england, cambridge, travel

The best things to do on a short break in Cambridge.

Since moving to the city from a small town a few miles away over ten years ago I felt incredibly lucky to call this historic and picturesque city my home. I love a morning walk down by the river, surrounded by some of the most stunning architecture in the UK.

Cambridge is a beautiful city, famous the world over for its university, of which there are 31. Its rich history dates back about 800 years. It’s home to the famous Choir of kings college, trinity college which was founded by Henry VIII, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and much more.

The city has excellent network links to London, with trains departing every 10-15 minutes and taking just 45 nonstop into the centre of London. (Another reason I love living here).

So if you are thinking of booking a trip to spend a few days in Cambridge (highly recommend) or you fancy a day trip then here are a few things I recommend you see and do whilst you’re here.

Punting on the River Cam

A favourite for me and my friends whenever they come up and visit, and you really must try it. Not only for the beautiful scenery along the way but for the giggles while you try and master the punt (although you can get a boat with a chauffeur).

It’s a great way to see lots of the sights as the river Cam passes directly through the heart of some of the university grounds. Takes a few drinks and snacks along with you and laughs your way along the river as you and your friends take control of the punt. But for a more relaxing and educational ride, hire a chauffeured punt from one of many tour companies along the river.

Self-hire punts range from between £20-£30 per hour, and a chauffeured punt will cost you £10-£12 per adult.

For the best punting tours and prices click here.

Visit Kings College

Kings College is famous the world over and is Cambridge’s most famous landmark. Its world-famous choir can be seen performing live on the BBC every Christmas Eve for the Carols from King’s performance. Its beautiful architecture and its historical importance make it a must-visit while you are here in Cambridge especially if you love architecture and history.

The chapel which took over 100 years to build, and finished under the rule of King Henry VIII, is the oldest building within kings college and has the world’s highest fan vaulted ceiling. It’s also home to one of the most valuable collections of stained glass windows.

A lovely view of the chapel can be seen whether your strolling along Kings Parade or walk along the backs (the gardens and backs of the colleges) by the river. This is one of my favourite places to sit and chill out and watch the world go by on a nice sunny day in the city.

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Great St Mary’s Church

This is one of the best places to come just for the spectacular views of the city, most notably Kings Chapel. Even if churches don’t interest you, the view will. The church is Situated between Kings Parade and the market square. It’s well worth a climb to the top to get some sensational panoramic photos of the city.

Grab a coffee and cake at Fitzbillies

My favourite place to come for a coffee and a sweet treat. If you love a Chelsea bun you are in for a treat here. This famous Cambridge bakery has been making sticky buns since 1920 and these syrupy buns are the best I’ve tasted. There are 2 bakeries in the city, one is located in gorgeous surroundings near the grounds of Pembroke College and Little St Mary’s church and the other is down near the river near St Johns College. You simply must visit on your trip to Cambridge.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Founded in 1816 by Richard Fitzwilliam, the Museum is home to over half a million pieces of art, from paintings to historical artefacts, including some rare coins and ancient Egyptian coffins. See some of the finest paintings dating from the 13th to the 21st century, sculptures, photographs and much more.
The museum is one of the most iconic buildings in the city of Cambridge and it’s a great place to bring children.
Entry is always free so don’t worry too much about not seeing everything in one day.

Botanical gardens

The Cambridge university botanical gardens is a beautiful and calming place to come to while you’re visiting the city. There are over 8000 species of plants from all over the world in this 16-hectare site. Originally used to grow plants to be used in teaching medical students at the university in the mid-17th century.
Have a picnic on the grass, get involved in some of the activities and visit the garden cafe.

The Botanical Gardens are a great place to spend a few hours with the whole family. The gardens are open every day except for the week between 24 December and 1st January.

Ticket prices are £5.50 per adult and free for children and under 16s.

Trinity College

Trinity College was founded by King Henry VIII in 1546 and is the richest of the Cambridge Universities, with assets said to be worth nearly £1.5 billion. It’s also one of Cambridge’s most picturesque buildings with its sheer beauty and size attracting visitors from all over the world.
Come and view the Tudor-Gothic style chapel, the clock tower and the famous statue of Henry VIII holding a chair leg that stands just above the entrance.

The wren library here was designed by Sir Christopher Wrenn, the same famous English architect who designed St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

For all visiting times including the Wren Library and ticket prices check here.

For a walking tour with a Cambridge University graduate click here.

The Ivy

Visit the Ivy for a range of food and drink options, from a delicious breakfast to evening meals, and a fantastic bar offering awesome cocktails made by enthusiastic bar staff. The thing I like about the Ivy is that the menu offers something for everyone but that doesn’t take away the stylish dining experience. Highly recommended.

Audley End House and Gardens

If you’re staying in and around Cambridge for a few days then jump on a train towards London Liverpool Street and get off at Audley End, this is a 20-minute ride on the train and the 4th stop from Cambridge.

A 5-minute taxi ride from the station will take you to Audley End house and gardens and the miniature railway. A large 17th-century country house, and one of the finest Jacobean houses in England.

Have a walk around the inside of the house and discover what a house might of been like in Victorian times. After walking around the house, check out the huge colourful gardens and enjoy some refreshments at the cafe.

Across the road from the main house are the Audley End miniature railway and the enchanted fairy and elf walk. A wonderful experience for all the family. Ride through the forest and the beautiful Audley End estate on board one of the mini steam or diesel trains. This is particularly magical during the Easter and Christmas seasons when there is a theme and you get the chance to meet the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas. But during these times advanced booking is essential.

Audley End House and Gardens
Audley End miniature railway

So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed reading my post on finding some of the best things to do on a short break in Cambridge, and I really hope you enjoy this wonderfully historic city.

Find your perfect hotel in Cambridge by clicking here.

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