Cambridge is one of the world's most famous college towns, home to the internationally-renowned University of Cambridge, one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world. Visitors can explore the city's gorgeous historic buildings as part of self-guided or guided tours and view sites such as the famed King's College Chapel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive acoustics and unique architectural style. Many university museums hold special collections and host special events throughout the year, including twilight open house events. The city is also known for its traditional-style British pubs, which are filled with students throughout the year and are known for their delicious cask ales and historic settings.
1.The River Cam
The River Cam flows through the heart of Cambridge, extending approximately 49 miles from Debden in Essex into the Great Ouse near Pope's Corner at Ely. The picturesque river is a top spot for outdoor recreation throughout the year, offering official public boating moorings on both sides of the river near Jesus Lock and at the bridge at Clayhithe. Small boat and rowing craft enthusiasts can navigate approximately 40 miles of the river to its terminus at the Great Ouse, which connects to the River Nene and England's canal system. Great fishing opportunities are offered along the river's clear waters, which are believed to still be home to native fish species burbot, previously presumed to be extinct since the 1970s. Visitors can also swim along the upper portion of the river year-round at Granchester Meadows.
2.King’s College Chapel
King’s College Chapel was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1950, noted as one of the best examples of late Perpendicular Gothic architecture in England. The chapel, which is located on the grounds of the University of Cambridge's King's College, was constructed in segments between 1446 and 1515, though its iconic stained-glass windows were not completed until 1531. Today, it is known as one of Cambridge's most iconic tourist destinations, serving as an unofficial symbol for the city. Visitors can tour the chapel throughout the year and view design elements such as the chapel's famed vaulted ceiling, the largest fan-vaulted ceiling in the world. Regular worship services are still presented at the chapel, along with college music performances such as the annual King's College Music Society May Week Concert.
King's College, King's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST, Phone: +44-0-12-23-33-11-00
The Backs is a Grade 1 Historic Park in Cambridge comprising of reclaimed land and garden spaces running alongside the riverfront backside of several of the city's colleges. The park, which was landscaped by noted English landscape architect Lancelot Brown, abuts the campuses of St. John's, Trinity, Clare, King's, and Queen's Colleges. Several world-famous bridges traverse the River Cam along the park's stretches, including the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge. Visitors can explore the park throughout the year and enjoy gorgeous nature photography opportunities. Each spring, the park is blanketed in plantings of daffodils and crocuses, which provide spectacular color to the landscape.
Queen's Rd, Cambridge CB3 9AH, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-45-70-00
4.The Cambridge University Botanic Garden
The Cambridge University Botanic Garden is one of the world's top-rated botanical gardens, located between Trumpington and Hills Roads and Bateman Streets over a 40-acre plot of land. The garden, which is overseen by the university's Department of Plant Sciences, was originally created in 1831 and opened as a public attraction 15 years later. Today, it holds an extensive collection of more than 8,000 native and international plant species, cultivated as teaching tools for significant leading botanical research. Visitors can explore the garden's beautiful glasshouses, which are home to more than 3,000 species of plant life and showcase sections devoted to South African, Australian, North and South American, and Oceanic plant life that thrive across a variety of ecosystems and climates. Charming woodland, water, and rock gardens are showcased outside, along with seasonal gardens open during the autumn and winter months.
1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-33-62-65
5.The Bridge of Sighs
© Nicole Kwiatkowski/stock.adobe.com
The Bridge of Sighs is a gorgeous covered bridge known as one of Cambridge's top tourist attractions, famously acclaimed by British Queen Victoria as one of the city's most beautiful landmarks. Despite popular urban legends about the iconic bridge's name being taken from the frustrated sighs of pre-exam students at nearby St. John's College, it is actually named in tribute to Venice's beautiful covered bridge of the same name. It was originally designed in 1831 by architect Henry Hutchinson and spans the River Cam near the college's Third and New Courts. Today, it is listed as a Grade I building and serves as one of the city's most popular photo opportunity spots.
St John's College, Cambridge CB2 1TP, United Kingdom
6.The University of Cambridge
© Roberto Lo Savio/stock.adobe.com
The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in the world, originally founded in 1209 after the breakaway of several scholars from the nearby University of Oxford. Today, the university is still considered to be one of the most prestigious learning institutions in the world, known for its acclaimed educational programs and gorgeous historic architecture. Visitors can explore the university's campus and see landmark sights such as the renowned King's College Chapel, the Cripps Building of St. John's College, and the James Stirling-designed history faculty building. Beautiful examples of patterned brickwork are on display at historic buildings throughout the university's Queen's and St. John's College, including walls constructed in the English, Flemish, and Running bond styles.
7.The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
© The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest public museum at the University of Cambridge, originally established as the Woodwardian Museum in 1728. Today, the geology-focused museum is known for its extensive collections of more than two million rock, fossil, and mineral specimens, which span a history of more than 4.5 million years of geologic time. Visitors can peruse special collections such as the Beagle Collection, which showcases artifacts collected by Charles Dawson during his famed world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, and the Harker Collection, named in honor of noted petrologist Alfred Harker. The museum is open to the public for free Mondays through Saturdays during the afternoon hours and on select special event evenings, including the Cambridge-wide Twilight at the Museums event.
University Of Cambridge, Downing St, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-33-34-56
8.Imperial War Museum Duxford
© Imperial War Museum Duxford
Imperial War Museum Duxford is Britain's largest aviation-centric museum, located near Duxford in Cambridgeshire. The museum showcases the history of the Duxford Aerodrome airfield, which was operated by Britain's Royal Air Force and played significant roles in the First and Second World Wars. Nearly 300 historic aircraft are presented throughout the museum's exhibit halls, ranging from B-52s and Concorde jets to Vulcan bombers and Tiger Moth biplanes. A collection of military vehicles and naval vessels is also displayed in exhibits, along with collections of film, photography, and other artifacts related to the lives and histories of British World War forces such as the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Duxford, Cambridge CB22 4QR, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-83-50-00
© The Mill
The Mill has been widely renowned as one of Cambridge's best pubs, located along the banks of the beautiful River Cam at Laundress Green. The historic 19th-century pub has been the recipient of three CAMRA awards, including the 2015 award for Cambridge Pub of the Year. Excellent cask ales are served up throughout the week, available for drinking at the pub's full-service dining area, charming indoor bar, or outside Millpond area. Delectable entrees include hearty seasonal pies, beer-battered haddock and chips, and craft burgers with toppings such as chorizo, pineapple, and chipotle mayo. Bargoers can play a selection of board games or choose their favorite vinyl to play on the restaurant's radiogram. The restaurant is also noted as one of the region's best pet-friendly spots, welcoming well-behaved dogs.
14 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RX, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-31-18-29
© The Eagle
The Eagle is one of Cambridge's most famous pubs, best known as the site where Francis Crick and James Watson announced their discovery of the double helix sequence of DNA in 1953. The pub, which was originally opened in 1667 as the Eagle and Child, is overseen by Corpus Christi College in cooperation with Greene King Brewery and is a popular lunchtime destination for university students and staff. Hearty traditional entrees are served up throughout the day, including fish and chips platters, sausage and mash, and classic steak and ale or chicken and woodland mushroom pies. Sandwich and burger options include buttermilk fried chicken burgers, fish finger brioche sandwiches, and grilled cheese toasties on sourdough.
8 Bene't St, Cambridge CB2 3QN, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-50-50-20
11.The Pint Shop
© The Pint Shop
The Pint Shop pays homage to historic British beer houses, which populated the country throughout the 1830s following the passing of the Beer Act and are considered to be the birthplace of modern pubs. The restaurant, which was opened in 2013, recreates the vibe of authentic beer houses and "Tom and Jerry shops," showcasing industrial-chic decor and rotating chalkboard listings of draft beer offerings. More than a dozen local ales are tapped at any given time, complemented by an extensive list of experimental and top-shelf gins. High-quality pub fare is served up throughout the day, including coriander chicken kebabs, buttermilk fried chicken burgers, and clever shareables such as Scotch eggs and crispy duck flatbreads.
10 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PN, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-35-22-93
The Fountain is a Cambridge bar that is perfect for visitors looking for a traditional English pub experience. The pub serves up a delicious variety of beverages throughout the day from two full-service bars, both of which are flanked by cozy fireplaces for intimate drinking experiences. A selection of regionally-produced ciders and beers are available on tap, including accredited Cask Marque real ale selections. Guests can also choose from extensive selections of fine liquors, including a large library of top-shelf gin. Though food is not offered on a daily basis, visitors are welcome to bring in their own outside food from area restaurants to enjoy with their drinks. Overnight accommodations at the pub feature en suite bathrooms, freeview televisions, and tea and coffee makers. Special events hosted throughout the month include quiz nights and live music performances.
1 Churchgate Street, Soham, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 5DS, Phone: +44-13-53-72-03-74
13.The Cambridge Chop House
© The Cambridge Chop House
The Cambridge Chop House is a rustic British-style chop house located adjacent to King's College Chapel, known for its elegant traditional British fare and spacious wine cellar. The upscale restaurant showcases a gorgeous vaulted cellar dining room with spectacular views of the surrounding University at Cambridge campus area, including landmarks such as the Cambridge Arts Theatre building. Diners can select from prime steaks and chops or enjoy gourmet land and sea entree options such as herb-crusted lamb chops, chicken supreme, fresh daily fish catches, or shoulder of lamb service for two or four. Pre-theater and set lunch menus are also available, complemented by an extensive wine list focusing on selections from France's prestigious Languedoc-Roussillon region.
1 King's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1SJ, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-35-95-06
14.The Flying Pig
© The Flying Pig
The Flying Pig is a popular hangout for Cambridge students, known for its intimate ambiance and regional live music performances. The Hills Road pub dates back to the mid-19th century, when it was originally known as the Engineer and later as the Crown Inn. Today, its decor reflects its new name, with pictures of flying pigs lining the walls alongside decorative beer bottles and glasses. Dimly-lit tables line the interior of the bar, which also offers outdoor bar garden space during the warmer months. Guests can select from a lineup of excellent ales, ranging from locally-produced microbrews to international selections available in bottles. Light bar fare accompanies drinks, including a high-quality signature pub burger.
106 Hills Rd, Cambridge CB2 1LQ, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-35-46-23
15.Cambridge Blue Public House
© Cambridge Blue Public House
Cambridge Blue Public House is an award-winning traditional British pub that has become known as one of Cambridge's most popular drinkeries over the past century and a half. The pub was originally opened as early as 1869 as the Dew Drop Inn, put in as part of the original commercial development of Gwydir Street. Since then, it has served generations of Cambridge visitors and become known for its excellent Pieminister Pies, which are available in varieties such as the venison and green lentil Deer Stalker, the Stilton-infused Moo and Blue beef pie, and the vegetarian-friendly Heidi, prepared with spinach, sweet potatoes, and goat cheese. Pub classics such as fish and chips or sausage and mash are also served up, along with extensive selections of beers and ciders, including 14 real ale taps and one of Cambridge's largest selections of Belgian beers.
85-87 Gwydir St, Cambridge CB1 2LG, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-47-16-80
© Bath House
Bath House is a laid-back traditional British pub housed within a gorgeous 17th-century renovated inn on Bene't Street, overseen by popular restaurateurs Greene King Brewery. The pub showcases a rotating lineup of brews from both Greene King and guest breweries, including high-quality cask ales and a selection of delicious apple and mixed fruit ciders. Classic pub favorites on the menu include sausages and mash, chicken tikka masala, and loaded mac and cheese, served up alongside a selection of excellent beef, chicken, and vegetarian burgers at lunch and dinner. Fine steaks and hearty pies are also available, along with shareable appetizers like pulled pork nachos and halloumi platters. Live music performances are sometimes showcased on the weekends, adding to the lively atmosphere.
3 Bene't St, City Centre, Cambridge CB2 3QN, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-35-09-69
17.The King Street Run
© The King Street Run
The King Street Run is a quirky pub on King Street, named in honor of the famed Cambridge bar crawling tradition. The pub is housed within a Grade II-listed historic building dating back to the late 18th century, which showcases interesting architectural elements such as a balustraded parapet and Corinthian pillars. Inside, a wallpapered ceiling lines the main dining floor, while several fireplaces and a 3D television flank its upstairs bar area. Delicious ales are served up on tap throughout the week, with affordable happy hour specials offered during the afternoons Mondays through Fridays. A game room offers a billiard table and two pool tables for visitors looking to try their luck behind a cue.
86 King St, Cambridge CB1 1LN, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-32-89-00
© La Raza
La Raza is a charming Mediterranean-style cafe and restaurant that was originally opened in 2003 and has become a popular social destination for the Cambridge community, known for its evening music performances by regional live bands and DJs. The eclectic spot serves up excellent all-day menus, including full menus of coffees and espresso-based beverages available during the morning and afternoon hours. At dinner, guests can choose from a selection of high-quality tapas, ranging from fine Iberian charcuteries and Spanish-style shareable paellas to delicacies such as rosemary chorizo, lamb meatballs, and sizzling prawn tails. Bar bites range from traditional delicacies such as patatas bravas to a selection of hearty ciabatta sandwiches.
4-6 Rose Cres, Cambridge CB2 3LL, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-46-45-50
© Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
The Mitre is an intimate pub that has been in operation on Bridge Street since 1881, located at the site of the former historic Blackmoor's Head and Cock and Magpie inns. Today, the pub is operated as part of the Nicholson's pub chain and serves up delicious St. Austell beers, including the company's renowned pale ale. Seasonal British pub fare is served within a nostalgic dining room with dim lighting, with full-service dining and bar seating areas available. Standard favorites include classic fish and chips and toad in the hole sausage platters, while seasonal fare ranges from lentil cottage pies to haddock and kedgeree fish cakes. Diners can share charcuterie platters or excellent appetizers such as oak-smoked chicken liver pate. Portions of all proceeds from all fish and chips entrees sold benefit the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, making the pub a great choice for diners looking to support charitable organizations with their meal purchases.
17 Bridge St, Cambridge CB2 1UF, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-35-84-03
Fitzbillies has been a Cambridge institution since 1920, known around the world for its famous traditional-style Chelsea buns. The Trumpington Street eatery crafts more than 200,000 of its signature buns, which are similar in style to American-style cinnamon roll but swap out traditional sweet frosting for a currant, brown sugar, and butter glaze. Buns are available in cinnamon, mixed spice, or lemon peel variants, served up dine-in or to-go seven days a week. A 70-seat cafe serves full brunch menus and daily traditional English tea featuring a variety of sandwiches and pastry delicacies, while a coffee bar sells excellent coffees and espresso-based beverages.
51-52 Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RG, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-35-25-00
© Michaelhouse Café
Michaelhouse Café is owned and operates as part of the Bill's Cafés restaurant chain, overseen by famed restaurateur and food critic Bill Sewell. The restaurant, which was opened in 2002, is located within the Michaelhouse Centre redevelopment of St. Michael's Church in the heart of Cambridge's town center. Homemade menus are served at breakfast and lunch Mondays through Saturdays, focusing on hearty, simple fare prepared with locally-sourced ingredients. Menus rotate daily, but often feature favorites such as personal pizzas, quiches, casseroles, and deli-style sandwiches. At breakfast, diners can choose from traditional favorites such as scrambled eggs, flapjacks, and muesli. A full selection of tarts and cakes is available throughout the day, served up alongside coffee shop beverages.
Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1SU, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-30-91-67
AROMI is a delicious Sicilian-style restaurant located within the heart of Cambridge, originally opened in 2013 by the owners of Acireale, Italy's famed Caffe Cipriani coffee shop. The bright, vibrant Mediterranean-style eatery serves up all-day menus of Sicilian favorites, including rustic sourdough pizzas prepared by hand by the restaurant's trained pizzaioli makers and cooked within a traditional stone oven. Authentic Italian-style sandwiches are prepared on focaccia breads, while delectable Sicilian-style arancini balls are served up on wooden boards. The restaurant also prepares its signature Sicilian-blend coffees, which have been a staple on the Italian dining scene for decades.
1 Bene't St, Cambridge CB2 3QN, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-30-01-17
23.Don Pasquale Restaurant
© Don Pasquale Restaurant
Don Pasquale Restaurant is a well-known dining destination in Cambridge's main market square, originally opened in 1973 and operated by second-generation Pasquale family members today. The charming restaurant is housed within an historic merchant's house and offers terrace and cellar seating, along with luxury seating at an exclusive members lounge. Hearty land and sea entrees include traditional fettuccine prosciutto, penne verdure, spaghetti bolognese, and traditional lasagna with bechamel sauce. Diners can enjoy a selection of gourmet pizzas and calzones prepared at the restaurant's basement pizzeria, ranging from traditional margherita variants to Mediterranean-style with cherry tomatoes, black olives, and goat cheese. Full English breakfasts are available each morning, complemented by a selection of cafe beverages and domestic beers.
12 Market Hill, Cambridge CB2 3NJ, UK, Phone: +44-12-23-36-70-63
23 Best Things to Do in Cambridge, UK
- The River Cam, Photo: Pecold/stock.adobe.com
- King’s College Chapel, Photo: chrisdorney/stock.adobe.com
- The Backs, Photo: naiveangelde/stock.adobe.com
- The Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Photo: jenjira/stock.adobe.com
- The Bridge of Sighs, Photo: Nicole Kwiatkowski/stock.adobe.com
- The University of Cambridge, Photo: Roberto Lo Savio/stock.adobe.com
- The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Photo: The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
- Imperial War Museum Duxford, Photo: Imperial War Museum Duxford
- The Mill, Photo: The Mill
- The Eagle, Photo: The Eagle
- The Pint Shop, Photo: The Pint Shop
- The Fountain, Photo: ChiccoDodiFC/stock.adobe.com
- The Cambridge Chop House, Photo: The Cambridge Chop House
- The Flying Pig, Photo: The Flying Pig
- Cambridge Blue Public House, Photo: Cambridge Blue Public House
- Bath House, Photo: Bath House
- The King Street Run, Photo: The King Street Run
- La Raza, Photo: La Raza
- The Mitre, Photo: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
- Fitzbillies, Photo: Fitzbillies
- Michaelhouse Cafe, Photo: Michaelhouse Café
- AROMI, Photo: AROMI
- Don Pasquale Restaurant, Photo: Don Pasquale Restaurant
- Cover Photo: offcaania/stock.adobe.com