no alt text

Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 03 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Steeped in learning, with elegant college buildings overlooking the tranquil river Cam, Cambridge is a delightful city, with all of the history but considerably less of the crowds that flock to Oxford. It’s a thoroughly walkable place, with aged pubs seemingly on every corner and leafy green riverbanks that are perfect for picnics.

Pre-bookable tours give a chance to explore the city’s iconic University colleges – Churchill College has a wonderful sculpture garden, with works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The Fitzwilliam and Kettle’s Yard are two world-class museums, but a weekend in Cambridge doesn’t all have to be about culture – there’s great shopping potential and some seriously upscale restaurants too.

For a break from the bustle, stroll along the banks of the River Cam, or hire a punt for the quinessential Cambridge experience.

Orientation

Central Cambridge – flanked by the river Cam to the west and the green spaces of Parker’s Piece and Midsummer Common to the right – is easily walkable, with colleges dotted along St John’s Street and Sydney Street, and a pedestrianised shopping centre that has all the familiar names.

Most of the hotels are in the area, so there’s little need to stray further afield.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Fitzwilliam Museum

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A world-class collection of art and architecture, ranging from illuminated manuscripts to sculptures from Ancient Greece.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Cambridge University Colleges

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom (UK)

One of the world’s most illustrious universities, Cambridge consists of 31 magnificent colleges rich in history, architecture and stories, most open to the public.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

View of the River Cam and the Bridge of Sighs
Experience

Bridge of Sighs

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Queen Victoria was said to have loved this elegant, covered bridge more than any other spot in the city. Straddling the Cam between the Third and New Courts at St. John’s College, it dates back to 1831.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
View of St. Mary's Church on a clear day in Cambridge
Experience

Climb St. Mary’s Church Tower

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Climb the 123 steps to the top of St. Mary’s Tower for lovely, 360-degree views of the city’s rooftops, and to see the unique architecture of the colleges from above.

Best for ages: 6+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
small plane landing on an open grass space in front of crowds
Experience

Duxford Air Show

Duxford, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A unique chance to see historic planes flying in formation, the world-famous Red Arrows stunt team, and the spectacular Typhoon hurtling through the sky, with exhibits and aviation-themed stands on the ground. 

Best for ages: 4+ | £25 | 4 hours

Website >
Overview >
Interior of historic pub in Cambridge
Experience

Eagle Pub

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom (UK)

The second-oldest pub in the city, dating back to 1684, is famous for its RAF bar, where the ceiling still shows the signatures and doodles of Allied airmen, who drank at the bar between missions.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

Website >
Overview >

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Cambridge Highlights Walking Tour by Cantab Tours

Cambridge Highlights Walking Tour by Cantab Tours

Cambridge

See the best of Cambridge on a 90-minute Cambridge Highlights Tour with Cantab Tours! Fully qualified guides will ensure that you have an en...

£20 | Rating 4.88 / 5 [63 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Cambridge Walking Tour

Cambridge Walking Tour

Cambridge

Our walking tour takes in some of the famous colleges and historic sights of the city as you meander down quaint alleyways and tread the cob...

£22 | Rating 4.91 / 5 [139 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Cambridge's History & Secrets with Self-Guided Walking Tours

Cambridge's History & Secrets with Self-Guided Walking Tours

Cambridge

Join a local historian as we uncover the history of Cambridge and its most famous residents! Our first audio tour will give you an introduct...

£25 | Rating 4.62 / 5 [8 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Curious Cambridge - Cambridge's Most Entertaining History Tour

Curious Cambridge - Cambridge's Most Entertaining History Tour

Cambridge

Hear the whole story of Cambridge. From rank Romans, through scary Saxons, vile Vikings and nasty Normans, the ‘Cam-bridge’ was at the centr...

£18 | Rating 4.72 / 5 [44 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Duke House

Cambridge , Cambridgeshire , United Kingdom (UK)

Elegant rooms, a convenient central location and a warm personal welcome make this lovely Victorian house the best B&B in town. 

Official star rating:

Varsity Hotel & Spa

Cambridge , Cambridgeshire , United Kingdom (UK)

A buzzy riverside bolthole, with two of Cambridge’s most popular restaurants and an Elemis spa in a cleverly-converted warehouse. 

Official star rating:

University Arms

Cambridge , Cambridgeshire , United Kingdom (UK)

A re-imagined Victorian hotel, with one of the city’s best restaurants and elegant rooms with a Modern British design.

Official star rating:

Hotel du Vin Cambridge

Cambridge , Cambridgeshire , United Kingdom (UK)

A beautifully converted former university building, serving up Hotel du Vin’s classic brand of hedonistic charm, with a buzzing bistro and predictably excellent wine cellar. 

Official star rating:

When to go

During University term time (generally October to May), the city buzzes with a lively student-fuelled atmosphere. If you’re coming to walk around and punt the river Cam, spring is the best time to go – May is particularly lovely and there tend to be fewer tourists.

Winter is far quieter – better for visiting the art museums and discovering Cambridge’s beautiful architecture. July to August are best for weather, but the city gets horribly crowded with tourists.

Getting there and away

Cambridge is approximately 1.5 hours by car from London. Trains from King’s Cross station take just under an hour. Cambridge station is a 20-minute walk from the centre, but there are always plenty of taxis available..

London Stansted is about 30 minutes by car, Luton around 45 minutes. Cambridge Airport, for private planes, is a few minutes’ drive from the centre.

Getting around

Cambridge is an eminently walkable city, and strolling through the historic streets and lanes is the best way to get between the major sights.