A Day Trip to Cambridge | TRAVEL GUIDE

Punting in front of King's College, Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the most charming and quintessentially British places you can visit. Set on the banks of the River Cam, this picturesque historic city has it all: cobbled labyrinthine streets, honey-coloured buildings and old bridges, quirky shops and boutiques, along with an infinite number of pubs and coffee houses. Not to mention a total of 31 colleges that make up the world-renowned university and its very own gondola-like experience – punting!

Founded in 1209 by a group of scholars from the University of Oxford who settled in Cambridge after a dispute with Oxford’s townspeople,  the University of Cambridge is considered one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world and is the second oldest University in the UK after Oxford. After exploring Oxford on a day trip last year, we couldn’t resist checking the other half of the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry – this time, with the help and recommendations of our friends acting as our own private local guides.

Punting in Cambridge

Clare College through the trees

The University of Cambridge Colleges 

Cambridge is a traditional, yet cosmopolitan small city that can can easily be visited on a day trip. Head over to the busy historic centre, constantly filled with students and tourists from all over the world, and let yourself soak in the magic behind every corner of this notable University City. Taking a stroll around the cobblestone alleys and visiting at least one of the 31 world famous colleges is a must. You will usually be charged to enter; however, you can get in for free if you are with a student of any of the colleges, like we did!

Clare College, University of Cambridge

Christ's College, University of Cambridge

With magnificent college gardens and bridges crossing over the River Cam, the elegant honey-coloured stone buildings look frozen in time with a somewhat Hogwarts vibe. Gothic chapels, wooden doors, candlelit halls and corridors and paintings covering the walls…and the fact that students actually live here! Famous actors, Nobel Prize winners, politicians, PMs, scientists, philosophers, medics, literature intellectuals…they have all walked along these corridors. Imagine living door to door with the likes of Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough, Rowan Atkinson, Ian McKellen or Jimmy Carr?

Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Clare College Great Hall, University of Cambridge

St Catharine's College, University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge, The Old Schools - Cambridge

King’s College and King’s College Chapel

Ok, now that I’ve got your attention, the big question is – which colleges do you visit?

From the oldest of the colleges, Peterhouse, founded 1284, to the most modern, Robinson, founded in 1977, the 31 colleges of the University of Cambridge include Clare, Trinity, Magdalene, St Catharine’s, Christ’s, Darwin and of course King’s. Founded by Henry VI in 1441, King’s College is perhaps the most famous and impressive of them all, and the King’s College Chapel is one of the clearest examples of English Gothic architecture. With spectacular medieval stained glass windows and what’s the largest fan vaulted ceiling in the world, King’s College Chapel took over a century to complete and is now home to daily religious celebrations and service on Christmas Eve. Fun tip: look out for the cows grazing in the college grounds!

King's College Chapel behind Clare College, Cambridge

King's College Chapel stained glass window

King's College Chapel, Cambridge

King's College, Cambridge - University of Cambridge

Punting on the River Cam

No visit to Cambridge is complete without punting. The British variant of the Venetian gondola offers a completely different perspective of the city from the River Cam. You can hop on one of the many guided punt tours available throughout the day, where an experienced punter (a traditional job done by many of the university students) will tell you everything you need to know about Cambridge’s history, colleges and streets as you pass by them through the slow-moving river. If you’re feeling brave enough, you can rent a punt for yourself and friends. Grab a pole and ride up and down the river like we did – I have to admit Sam and Alex behaved like professional punters and did a fantastic job here!

For the fearless ones, know that punting practice is much better near Darwin College as it is less busy. The whole thing can get quite hectic near King’s, Clare and Trinity and you are risking getting caught in a boat traffic jam or hitting your head on one of the many bridges!

Punting on the River Cam, Cambridge

Punting along the River Cam, Cambridge

View of King's College Cambridge from the River Cam

Cambridge Bridges and Boathouses 

Speaking of bridges, there are currently 25 bridges in Cambridge (one in the making)! The Mathematical Bridge, Bridge of Sighs, Garret Hostel Bridge (aka Orgasm Bridge, *wink wink*) and Clare Bridge are perhaps the most famous. Clare College Bridge is also the oldest of the current bridges and sports a missing piece on one of its globes. Legend says that the missing segment was removed by the builder of the bridge after he was offered less money than what was initially agreed; others say it was a way of avoiding the tax that was applied to complete bridges. Which one do you think is correct? I like to think it’s the first one, but avoiding tax sounds like a thing that would probably happen more often lol.

Clare bridge over the River Cam, Cambridge

Clare College bridge

Cambridge is well known for being home to the most successful and prestigious rowing clubs in the UK. The annual Boat Race on the River Thames between the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club is a great example it. Each college has a boathouse along the River Cam, with the better rowing colleges being closer to the city centre. The best rowers of each college would then be selected to be part of the Cambridge University Boat Club, whose boathouse is also located along the river banks.

Cambridge University Boat Club

Some other things to do in Cambridge

  • Check out the Corpus Clock outside the Taylor Library at the Corpus Christi College – Inaugurated in September 2008 by physicist Stephen Hawking and named one of the best inventions by Time Magazine, it features a grasshopper-like creature on top of moving golden disc. It only marks the correct time every 5 minutes, reflecting the irregularity of life.
  • Listen to the busker in a bin – between King’s College and St Catharine’s College, playing his guitar from this unusual place to the amusement of passer-byes.
  • Try Fitzbillies’ Chelsea Buns – delicious!
  • See the 21 metre long Fin Whale skeleton in the Museum of Zoology.
  • Go for a swim at Jesus Green Lido – a narrow (14m) but very long (91m) open air swimming pool.
  • Explore the Cambridge Market – a great place to get cheese, bread, fruit and pretty much everything you need for a picnic in a punt or at one of the many college gardens!
  • Get lost in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden – created by Charles Darwin’s mentor, Professor John Stevens Henslow.

Cambridge Market

Cambridge University Botanic Garden Greenhouse

Greenhouse in Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Flowers in Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Pond in Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Thistles in Cambridge University Botanic Garden

What do you think of our Cambridge Travel Guide? What’s your favourite thing about this iconic University city? If you really loved our post please leave us a comment and show us some love on social media using the buttons below 🙂

Grats.


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48 comments

  1. Megan

    As a Durham student I’m often surrounded by the anti-Oxford/Cambridge mentality, but your posts make them seem like beautiful cities. I should make the journey down one day!

    -pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com xo

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Both Oxford and Cambridge are incredibly beautiful, don’t miss the opportunity to visit! x

      Reply

  2. abbie

    Stunning post, your photos are lovely. I have only ever been to Cambridge once and you hit the nail on the head with quintessentially British Cambridge oozes it. The architecture is beautiful, I want to visit again soon and take my other half as he has never visited! Thankyou for sharing 🙂

    abbiejadewanders.co.uk

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Abbie 🙂 It’s a great place for a weekend escape and punting is so much fun! Definitely visit when you have the chance x

      Reply

  3. Lucy

    Loved the blog Gratsi! Which did you prefer, Oxford or Cambridge?

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Lucy! I love them both – I feel like we saw much more in Cambridge than Oxford, so we definitely need to get back and absorb more of the Oxford heritage x

      Reply

  4. Jane Palmen

    Great blog with lots of ideas of things to try! Handsome punters! Great photos!

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      I couldn’t be prouder of our punters! Thank you so much, Jane x

      Reply

  5. David

    A very interesting and informative article which should come in useful for our next visit to Cambridge, hopefully later this year. Excellent photos.

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you, David! Glad you liked it 🙂 x

      Reply

  6. Charlotte

    This is such a well written and detailed post. I’ve actually never been to Cambridge but it’s on my list of places to visit. Your photographs are stunning!

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you Charlotte! x

      Reply

  7. Elin

    Looks so beautiful 😀 I have myself never been but looking on your pictures it looks like I really need to go one day 😀

    Have a lovely day,
    Elin

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Elin, you definitely should visit! x

      Reply

  8. Lia

    Very detailed in depth guide of Cambridge. It’s amazing how university sites have such rich history and uphold the British culture. Beautiful images and nicely written!!

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Lia! x

      Reply

  9. Jane Frith

    I love Cambridge and you have captured it really well. I didn’t know that about Clare College bridge!

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Jane 🙂 It’s an interesting story, isn’t it? x

      Reply

  10. Ellie

    Cambridge has been on my summer bucket list of things/places I want to see this year! I went to Oxford, but haven’t made it here yet and this looks so beautiful! I feel like I’m going to have to go around the Bank Holiday! ♥

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Absolutely, I think that Cambridge is one of these places that are great for a quick weekend escape. It’s peaceful and there’s so much to see. Definitely a must x

      Reply

  11. Hilda

    This is a great post. I have never visited Cambridge, and to be honest it was never really on my list of places to go. Having read your post and seen your pictures, this has now changed and I can’t wait to arrange a visit.. It looks so serene.

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you Hilda, I am glad that this post has inspired you to visit Cambridge! It’s an incredibly beautiful place x

      Reply

  12. Melissa Kacar

    I’ve always wanted to go to Cambridge, it looks so beautiful! I love all of the photos you included, as well. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    melissakacar.blogspot.com

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Melissa, glad you liked it! x

      Reply

  13. Yasmin

    Beautiful post!! The pictures are stunning and I really liked the guide. I’ve visited Cambridge once but it was a flying visit, so this post has definitely given me some ideas for my next proper visit – thank you! x

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you so much, Yasmin x

      Reply

  14. Melis

    What a great post, so many useful tips! I haven’t been to Cambridge for about 15 years so definitely one to add to the list to revisit and I will be using your tips. Thanks!

    http://www.melisliving.com

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks so much for the sweet comment, Melis! x

      Reply

  15. Laura Jukonyte

    Your post really makes me want to go to Cambridge! I can’t believe I haven’t visited before, especially when I live like 20 mins away. It has to be ticked off my ‘places to visit’ list 🙂 Thank you for such an informative and well written post.

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Reading this makes me so happy, thank you! I couldn’t recommend Cambridge enough, it’s such a beautiful place x

      Reply

  16. Kaye

    Would love to try punting around Cambridge. The views looks beautiful and rich in culture. Great post.

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thanks Kaye x

      Reply

  17. Bryan G

    Would be amazing to be able and see Cambridge in person. Do feel a little smart just by proxy of your pictures 😉

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      It’s even better in person, trust me x

      Reply

  18. Dani

    Never been to Cambridge but actually looks like quite an interesting day out and worth the travel

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      It’s incredibly beautiful, trust me! x

      Reply

  19. DnT Travel

    This is great! We defo need to visit Cambridge

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you 🙂

      Reply

  20. Alexx

    I love Cambridge, not living far from it and my partner loving just outside the centre, I’m lucky enough to get to visit it almost every week. Even going to wedding with a boat ride this weekend.xx

    angelwingsandpetticoats.com

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Wedding with a boat ride sounds awesome! Thanks for the comment Alexx 🙂 x

      Reply

  21. Becca

    Such beautiful architecture! Cambridge isn’t too far from me, really, but I’ve never been! It looks lovely!

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      You need to visit Cambridge, go go GO! x

      Reply

  22. Rio

    Great photos. Cambridge looks so much like Oxford but we’ll have to check it out. The architecture is stunning!

    Rio | https://oppositetourists.com

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you! I love Cambridge so much, it’s incredibly picturesque! It has quickly become one of my favourite cities here in the UK 🙂 x

      Reply

  23. Soph

    I love this post! I go to Cambridge pretty often and love it but I learnt so many new things from this, I guess I’ve never really visited as a tourist so I’ll have to make time to!

    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Absolutely, Cambridge is lovely! x

      Reply

  24. Vada Leigh Green

    Great post! I love visiting Cambridge!

    Reply

    1. blushrougette

      Thank you 🙂 x

      Reply

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