women and a kid casually exploring the grounds of Kings College in Cambridge Uk

Day Trip To Cambridge From London: How to Plan Your Day

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.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links, and I will earn a small commission for any sales made through such links – at no extra cost to you.

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 of London.

How to Get to Cambridge

Getting To Cambridge from London is easy. In this section, we’ll explore three 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.

The train is pictured inside the Cambridge train station.

Tip: It is highly recommended that train tickets be purchased online in advance, as it can save you money compared to purchasing them at the station.

Trainline is an excellent online platform for booking train tickets. It offers a simple, 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.

London to Cambridge By Bus

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, download an online map on your phone or pick up a printed map from the Tourist Information Centre on Peas Hill.

Man a kid holding hands walking across the pedestrian street in Cambridge UK

Another 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.

Grab Breakfast

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 do 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. Before exploring Cambridge University, you can grab a quick coffee and a bite of artisan bread Sandwiches and freshly baked pastries.

Address: 7 Station Rd, Cambridge CB1 2JB, United Kingdom. Open Daily except Sunday from 8:00 AM.

Norfolk Bakery window shows some pastries and a list of what the cafe offers, such as artisan bread, sandwiches, pastries, fresh cakes, ground coffee, and savories.

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.

A woman and a kid casually standing inside the Kings College Campus in Cambridge

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.

A woman is standing inside the Kings College Chapel, looking at the interior of the beautiful building and glassed windows.

Trinity College

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.

Exterior of Trinity College in Cambridge, Uk.
Photo by marcoclaratravels.com

Queens’ College

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 ancient Egyptian artifacts and learn about the 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 weapons 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 in which you glide along the river on a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a long pole. As you pass famous sights like the Bridge of Sighs and King’s College Chapel, your knowledgeable guide will tell you fascinating facts about the history of this beautiful city.

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.

Pictured is a river cam in Cambridge with the punting boats parked inside the water.
Photo by chargetheglobe.com

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 the places below.

  • Aromi: Located inside King’s College, Aromi is a one-stop spot for 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 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.

Evening Activities

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 a huge selection of Cambridge University Press publications, Cambridge-related gifts, and other special offers.

A man and a kid are passing by the exterior of Cambridge University Bookshop, and many bikes are parked on the street in front of it.

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:

  1. The Backs – A picturesque area where several of Cambridge’s colleges back onto the river.
  2. 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

The best time to visit Cambridge is between June and September when the weather is warm and the days are long. However, 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 in Cambridge is enough to see some of the main attractions, it is 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.

Book University Arms

Two blue bikes stand outside with the Cambridge UK hotel sign "University Arms."
  • Gonville Hotel: This stylish luxury hotel is located near the city center, perfect for exploring Cambridge’s attractions. After a long day of sightseeing, you can enjoy the on-site restaurant and spa facilities. Check out their availability.

Book Gonville Hotel

Day Trip to Cambridge Itinerary Tips

To make your Cambridge itinerary more enjoyable, consider these tips:

  1. Book your accommodations at least two to three months to secure the best prices and availability.
  2. Check the local event calendar for festivals, concerts, or special exhibits that may be happening during your visit.
  3. Plan your activities ahead, focusing on the top attractions, such as King’s College, Kings College Chapel, the Mathematical Bridge, and punting experiences.
  4. Remember to set aside time to wander the charming streets, soak up the atmosphere, and try delicious local food.

By following these suggestions, your one day in Cambridge will be memorable, and you’ll leave with lasting impressions of this beautiful English city.

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, consider traveling by car if you prefer a more scenic route. You can stop at picturesque spots such as Wimpole Estate and Audley End House, 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.

The Red Cambridge tour hop-and-off bus is pictured in the street in Cambridge, UK, and a beautiful building is behind it.

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 the UK, consider a few more day trips like visiting Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge! We were pretty 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 in the future.

If you want more day trip ideas while in London, you may love a guide on how to spend a day in Notting Hill, London.

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