Cambridge is simply incredible; the romantic canals and stunning architecture are something of fairytales.
However, if you’re looking to travel off the beaten path during your trip to the Cambridgeshire region, then you may want to consider visiting one of the nearby sleepy, picturesque villages.
These villages are all within 25 miles of Cambridge and, as such, take no longer than an hour to drive and are accessible via public transport making them the perfect day trip from the city.
1. Houghton and Wynton
Houghton and Wynton are located just 3 miles from the city centre of Cambridge and can easily be accessed by a car in under 20 minutes.
This village is perfect if you’re looking for somewhere with a strong British personality, thanks to scattered red telephone boxes, thatched roof timber homesteads and high chimney pots.
Walking through the village centre leads you past the organized architecture of cosy-looking English cottages and along the Great River Ouse, which is connected to Houghton Mills, one of the oldest mills in the county.
Houghton Mills is one of the primary attractions in Houghton and Wynton and is part of the National Trust.
While the attraction is incredibly beautiful year-round, it’s especially picturesque in the springtime as it’s situated on a small island and surrounded by numerous ponds and beautiful meadows that run into the river.
2. Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey
Located in Huntingdon town, on the south banks of the Great River Ouse, you’ll find Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey.
These intertwined villages are home to architectural designs from the 12th to 17th centuries and include the Old Rectory, St. Margaret of Antioch and The Grand Manor.
The Old Rectory is a beautiful park and natural botanical garden, home to an incredible gothic grade II building dating back to the early 1800s.
Meanwhile, the 12th century St. Margaret of Antioch is an incredibly well-maintained church that features iconic gothic architecture types that are well worth a visit.
However, make sure you leave time to visit The Grand Manor, as this is one of the oldest continuously inhabited homes in the entire country.
For most of the year, Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey is a typical sleepy English village.
However, during selected weeks in the summertime, the streets come alive with an annual regatta dating back over a century, complete with yachting and boat races and a biennial floral festival that attracts thousands of visitors from across the UK.
The village of Linton is just 12 miles from the centre of Cambridge, tucked in between rolling hills in the Grata valley; it’s the perfect spot for hikes and scenic views.
Given its close proximity to the city, a direct bus route is available every 30 minutes (Monday to Saturday) and takes just under one hour.
Just 3 miles southwest of Cambridge, you’ll find the picturesque village of Grantchester, which can be accessed both by car or by punting down the canal.
Home to Nobel prize-winning authors including Virginia Woolf and Jeffery Archer, many students come here from the city to source tranquillity and inspiration.
Meanwhile, one of the village’s main attractions is the sweeping meadows that sit alongside the canal. These spots unsurprisingly attract many couples, families, and friends looking for a scenic picnic location.
If you happen to be near the village over Christmas, then be sure to visit on Boxing Day for the annual Barrel Race. This charity event sees locals race around a 100-yard course with whisky barrels.
One of the furthest villages from Cambridge is that of Buckden, which is situated roughly 24 miles south of the city.
This village is filled with architectural splendour and incredibly rich history, which can be found in a number of the village’s major attractions, the most notable of which is Buckden Tower.
Buckden Tower is composed of several English traditional-style cottages, a church, and a mill and once used to be the residence for the bishops of Lincoln, serving as both an administrative and religious centre.
These cottages are now available to rent as holiday homes and make an excellent choice for those looking for a more rural base while in the Cambridgeshire region.
Meanwhile, the Upper Wharfedale is perfect for hiking and provides its reward in beautiful meadows complete with wildflowers and scenic views out over the village.
6. St Ives
Not to be confused with the St Ives of Cornwall, St Ives in Cambridgeshire is a beautiful little market town situated on the Great River Ouse between Huntingdon and Ely.
Aside from its picturesque beauty, the major attractions of St Ive’s are its unique landmarks, including a 15th-century bridge that includes a chapel, one of only four remaining in the United Kingdom.
For those visiting in the summertime, St Ives is perfect for water activities, including boating and paddleboarding while you’ll find independent stalls selling an incredibly vast range of foods, drinks and handcrafted items on the market year-round.
The small town of Fulbourn is just a 12-minute drive from the centre of Cambridge, yet it feels like a different world entirely.
This town dates back to the Neolithic times and commemorates its long history in the Fulbourn Life Wall, a piece of artwork created in granite.
For those looking to get out into nature, the village has a 25-mile waymarked route along a dyke dating back to Anglo Saxon times, and as the route around this area is completely flat, it provides incredible views out over the village.
8. Great Shelford
Four miles south of Cambridge are the intertwined villages of Great Shelford and Little Shelford, commonly referred to as The Shelfords.
Dating back to the early 1100s, these villages recently rose to international fame as it was found that former US President Barack Obama’s ancestors lived here until 1620 before sailing to Massachusetts.
If you have the pleasure of visiting Cambridgeshire in July, be sure to attend the annual three day Shelford Feast festival.
This feast was initially founded in medieval times and revived in 1994 as a charity event complete with live music, stand-up comedy, food and drink.