Please sign in to post.

Cambridge day trip

Hi Team,

I am planning a day trip from london to Cambridge.

Can you please suggest things to do/must see places and how many hours in Cambridge we need for exploring them.


Posted by
33125 posts

Any good guidebook, maybe even the one written by the host of this website, will not only list them but rank them, give contact and price details, hours and days of opening, a brief history and why they are good to see, and even a map.

Off the top of my head a decent list would include:=

Mathematical Bridge
Pepys Library
Kings College Chapel
a few colleges
The Backs
Parker's Piece
a trip down DNA lane
a punt
Christ's Pieces
Bridge of Sighs
Hobson Street
The Fitzwilliam
Great St Mary's tower and inside

for a starter

Posted by
6622 posts

Nigel's list is good, as far as I know (some of those places aren't familiar). Another candidate might be the Scott Polar Institute, if you're into that sort of thing.

I'd suggest at least one long day for Cambridge. The train is about an hour as I recall, and there's enough to fill a whole day or even two if you want.

Any good guidebook will help you choose your priorities and plan for when things are open etc.

Posted by
2455 posts

vritika, I spent 3 nights in Cambridge in 2015. Nice stay. In addition to things listed already, I took a mid-day food tour when I arrived, and one afternoon took the train up to Ely, just 15 minutes on the train, where I really enjoyed the wonderful cathedral, and its stained glass museum, as well as the town, although things sure close down early there on a Sunday afternoon, about 4 pm as I remember.

Posted by
5 posts

I did this day trip last month. I booked a two-hour walking tour through the visitor's center, which included King's College Chapel, and really enjoyed it. Also had lunch at The Eagle, the pub where Watson and Crick announced they had discovered "the secret of life" (structure of DNA). I sat in the RAF bar, where WWII airmen burned their squadron names into the ceiling. Great atmosphere and food. As other posters have noted, there is a lot to do in Cambridge, so you may plan for a long day!

Posted by
2488 posts

I spent 2 nights in Cambridge and loved my stay there, so much to see. I loved the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kings College Chapel. A lovely place to walk, we enjoyed pubs and chatting with the local residents. We shared stories about their visits to America and ours to England.

Enjoy your time in Cambridge, I hope you will consider spending at least one night there.

Judy B

Posted by
81 posts

Another vote for Nigel's list. I definitely recommend Great St Mary's church. It is just by King's College and the Senate House and the view from the tower gives you some idea of how the city is laid out.

There are two rail routes from London - from Liverpool Street and King's Cross. The trains from Liverpool Street are slower and the tickets cost a little less. There are both fast and slow trains from King's Cross. The fast trains, if I remember correctly, usually depart at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. They run direct to Cambridge and typically pass the slower trains.

The station is about ten to fifteen minutes walk from the city centre. When you buy your rail ticket, you can add "plusbus" to let you use the buses within Cambridge (services 1, 3 and 7 and a couple of others run from the station to the city centre). There is also a hop-on/hop-off tourist bus. However, all the sights are within a small area and I wouldn't recommend this bus unless you really want to go to the two out-of-town stops: a garden centre at Coton and the American Military Cemetery at Madingley.

There are two main locations for punt trips along the College Backs: Silver Street and Quayside. You can book a punt trip there and, it seems, you can haggle on the price (I am no good at that but my partner has secured some spectacular discounts in the past). You may also encounter punt touts elsewhere in the city centre but I suggest just going to the two locations I mentioned so you can be sure of getting a licensed service.

You can certainly pass an enjoyable day in the city without rushing around. You will be travelling in the opposite direction from commuters so the trains shouldn't be too stressful if you travel at rush hour. There is a good service till late in the evening, so you could dine in Cambridge before returning to London.

Or, better still, skip London and stay in Cambridge. Much more relaxing!

Posted by
317 posts

Another voice for Cambridge (and Ely). I'm probably a little biased as I used to live in Ely - but the cathedral there is fantastic.

Cambridge is quite easy to do from London by train. If you are just doing Cambs, plan on a full day. I will say, though, it is worth an overnight especially if you decide to venture to either Ely or Bury St. Edmunds (both of which are very quick train rides from Cambs).

Posted by
5678 posts

I agree that you can easily fill the day and more at Cambridge. And if you can extend to a night or two I will second the idea to visit Ely. In addition to the Cathedral there is the Oliver Cromwell House, while a bit oriented to school age children, was still fascinating. It's an easy train ride from Cambridge and the walk up from the railway station is lovely.


Posted by
171 posts

Allow a full day to see Cambridge. Travel time from most London locations is likely to be 3 hours or more (round trip) and there is a lot to see in Cambridge.

Others have suggested taking a punt. I would like to encourage you to take a punt trip from Silver Street (the Anchor or Mill pubs rent punts) down river to St. John's College's Bridge of Sighs (sort of looks like the bridge of the same name in Venice). Turn around at or before the bridge and return to Silver Street. The punt trip is the way to see Cambridge at its best. You will see Queens', King's, Trinity and St. John's Colleges - a nice sample of the 30+ colleges in Cambridge.

You can either rent the punt and do your own punting or you can take a punt with a professional punter. I do not know the current cost of these alternatives but there are advantages/disadvantages to both. If you do your own punting it will be cheaper and you will be able to set your own pace and stop wherever you want. The disadvantage to doing the punting is that punting is not particularly easy. But punts will usually come with both a punting pole and a paddle. So if you find the act of punting to be difficult you can paddle your punt. Paddling your own punt is less embarrassing than falling into the river - a not uncommon event for a newbie punter!

The advantage of having a professional punter are twofold. First you do not risk falling into the river. The other advantage is that the professional punter tells you which colleges you are seeing and also interesting stories about the university - some of which are true. Youtube has several videos about punting in Cambridge.

After your punt trip wander through Queens' College, crossing the Mathematical Bridge, go to King's Parade (a street) and visit King's College Chapel. Close by is the Senate House (where degrees are presented) and Trinity College and its Great Court and Wren Library. The race around the courtyard in Chariots of Fire took place in Trinity's Great Court.

Have a wonderful trip.