This post will be sharing 13 fascinating places to visit in Cambridge in 24 hours.
For my second trip in January, I initially decided to go to Copenhagen, Denmark. So, I bought an £8 Ryanair one-way ticket. Just when I was about to buy my return ticket from EasyJet, I saw how ridiculous the price was. I honestly couldn’t justify spending £70 on a European budget airline for one way. Anyway, I cancelled the trip and decided to go to Cambridge and Canterbury instead. After all the quick planning, I realized that I might not touch down at Canterbury, so I just stuck to Cambridge instead.
Getting To Cambridge From Manchester
There’s actually a direct train from Cambridge to Manchester, but it takes about 5 hours which is honestly too long for me. So, I decided to break the journey into two by going to London Euston first, which took about 2hours +. Then take a 45minutes train from London Kings Cross to Cambridge station. In total, the entire trip took about 3 hours. So, taking off from Manchester Piccadilly at 6.30am, I was at the Cambridge around 10.30 am. This was perfect for me because Cambridge got busy VERY QUICKLY!
Moving Around Cambridge
As a super-compact city, it is also very walkable. In fact, public transportation is minimal around the city centre, so you have no choice but to burn those calories. The distance from the train station to the city centre is about a 20-25 minutes walk depending on your pace. But you can always take a bus if that is too far for you. Also, if you want to explore further out of the city centre, you can take the bus. But frankly, there’s no reason why you should miss out on the quaint little streets of Cambridge.
Compared to Oxford, which has purely academic vibes, Cambridge has more character. The city lets you know that the students and residents don’t joke with work-life balance. This is quite ironic because the University of Cambridge was founded by students who fled from Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople.
Anyway, despite the sea of tourists on a sunny Saturday, I had a fun day, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.
Here Are 15 Must-See Fascinating Places To Visit In Cambridge On A Day Trip
As always, to begin with, here’s a handy walking tour for you that covers most of the important historical landmarks.
In case you didn’t know, Cambridge is a university city that hosts the second-oldest English university and the fourth oldest surviving university globally. This means that most if not all the landmarks are centred around the university’s properties. So, if you’re academically inclined and managed to be a history geek, you’ll love this city.
Taking off from the Cambridge Station, here’s a list of places you should visit in Cambridge.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
After a 10-minute walk from the train station, the first landmark you’ll find is the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Here you’ll find a 40 acres garden that holds a plant collection of over 8,000 plant species from all over the world. These are used to facilitate teaching and research in the university. So, if you’re a gardening enthusiast, you’ll find this enjoyable.
Our Lady And The English Matryrs Church
Just a walk further down will take you to the unmissable Roman Catholic parish church, a large gothic revival church built in the 18th century. It also happens to be one of the largest Catholic churches in the UK. Fun Fact: Did you know that Cambridge doesn’t officially have a cathedral? Instead, the city falls under the Ely cathedral in Ely.
Another 5 minutes walk will take you to the massive Parker’s Piece, a 25-acre greenfield that hosts both ceremonial and leisure activities, especially the games of football and cricket. Imagine having this serene park near the city centre where you can take a break anytime you feel stressed and overwhelmed. I wish I could stay longer, but I didn’t have the time.
The University of Cambridge Museums
Another five-minute walk from Parker’s Piece will take you to Downing Street, where you’ll find four university museums lined up. They include:
- Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
- Museum of Archaeology and Antropology
- University Museum of Zoology
- Whipple Museum of the History of Science
It will interest you to know that these museums are top-rated. This means that they get pretty busy. So, you either need to go at off-peak hours or on a weekday.
The four other museums you can visit – if you have the time – that belong to the University of Cambridge consortium are;
- The Fitzwilliam Museum
- The Polar Museum
- Museum of Classical Archaeology
- Kettle’s Yard
Yes, Cambridge is worth visiting for the museums alone.
Scudamore’s Mill Lane Punting Station
Rather than taking the cliche sightseeing bus tour, why not do something different by booking a chaffered punt along the River Cam, where you get to glide through the famous college backs. On this tour, you’ll see seven riverside colleges. To be honest, when I arrived at the punting station, I initially thought they were kayaking. Until I noticed that there are two different activities. Instead of driving yourself, you’re chaffered along the river banks. It’s such a fantastic relaxing activity. You can book your tickets here.
If you decide to go punting, you’ll get to go under the Mathematical bridge; a historic wooden footbridge. Otherwise, you can walk through it or marvel at it from the roadside.
The Corpus Clock
Named Times’ best invention of 2008, the Corpus Clock, also known as the Grasshopper Clock, is a large fascinating sculptural clock. Interestingly, it was unveiled to the public in 2008 by Stephe Hawking, the Cambridge physicist. It is a product of the traditional mechanical art of clockmaking and is only accurate once every five minutes. It is also expected to run accurately for at least 200 years. It’s definitely a must-see in Cambridge.
King’s College Chapel
Next is the glorious King’s College Chapel. Despite how busy it was, and packed it was, I still managed to get a great picture. What can I say? It’s an iconic landmark that is typically used to symbolize the city of Cambridge. The architecture is simply breathtaking. Just being around the building temporarily transports you to a different realm in a way that the vibe is simply unmissable. You might need to photoshop some people out of your photos but make sure you get a few.
Great St. Mary The Great
Adjacent to the King’s College Chapel, you’ll find the Great St. Mary The Great; a university church that symbolizes the centre of Cambridge. While it can’t compare to its massive neighbour, it has a few things that set it apart. This includes housing the University Clock and Organ and also hosting the University sermons. At the moment, you can book a visit to the church where you can climb to the top to view the skyline of Cambridge. It’s about £6 per person.
Cambridge Market Square
When I first got here, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I mean I could see food vendors selling a variety of European street food. But I wasn’t sure if it was a permanent or temporary thing like the Christmas markets. Turns out, it’s a permanent outdoor market that is opening for trading daily except the holidays. If you don’t do anything else, make sure you grab some lunch and Cambridge souvenirs from this street market.
Newton’s Apple Tree
Apparently, this ‘Flower of Kent’ apple tree which grows at the entrance of the Trinity College was originally grafted from the actual tree that led Issac Newton to ponder on the theory of gravity. At the time when he made this discovery, he was a student at the University of Cambridge. This is such an interesting way to honour his legacy.
All Saints Garden Arts & Craft Market
Another interesting market is this one where you’ll find jewellers, glassblowers and other craftsmen displaying their wares for sale. This is where you’ll find unique items you probably won’t find anywhere else because you’re getting them directly from the source.
The Round Church
Before heading back to the train station, I stopped by this Round Church. It happens to be one of the four medieval round churches still in use at the moment in England. Originally, built around the 12th century in stone, it was inspired by the rotunda in Jerusalem. It’s currently open to the public with an exhibition and study centre.
I hope you have found this list of fascinating places to visit in Cambridge helpful. If I ever have to go back, it will be to fully explore all eight museums.