Cambridge city centre is a a tightly packed feast of historic architecture, world class museums and galleries. Stylish cafes, restaurants and tearooms jostle for space, with a fantastic shopping scene dotted around the city’s cobbled crescents and yards featuring everything from vintage antique shops to first class book shops. Cambridge is an all year round city break with its 31 breathtaking colleges and one of the largest selection of museums and galleries outside London. Most of the 12 museums around the city centre are free entry!
Explore the magnificent Fitzwilliam Museum with its unique collection of antiquities, art and ancient illuminated manuscripts. Cambridge Museums are great for families – pick up your free Fitz Kids activity pack at the Fitzwilliam and children will adore the city’s free entry science museums like The Sedgewick and The Whipple, both packed with interactive exhibits featuring everything from fossils and dinosaur bones to scientific instruments and Globes. Cambridge is one of the UK’s best weekend breaks with a lively year round programme of festivals and events and a buzzing arts and culture rich nightlife. The city is famed for some of its annual festivals including the Cambridge Folk Festival.
Guided Tours & Punting
Discovering the ancient city of Cambridge is made easy by the huge choice of tours available from guided walking tours to city bus tours and punting cruises along the River Cam. Join a ghost tour or book onto a special tour of one of the colleges and museums. Tickets for guided walking tours with qualified guides are available from the Tourist Information Centre just off central Market Square. No visit to the city is complete without a self-guided or guided punting tour of the river, particularly the stretch of the Cam which affords views of The Backs of the colleges, passing under famous bridges like The Bridge of Sighs and The Mathematical Bridge. Punting operates every day in the city, and you can take your pick of a variety of boats available to hire including punts, Canadian Canoes, kayaks and rowing boats. They come in all shapes and themes too from Hen Party punting tours to Valentines Punting and Birthday Punting.
Gardens & Outdoor Spaces
Outdoor spaces and university botanic gardens mingling with ancient architecture make Cambridge a truly beautiful city scape and you’ll find ample spaces for riverside picnics along The Backs of the colleges flanking the river. College grounds, Fellows’ gardens and ancient Commons like Midsummer Common and Jesus Green, plus right in the heart of the city centre Parker’s Piece are all beautifully maintained green spaces perfect for relaxing and outdoor picnics. Keen gardeners won’t want to miss a tour of Cambridge University Botanic Garden covering a huge 40 acres and situated only 3/4 mile south of the city centre – easily reach by bike or a short bus ride.
Arts, Culture & Festivals
The city’s arts and culture scene featuring numerous galleries, museums, best live music venues and annual arts festivals won’t fail to please. Many of its museums are free entry and linked/ run by the University of Cambridge with themes ranging from polar exploration to archaeology and geology. The city’s museum gem is The Fitzwilliam, one of the country’s most visited museums with antiquities and art treasures here including an eclectic mix of treasures from the Ancient Egypt to landscapes by Monet and craft pottery pieces by Josiah Wedgwood.
Performance spaces don’t come better than the Cambridge Arts Theatre often featuring big West End Shows and look out for the next best thing in performance and drama at the university’s ADC Theatre. World class orchestras and the big names in pop and rock are on offer at the Corn Exchange and the city has a great live music pub scene. Music Festivals not to be missed including the annual Folk Festival and Big Weekend.
Transport links in Cambridge are extensive and efficient, affording easy access into the city by coach, bus, air, road and rail. Leave the car behind and arrive by train. Cambridge railway station in the city centre has fast rail links to London Liverpool Street and King’s Cross, plus first class connections to the rest of the UK. Cambridge International Airport is just a 15 minute taxi ride (3 miles) from the city centre, and offers daily scheduled flight services to and from Amsterdam, and connections to various European and Worldwide destinations. The city is also an easy drive or direct train journey from Stansted Airport.
Stagecoach bus services in the city centre and beyond make it easy to move around and visit favourite local tourist hotspots like medieval village Saffron Walden to the south. City Sightseeing open top bus tours with 24 hour unlimited travel tickets are a great way to explore the city’s best tourist attractions – the tour has 20 stops across the city centre and you can hop on and off as you please. Cambridge is also incredibly accessible by road, located just off the M11 motorway, and within easy reach of the A1/ M1 motorways which filter onto the A14 duel carriageway direct into the city centre.
Where to stay
Cambridge city centre accommodation offers something for all, whether you are coming for a weekend break, overnight stopover, family holiday or group event. The city centre has a great mix of accommodation options including affordable quality B&B guest houses dotted around leafy green spaces and central boutique hotels with unique charm and character. Great budget options include seasonal university rooms and the city offers a choice of spacious self-catering town houses and holiday homes ideal for families and groups. Stay in a riverside B&B or opt for a spa leisure hotel for that special business or leisure stay. Guests looking for extra flexibility and ideal long-stay accommodation will find a good choice of contemporary apartments on the city outskirts, just a short walk from museum, shopping and business quarters. Browse Cambridge city centre accommodation choice below, and book online or direct with iknow.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.