Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour

Cambridge is a University city north of London which is popular with tourists looking to escape London and experience history and a slower pace of city life. Cambridge and Oxford are university towns with a rivalry that goes back centuries. Both were founded more than 800 years ago, and between them they have produced a large number of Britain’s most prominent scientists, writers, and politicians. We were lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Cambridge to explore everything the beautiful city had to offer fully.

Things to do in Cambridge, a Cambridge walking our of the mian pedesrian street and marketplace in Cambridge

A popular way to explore the city is by foot as it is easily walkable, and it also gives you the best view of the stunning architecture and finds hidden gems along the way. Oxford has been named the world’s best university. However, there is a widespread belief that Cambridge is slightly superior in the sciences, while Oxford is slightly superior in the social sciences and humanities.

To ensure you see all the best parts of Cambridge, we decided to put together this self-guided walking tour. We included everything from the top sights, hidden gems, and recommended places to eat or get a coffee.

Depending on where you are staying may depend on the order in which you walk, as we were staying out of the city centre we chose to start at the furthest point from the city centre and work our way inwards.

How to get to Cambridge from London

To get to Cambridge from London, there are several transportation options available. The quickest way is to take a train from London King’s Cross Station to Cambridge Station, which takes approximately 45-60 minutes.

Another option is to take a coach or bus from Victoria Coach Station, which typically takes around 2 hours. If you prefer to drive, the journey takes approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on the traffic.

Things to do in Cambridge a self guided walking tour

Cambridge is a picturesque city with a wealth of history and stunning architecture, making it the perfect place for a self-guided walking tour. Begin your exploration at the famous King’s College, known for its grand chapel and beautiful river views. From there, wander through the cobbled streets and discover hidden gems like the Corpus Clock and the Bridge of Sighs.

Don’t forget to stop by the University of Cambridge’s stunning libraries, including the Wren Library and the Parker Library, which are home to rare manuscripts and books. As you walk along the River Cam, you can admire the iconic scenery of punts floating by and students rowing along. To end your tour, head to the charming Market Square, where you can browse the stalls selling fresh produce, crafts, and trinkets. A self-guided walking tour of Cambridge is the best way to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning sights. 

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Cambridge Botanic Gardens

The furthest attraction in Cambridge is the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a country oasis built in the middle of a city. It was designed to be an area in which students of the University of Cambridge can go and learn about plant life, botany and more.

Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour
©By Derek Harper, CC BY-SA 2.0,

We found the gardens extremely relaxing to visit as you can quickly forget you are in the middle of a city. The botanic gardens are extremely accessible for those with pushchairs, prams and those who require wheelchair access. In addition, there is a cafe and small shop on-site for those looking to enjoy a break or pick up a unique gift or plant.

The Cambridge botanic gardens are enjoyable all year round, and you can even have the chance of spotting some wildlife from squirrels, hedgehogs and even a fox.

Entry Cost: £7 per adult, children up to the age of 16 are free, students go free, and those assisting disabled visitors are free.

Address: 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE

Fitzwilliam Museum

From the Botanic Gardens, we walked down Trumpington Street towards the Fitzwilliam Museum. The museum is on the left-hand side of the road and is pretty hard to miss. The brilliant white building is prominent, stunning and looks like it has come from a Grecian city.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam Museum is home to a wide range of intriguing, beautiful, and historical exhibitions, so there is plenty to see no matter where your interests lie.

Entry Cost: Free – Booking Required

Address: Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB

Loch Fyne Restaurant & Bar

Just over the road from the Fitzwilliam Museum, there is a well-known restaurant and bar – Lock Fyne. Loch Fyne restaurant is an upscale chain restaurant serving sustainably sourced British seafood & Fish and a more comprehensive range of dishes.

Loch Fyne PUb and restaurant in Cambridge. An old white painted building probably dating back to the medieval age
©The wub, CC BY-SA 4.0

While you might not be hungry or, this may not be the place for you, I was very much interested in the building it is within. The building is intriguing, historical (like much of Cambridge), and over 500 years old, making it an exciting place to stop and view, if only for a minute.

The Backs & River Cam By Punt

Once you have enjoyed a quick visit (or longer if you are stopping for a bite to eat or drink) at the Loch Fyne restaurant, you want to carry on walking down Trumpington Street for a few minutes; then on your second left, you want to head down Silver Street On Silver street, you can find Scudamore’s Boatyard, the perfect place to hop in a Punt and enjoy a gentle boat ride along the River Cam and explore the famous Backs.

Though this is a walking tour, it is an iconic part of visiting Cambridge and is an excellent way of seeing some of the colleges, architecture and buildings from the River Cam. Unfortunately, many streets or walkways don’t follow along the River Cam or are restricted for faculty and students of the colleges themselves.

Trinity Bridge in Cambridge punts on the river heading towards the bridge

You can opt for a pick-up and drop off at the same place or depart at a different part of the river. There is a wide range of punting tours, private hire and special events such as afternoon tea punting tours or gin punting tours. These are perfect if you are looking to celebrate, enjoy the weather or splash out to sit back and relax.

Though if you are looking to save money during your trip to Cambridge, you can carry on walking down Trumpington Street until you hit a small gathering of people at the corner of a building. This will indicate you have arrived at your next attraction.

The Corpus Clock

The Corpus Clock is located in the very corner window of a building that lies on Trumpington Street, Kings Parade, and Bene’t Street.

The magnificent clock is also known as the Grasshopper clock and is a large sculptural clock located in the window of Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University.

The clock has been in residence at the Taylor Library since its inauguration in 2008. Unfortunately, the clock itself doesn’t have any hands or digital numbers, making it harder to read the time. However, if you look carefully, you can see three rings of LEDs that show the hours, minutes and seconds working from the inside out.

Cambridge Walking Tour Corpus Clock at Corpus Christi College

The significance of the grasshopper on top of the clock is known as a ‘Chronophage’, meaning ‘time-eater, which is what the clock symbolizes. The Latin inscription underneath reads’ mundus transitMundusncupiscentia eius’, meaning ‘the world and its desires pass away.

The clock is hypnotizing and is popular with tourists as it is so unusual; It is also gold plated face which makes it stand out compared to its surroundings.

Once you have marvelled at the Grasshopper Clock, head down Kings Parade to explore Kings College and St Johns Chapel.

St Johns Chapel & Kings College

The public is welcome to enter the college grounds and St Johns Chapel for a price of £10 per adult. However, to purchase a ticket, you would be required to walk to the Kings College Visitor Center, which is opposite the entrance to Kings College. From there you can buy a ticket, guidebook and even some souvenirs of your trip from books, postcards and apparel.

Once you have your ticket, head back over to the entrance, your ticket will be checked. Out of all the attractions, I would say this is the one that is worth paying for as you have access to the grounds, St Johns Chapel and fantastic views over the River Cam.

UK, Cambridge - August 2018: St John's College Chapel, view along the Nave

King’s College was founded by King Henry VI in 1441. Queens’ was founded by his wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou in 1448. Upon entering the campus, you will see an ornate fountain in the centre of a grassy courtyard and a large ornate building behind it, to the right, you will see the exterior of St Johns Chapel, which is magnificent.

The beautiful grounds, including the world-famous backs along the River Cam, provide a tranquil and inspiring setting. King’s College Cambridge has a rich cultural heritage, with its internationally acclaimed choir performing at the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, broadcast worldwide on Christmas Eve. 

Entry Cost: £10 per adult

Address: 11 St Johns St, Cambridge CB2 1TW

Benets – Gelato & Coffee

Once you have browsed the beautiful views of Kings College and St Johns Chapel, head back out the way you came in and walk directly over the street to Benets. We enjoyed a well-earned tub of gelato and a drink after needing a rest from all that exploring.

I would recommend eating out if it is a nice day, but head upstairs and grab the seat in the corner by the window if you are visiting in the winter months. Although either window will give you a great view, from the window on the right-hand side, we could see the chapel and college grounds which were stunning.

Alternatively, if you sit on the left-hand side and peer out the window, you can expect to see Great St. Marys Church, where you will be heading next.

Great St Mary’s Church

Within a stone’s throw distance from Kings College and Benets Cafe, you can find Great St. Marys Church. The Church itself is beautiful and was the first Church to be used for University meetings and is often referred to as the University Church.

Church of St Mary the Great in Cambridge

Great St Mary’s Church is free to the public to enter and explore, sit in the pews and enjoy concerts, practices and worship. While the climb to the tower costs, it is worth the money. The climb up the tower is narrow and steep, so this may not be for you if you struggle with your footing or struggle with stairs.

However, if you want to get amazing panoramic views over Cambridge, this is the place for you. Once at the top of the tower, you can sit and take a minute to catch your breath or head straight to the viewpoints to look at the stunning city. We loved the views of Kings College and St. Johns Chapel from the top of the tower as you could see a birds-eye view of the architecture.

Entry Cost: Free to the Church itself – Climbing the 123 tower stairs is £

Address: The University Church, Senate House Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PQ

Cambridge Market

Traders have been running stalls at the historic market square in the city centre since the Middle Ages. It is open for trading from 10am to 4pm every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

CAMBRIDGE/UK - AUG 28, 2019.  Market Square and Great St Mary's Church, Cambridge.

Once you have climbed the 123 narrow stone stairs of Great St Marys tower, head back out to the cobbled streets and walk to the back of the Church to the market area. Sitting snuggly to the back of the Church is the Cambridge Market full of unique foods, gifts and more.

The Eagle Pub

The Eagle Pub is a great place to stop and enjoy a drink or even something to eat, but more importantly, it is a great place to go to steep yourself in history. The Eagle Pub originally opened in 1667 as the “Eagle and Child” as a coaching house and is the second oldest pub in Cambridge.

The pub itself is historic due to the connections to World War II USAF and RAF pilots, as you can see names carved into the pub walls themselves. The men in the Second World War came to the Eagle Pub to drink and socialize; they used tools such as petrol lighters, lipstick and wax candles to write their names, squadron numbers and other notes onto the ceiling of the rear bar.

The Eagle Pub where DNA discovery was announced in 1953 by scientists of the Cavendish Laboratory

It was a tradition said to be started by RAF Flight Sergeant P.E.Turner, who was said to have climbed on a table and burned his name into the bar’s ceiling. With the graffiti, the pub quickly got the name ‘RAF Bar’ and was later discovered and preserved by a former RAF Chief Technician in the early 1990s. It was also the pub where the world famous announcement on the discovery of DNA was announced in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson.

Entry Cost: Free unless eating or drinking at the establishment

Address: Bene’t St, Cambridge CB2 3QN

King’s Parade

King’s Parade is undoubtedly one of the most iconic streets in Cambridge. Located in the heart of the city, it boasts a rich history and is lined with stunning historic buildings. The street takes its name from King’s College, one of the prestigious colleges in the University of Cambridge. Walking along King’s Parade, visitors are treated to a feast for the eyes. The magnificent King’s College Chapel stands proudly at one end, with its intricate Gothic architecture and soaring spires.

Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour

On the opposite side, the Senate House, a grand neoclassical building, adds to the charm. The street is bustling with activity, as students hurry to lectures, locals enjoy a coffee at one of the quaint cafés, and tourists snap pictures of the picturesque scenery. Dominated by the towering structures of the colleges and adorned with vibrant flowers in the spring and summer, King’s Parade is a sight to behold, truly capturing the essence of Cambridge’s historic beauty.

Trinity College Chapel

Trinity College Chapel is the associated chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge. Part of the chapel is Grade I listed and dates from the mid 16th century. The Church is an Anglican church and is open to visitors and worshippers year-round.

Trinity College Chapel in Cambridge

The chapel’s construction began in 1554-1555 and was ordered by Queen Mary, which was then completed under the order of Elizabeth I.

Entry Cost: Free

Address: Trinity College, Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TQ

Mathematical bridge

 One of the historic landmarks in Cambridge is the Mathematical Bridge.  Originally created by William Etheridge in 1748 and constructed the following year by James Essex the Younger, the bridge was initially situated at the location where Garret Hostel Bridge now stands.

Mathematical bridge in spring Scenic view of Mathematical bridge over Cam river next to Presidents Lodge, Cambridge, England.

However, it currently links the old Tudor section of the college to the new Erasmus buildings on the other side of the Cam. The bridge has undergone two reconstructions (in 1866 and 1905) as a result of the timber deteriorating, yet its design has remained unaltered.The bridge defies traditional architecture with an arched bridge created from straight timbers.

Entry Cost: £3.50

Address: Accessed from the Porter’s lodge, 8 Silver St, Cambridge CB3 9EL 

Kings College Chapel

King’s College Chapel in Cambridge is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. Built between 1446 and 1515, it is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. The chapel’s stunning exterior features ornate stone carvings and intricate details that showcase the skill and craftsmanship of its builders. Inside, the chapel boasts a breathtakingly beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

Cambridge, UK-May 22, 2023: View from chorus of interior of King's college chapel, with the pipe organ, in Cambridge University, England. With the greater fan vault and beautiful stained glass windows

The stained glass windows are equally awe-inspiring, with vibrant colors that illuminate the space with a heavenly glow. King’s College Chapel is also home to the world-famous King’s College Choir, known for its angelic voices. Each Christmas Eve, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast from the chapel, attracting millions of listeners across the globe. The chapel is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of Cambridge’s rich history and architectural beauty, making it a must-visit attraction for locals and tourists alike. 

St. Johns College 

St John’s College Cambridge is one of the most prestigious and historic colleges in the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1511, it has been home to many renowned academics and intellectuals throughout its long history. St John’s College is situated along the banks of the River Cam and boasts a picturesque setting, with its iconic Bridge of Sighs and beautiful courtyards.

UK, Cambridge - August 2018: St John's College Chapel, view along the Nave

St Catherine’s College

St. Catherine’s College, located in the historic city of Cambridge, is renowned for its academic excellence and rich history. Established in 1962, the college is one of the youngest in the University of Cambridge. St. Catherine’s is known for its modern architectural design, characterized by brutalist style buildings. The beautiful grounds and gardens of St. Catherine’s provide a tranquil setting for students to relax and unwind.

Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour
©Cambridge Colleges

The Ivy

One of the final steps on the walking tour is The Ivy restaurant and bar, where you can enjoy everything from a light bite, cocktail or three-course meal. The Ivy is an iconic brand and chain of restaurants across the UK, with the very first starting in London.

Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour

Whether you choose to visit The Ivy or walk by, it is worth a visit. The exterior of the building is very well pretty and is covered in florals. We stopped in for lunch one day and were pleasantly surprised with the reasonable prices for the high-quality food.

Entry Cost: Booking may be required to have a table for drinks or dining

Address: City Centre, 16 Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TB

The Round Church

The final stop on the walking tour of Cambridge is The Round Church, located on Bridge Street. The Church is an Anglican church within a unique round structure. The Church has been a Grade I listed building since 1950 and is currently managed by Christian Heritage.

Round church in Cambridge

The Church is a great place to visit if you enjoy both history and architecture as the building is attractive with wonderful gargoyle style statues and a high circular ceiling to look up at. We enjoyed reading much of the information about the Church, religion, and the history behind it all interesting.

Entry Cost: £3.50 for adults and £1 for teens & students

Address: Round Church Vestry, Bridge St, Cambridge CB2 1UB

Free Cambridge Walking Tour

A Footbridge Walking tour of Cambridge and experience the beauty and history of the city from a unique perspective. Stroll along the iconic River Cam, crossing the various footbridges as you explore the famous colleges and landmarks.

Admire the picturesque views of the tranquil waters, lush greenery, and charming architecture. Your knowledgeable guide will regale you with interesting facts and stories about the city’s rich heritage. Discover hidden gems and secret corners of Cambridge that are often missed by conventional tours. Whether you are a visitor or a local, this tour is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of Cambridge while getting your daily exercise. These guided tours are free but always tip your tour guide what you think the tour is worth. 

Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour

Why you should take a walking tour of Cambridge

Cambridge is a city steeped in history and charm, and taking a walking tour is the best way to immerse yourself in its beauty. As you wander the picturesque streets, you will encounter stunning architecture, with iconic landmarks such as King’s College Chapel and the Mathematical Bridge. A knowledgeable guide will regale you with fascinating stories and facts about the city’s rich past, from its medieval origins to its world-renowned university. Walking tours also allow you to explore hidden gems and secret corners that you might otherwise miss. So, put on your walking shoes and let the enchantment of Cambridge unfold before your eyes.

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Best things to do in Cambridge a Cambridge walking tour


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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