Cambridge is a University city north of London which is popular with tourists looking to escape London and experience history and a slower pace of city life. We were lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Cambridge to explore everything the beautiful city had to offer fully.
A popular way to explore the city is by foot as it is easily walkable, and it also gives you the best view of the stunning architecture and finds hidden gems along the way.
To ensure you see all the best parts of Cambridge, we decided to put together this self-guided walking tour. We included everything from the top sights, hidden gems, and recommended places to eat or get a coffee.
Depending on where you are staying may depend on the order in which you walk, as we were staying out of the city centre we chose to start at the furthest point from the city centre and work our way inwards.
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Cambridge Botanic Gardens
The furthest attraction in Cambridge is the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a country oasis built in the middle of a city. It was designed to be an area in which students of the University of Cambridge can go and learn about plant life, botany and more.
We found the gardens extremely relaxing to visit as you can quickly forget you are in the middle of a city. The botanic gardens are extremely accessible for those with pushchairs, prams and those who require wheelchair access. In addition, there is a cafe and small shop on-site for those looking to enjoy a break or pick up a unique gift or plant.
The Cambridge botanic gardens are enjoyable all year round, and you can even have the chance of spotting some wildlife from squirrels, hedgehogs and even a fox.
Entry Cost: £7 per adult, children up to the age of 16 are free, students go free, and those assisting disabled visitors are free.
Address: 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE
From the Botanic Gardens, we walked down Trumpington Street towards the Fitzwilliam Museum. The museum is on the left-hand side of the road and is pretty hard to miss. The brilliant white building is prominent, stunning and looks like it has come from a Grecian city.
The Fitzwilliam Museum is home to a wide range of intriguing, beautiful, and historical exhibitions, so there is plenty to see no matter where your interests lie.
Entry Cost: Free – Booking Required
Address: Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB
Loch Fyne Restaurant & Bar
Just over the road from the Fitzwilliam Museum, there is a well-known restaurant and bar – Lock Fyne. Loch Fyne restaurant is an upscale chain restaurant serving sustainably sourced British seafood & Fish and a more comprehensive range of dishes.
While you might not be hungry or, this may not be the place for you, I was very much interested in the building it is within. The building is intriguing, historical (like much of Cambridge), and over 500 years old, making it an exciting place to stop and view, if only for a minute.
The Backs & River Cam By Punt
Once you have enjoyed a quick visit (or longer if you are stopping for a bite to eat or drink) at the Loch Fyne restaurant, you want to carry on walking down Trumpington Street for a few minutes; then on your second left, you want to head down Silver Street.
On Silver street, you can find Scudamore’s Boatyard, the perfect place to hop in a Punt and enjoy a gentle boat ride along the River Cam and explore the famous Backs.
Though this is a walking tour, it is an iconic part of visiting Cambridge and is an excellent way of seeing some of the colleges, architecture and buildings from the River Cam. Unfortunately, many streets or walkways don’t follow along the River Cam or are restricted for faculty and students of the colleges themselves.
You can opt for a pick-up and drop off at the same place or depart at a different part of the river. There is a wide range of punting tours, private hire and special events such as afternoon tea punting tours or gin punting tours. These are perfect if you are looking to celebrate, enjoy the weather or splash out to sit back and relax.
Though if you are looking to save money during your trip to Cambridge, you can carry on walking down Trumpington Street until you hit a small gathering of people at the corner of a building. This will indicate you have arrived at your next attraction.
The Corpus Clock
The Corpus Clock is located in the very corner window of a building that lies on Trumpington Street, Kings Parade, and Bene’t Street.
The magnificent clock is also known as the Grasshopper clock and is a large sculptural clock located in the window of Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University.
The clock has been in residence at the Taylor Library since its inauguration in 2008. Unfortunately, the clock itself doesn’t have any hands or digital numbers, making it harder to read the time. However, if you look carefully, you can see three rings of LEDs that show the hours, minutes and seconds working from the inside out.
The significance of the grasshopper on top of the clock is known as a ‘Chronophage’, meaning ‘time-eater, which is what the clock symbolizes. The Latin inscription underneath reads’ mundus transitMundusncupiscentia eius’, meaning ‘the world and its desires pass away.
The clock is hypnotizing and is popular with tourists as it is so unusual; It is also gold plated face which makes it stand out compared to its surroundings.
Once you have marvelled at the Grasshopper Clock, head down Kings Parade to explore Kings College and St Johns Chapel.
St Johns Chapel & Kings College
The public is welcome to enter the college grounds and St Johns Chapel for a price of £10 per adult. However, to purchase a ticket, you would be required to walk to the Kings College Visitor Center, which is opposite the entrance to Kings College. From there you can buy a ticket, guidebook and even some souvenirs of your trip from books, postcards and apparel.
Once you have your ticket, head back over to the entrance, your ticket will be checked. Out of all the attractions, I would say this is the one that is worth paying for as you have access to the grounds, St Johns Chapel and fantastic views over the River Cam.
Upon entering the campus, you will see an ornate fountain in the centre of a grassy courtyard and a large ornate building behind it, to the right, you will see the exterior of St Johns Chapel, which is magnificent.
Entry Cost: £10 per adult
Address: 11 St Johns St, Cambridge CB2 1TW
Benets – Gelato & Coffee
Once you have browsed the beautiful views of Kings College and St Johns Chapel, head back out the way you came in and walk directly over the street to Benets. We enjoyed a well-earned tub of gelato and a drink after needing a rest from all that exploring.
I would recommend eating out if it is a nice day, but head upstairs and grab the seat in the corner by the window if you are visiting in the winter months. Although either window will give you a great view, from the window on the right-hand side, we could see the chapel and college grounds which were stunning.
Alternatively, if you sit on the left-hand side and peer out the window, you can expect to see Great St. Marys Church, where you will be heading next.
Great St Mary’s Church
Within a stone’s throw distance from Kings College and Benets Cafe, you can find Great St. Marys Church. The Church itself is beautiful and was the first Church to be used for University meetings and is often referred to as the University Church.
Great St Mary’s Church is free to the public to enter and explore, sit in the pews and enjoy concerts, practices and worship. While the climb to the tower costs, it is worth the money. The climb up the tower is narrow and steep, so this may not be for you if you struggle with your footing or struggle with stairs.
However, if you want to get amazing panoramic views over Cambridge, this is the place for you. Once at the top of the tower, you can sit and take a minute to catch your breath or head straight to the viewpoints to look at the stunning city. We loved the views of Kings College and St. Johns Chapel from the top of the tower as you could see a birds-eye view of the architecture.
Entry Cost: Free to the Church itself – Climbing the 123 tower stairs is £
Address: The University Church, Senate House Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PQ
Once you have climbed the 123 narrow stone stairs of Great St Marys tower, head back out to the cobbled streets and walk to the back of the Church to the market area. Sitting snuggly to the back of the Church is the Cambridge Market full of unique foods, gifts and more.
The market is a great place to find unique foods, handcrafted gifts and fresh produce all from local sellers. Looking around the market is an excellent way of having a break from the sightseeing along with
Entry Cost: Free
Address: Located behind Great St Mary’s Church in the square
The Eagle Pub
The Eagle Pub is a great place to stop and enjoy a drink or even something to eat, but more importantly, it is a great place to go to steep yourself in history. The Eagle Pub originally opened in 1667 as the “Eagle and Child” as a coaching house and is the second oldest pub in Cambridge.
The pub itself is historic due to the connections to World War II USAF and RAF pilots, as you can see names carved into the pub walls themselves. The men in the Second World War came to the Eagle Pub to drink and socialize; they used tools such as petrol lighters, lipstick and wax candles to write their names, squadron numbers and other notes onto the ceiling of the rear bar.
It was a tradition said to be started by RAF Flight Sergeant P.E.Turner, who was said to have climbed on a table and burned his name into the bar’s ceiling. With the graffiti, the pub quickly got the name ‘RAF Bar’ and was later discovered and preserved by a former RAF Chief Technician in the early 1990s.
Entry Cost: Free unless eating or drinking at the establishment
Address: Bene’t St, Cambridge CB2 3QN
Trinity College Chapel
Trinity College Chapel is the associated chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge. Part of the chapel is Grade I listed and dates from the mid 16th century. The Church is an Anglican church and is open to visitors and worshippers year-round.
The chapel’s construction began in 1554-1555 and was ordered by Queen Mary, which was then completed under the order of Elizabeth I.
Entry Cost: Free
Address: Trinity College, Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TQ
One of the final steps on the walking tour is The Ivy restaurant and bar, where you can enjoy everything from a light bite, cocktail or three-course meal. The Ivy is an iconic brand and chain of restaurants across the UK, with the very first starting in London.
Whether you choose to visit The Ivy or walk by, it is worth a visit. The exterior of the building is very well pretty and is covered in florals. We stopped in for lunch one day and were pleasantly surprised with the reasonable prices for the high-quality food.
Entry Cost: Booking may be required to have a table for drinks or dining
Address: City Centre, 16 Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TB
The Round Church
The final stop on the walking tour of Cambridge is The Round Church, located on Bridge Street. The Church is an Anglican church within a unique round structure. The Church has been a Grade I listed building since 1950 and is currently managed by Christian Heritage.
The Church is a great place to visit if you enjoy both history and architecture as the building is attractive with wonderful gargoyle style statues and a high circular ceiling to look up at. We enjoyed reading much of the information about the Church, religion, and the history behind it all interesting.
Entry Cost: £3.50 for adults and £1 for teens & students
Address: Round Church Vestry, Bridge St, Cambridge CB2 1UB