23 Fun Things to do in Cambridge
By Ed Hawkins on June 9th, 2022
Infamous for its rivalry with Oxford, Cambridge is renowned as a great place to study – but it’s not just its world-leading universities and colleges that makes it such an attractive place! Bursting with beautiful gardens, historic buildings and exciting things to do and discover, this historic city has so much to offer, whether you are a student or a day-tripper!
At Downing, our team has pulled together our 23 favourite fun things to do in Cambridge, to help you discover some of the city’s hidden gems!
Punt down the River Cam
Blink and you might think you are in Venice! In Cambridge, you can relax and take in the beautiful views of the college “Backs” aboard a Punt Tour – the ideal sightseeing opportunity to take photographs of the iconic colleges in Cambridge, from a unique viewpoint.
As you travel along the River Cam, you will go straight through the heart of Cambridge, enabling you to enjoy the fantastic views of the world famous Cambridge College, making it one of the city’s best attractions.
Cambridge Botanical Gardens
Boasting over 8,000 plant species, including nine National Collections and a wonderful arboretum, Cambridge Botanical Gardens need to be high on the to-see attractions when visiting this historic city.
The Garden hosts an impressive calendar of summer events, including exhibitions, workshops and talks. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can pre-book tickets here for your day out in Cambridge.
Explore Colleges in Cambridge
Cambridge University is one of the oldest universities in the world and boasts some of England’s most iconic architecture. Split into 31 architecturally stunning colleges, Cambridge University’s buildings are one of the ‘must do’ things in Cambridge.
Some of our favourite buildings worth checking out include Christ’s College, Trinity Hall College, Downing College, Gonville and Caius College, as well as Magdalene College. Perfect for a student day out if you are visiting for an open day!
Museums in Cambridge
Given the city’s close ties to its universities, and the associated respected academia, it is no surprise that the free museums in Cambridge are some of the best we have seen!
From quaint local artefacts to Rembrandt, the free museums have got it all, making them some of the best attractions in Cambridge. Our top picks for a great student day out are Cambridge Museum of Technology, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Museum of Zoology, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and The Flitzwilliam Museum.
Climb up Castle Hill
Although the most popular parts of Cambridge are by the river, yet the road leading to Castle Hill also boasts its own range of architecturally impressive buildings. Once you get to the top of Castle Hill, you get the city’s best viewpoint, and definitely worth the ascent.
On the way back there are even a few local pubs along the way, which will be welcomed on any student day out!
Best Streets in Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is steeped in history everywhere you turn and living here is about as British as you can get. The city’s architecture and character does not end at the museum buildings and colleges in Cambridge, it is down every back alleyway.
If you are looking for sightseeing spots off the beaten track for your day out in Cambridge – where the rest of the tourists aren’t going – we would recommend checking out some of these iconic streets. Senate House Passage, Trinity Lane, St Edward’s Passage and Orchard Street are all bursting with history and only a short walk away from one another.
Ice Cream at Jack’s Gelato
Running around sightseeing and visiting the attractions of Cambridge, will definitely work up a sweat – and what better way to refuel than ice cream!
Since opening in 2010, Jack’s Gelato has become a local favourite. Jack’s Gelato utilises local ingredients, including honey from bee hives in Cambridge, coffee beans from local artisan roasters and chocolate from Pump Street Chocolate. On a sunny day, it can be the perfect ending to your day out in Cambridge!
Traders have been running stalls at the historic market square in the city centre since the middle ages, offering a wide range of cuisines, as well as art, plants, clothes, jewellery, books, music, and much more!
The market is open every day apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, meaning it is an easy thing to do in Cambridge for students. There is also an arts and crafts market every Saturday where everything is handmade on Trinity Street in All Saints Garden.
ADC Student-Run Theatre
Now run by students, the ADC Theatre is Britain’s oldest university playhouse with plays being presented at this site since 1855. There is a whole range of theatre performances scheduled here, meaning there is something for everyone – and a perfect way to witness one of the city’s oldest attractions come to life!
You will find the ADC Theatre’s full calendar of what’s on here.
Climb St Mary’s Church
With entry to St Mary’s Church free, you can climb all the way to the top of the tower where you will get a full panoramic view of Cambridge in all its beauty.
Although 124 steps up stand between you and the highest point in the city, it is one of our favourite fun things to do in Cambridge!
Attend a Gig at Cambridge Junction
Sitting on the ground of the city’s former Cattle Market, Cambridge Junction opened in 1990 and has since welcomed a range of comedy, music, spoken word, theatre and dance and club nights.
For those studying in Cambridge, it is a popular spot and one of the top things in Cambridge. You can see the full calendar of events here.
Walk across the Mathematical Bridge
Designed by William Etheridge in 1748, the famous wooden footbridge is one of the city’s most iconic settings. Connected to the Queen’s College building, you are lucky enough to travel underneath it when punting down the River Cam!
With so much to do in Cambridge, you won’t find yourself bored if you are visiting friends, being a tourist or decide to go there to study!
With its rich academic culture, a perfect balance of bustling city and relaxing green spaces, and its diverse community, it’s easy to see why Cambridge boasts some of the highest satisfaction rates in the UK.
Downing’s Cambridge site The Railyard is one of the newest student housing developments in the city and could be your perfect home away from home during the academic year. To find out more information, get in touch with our team here!