Cambridge Day Trip – The Perfect Itinerary
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Cambridge is iconic for several reasons, from punting down the canals to the colleges and vast historic buildings. The stunning city is the perfect place to get away, if only for the day. Cambridge makes a great day trip destination from nearby cities like London and Peterborough.
While Cambridge is small, it is mighty and still has plenty to offer anyone looking to visit; whether you are into history and architecture or simply just exploring a new city, there is something for you. We recently spent three days in Cambridge exploring what it had to offer, and we quickly realised it was somewhere we would come back to.
Since we enjoyed our trip so much, we decided to put together this helpful one-day itinerary to help you get around Cambridge and have time to take in all the top sights.
How To Get Around Cambridge
Cambridge is a great city to explore and perfect for a long weekend or even just a day trip due to the ease of getting around. Cambridge is packed full of things to see and do. While you might think this means you will have to spend all your time walking from place to place or even getting taxis between museums, you’re mistaken.
The top sights we will talk about in this itinerary are all very close together and easy to navigate. The city itself is easily walkable and may only require a car/bus if you are staying outside of the city or if you wish to visit the Botanic Gardens.
Cambridge is a very walkable city, so it is no surprise that the best way to explore the stunning city is on foot. So whether you like to cram a lot into your day or take it slow, you can take advantage of the close proximity of places within the city to do both.
Many of the attractions are streets away from each other or even located on the same street, making hitting all the attractions much easier. We also found many more beautiful places when walking between the main sights; this was one of the biggest bonuses of walking around the city.
We drove to Cambridge but left our car in the car park for the entire time during our 3-day stay. Alternatively, you can either get a taxi from destination to destination. However, I would only advise this for long journeys as the traffic within the city can get a little hectic and so you may find you spend more of your time sitting in the taxi rather than seeing the historic sights themselves.
An alternative way of getting around Cambridge, which is popular with students and commuters, is by hiring a bicycle. There are plenty of bikes dotted around the city that you can hire for the day and explore that way. Cycling is quicker and can be a fun way of seeing the city, especially if you want to pack in plenty during your day trip.
Alternatively, you can find companies that do tours you can join if you prefer. Finding a tour company to take you around the city by bike may be more your style as you know you will get to see all the main attractions and even learn a little more about each one along the way.
Something relatively new to the UK is electric scooters. We first saw and used these in Paris and have seen them used as a mode of transport in several other cities. Cambridge has electric scooters available to hire on the streets, and you can use the app on your phone to pay and track where to find one.
Though this is an excellent way of seeing the city, I would personally stick to walking or cycling if you have never been on one before. Cambridge also has several cobbled streets, which can be dangerous or tricky to navigate on electric scooters.
One Day In Cambridge Itinerary
Cambridge is slow to wake up, making having a long relaxing breakfast even better as you don’t need to rush. So whether this is in your hotel or you go out and find somewhere in the city, take your time and enjoy. There is a wide range of places to eat in or grab something to go from pastry shops to delectable cafes.
We found a delightful cafe opposite Kings CoBenet’salled Benet’s that served hot sandwiches, pastries, coffee and best of all, gelato. Other places you might enjoy are The Ivy or Fitzbillies plus many more.
Kings College & St Johns Chapel
One of the most iconic places within Cambridge is Kings College and St Johns Chapel, as they are both steeped in history and are so grand in scale and design.
St Johns Chapel dates back to 1866 and 1869; Sir George Gilbert Scott constructed it. The chapel is open to visitors and has plenty to see, whereas the college is restricted as it is a working college. However, visitors are permitted to explore some of the grounds don’t the stunning views of the River Cam.
Once within the grounds, explore the beauty of St Johns Chapel, and don’t forget to visit the Bridge Of Sighs, now one of the most photographed places in Cambridge. The Bridge Of Sighs is very similar to that of The Bridge Of Sighs in Venice, though it doesn’t have the same story behind the name.
Entry Cost: £10 per adult
Opening Times: Thursday – Tuesday 1.30 – 5.00 pm
Address: 11 St Johns St, Cambridge CB2 1TW
Great St Marys Church
One of the most underrated attractions in Camchurch is Great St Marys Church, as it offers up such beautiful views over the neighbouring Kings Church and St Johns Chapel as well as the rest of Cambridge. In addition, the church is stunning and quite monumental as an architectural piece both inside and out.
The church is often referred to as the University Church as it was the first church to be used to hold meetings and such when the colleges first started. The most magnificent part of the church is the tower which creates a panoramic view of the city.
The church tower is 123 steps to the top through a tiny and narrow winding staircase in which only one person at a time can fit. However, the climb to the top is definitely worth it, especially in the spring and summer months when the weather is at its best.
Entry Cost: Free to the Church itself – Climbing the 123 tower stairs is £4
Opening Times: 10am – 4pm Everday except for Sundays
Address: The University Church, Senate House Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PQ
Check The Time At The Corpus Clock
The Corpus Clock is a long time admired piece within Cambridge and is popular with tourists. The wonderous clock is also known as the grasshopper clock due to the grasshopper which sits on top. The clock itself does not have any hands or numbers in which to tell the time.
Instead, the clock has LED lights that symbolises the time of day. The significance of the grasshopper on top of the clock is known as a ‘Chronophage’, meaning ‘time-eater, which is what the clock does.
Address: 58 Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RH
For lunch, head to The Ivy, where you can enjoy an elaborate three-course meal, a light bite or cocktail at the bar. The Ivy is an iconic brand known for fine dining, ornate decor and speciality cocktails.
The Ivy brand first started in London and has since spread to other cities such as Harrogate, Leeds and Cambridge, along with many more. The restaurant and bistro serve up meals from breakfast through to lunch and dinner with a wide range of meals.
Entry Cost: Booking may be required to have a table for drinks or dining
Opening Timisn’tonday – Sunday 9am – 10.30pm
Address: City Centre, 16 Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TB
The Round Church
After a luxurious lunch, head to The Round Church, located on Bridge Street. The church isn’t hard to find as it looks like a little hobbit cottage style building on the edge of a crossroads. The Church is an Anglican church within around structure. The Church has been a Grade II listed building since 1950 and is currently managed by Christian Heritage.
You may also enjoy visiting the church from an architectural point of view as the church has a beautiful ceiling where you can see the bare beams and the gothic gargoyles sitting on the doorways inside. The round church is mainly set up as a museum but still has a small chapel-like area for worship.
Entry Cost: £3.50 for adults and £1 for teens & students
Opening Times: Tuesday, Friday & Saturday 11am – 4pm
Address: Round Church Vestry, Bridge St, Cambridge CB2 1UB
Trinity College & Chapel
Once you have visited the Round Church, head to Trinity Street to see Trinity College. The college was founded by Henry VIII and is the most prominent and wealthiest college in Cambridge. The main highlight for many visiting the college is the Wren Library which contains 12th and 13th-century manuscripts.
When visiting Trinity College, take the time to explore Trinity Chapel. The chapel is a Grade II listed building and dates back to the mid 16th Century. The Church is an Anglican church and is open to visitors and worshippers year-round.
Entry Cost: Free
Opening Times: Everyday 10am – 4.30pm
Address: Trinity College, Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TQ
Grab A Treat At Fitzbillies
If you didn’t overdo it at lunch and are looking to indulge in an afternoon treat, head to Fitzbillies for the famous Chelsea buns. Fitzbillies serve everything from breakfast, lunch and the famous buns and cakes on offer.
There are 3 locations of us Fitzbillies cafes around Cambridge, so you are likely to stumble upon one while exploring the city. The buns are baked fresh every day for 362 days of the year and have been doing this since 1920.
Entry Cost: Free unless eating or drinking at the establishment
Opening Times: Monday – Friday 8am – 6 pm & Saturday – Sunday 9am – 6pm
Address: Bridge Street, Trumpington Street and Clifton Road.
Browse The Unique Shops
Spend the rest of your evening before heading home or heading back to your hotel, browsing the shops within Cambridge. While there are many big-name shops, there are plenty of unique independent shops. Our favourite was the wizarding shop selling Harry Potter goodies from perfumes, sweets and apparel.
Walking amongst the shops is also a fantastic way of seeing more of the hidden streets, passageways and lanes around the city, which hold their charm. We found so many on our visit that we thought we were in a Harry Potter film.
Head Out On A Punt
After having a full day of exploring, why not sit back and relax on a different mode of transport to see the sights. Gondola’swas made famous in the early 1900s and was initially made popular on the non-tidal Thames, but then it quickly spread across the UK.
A Punt is similar to Gondola’s in Venice but less decorative but just as fun, romantic and relaxing. You can find several companies offering punts around Cambridge, so you can find something to suit your budget and schedule. It is definitely a must-do on a day trip to Cambridge.
It is also a great way to explore the hidden areas of Cambridge and the parts of the colleges not open to visitors. One of the most spectacular views is floating by Kings College and St Johns Chapel, which are stunning in size and architectural design.
(look for a get your guide link for a punting tour)
End The Night With A Beer At The Eagle Pub
One of the most famous sights is the Eagle Pub, also known as the RAF Bar. The bar is famous due to a former RAF Chief Technician who found the names of WWII soldiers written, scratched and carved into the walls and ceilings of t a room in The Eagle pub.
The owner uncovered this in the early 1990s and has since been a landmark where you can enjoy a drink under the names of many WWII soldiers and airmen.
Entry Cost: Free unless eating or drinking at the establishment
Opening Times: Every day, 11am – 11pm, except Friday, Saturday and Sunday, are open until 12am.
Address: Bene’t St, Cambridge CB2 3QN
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Thanks for stopping by! Do you have experience with this trip or want to share some of your own tips? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below and let’s chat!