10 Unique and Unusual Things to Do in Cambridge UK: Punting, Colleges, Architecture, Activities, and Nightlife

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Cambridge, a beautiful city located in the east of England, is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful university towns in the world. With its historic architecture, picturesque river, and rich cultural heritage, Cambridge has plenty to offer for visitors of all ages and interests. In this article, we will explore some of the top things to do in Cambridge, from taking a punt on the River Cam to visiting world-renowned museums and galleries.

10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge
10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge

As the first blush of sunrise painted the sky, I found myself strolling through the hallowed grounds of Cambridge, a city whose cobbled lanes whisper tales of storied academia and architectural grandeur. Cambridge, the proverbial jewel in the crown of England, truly is a traveler’s dream painted in real life, and I’m here to share my cherished experiences.

Imagine being enveloped in the warm, mellifluous tolling of the King’s College Chapel bell as you enjoy a tranquil punt down the River Cam, the scent of flowers from the Botanic Garden lingering in the air.

Feel the thrill of traversing the labyrinth of Cambridge University’s corridors, each corner revealing centuries-old stories etched in stone. Every facet of Cambridge offers an engaging encounter, an intimate brush with history and culture, and an opportunity to make memories that last a lifetime.

So buckle up, dear explorers! As someone who’s had the privilege of tasting the Cambridge charm firsthand, I am thrilled to be your guide, sharing insights, tips, and a treasure trove of must-dos that will make your Cambridge visit an unforgettable journey.

After all, Cambridge is not just a city to be seen; it’s a city to be experienced, savored, and loved. Read on, and discover the timeless allure of this magnificent city, as I unravel my personal list of things to do in Cambridge!

List of 10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge

Things to DoReason to Visit
Exploring Cambridge’s Historic ArchitectureSee centuries-old buildings and structures
Discovering Cambridge’s Cultural HeritageLearn about the city’s rich cultural history
Punting on the River CamEnjoy a leisurely boat ride and take in the beautiful scenery
Enjoying Cambridge’s Parks and GardensRelax in the green spaces and enjoy the fresh air
Exploring Cambridge’s Food and Drink SceneSample local cuisine and beverages
Enjoying Cambridge’s NightlifeExperience the city’s vibrant nightlife and entertainment
Shopping in CambridgeBrowse through unique boutiques and shops
Taking a Stroll through Cambridge’s MarketplacesExplore the bustling marketplaces and street vendors
Enjoying Outdoor Activities in CambridgeParticipate in outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and more
Exploring Cambridge’s Surrounding VillagesVisit nearby villages and towns to see more of the region’s beauty and charm
Things to Do in Cambridge

Consider reading: 22 Magical Best Places to Visit in Cornwall

Exploring Cambridge’s Historic Architecture and Colleges

Cambridge is famous for its stunning architecture and colleges, which dates back to the medieval period. The city’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly the beautiful King’s College Chapel, which boasts magnificent Gothic architecture and is home to the world-renowned King’s College Choir.

10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge - Architecture
10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge – Architecture

Other must-visit historic buildings include the majestic Great St Mary’s Church and the magnificent Round Church, both of which offer stunning views of the city from their towers.

10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge - View of Trinity College from Punting
10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge – View of Trinity College from Punting

Here is a list of famous colleges in Cambridge:

College NameYear EstablishedNotable Features
University of Cambridge1209One of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world
St. John’s College1511Home to the famous “Bridge of Sighs”
Trinity College1546One of the largest and wealthiest colleges, known for its beautiful gardens
Jesus College1496The college chapel is known for its stunning fan-vaulted ceiling
King’s College1441Home to the famous King’s College Chapel and the annual Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Pembroke College1347The college has a beautiful library that dates back to the 17th century
Magdalene College1428The college has a beautiful riverside setting and is known for its Pepys Library
Clare College1326The college has a beautiful bridge over the River Cam and is known for its choir
Gonville and Caius College1348One of the oldest and wealthiest colleges, with notable alumni including Stephen Hawking
Corpus Christi College1352The college has a beautiful courtyard and is known for its Parker Library, which contains rare manuscripts and books
Famous colleges in Cambridge

Visiting the Architectural buildings and colleges is one of the best things to do in Cambridge.

Discovering Cambridge’s Cultural Heritage

Cambridge’s robust cultural heritage is waiting to be discovered, hidden in its labyrinth of cobblestone streets. Embarking on a journey here is a testament to curiosity, a tribute to the age-old pursuit of knowledge and culture.

For the discerning traveler, there’s no shortage of Things to Do in Cambridge. The city pulses with a vibrant energy, juxtaposed with its ancient roots. This place, both an academic nucleus and a treasure trove of antiquity, lures many with its unique allure.

On an amble around the city, one cannot miss the iconic King’s College Chapel, the epitome of English Gothic architecture. It’s not just a symbol of Cambridge’s architectural lineage but also a beacon of the city’s spiritual life.

The Fitzwilliam Museum, a veritable cornucopia of art and antiquities, is another place worth visiting. This monument to human creativity and history serves as a focal point in the city’s cultural landscape.

Cambridge isn’t merely a city; it’s an ode to human potential, a living, breathing chronicle of our shared past. The mere act of discovering its cultural heritage, and exploring the myriad Things to Do in Cambridge, is a testament to this enduring spirit. It’s not just a journey through time, but a pilgrimage of the mind. Discover Cambridge, and you’ll find a little bit of yourself along the way.

Punting on the River Cam

If you’re planning a trip to Cambridge, be sure to add punting on the River Cam to your must-do list! This quintessential Cambridge activity offers a unique perspective of the city’s stunning architecture and beautiful gardens.

10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge - Punting in the Cam River
10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge – Punting in the Cam River

Going for Punting in Cambridge is one of the must-do things in Cambridge.

Glide along the river on a traditional flat-bottomed boat, while your knowledgeable guide shares fascinating stories and history about the area.

Price for Punting in Cambridge:

Tour of the college ‘Backs’

Category1-hour tour1 hour tour
Adults£18 per person£20 per person
Seniors/Students£16 per person£18 per person
Children under 12£9 per child£12 per child
Minimum charge£120 per punt£140 per punt
Tour of the college ‘Backs’

Tours to Granchester Village

CategoryOne wayReturn
Adults£24 per person£30 per person
Seniors/Students£22 per person£27 per person
Children under 12£16 per child£18 per child
Weekday minimum charge£240 per punt£300 per punt
Weekend minimum charge£260 per punt£320 per punt
Tours to Granchester Village

Cambridge 2 hour Walking and Punting Tour

Category2 hour tour
Adults£24 per person
Concessions£22 per person
Under 16£18 per child
Minimum charge£180 per punt
Cambridge 2 hour Walking and Punting Tour

For the latest price visit the Cambridge Punting website

Enjoying Cambridge’s Parks and Gardens

Cambridge is home to a number of beautiful parks and gardens, perfect for picnics, walks, and relaxing in the sunshine. One of the most popular green spaces in the city is Parker’s Piece, a large open parkland that is popular with locals and visitors alike.

10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge - Visit Parks
10 Unique Things to Do in Cambridge – Visit Parks

Other must-visit parks include Jesus Green, which offers stunning views of the River Cam, and the Botanic Garden, which is home to a wide variety of plants and flowers from around the world.

Exploring Cambridge’s Food and Drink Scene

A journey through Things to Do in Cambridge cannot be deemed complete without delving into the city’s bustling food and drink scene. A melange of flavors from across the globe, this culinary landscape is teeming with possibilities that seamlessly fuse tradition with innovation.

Meandering through Cambridge’s historic streets, one is greeted with a kaleidoscope of cuisines. Things to Do in Cambridge must definitely include savoring the delectable treats served in quaint bistros, avant-garde restaurants, and bohemian cafes alike. These gastronomic havens, each unique, represent a culinary narrative as diverse as Cambridge’s cultural tapestry.

The drink scene too, is an exemplar of variety. From iconic English pubs offering a range of ales and ciders, to swanky bars boasting meticulously curated selections of spirits and cocktails, the city caters to every connoisseur’s whims and fancies.

An exploration of Things to Do in Cambridge necessitates an immersion into its food and drink culture. Here, gastronomy is not just a mere routine but an indulgence, a veritable rite of passage for anyone seeking to experience the essence of the city. Each dish, and each drink, tells a story, echoing the rich heritage and eclectic spirit of Cambridge.

In the grand tapestry of Things to Do in Cambridge, the food and drink scene stands as a vibrant testament to the city’s ever-evolving dynamism and its enduring adherence to tradition.

A visit here is a sojourn for the senses, a harmonious blend of the familiar and the exotic, making it a must on every epicurean’s bucket list.

Enjoying Cambridge’s Nightlife

The dusky veil of the evening descends, and Things to Do in Cambridge begin to unfurl in the city’s vibrant nightlife. Cambridge, often celebrated for its prestigious educational institutions, unfolds a different persona once twilight sets in.

Venerable buildings, casting their age-old shadows, transform into thriving venues for jovial nightlife. Amongst the Things to Do in Cambridge, traversing the labyrinthine lanes of the city under the starlit skies to find hidden speakeasies, teeming with lively conversations and eclectic drinks, ranks at the top.

From the buoyant rhythms of salsa at The Cambridge Junction to the resplendent performances at the ADC Theatre, the nocturnal allure of this city is as diverse as it is thrilling. The city’s well-renowned pubs, such as The Eagle, often turn into vibrant social hubs, resounding with convivial laughter and the clinking of glasses.

Venture into the bustling market squares, adorned with captivating lighting and energetic street performers. The gastronomic delights of the city, from midnight bites at The Food Park to culinary masterpieces at Midsummer House, too, serve as enticing Things to Do in Cambridge.

Whether you seek cultural immersion in late-night museum tours, or the tranquil charm of punting under the moonlight on the River Cam, Cambridge’s nightlife embraces every taste. It is a city that reveals an enigmatic side under the night’s canvas, offering a myriad of experiences and unforgettable memories.

Shopping in Cambridge

Cambridge is home to a wide range of independent shops and boutiques, as well as a number of high street stores and shopping centers.

Some of the best places to shop in the city include the Grand Arcade, a stylish and modern shopping center that is home to a wide range of stores.

Taking a Stroll through Cambridge’s Marketplaces

For those looking for a more traditional shopping experience, Cambridge also boasts a number of bustling marketplaces, selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts and souvenirs.

The Cambridge Market, located in the heart of the city, is a lively and colorful marketplace that has been trading for over 1,000 years.

Other must-visit marketplaces include the All Saints Garden Art and Craft Market, which showcases the work of local artists and craftspeople, and the Mill Road Winter Fair, a festive event that takes place each December.

Enjoying Outdoor Activities in Cambridge

Immerse yourself in the cultural richness of the University City and relish Things to Do in Cambridge that promises endless fun and thrill. Revel in the charm of quaint gardens, the grandeur of historic architecture, or the tranquillity of the River Cam.

The quintessence of Cambridge lies in the marriage of its heritage and the vibrancy of its outdoors. From picnicking in the lushness of Jesus Green, soaking up the history etched in the Round Church, or punting down the River Cam, the outdoor activities encapsulate a unique experience that is indelibly Cambridge.

Engage in the bucolic pastime of punting, a quintessentially Cambridge activity. It provides a vantage point to appreciate the architectural splendor and the bucolic beauty lining the river, making it one of the favored Things to Do in Cambridge.

Experience the mystical tranquillity of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Meandering through the beautiful displays of vibrant flora and unique plant species can be quite a restorative and refreshing experience.

While a Cambridge outing may exude an aura of elitism, it deftly blends it with a dose of the commonplace and the accessible. A charming mix of history and nature, of tradition and innovation, it offers an irresistible proposition to those seeking memorable outdoor experiences.

In conclusion, the palette of Things to Do in Cambridge caters to a gamut of preferences and passions, promising an enriching and unique experience to each visitor. Indulge in these activities and uncover the many delightful layers of this timeless city.

Exploring Cambridge’s Surrounding Villages

Beyond the city limits, the surrounding villages of Cambridge are also well worth a visit. The picturesque village of Grantchester, located just a few miles from the city center, is famous for its tranquil riverside setting and beautiful thatched cottages.

Other must-visit villages include the charming village of Coton, which boasts a beautiful medieval church and a number of traditional pubs, and the historic village of Histon, which is home to a number of beautiful period properties and a stunning 14th-century church.

Consider reading: 15 Best Places to Visit in Lake District

List of Unusual Things to Do in Cambridge

Don’t want to do the touristy thing in Cambridge? Here are some recommendations for Unusual Things to Do in Cambridge:

Things to DoWhy They Are Special
Go paddle boardingPaddleboarding is becoming a trendy alternative to traditional punting in Cambridge. You can learn it at Milton Country Park and then hit the River Cam.
Escape roomsThe craze for escape rooms is sweeping the country. Channel your inner Steve McQueen at Cambridge’s LockHouse Escape Rooms.
Visit Calverley’s BreweryLocated in the Mill Road area, Calverley’s Brewery offers a range of craft beers brewed on-site and a revolving selection of food vans.
Learn a circus trickAt the Cambridge Community Circus, you can learn various circus skills like juggling, aerial skills, and hula hoop.
Explore backstreet pubsCambridge has many great pubs off the main drags. Just take a walk, especially off either side of Mill Road, to find a cozy backstreet pub.
Visit the Centre for Computing HistoryCambridge, being a city with a rich history in computer science, has its own museum and education center dedicated to the subject, located on the unassuming Coldham’s Road.
Swim in Jesus Green LidoOne of the longest outdoor swimming pools in Europe, it is open between May and September. The water can be quite cold in the spring but very invigorating.
Visit Cambridge University Library exhibitionsThe library often hosts fascinating temporary exhibitions, drawing on its vast archives. Fewer people in search of culture head down to this library, making it a unique experience.
Charity shopping on Burleigh Street and Mill RoadBoth streets have many charity shops. As Cambridge has quite a few well-heeled residents, you can often find real treasures if you’re willing to dig.
Unusual Things to Do in Cambridge

Final Thoughts on Unique Things to Do in Cambridge in 2023

As the sun dips low and the spires of Cambridge silhouette against the evening sky, you’ll find yourself reflecting on the moments that make this city so unique.

Be it the scholarly vibe permeating from the venerable colleges, the tranquil journeys on the River Cam, or the simple joy of exploring quaint bookshops and cozy cafes in winding alleys – Cambridge has a unique story to share with every visitor.

The thing about Cambridge is that it never stops surprising you. Every cobblestone, every centuries-old building, every leafy corner – they all hold an endearing tale.

As someone who’s seen Cambridge through the lens of awe and wonder, I can confidently say that the city is not just a destination; it’s an experience, a feeling, and a beautiful chapter in your travel diary.

Cambridge is an intricate tapestry of history, culture, and inspiring academia, a place that holds a little piece of my heart. From the echoes of the past to the vibrancy of the present, every corner of this city is steeped in allure, waiting to be discovered.

There you have it, my cherished list of things to do in Cambridge, a city that’s brimming with experiences as diverse and vibrant as the cityscape itself. Dive in, savor the moments, and let the Cambridge magic weave its spell around you.

After all, the beauty of travel lies in the experiences you embrace and the memories you make. And trust me, Cambridge is all about creating memories that will stay with you, long after you’ve left its shores.

FAQs on Unique Things to Do in Cambridge

  1. How do I spend a day in Cambridge?

    To spend a day in Cambridge, start with a morning Cambridge day trip. Explore the historic colleges, visit the famous Fitzwilliam Museum, and indulge in a creamy punt along the River Cam. Don’t forget to wander through the picturesque market square and savor some delicious local delicacies. Discover the charm and rich history of Cambridge all in one day!

  2. What is the best time to visit Cambridge?

    The best time to visit Cambridge is during the summer months, from June to August when the weather is warm and sunny.

  3. Can you hire a punt in Cambridge?

    Yes, visitors can hire a punt in Cambridge and try their hand at punting themselves, or opt for a guided tour with an experienced punter.

  4. What is the best way to get around Cambridge?

    Cambridge is a compact city that is easy to explore on foot or by bike. There are also regular bus services and taxis available.

  5. What are some of the best restaurants in Cambridge?

    Some of the best restaurants in Cambridge include Midsummer House, Restaurant 22, and The Oak Bistro.

  6. Is one day enough in Cambridge?

    Yes, one day is enough to explore the charming city of Cambridge, UK. With its beautiful architecture, unique shops, and fascinating museums, you can easily experience the highlights of Cambridge in a day. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this picturesque destination.

  7. What can we do at Cambridge?

    There are plenty of things to see and do in Cambridge. Visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, which boasts an outstanding collection of over half a million works of art. Take a punt along the River Cam, a popular activity with around 900,000 annual participants. Don’t miss the Eagle Pub, where DNA was discovered and a haven for World War II airmen. Enjoy your visit to Cambridge!

  8. Is Cambridge a good destination for families?

    Yes, Cambridge is a great destination for families, with plenty of activities and attractions that will appeal to visitors of all ages.

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