Cambridgeshire Attractions

From the world-renowned spires of Cambridge University to the serene waterways of the River Cam, Cambridgeshire is an enchanting county graced by natural beauty and numerous visitor attractions.

For those of you planning to visit this lovely part of the world, this guide is for you. It showcases some of the best things to do in Cambridgehire including both major tourist attractions and hidden gems.

So get ready to explore the gems that lie in this vibrant and diverse county, where every turn is a new adventure! We begin with one of the most famous seats of learning in the world.

University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge, Cambridge

So what to see in Cambridge? The best place to start would be this world-famous academic institute. The University of Cambridge, nestled in the historic city of Cambridge, UK, is a captivating destination for holiday researchers.

Founded in 1209, it’s one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Cambridge is famed for its breathtaking architecture and inspiring collegiate system, comprising 31 colleges, each with its unique charm.

Visitors can explore the awe-inspiring King’s College Chapel, renowned for its Gothic architecture and the annual Christmas Eve service broadcast globally. The University also boasts the Fitzwilliam Museum, home to world-class art and antiquities.

Strolling along the River Cam provides a picturesque view of the Backs, a stretch of land where several colleges back onto the river, offering a tranquil escape in the heart of the city.

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Ely Cathedral, Ely

Ely Cathedral, Ely

No Cambridgeshire sightseeing tour would be complete without Ely Cathedral. This magnificent structure in the heart of the Cambridgeshire countryside, is a marvel of medieval architecture.

Known as the “Ship of the Fens” for its prominent shape visible for miles across the flat landscape, the cathedral dates back to 1083. Its most distinctive feature, the unique Octagon Tower, built in the 14th century, replaces an earlier tower that collapsed.

The cathedral’s stunning interior includes the Nave, Choir, and Lady Chapel, each displaying exquisite craftsmanship.

Visitors are captivated by the cathedral’s blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, evident in its intricate stonework and vast stained glass windows.

Ely Cathedral is a beacon of historical and architectural significance, attracting tourists, photographers, and history enthusiasts alike. The cathedral also hosts various events, including concerts and exhibitions, adding to its role as a cultural hub in the region.

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The Cambridgeshire Fens

Fens

If you’re looking for activities in Cambridgeshire, how about a visit to he Cambridgeshire Fens? This unique and expansive wetland region features a captivating landscape shaped by centuries of human intervention and natural forces.

This low-lying area is characterised by its flat, open expanses, punctuated by serene waterways, reed beds, and lush farmlands.

The Fens, once a wild marshland, were extensively drained and cultivated over the centuries, making them one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the United Kingdom.

Visitors to the Cambridgeshire Fens can explore its picturesque villages, where charming cottages and ancient churches stand as testaments to the area’s rich history.

The waterways, including the River Great Ouse and its tributaries, offer opportunities for boating, birdwatching and peaceful walks along scenic riverbanks.

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King’s College Chapel, Cambridge

King's College Chapel, Cambridge

One of the major Cambridgeshire attractions, King’s College Chapel is an iconic symbol of Cambridge, renowned for its breathtaking Gothic architecture.

Established by King Henry VI in 1441, the chapel took over a century to complete, reflecting a fusion of religious significance and architectural innovation.

Its most distinctive features include the elaborate fan-vaulted ceiling, the longest of its kind in the world, and the magnificent stained glass windows, some dating back to the 16th century.

The chapel is not just an architectural marvel but also a cultural and musical center, famous for its choir. The annual Christmas Eve service, broadcast globally, is a cherished tradition, showcasing the chapel’s exceptional acoustics.

Visitors are often captivated by the chapel’s serene yet grand atmosphere, making it an essential Cambridgeshire visitor attraction – it stands as a testament to the artistic and scholarly legacy of the University of Cambridge.

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Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely

Oliver Cromwell's House, Ely
Image: olivercromwellshouse.co.uk

Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely, Cambridgeshire, offers a unique glimpse into the life of one of England’s most controversial historical figures.

This well-preserved 17th-century home, where Cromwell resided from 1636 to 1647, now serves as a museum. The house is a vivid representation of the Civil War era, showcasing period furniture and domestic life.

Each room in the house is themed to illustrate different aspects of Cromwell’s life and times, including his roles as a family man, military leader, and Lord Protector.

The kitchen, complete with period utensils and recipes, recreates the culinary practices of the time. The Civil War exhibition provides deeper insight into the tumultuous period of British history.

Visitors can also enjoy interactive exhibits, bringing the era to life. The house, with its unique blend of historical education and immersive experience, is one of the most compelling Cambridgeshire attractions for those interested in British history.

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Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral, Peterborough

Also on our list of things to do in Cambridgeshire is Peterborough Cathedral, which is an absolute masterpiece of Norman architecture.

Founded as a monastery in AD 655 and rebuilt in the 12th century, it stands as a testament to medieval craftsmanship. The cathedral’s striking façade, with its three enormous arches, sets a majestic tone for what lies within.

Its interior is equally impressive, featuring a unique painted wooden ceiling from the 13th century, one of only four such ceilings remaining in Europe. The cathedral is also known for its Gothic nave, which provides an awe-inspiring sense of space and grandeur.

Peterborough Cathedral holds significant historical importance. It is the final resting place of two queens, Katharine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots, whose tombs attract numerous visitors.

Additionally, the cathedral has survived centuries of change, including the Reformation and Civil War, making it a symbol of endurance and continuity.

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Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is a remarkable treasure trove of art and antiquities. Established in 1816 with the bequest of Viscount Fitzwilliam, this museum is renowned for its diverse and extensive collections.

It houses over half a million works, including masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from around the world.

The museum’s grand neoclassical architecture is a visual delight, complementing the artistic wonders within. Its galleries showcase a range of periods and styles, from ancient Egyptian artefacts to modern art.

Highlights include significant collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, medieval manuscripts, and major works by artists such as Titian, Rubens, and Van Gogh.

Free to the public, it’s one of the most important Cambridgeshire attractions in terms of history and culture, offering a unique and enlightening experience for all.

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Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge

Kettle's Yard, Cambridge
Image: kettlesyard.cam.ac.uk

Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge is a unique fusion of art gallery and historic house. Originally the home of Jim Ede, a former Tate Gallery curator, it was transformed into a public art space in 1957.

Ede’s vision was to create a living place where visitors could enjoy art in a relaxed and intimate setting.

The house displays an impressive collection of 20th-century art, including works by renowned artists like Joan Miró, Henry Moore, and Barbara Hepworth.

The charm of Kettle’s Yard lies in its distinctive arrangement of art alongside furniture and natural objects, blurring the line between gallery and home.

This unique space provides a tranquil retreat in the heart of Cambridge, inviting visitors to experience art in a personal and homely atmosphere.

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Cambridge American Military Cemetery

Cambridge American Military Cemetery

The Cambridge American Military Cemetery, located in Madingley, near Cambridge, UK, is a solemn and poignant tribute to American service personnel who served in World War II.

Covering 30.5 acres, this cemetery is the final resting place for 3,811 American military dead, and a Wall of the Missing commemorates 5,127 individuals whose remains were never recovered.

The site, donated by the University of Cambridge, reflects deep historical ties between the United States and the United Kingdom. A chapel on the grounds features a mosaic ceiling, while maps and narratives recount the significant military campaigns of the war.

Visitors to the cemetery are often moved by the serene beauty and solemn atmosphere of the grounds.

The meticulously maintained landscape, with its rows of white headstones, is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made for freedom during one of history’s most tumultuous times.

The Cambridge American Military Cemetery serves as a place of remembrance and reflection, honouring those who gave their lives in service.

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The River Cam, Cambridge

The River Cam, Cambridge

The River Cam, flowing through the historic city of Cambridge, UK, is an integral part of the city’s charm and character.

Renowned for its picturesque beauty, the river winds past classic Cambridge landmarks, including the famous colleges of the University of Cambridge.

Punting on the Cam is a quintessential Cambridge experience, offering a tranquil and unique perspective of the city’s stunning architecture and lush riverside gardens.

The river also hosts the celebrated Cambridge University May Bumps, an exciting rowing event with a rich tradition. Along its banks, visitors and locals alike enjoy leisurely walks, picnics, and the serene ambiance.

The River Cam’s combination of natural beauty, cultural significance, and recreational opportunities makes it a beloved feature of Cambridge, drawing countless visitors each year to experience its peaceful and idyllic setting.

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Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Cambridge

T-Rex

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, located in Cambridge, UK, is a fascinating repository of geological history. Established in 1728, it’s one of the oldest of its kind, named after the famous geologist Adam Sedgwick.

With over 2 million specimens, the museum offers a comprehensive journey through Earth’s geological past. Its collections range from fossils, minerals, and rocks to meteorites, providing insights into the evolution of life and our planet.

A highlight is the extensive array of fossils, including impressive dinosaur skeletons and rare specimens that are of significant scientific interest.

The museum also showcases the history of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, highlighting key figures and discoveries.

Sedgwick Museum is a captivating space for anyone curious about the natural world and is thus another worth entry in our list of the best things to do in Cambridgeshire.

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Imperial War Museum Duxford

Imperial War Museum Duxford, Duxford

Imperial War Museum Duxford, located near Cambridge, UK, is a renowned aviation museum and a former airfield with a rich military history.

As Europe’s largest air museum, it houses an impressive collection of over 200 aircraft, military vehicles, and naval exhibits. This includes iconic planes like the Spitfire, Concorde, and the Lancaster Bomber.

Duxford played a significant role in both World Wars, and its hangars and airfield have been preserved to showcase this history. Visitors can explore these historic sites, gaining insight into the life of the servicemen and women who operated from Duxford.

The museum also hosts spectacular air shows, featuring vintage and modern aircraft, drawing aviation enthusiasts from around the world.

The Imperial War Museum Duxford offers a unique blend of history, technology, and heroism, making it an essential Cambridshire tourist attraction for anyone interested in military aviation and history.

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Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge

Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge

Cambridge University Botanic Garden is a delightful oasis in the heart of the city, covering 40 acres and home to over 8,000 plant species from around the world.

Founded in 1846 for the University of Cambridge, the garden serves both as a research resource and a place of beauty and tranquility.

Visitors can explore a variety of themed gardens, including the Glasshouse Range with its exotic tropical plants, the Winter Garden with its vibrant seasonal colours, and the Scented Garden offering a sensory experience.

The garden is also renowned for its significant collection of trees and a diverse range of habitats from wetlands to woodlands. A visit to this verdant haven provides a refreshing break from the urban environment, making it a popular visitor attraction in Cambridge.

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Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Ely

Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Ely

Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, located near Ely in Cambridgeshire, is one of the oldest nature reserves in Britain and a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Managed by the National Trust, it covers a vast area of wetland, providing a pristine habitat for a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

This fenland is one of the few remaining undrained fens in England, offering a unique glimpse into a once widespread landscape. Visitors can explore a network of boardwalks and paths, immersing themselves in the tranquil beauty of the reserve.

Wicken Fen is home to an array of species, including rare birds, butterflies, and dragonflies, as well as a host of plant life unique to wetland ecosystems.

It’s particularly noted for its population of Konik ponies and highland cattle, which graze the area as part of habitat management.

The reserve also includes bird-watching hides, providing opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitat.

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The Backs, Cambridge

The Backs, Cambridge

The Backs in Cambridge is a picturesque area where several of the city’s historic colleges meet the River Cam.

This renowned stretch offers stunning views of the university’s grand architecture, including the iconic King’s College Chapel, set against a backdrop of beautifully landscaped gardens and lawns.

Punting along the River Cam provides a unique perspective of The Backs, revealing the splendid architectural beauty of colleges like Clare, King’s, and Trinity from the water. The area is a harmonious blend of natural beauty and architectural elegance, creating a serene and idyllic setting.

In spring, The Backs becomes particularly enchanting, with vibrant flowers and lush greenery. It’s a popular spot for leisurely walks, picnic, and photography, attracting both locals and tourists alike.

This iconic Cambridge location is not just a feast for the eyes but also a symbol of the city’s rich academic and architectural heritage, embodying the quintessence of the university town’s charm.

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Cambridge Gin Laboratory

Gin

The Cambridge Gin Laboratory is an exceptional attraction nestled in the historic city of Cambridge, offering a unique experience for gin enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.

Part of the Cambridge Distillery, which prides itself on crafting innovative and award-winning gins, the Laboratory is a celebration of all things gin.

This interactive space invites guests to explore the world of gin through expert-led tastings, workshops, and masterclasses.

Visitors can delve into the history of gin, learn about the distillation process, and discover the intricate balance of botanicals that give each gin its distinct flavour.

A highlight is the opportunity to create and customize your own gin, making for a truly personal experience. The Laboratory’s sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere, combined with the knowledgeable staff, ensures an educational and enjoyable visit.

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Punting on the River Cam, Cambridge

Punting on the River Cam, Cambridge

Punting on the River Cam in Cambridge is an iconic and quintessential experience, offering a unique perspective of the city’s historic and architectural beauty.

This traditional activity involves navigating flat-bottomed boats, known as punts, with a long pole along the calm waters of the Cam.

As a popular pastime for both locals and tourists, punting provides a serene and leisurely way to view the stunning backs of Cambridge University’s colleges.

The journey typically glides past famous sights like King’s College Chapel, the Bridge of Sighs at St. John’s College, and the Mathematical Bridge at Queens’ College.

Punters, either self-guided or with experienced guides, are treated to picturesque scenes of verdant lawns, elegant bridges, and exquisite college buildings.

Punting on the Cam is a cherished Cambridge tradition that offers a moment of tranquility and a unique view of the city’s rich history.

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Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge

Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge

The Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge, officially known as the Wooden Bridge, is an iconic structure steeped in academic and architectural history. Located at Queen’s College, it spans the River Cam and connects two parts of the college.

Despite its popular nickname, the bridge’s design is not based on complex mathematical principles but rather on practical engineering. Built in 1749 by James Essex, it replaced an earlier bridge from 1702.

The bridge’s distinctive feature is its composition of straight timbers that create an arched appearance, a design commonly attributed to Isaac Newton. However, this is a myth, as Newton died in 1727, decades before the bridge’s construction.

The Mathematical Bridge offers a picturesque view of the river and is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. Its elegance and simplicity make it a remarkable example of 18th-century engineering, and a must-see for visitors exploring the historic city of Cambridge.

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Chilford Hall Vineyard, Cambridge

Vineyard

Chilford Hall Vineyard, nestled in the rolling countryside of Cambridgeshire, is a premier destination for wine enthusiasts and visitors alike. Established in 1972, it is one of the oldest vineyards in England, boasting over 18 acres of vines.

This picturesque vineyard produces a variety of wines, specializing in both still and sparkling varieties, showcasing the versatility and richness of English viticulture.

Visitors to Chilford Vineyard can indulge in guided tours, offering an insightful look into the winemaking process, from vine cultivation to the final product.

These tours often culminate in a delightful wine tasting session, where guests can sample a selection of the vineyard’s finest wines.

Set against a backdrop of scenic landscapes, Chilford Hall Vineyard offers a tranquil escape, perfect for those seeking to enjoy the serene beauty of the Cambridgeshire countryside while savouring exquisite local wines.

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Anglesey Abbey, Lode

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridge

Anglesey Abbey is a captivating Cambridgeshire historical attraction. Originally founded as a priory in 1135, it underwent a transformation into a grand country house during the 17th century.

The abbey is renowned for its exquisite Jacobean-style architecture, stunning gardens, and a diverse collection of art and antiquities.

Visitors to Anglesey Abbey can explore its beautifully landscaped gardens, including the famous winter garden with vibrant colours even in the coldest months. The extensive parkland surrounding the abbey provides opportunities for scenic walks and picnics.

The interior of the abbey offers a glimpse into its rich history, featuring an impressive collection of art and artefacts. The exquisite interior design and the stories behind the abbey’s past make it a captivating place to visit.

Anglesey Abbey is also a place of natural beauty and serenity, making it a delightful destination for a day of exploration.

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For more ideas about things to do in Cambridgeshire, visit the offical tourism website:
https://www.visitcambridge.org


 

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