Although it's arguably most famous for its renowned university, there's certainly more to see and do in Cambridge beyond the college gates. The city boasts some of the UK's most beautiful architecture and scenery, as well as a host of fantastic restaurants, attractions and hidden gems. Here's our guide to the best things to see and do, plus some secrets on where the locals like to frequent. If you're looking for inspiration for your next romantic weekend away or city break with friends, we've got you covered.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
If you're looking to explore art galleries or museums, The Fitzwilliam Museum is worth a visit. It houses fantastic collections of works of art and antiquities spanning centuries and civilisations. The museum hosts everything from amour to sculptures and a world-class collection of paintings. They regularly hold events for children, such as storytelling sessions where kids can experience history come to life. The museum also has a wonderful gift shop and cafe all in the centre of Cambridge.
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has a wonderful collection of artefacts. With a whole gallery devoted to British archaeology and the archaeology of Cambridge and the surrounding area. The only display of its kind in the city with 1,200 objects found in and around the city, dating from prehistoric, Roman and medieval times. the Museum’s principal Anthropology collection, displaying culturally significant art and material culture from around the world. Here you will find objects from the Pacific voyages of Captain Cook and great works of African, Asian, and native American sculpture. A fantastic and educational day out.
Take a stroll through the University's Botanical Gardens
Parallel to the train station and just down the road from the cities best shops and restaurants lies the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, 40 acres of beautiful greenery with plants from all over the world. An inspiration for gardeners, scientists and students alike, an exciting introduction to the natural world for families and is a perfect picnic spot.
Enjoy a punting tour on the River Cam
If you want to see the sights of the city from the best seats possible, why not try a punting tour? Boats depart every 15 minutes and tours tend to last just under an hour. You can either have a guided tour by a knowledgable chaffeur and sit back and relax while you gently glide past magnificent buildings and ornate bridges, steeped in history and heritage... or for a fun alternative, grab a group of friends and do it yourself (provided you’ve got the arm strength)! Boats can be a little pricey and there are lots of different companies offering the service so shop around a bit to find the best deal.
Enjoy an evening at one of Cambridge's music venues
If you are curious about Cambridge’s music scene then Cambridge Junction is the place to go. An arts venue with an eclectic programme of live music, club events, comedy, theatre, dance and live art all year round, there is something for everyone. In the city centre, you'll find the Cambridge Corn Exchange, one of the UK's popular music and arts venue, hosting some of the worlds best known artists, with everything from indie and rock, to folk music and eighties bands.
Take an educational stroll on a college walking tour
Cambridge has something to interest everyone, and its beautiful colleges are something to be taken advantage of, offering a fantastic insight into the history and daily running of the University. Those interested in architecture will be able to explore 1000 years of some the finest buildings in the UK, whilst science lovers can learn about Cambridge alumni such as Issac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking. The colourful characters and student pranks can also be brought to life along with the famous poets and writers such as Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge and AA Milne. Private tours are available in one hour, and two-hour sessions depending on the time you have available and cover a fantastic breadth of history and fascinating stories.
A Cambridge college
A little known fact is that some Cambridge colleges open up their doors to the public to offer bed and breakfast style accommodation outside of term time. So, if you're looking for a truly unique experience when visiting Cambridge, consider staying in a Cambridge college for the night. Not only is it a budget-friendly alternative to a hotel or hostel, they're centrally-located with easy links to transport. Rated highly by over 20,000 of our customers, you can book a Cambridge college via our sister company, UniversityRooms.
To Eat and Drink
The local favourite
Adored by local residents and students, Fitzbillies is a must-visit to anyone in Cambridge. Part of Cambridge since 1920 and famous for its Chelsea buns, Fitzbillies offers light bites, brunch, cakes and afternoon tea seven days a week. The original site on Trumpington Street includes a cake shop and separate coffee bar, but its smaller offering on Bridge Street shouldn't be dismissed either.
The pub with impressive history
Enjoy a pint at The Eagle, the drinking and thinking hub where Watson and Crick announced they'd discovered 'the secret to life' (otherwise known as the formula for DNA). It's also home to the RAF bar with graffiti from World War II airmen covering the ceiling and wall. Aside from this, it’s also a good spot for a drink and some good conversation.
The cocktail bar
If you are heading out on the town start your night by Grabbing a cocktail at Novi, a cocktail bar and kitchen set across three storeys of an airy 1930s pub. Cambridge’s best kept secret, the bar offers a bespoke cocktail menu which changes seasonally and is guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds.