Fancy a day off from jostling for space on the tube with other travellers and the local city commuters? There are plenty of places close to London to discover more of the south, including the stunning university city of Cambridge!
Situated around an hour away from London by road, its heritage sites and gorgeous outdoor spaces make it a lush option for a relaxing day out.
Why not tick off another city from your UK road trip bucket list?
So, what’s all the fuss about Cambridge?
Yes we all know about the prestigious college campuses which have been educating some of the world’s brightest minds for over 800 years!
Not ready to take the students on in a battle of minds? We don’t blame you!
Luckily, there’s far more to this elegant city than just its university campus.
It’s also a real oasis of riverside walks, charming country pubs and gorgeous gardens which are a far cry from the busy streets of London.
Want to plan your itinerary ahead of time? Consider the following tried-and-tested Cambridge activities:
For a taste of the local culture, don’t pass up a punting trip
Punting is one of the top pastimes of Cambridge residents and there are few better places to experience it than The Backs!
The Backs is a grassy section of the River Cam shoreline that’s backed onto by numerous Cambridge University buildings (hence the name). Ready to picnic and watch the world float by? This is the spot for you!
And if you’re feeling confident, why not take the oars and navigate your way down the river solo in your very own punt?
Not that brave? Us neither! To get the best of the Backs without testing your bravery limits, all you need to do is book a local guide who’ll do all the hard work for you and point out key landmarks along the way! Winner.
You’ll spot loads of punt hire places along the river, but it’s usually best to book in advance.
For fabulous flora and fauna, have a gander around the Botanic Gardens
Owned and maintained by the university, this beautiful garden is a paradise for both green-fingered gardeners and those who just fancy having a nap beneath a centuries-old tree! Please wake us up if you see us dozing again!
You’ll find the Cambridge University Botanic Garden just south of the city centre. It’s a real haven that’s filled with over 8,000 different plant species!
Other highlights inside this botanical wonderland include numerous woodland trails, the Scented Garden (it’s filled with fragrant herbs!), and the tufted Grass Maze that’s ideal for keeping any energetic kids entertained!
For wannabe polar explorers, check out the Scott Polar Research Institute
Always been fascinated by Arctic explorers and their death-defying trips across snow and ice? This museum is for you.
You’ll find the awesome Scott Polar Research Institute Museum (aka the Polar Museum) on Lensfield Road and it actually forms part of Cambridge University’s geography department.
Love those elbow patches made famous by geography teachers? Us too! If you can’t find any of them, you’ll be able to make do with the exhibits on both historic polar expeditions and modern exploits into polar conservation.
For delicious local grub and unique souvenirs, splash some cash at Market Square
This historic square smack-bang in the heart of Cambridge has been a place of trade ever since Medieval times!
Today, Market Square comes alive daily from 10am ‘til 4pm with stalls selling everything from indie clothing and pretty house plants to rare records and vintage books.
Keen to strike a deal and bask in your own triumph? After you’ve bartered for a bargain, why not munch down on snacks from one of the numerous global food stands?
Planning a day trip up to Cambridge on a Sunday? The square steps it up with a local arts, crafts and food market. It’s the ideal place to pick up some local pottery and unique artwork or to stock up your kitchen cupboards with organic produce from nearby farms.
For the quintessential Cambridge experience, book a university tour
It’s impossible to go to Cambridge without setting foot on its university campus. That’s partly down to the fact they dominate most of the city centre!
Even if you don’t feel like you’ve got the academic minerals to be allowed on campus, they will let you in to look at the buildings. You can see where some of the world’s greatest scientists, historians and leaders lived, studied and hung out at key sites such as Trinity College, St John’s College and King’s College Chapel.
Fancy meeting some of the students themselves? Why not book onto an intriguing guided history tour of the university with a graduate for under £20.
Keen to soak up more of England? Why not explore the gorgeous South Coast or head west to the beautiful city of Bath? Alternatively, check out our Harry Potter road trip guide that’ll take you to all four corners of the UK in search of magical destinations from the fantastical film series.