, so rain is to be expected. Spring usually sees less rainfall, although this is, of course, accompanied by lower temperatures.
As for the events you can visit in Cambridge, Strawberry Fair is a festival dedicated to music and arts that is held on every first Saturday in June. Then there’s also the Big Weekend, with loads of musicians and games for everyone to enjoy. Cambridge Folk Festival is another big event around here, and all of the festivals mentioned here have a long and proud history, too. There are many other events throughout the year too, but even if you aren’t lucky enough to visit during one, you will still have an amazing time during your one day in Cambridge.
The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 and as such is the third-oldest university in the world – only Bologna and Oxford are older! There are approximately 24,500 students there, which means that approximately 20% of the city’s population (125,000) are students!
The city itself started out as a Roman settlement Duroliponte in the first century AD.
Cambridge is also home to what is today the most popular sport on Earth: the first game of football, also known as soccer in the US, was played right here in Cambridge! Not only that, but the rules created by the Cambridge University Football Club were adopted by the English Football Association and became the first official rules of the game.
Pink Floyd members Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and David Gilmour all come from Cambridge.
Obviously, the city is named after the River Cam that flows through it, but long ago, Cambridge was known as Grantabridge, and the Granta is actually a source of the Cam.
At the moment, the University of Cambridge has 121 Nobel Prize winners. More will follow in the years to come, you can be sure of that!
Isaac Newton developed his theory of gravity as a student of Cambridge.
More than one half of people living in the city use a bicycle as a mode of transport on a regular basis. You may want to rent one to blend in or just keep an eye out for cyclists if you decide to walk.
You are in Cambridge, one of the most famous university cities in the world! Given the city’s long history and the incredible impact its university has had on the whole world, you have a lot to see and explore during your one day here. Don’t worry; this itinerary has got you covered and you will be able to experience this amazing place in its full glory. Let’s get started!
If there’s one place you have to visit when exploring Cambridge University, it has to be King’s College. Founded by King Henry VI in 1441, this place has a long and glorious history, but it also looks stunning too, with the sprawling lawns and wonderful architecture surrounding it.
However, coming here and not visiting King’s College Chapel would be a huge mistake because this piece of architecture will take your breath away. The ceiling, the stained windows, the altar made by Ruben… the church is exquisite in every sense of the word and an absolute must when in town.
The next stop on your one day in Cambridge is, naturally, Queen’s College. Apart from being so very well preserved and beautiful, this college has quite a lot to offer if you’re the exploring type. The wonderful gateway, the Erasmus Tower, the Cloister Court and many other places like that will make time simply fly by.
But the biggest attraction of Queen’s College is the famous Mathematical Bridge. Built in the middle of the 18th century and thanks to the laws of geometry, the bridge looks curved although it was made completely out of straight wooden planks. It is quite a feat of engineering, so much so that there is a copy of the bridge in Oxford.
Just a bit south of Queens College stands Fitzwilliam Museum, a very respected institution within whose halls you have plenty to see. There are items here originating from all the most important ancient cultures such as Greece, Rome and even Egypt. But there are also works from some of the most illustrious artists inside, including the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt and others.
It’s worth mentioning that just east of the museum is Parker’s Piece, the venue of the very first official football match ever played, so if you’re a sports enthusiast, you might want to take a look. In any case, do make some time and visit the museum – it will be well worth it!
After all that walking, you may want to visit a more serene place where you can recharge your batteries a bit. Cambridge University Botanic Garden has been around for almost two centuries (since 1831) and has plants from literally all over the world.
You are free to roam around on your own as much as you want, and you will surely see some amazing things in the process, but it should be noted that there are free guided tours organized every Sunday. A wonderful place to visit on a sunny day.
You will probably be quite hungry by now, so it’s time to sit down and grab a bite to eat. And in a town as vibrant as this one, you have plenty of excellent choices. The Oak Bistro absolutely belongs to this category, and its charming walled garden adds so much to the whole experience. Of course, the food is excellent too, with plenty of British dishes available. Tu Casa Tapas Restaurant is a much more easy-going place where you can relax and enjoy this delicious Spanish finger food.
Little Petra might be a gem waiting to be discovered, though, and Jordanian food and drinks certainly sound like a very interesting lunch choice. But there are many other options around – steakhouses, Italian restaurants, Indian restaurants… plenty to choose from. So, do go and explore a bit; not only will you get to know the city a bit more, but you also might find an excellent eatery.
Once you’re done with your lunch, it’s time to burn those calories! For that, head to St. Mary’s church, an absolutely beautiful piece of architecture with an imposing tower. Yes, you can climb that tower, a feat that will reward you with an incredible view of the city.
However, what really makes the church stand out is its interior which is just jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially the galleries that were added in the 18th century. This is a real gem, no doubt about that, but don’t forget to visit Little St. Mary’s, either – it’s right next to its bigger sister and boasts some of the most beautiful stained windows you have ever seen.
Punting is extremely popular in the city, and for anyone who’s here to spend one day in Cambridge, it’s a fantastic way to see places that would otherwise probably stay hidden.
You simply hop on a punt and flow down the River Cam and just enjoy the scenery a bit. It may remind you of Venice and its gondolas a bit, but punting for pleasure started in Cambridge at the beginning of the 20th century. It’s a fantastic idea if you’re in town with your significant other, but larger groups can also easily fit on a punt and enjoy the ride. You can book the tour here.
After a day like this, you deserve to relax and unwind in the evening. Restaurant recommendations have already been mentioned (but you’d do well to explore on your own!), and you have plenty of options here for a delicious dinner, but what if you fancy a drink? 196 makes excellent cocktails, for example, while The Elm Tree is considered by many to be the best pub around, although The Free Press would certainly have something to say about that.
But if you really want to end your day in Cambridge in a memorable way, head to Cambridge Junction for a show! Music, theater, comedy and much more can be found there, and you will really have a great time no matter what you choose. It’s a whole new way to get to know the town.
Where to stay in Cambridge?
Gonville Place, Cambridge, CB1 1LY
When it comes to hotels in Cambridge, Gonville Hotel is at the very top. The interior is beautiful and luxurious, plus the rooms are fantastically equipped, with a range of free toiletries, coffee machines and plenty of other details that make your stay here nice and comfortable. A spa and a wellness center are also a part of the hotel’s offer, there’s car parking for the guests, pets are allowed, and you will be located just a few minutes’ walk away from the historic center. All in all, great location and a great stay!
The Fellows House Cambridge, Curio Collection by Hilton
33a Milton Road, Cambridge, CB41UZ
Apart from having a very British name, The Fellows House Cambridge has a whole lot of other things that will make your stay here quite pleasant. You can relax in the pool or in the sauna, sit down for a nice drink in the bar or munch on one of several breakfast options. The rooms are all very well equipped, and some even come with a whole kitchen! The interior is absolutely lovely and gives you a warm feeling of comfort, there is a garage under the hotel, and you can get to the city center in about 15 minutes. A hotel very much worth the price!
41 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AB
The Regent is an aparthotel that provides an excellent value to every guest, and its apartments’ modern take on the classic interior is bound to leave a very positive impression. You will find a kitchenette in each of them (with a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine!), and the building itself is a very charming Georgian building located right in the center of Cambridge. So, it’s ideal for sightseeing. Add to that the incredibly kind and helpful staff, and you get a place that is bound to help you feel welcome in this city.
Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AQ,
It wouldn’t be much of a student city without a hostel, now would it? Madingley Hall is an absolutely wonderful place to stay at because it’s surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens. Not only that, but we’re talking about a house from the 16th century here! It has a terrace bar, free parking, coffee and tea-making machines and plenty of other stuff to offer. And while you’re not in the city center here, the heart of Cambridge can be reached in 15 minutes by car.
While the city of Cambridge is quite beautiful in and of itself, it also provides several amazing opportunities to organize wonderful day trips. There’s something for everyone here, from old cities rich with cultural heritage and marvelous architecture to stunning nature where you can enjoy a day far away from the buzz of everyday life.
Norwich was an important city in the Middle Ages, and you will be able to see why when you visit it. A huge number of historical places have been incredibly well preserved, including Norwich Castle and Elm Hill, one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful street in the UK. A stroll through Norwich will take you back in time, and coming here is an amazing day trip from Cambridge to take.
If you’re looking for a destination where you can spend an active day out, Thetford Forest is just perfect. It’s a huge man-made forest that’s been declared a national forest by the government. You can hike, ride a bike or even go horseback riding, and the charming town of Thetford is also nearby whenever you need a break.
Woburn Safari Park
Approximately one hour from Cambridge is an amazing safari park. I bet you didn’t expect to find elephants, rhinos, lions and other animals like that in this part of the world! There’s a Road Safari and a Foot Safari you can take, and they both offer amazing opportunities to see some truly fascinating animals. Definitely a day trip you won’t soon forget!
This is the most obvious choice on the list, but if you’ve never visited it, spending one day in London is nothing short of magical. You can take a ride on the London Eye, walk along the Thames, see Big Ben, check out Westminster Abbey, visit numerous museums and so much more. And all that less than an hour and a half from Cambridge!
- As always when visiting England, be mindful of the weather and pack accordingly
- Many surrounding villages are connected to Cambridge via cycling paths, so you can enjoy a scenic bike ride and explore charming places at the same time.
- Thinking of coming to Cambridge by train? That could be a great choice because the railway station is very close to the city center and is well connected by buses to other parts of the city.
- If you’ve read the whole article up to this point, you know that a car isn’t a necessity around here. Still, if you have one with you, you’ll be happy to know that parking is extremely cheap – you can park for 1 GBP per hour!
- Since Cambridge is a university city, you might want to consider coming here when the students are on a break. There are few people in the city, and you can even get a student room as accommodation if you’re looking for something simple.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.