The Best Cambridge Day Trip From London Itinerary

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Make sure to include Trinity College on your Cambridge day trip itinerary

Located on the River Cam in the picturesque Cambridgeshire County, a Cambridge day trip from London is a must do, especially if you are based in the British capital.

Cambridge is located almost 80 kilometres (or about 50 miles) from London. It can easily be reached by direct train within an hour from either King's Cross Station or Liverpool Street Station in central London.

When you only have a day in Cambridge, it's best to stick to the main attractions in town, like visiting a top college and a popular museum, and setting aside extra time for whatever else you want to see.

Cambridge is home to one of the best and oldest universities in the world, and it is similar in many ways to another university city in the United Kingdom, Oxford. Cambridge is also known for its famous scientists, such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Sir David Attenborough, and Stephen Hawking.

There is so much ground to cover in this historic part of England, so continue reading for an in-depth itinerary that covers all the best places to visit in Cambridge in one day! I did several day trips to Cambridge from London when living in the UK, so you can be sure this itinerary has been well thought through.

Organizing a last-minute visit to Cambridge?

Before traveling to Cambridge, book your accommodations and experiences ahead of time. Here are some top choices to make your trip enjoyable.

🏨 Top accommodations in Cambridge

☂️ Top tours and experiences in Cambridge

Cambridge 1 Day Itinerary

Cambridge 1-Day Itinerary Map

A map of Cambridge. Use the map to explore all the days and stops.

Cambridge 1-Day Itinerary Map

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A Day Trip From London to Cambridge

One day in Cambridge is usually enough time to visit the majority of the main sights, especially if you are visiting during the summer. In this Cambridge guide, you will be doing a lot of walking around the city centre. So if walking isn't your thing, consider renting a bicycle.

Bicycles in front of a stone building with large windows and a "Fitzbillies" sign
Drop by Fitzbillies to try delicious sticky Chelsea buns, scones, and tea

Grab breakfast and a coffee

Fitzbillies has been a Cambridge staple for decades. It is known for its sticky Chelsea buns and has a cake shop and cafe. Both are quite small and can get crowded quickly as the establishment is always bustling and rarely has empty tables.

The prices are higher for sit-in orders and meals, so purchasing a Chelsea bun and drink to take out instead is a great idea. This is a good place to go if you want to skip the next stop, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

If you would like to go for a sit-down breakfast, there are several excellent brunch places to try in Cambridge, like Hot Numbers Coffee Roasters. Hot Numbers is also near the train station if you're looking for a convenient coffee and food pit stop before beginning your tour of Cambridge.

🏨 Stay near Hot Numbers Coffee - Gwydir St Dales Brewery

A garden with glass greenhouses and green plants next to a path
The glasshouses at Cambridge University Botanic Garden hold many tropical plants

Walk through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden covers an area of 40 acres and has over 8000 species of plants from all over the world. One of the main attractions here is the themed glasshouses that showcase exotic plants from mountains, rainforests, wetlands, and deserts. The garden also has a souvenir shop that sells plants, postcards, and other gifts.

The Cambridge Botanic Garden is a short walk from the train station and is open daily; therefore, you can stop by for an hour or so to do a leisurely stroll through before you continue to your next stop. Do check their website for their seasonal opening times before you visit, although they often open at 10 am.

🏨 Places to stay near Cambridge University Botanic Garden

A huge gold clock with no hands and a black grasshopper on top inside a glass casing
The Corpus Clock is made out of 24k gold and is a must-see attraction in Cambridge

See the Grasshopper Clock

The Corpus Clock, or Grasshopper Clock, is Cambridge's most distinctive modern monument and is included in most Cambridge walking tours. It is located on the corner of Corpus Christi College's library near King's Parade and will only take you a few minutes to see.

The clock is plated with pure 24k gold. On top of it sits a 'time-eating monster' - a Chronophage (Grasshopper). Another extraordinary feature of the Corpus Clock is that it doesn't have clock hands or digital numbers. For this reason, it's hard to tell the time from the clock.

However, if you look closely, you can see three LED rings with numbers. When an hour is struck, you can see shaking chains and a hammer hitting a wooden coffin. It's fun to watch, so be sure to catch it!

🏨 Accommodations close to The Corpus Clock

A tall stone church tower with a large arched window and two small ones
The Tower of Great St. Mary's Church offers a stunning panoramic view of Cambridge

Climb the Tower at Great St. Mary's Church

The Great St. Mary's Church, a Church of England parish, faces King's College grounds. It is beautiful inside and out and has a big main hall for the masses and a small gift shop. This over 800-year-old church is known for its tower. From the top of the tower, you can enjoy the best views of Cambridge.

To climb the 123 steep medieval steps of the tower, you must purchase a ticket from the gift shop. The way up is tiring, but the view from the top is stunning. The Great St. Mary's Church is open daily, usually from 10 am.

🏨 Accommodations near Great St Marys

Have lunch at Aromi

The independent cafe, Aromi, is a long-standing favourite place to eat in Cambridge among tourists and locals. There are a few dotted throughout central Cambridge. Aromi serves a wide range of Sicilian dishes, including sourdough pizzas, focaccias, and arancini.

You can also enjoy traditional cakes, cannoli, and the best Sicilian gelato. It is the perfect place for delicious homemade food suitable for all ages. If you're visiting on a warm day, ask for takeaway and enjoy your pizza somewhere around King's College.

🏨 Stay near Aromi

A Gothic chapel surrounded by buildings with a huge lawn in front and a river
King's College is one of the most famous landmarks in Cambridge

Visit King's College

A trip to Cambridge University is a must, and one of the most famous colleges to visit here is King's College. Located on King's Parade, King's College is also the most stunning building in Cambridge. It is the wealthiest college belonging to the University of Cambridge and is home to the brightest students.

King's College also has an impressive college chapel that is famous for its Christmas Eve mass and choir, and for having the largest fan vaulted ceiling in the world. You will need about an hour to visit this historic British landmark.

If you want to enter King's College, you will need to purchase tickets from the King's College Visitor Centre located at the front of the college. The ticket gives you entry to the chapel and college grounds (when they are open). All other buildings aren't available to the public.

🏨 Places to stay near Kings College, Cambridge

☂️ Visit Kings College, Cambridge on a tour

A stone gazebo in a large courtyard with several walkways and buildings around
Touring Trinity College, the alma mater of Isaac Newton and Lord Byron, is a must

See the Wren Library at Trinity College

Founded by King Henry VII in 1546, Trinity College is another of the famous colleges at Cambridge University. Many well-known people have graduated here, including Sir Isaac Newton and the poet Lord Byron. In fact, there have been 34 Nobel Prize winners from this college alone!

Besides the famous alumnus, some of the college's other attractions include a monument of Sir Isaac Newton and the splendid Wren Library. If you want to visit the Wren Library, check the website for hours, but you can generally visit it in the early afternoons Monday to Friday and later in the morning on Saturdays for free.

If you are going on a punting tour today, then you will see Trinity College from the rear. So, revisiting it isn't necessary unless you want to see the Wren Library.

☂️ Visit Trinity College with an excursion

🏨 Stay near Trinity College

A round medieval church made of stone with a garden, trees, and buildings around
Built in 1130, stop by the "Round Church" to appreciate its symmetry

Stop by the medieval Round Church

If you have ever looked up what to do in Cambridge for a day trip, then you probably recognize one of the most unique Cambridge attractions - the Round Church, which was constructed in 1130. It is also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Round Church is one of four round medieval churches left in England. It is open to visitors and has a small exhibition and film. You don't really need to go inside unless you'd like to. Walking around the outside of it to appreciate its symmetry is enough!

🏨 Accommodations nearby The Round Church

Boats on a river passing under a wooden bridge connecting a building to a wooded area
You can see the city of Cambridge in a unique way by taking a punting tour

Go on a Cambridge punting tour

A day out in Cambridge isn't complete without a punting tour. This activity is equally popular among both tourists and locals and can't be missed when in Cambridge for the first time.

Punting tours are the best way to see some of the iconic colleges' bridges, including the Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. Also, it allows you to see "The Backs" - a picturesque private area along the river surrounded by the University of Cambridge colleges.

You can hire your own boat or join a private tour, which runs just under an hour. While getting an upper body workout in on a holiday is never a bad idea, who REALLY wants to do that? So join a punting tour, kick back, and relax while someone else does the hard work! Booking online in advance allows you to save a bit of cash and time as well.

One last thing: while punting is an awesome thing to do on a warm and sunny day, the boats usually have blankets and cushions to keep you cozy on a cold day, so this activity is still manageable and worth doing on a not-so-nice weather day!

A large stone structure with columns next to a street under a blue sky with clouds
The interesting exhibits at the Fitzwilliam Museum include mummies and sculptures

Get lost at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Why not end your Cambridge day trip with a relaxing museum visit? Founded in 1816, the Fitzwilliam Museum is the biggest in Cambridge and is sometimes compared to the British Museum due to its grand architecture. It is an arts and antiquities museum with fascinating collections of British pottery, Egyptian mummies, Greek sculptures, medieval armoury, and more.

Like most museums in England, it's free (but closed Mondays). It's also a great place to shelter when the weather isn't great, but do pick the exhibits that interest you the most; otherwise, you might miss your train back to London (joking)! If visiting with children, not a problem - this museum has some activities for them you can pick up from the front desk.

☂️ Visit The Fitzwilliam Museum with an experience

🏨 Places to stay close to The Fitzwilliam Museum

Cambridge Travel Tips - Common Questions

On a budget or traveling with family? Then check out some of the free and kid-friendly Cambridge activities below!

What are some free things to do in Cambridge?

  • The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: This museum belongs to the University of Cambridge and houses artifacts from all over the world. When here, you can learn about past civilizations and how they lived at different moments in time. You will find objects from Japan, China, Thailand, and more. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is suitable for all ages; however, it might not be as interesting for the youngest ones.

  • The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences: Situated next to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Sedgwick Museum is the oldest in Cambridge University's collection. It belongs to the Department of Earth Sciences and opened in 1904. The museum houses a massive collection of fossils and dinosaur skeletons. If you're planning a day trip to Cambridge with kids, the Sedgwick Museum should be at the top of your list!

  • The University Museum of Zoology: The Zoology Museum is across the road from the Sedgwick Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. It was established in the 19th century and has undergone a significant renovation. Now, it lives in a newer, more modern building. The Zoology Museum's main attraction is a giant skeleton of a 21-metre-long fin whale, a two-tusked narwhal, an almost-complete dodo skeleton, and a magnificent collection of Darwin's specimens from the Beagle Voyage.

  • Evensong at King's College: This is an almost 475-year-old tradition, and the best part is, it allows you to visit the chapel for free during term time in the evening. It lasts about 45 minutes, and you get to experience the world-renowned gilded pipework organ along with singing. Make sure to turn up at least 30-45 minutes beforehand to join the growing queue!

In Summary

If you want to make a day trip from London to a beautiful nearby city, then you should consider Cambridge. Following this Cambridge itinerary will ensure you see all the top sites, like the Grasshopper Clock and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Whatever you end up doing, you'll have a great time!

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Written by Loredana Elena

loredanaelena STAFF Loredana has travelled to dozens of countries and has been living overseas for almost a decade. She previously taught English in South Korea and Singapore, and completed a Master of Science in Global Mental Health while living in London, UK. She is also passionate about fitness and photography.

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