Are you planning a day trip from London to Cambridge and need an itinerary? Glad you stopped by here. I have got you covered with a perfect one-day Cambridge itinerary.
Cambridge is a charming city known for its prestigious university, stunning architecture, and rich history. Just a short train ride, it’s the perfect day trip from London.
We planned a day trip to Cambridge from London with our four-year-old and a three-month-old and loved that the day was manageable and not super overwhelming. So, if you are also traveling with kids, Cambridge is an ideal day trip for families.
Cambridge has many things to see and do, from picturesque colleges and majestic churches to beautiful gardens and fascinating museums. In this guide, I will help you plan the perfect day trip itinerary, ensuring you make the most of your time in this beautiful city.
If you feel like you may not have a full day or this may feel rushed, adjust the itinerary to meet your needs and prioritize attractions that you absolutely cannot miss.
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Day Trip To Cambridge Itinerary
Cambridge, UK, is a popular destination for several compelling reasons, but mostly, it is home to its Famous Cambridge University, from which it takes its name. Another famous university in the UK is Oxford.
The Cambridge city has a stunning architecture. You can explore the rich history and impressive sights, including the picturesque River Cam, historic landmarks, and beautiful old buildings.
Additionally, Cambridge offers a vibrant cultural scene, with opportunities to visit world-class museums and botanical gardens and enjoy punting along the river.
The city also features an array of independent restaurants and a lively atmosphere, making it an attractive destination for tourists seeking a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty outside the London.
How to Get to Cambridge
Getting To Cambridge from London is easy. In this section, we’ll explore three different ways to reach Cambridge: train, coach, and car.
London to Cambridge train
Taking a train is the most convenient and quickest way for a day trip from London to Cambridge. I highly recommend this option. Trains depart multiple times an hour from various London stations.
You can choose from several stations in London that go to Cambridge, but we recommend going from either King’s Cross or Liverpool Street since they are all very well-connected.
The journey can last from 50 to 80 minutes, depending on which train you are on. The fastest trains take approximately 50 minutes.
We took a train from the Liverpool Street Station. While very easy to navigate, ensure you arrive 20-30 minutes early for your train to give yourself enough time to navigate the stations.
Also, listen to any announcements that may affect your train line. Our train from Cambridge Station was switched at the last minute, and we all had to make a quick en route to get to the train before it departed.
Tip: Buying train tickets online in advance is highly recommended, as it can save you money compared to purchasing them at the station.
Trainline is an excellent online platform to book your train tickets. They offer a simple and easy-to-use website where you can search for trains and book tickets in advance. You can also check the train schedule with various time slots and choose the most convenient train for your trip.
If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, consider traveling by Bus. The journey takes approximately 2 hours, and while it might take longer than taking a train, you can enjoy the scenic route as the coach winds its way towards Cambridge.
Tip: Like train tickets, booking your bus tickets online can save you money and ensure you secure a seat on the bus.
London to Cambridge By Car
Driving from London to Cambridge is an excellent option for those who enjoy the freedom of road trips. The distance between the two cities is around 63 miles (101 kilometers), and it takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive, depending on traffic.
Route suggestions: You can opt for the M11 motorway, the most direct route, or venture along the A10 road for a more leisurely and scenic journey.
How to Get around in Cambridge
Upon arrival in Cambridge, you’ll find it’s a very walkable city. Most attractions are within a short distance from each other, so you can easily explore the picturesque streets and beautiful architecture on foot. To help plan your walking route, it’s a good idea to download an offline map on your phone or pick up a printed map from the Tourist Information Centre located on Peas Hill.
Another most convenient way to get around is biking. You will notice a lot of bikes in Cambridge and if you feel like cycling you can rent a bike for you.
As we did, I assume you will leave London early in the morning to ensure you have an entire day to spend in Cambridge. If you did not have time to grab breakfast, you can do so as soon as you get off the Train.
You will reach the Norfolk Street Bakery about five minutes from the Cambridge train station. You can grab a quick coffee and a bite of artisan bread Sandwiches and freshly baked pastries before exploring Cambridge University.
Address: 7 Station Rd, Cambridge CB1 2JB, United Kingdom. Open Daily except Sunday from 8:00 AM.
Visit the University of Cambridge
After a quick breakfast, start your day with a visit to the prestigious University of Cambridge, which comprises 31 colleges. Here are some of the most popular ones you can check out.
Kings College and King’s College Chapel
Visit King’s College Cambridge to experience its stunning architecture, rich history, and beautiful grounds. Don’t miss out on the stunningly beautiful King’s College Chapel.
Established in 1441, this iconic building is an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of Cambridge’s rich history.
As you explore the chapel, marvel at its impressive fan vault ceiling and famous medieval stained glass windows.
Exploring the King’s Chapel was one of my favorites during our day trip to Cambridge from London.
Your visit to the chapel is self-guided. I recommend that you purchase your tickets online in advance.
Another college worth exploring is Trinity College, one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in Cambridge University.
Founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII, Trinity is known for its outstanding alumni, including Sir Isaac Newton and Lord Byron.
As you wander through the Great Court, admire the striking architecture and lush gardens. Don’t forget to visit the Wren Library, which houses exceptional literary works, such as the original manuscript of Winnie-the-Pooh.
Established in 1448, Queens College is also among the most beautiful colleges in Cambridge. The college has a unique blend of medieval and modern architecture, which can be appreciated in buildings like the Old Hall and Cripps Court.
Spend some time strolling along the picturesque River Cam, soak in breathtaking views of the Mathematical Bridge, and learn about the fascinating history unfolding within Queens College over the centuries.
Explore the Fitzwilliam Museum
After you visit the University of Cambridge, head over to the Fitzwilliam Museum to discover a world-class collection of art and antiquities. Unfortunately the Museum was closed on the day we visited Cambridge but here are some highlights to help plan your visit:
- Egyptian: Admire ancielnt Egyptian artifacts and learn about fascinating culture
- European: Explore a diverse range of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts
- Arms and Armour: Discover the history of warfare through an extensive collection of weapon and armor.
Remember to pick up a map at the entrance and check the museum’s website in advance for any special exhibitions or events during your visit.
Hours: The museum is open daily but CLOSED on Monday.
Day trip to Cambridge to London: Afternoon Activities
Punting on the River Cam
After exploring the University of Cambridge colleges, treat yourself to a relaxing and scenic punting tour on the River Cam.
Punting is a traditional Cambridge activity where you glide along the river on a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a long pole. As you punt past the famous sights like the Bridge of Sighs and King’s College Chapel, you’ll learn fascinating facts about the history of this beautiful city from your knowledgeable guide.
You can join a shared punt tour or hire a private boat for a more personalized experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, try punting the boat yourself! But remember, it can take some time to master the technique.
Shopping at Cambridge Market
Once you’ve filled the River Cam, head to Market Hill for some shopping and perhaps a bite. The bustling market is open seven days a week and offers various unique items and local goods. Here’s a quick list of what you might find at Market Hill:
- Fresh produce
- Handmade crafts and jewelry
- Antiques and collectibles
- Vintage clothing
- Delicious street food
Stroll through the market stalls, chat with friendly vendors, and discover one-of-a-kind souvenirs to commemorate your day trip to Cambridge. And when it’s time to take a break, there’s a wide range of cafes and restaurants nearby where you can refuel before continuing your day.
Where to Eat in Cambridge
Take a break exploring and grab lunch at one of these places below.
- Aromi: Located inside King’s College, Aromi is a one-stop spot if you would love to indulge in Sicilian sourdough pizza, gelato, and coffee.
- The Punter: Located near the banks of the River Cam, The Punter offers a cozy atmosphere and mouthwatering menu. Be sure to try their delicious sandwiches, made with locally sourced ingredients.
- Fitzbillies: A Cambridge institution since 1921, this famous bakery and café is known for its scrumptious Chelsea buns. This one is a highly recommended treat but unfortunately we could not make it here and I cannot stop thinking about it since then. If you try, please let me know if It is worth planning another Cambridge trip for it. haha.
In the evening, you can visit the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. This 40-acre garden is a haven for plant lovers and a beautiful spot to unwind after a busy day of exploring.
Late in the summer, you’ll be awed by the lush, vibrant landscapes and colorful flowers in full bloom. As you wander through the gardens, you’ll discover themed sections such as the Mediterranean Garden and the Lake and Water Garden.
Lastly, check out the Cambridge University Bookshop for new books and some Cambridge Souvenirs! Here you will find huge selection of Cambridge University Press publications, Cambridge-related gifts, and other special offers.
Walk along the Cam River
After your meal, enjoy a leisurely walk along the Cam River to enjoy the serene sights and sounds of Cambridge’s waterway. The river has beautiful greenery, historic buildings, and world-famous universities. You might even glimpse some rowers practicing their skills on the river.
To make the most of your riverside stroll, consider stopping at the following points of interest:
- The Backs – A picturesque area where several of Cambridge’s colleges back onto the river.
- Mathematical Bridge – A famous wooden bridge at Queens’ College, known for its unique design.
Remember to wear comfortable shoes and take your time soaking in the charm and beauty of Cambridge as your day trip comes to a close.
Best Time to Visit Cambridge
Best time to visit Cambridge is between June and September when the weather is warm, and the days are long. However, the month of July is an excellent time for those looking to avoid the tourist crowds while still experiencing the charm of this university town.
Where To Stay
Now, while one day is enough in Cambridge to see some of the main attractions, it is definitely not enough to see everything. If you feel like you want to spend a little more time enjoying the city slowly, the best is to stay overnight. Cambridge has a variety of fantastic hotels to suit all budgets. Some of the top options include:
- University Arms: A classic British hotel perfect for your Cambridge stay. The University Arms boasts 192 rooms and suites, each uniquely decorated with contemporary and traditional styles. It is centrally located, making exploring the city on foot easy. You’ll be able to find your ideal room on.
- Gonville Hotel: This stylish luxury hotel is located near the city center, perfect for exploring Cambridge’s attractions. You can enjoy their on-site restaurant and spa facilities after a long day of sightseeing. Check out their availability on.
Day Trip to Cambridge Itinerary Tips
To make your Cambridge itinerary more enjoyable, consider these tips:
- Book your accommodations at least two to three months in advance to secure the best prices and availability.
- Check the local event calendar for festivals, concerts, or special exhibits that may be happening during your visit.
- Plan your activities ahead, focusing on the top attractions like King’s College, Kings College Chapel, the Mathematical Bridge, and punting experiences.
- Remember to set aside time to wander the charming streets, soak up the atmosphere, and try some delicious local food.
By following these suggestions, your one day in Cambridge will be a memorable experience, and you’ll leave with lasting impressions of this beautiful English.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top attractions to visit in Cambridge on a day trip?
Cambridge offers many attractions for visitors. Some top things to see include the iconic King’s College Chapel, Fitzwilliam Museum, and the stunning Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Stroll around the historic city center and check out the charming Cambridge Market Square.
What is the most efficient way to travel between London and Cambridge?
The most efficient way to travel between London and Cambridge is by train. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and departs from London King’s Cross or Liverpool Street Station. Buses are also available from London Victoria Station but take around 2 hours.
What are some interesting stops between London and Cambridge?
While the train is the fastest option, if you prefer a more scenic route, consider traveling by car. Along the way, you can stop at picturesque spots such as Wimpole Estate and Audley End House, both offering beautiful grounds, gardens, and historical insights.
How to make the most of a 1-day itinerary in Cambridge?
To make the most of your day trip, start by taking a guided walking tour with an alumni tour guide to learn about the history and architecture of Cambridge. Afterward, visit some of the main attractions mentioned above, such as the King’s College Chapel, Fitzwilliam Museum, and the Botanic Garden. Grab lunch at a local favorite like Aromi, and leave time for punting on the River Cam.
The Hop-On Hop-Off Cambridge tour provides a convenient and flexible way to explore the charming city of Cambridge. The tour typically covers 19 stops, allowing visitors to hop on and off at their leisure to visit major attractions such as renowned colleges, museums, and other points of interest. This type of tour offers informative commentary and the flexibility to create a personalized sightseeing itinerary.
What are the must-see Cambridge University locations on a day trip?
There are many impressive Cambridge University locations worth visiting. Some must-see spots include Trinity College, St John’s College, and King’s College. Additionally, you can explore the Wren Library at Trinity College.
Day Trip to Cambridge From London Summary
There you have it, a perfect historical and family-friendly day trip to Cambridge from London. We loved this day trip. If you have more time in UK, consider few more day trips like visiting Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge! We were quite limited with time and Cambridge seemed most convenient for a day trip with kids which I can agree it was. But we cannot wait to visit other places as well in the future. If you are looking at how to spend more days while in London itself; you may love a guide on how to spend a day in Notting Hill, London.