Home to one of the top universities in the world, meandering rivers with the occasional boat peacefully punting along the river, thousand-year-old buildings that capture your attention without even trying, green willow trees and meadows, Cambridge is a beautiful town to visit when in the UK. While the UK can be expensive, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. In fact, there are many things that you can do with minimal cost, and some of them are even free! Listed below are 10 budget-friendly things to do in Cambridge; you can now explore the university city without blowing a hole in your pocket!
1. Explore the city on a bike tour
What better way to start your Cambridge visit than by bicycle? Getting around this beautiful university city on a two-wheeled vehicle gives you the right pace to fully immerse yourself in its history and surroundings. While feeling the light breeze brushing softly against your face, you get to observe the beauty of this city and occasionally pause to appreciate its exquisite architecture. While bike tours are available, where a tour guide will lead you and share with you interesting facts and the history of Cambridge, you can alternatively rent your own bike and just explore on your own. Not only is it a cheaper alternative, it’s also better if you prefer to go at your own pace!
City Cycle Hire
Address: 61 Newnham Rd, Cambridge CB3 9EY, United Kingdom
Price: from 9 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am - 5.30 pm
Duration: around 4 hours required
Contact: +44 1223 365629
Website: City Cycle Hire
2. Wander around the university grounds
A city where ancient prestigious colleges abound, the University of Cambridge is essentially the highlight of visiting Cambridge. Wander around the university grounds and be breath-taken by the magnificent buildings and vibrant culture. Several of the college campuses are not open to the public, unless on a private tour, but there’s so much to explore outside of the colleges. The grand buildings with their old-world charm will captivate you almost instantly; you won’t be able to resist taking pictures of them! And, don’t forget to buy the signature “Cambridge” shirt!
University of Cambridge
Address: The Old Schools, Trinity Ln, Cambridge CB2 1TN, United Kingdom
Contact: +44 1223 337733
Website: University of Cambridge
3. Admire a true masterpiece of English craftsmanship
While you’re exploring the university grounds, the King’s College Chapel will have easily caught your attention. Standing tall and decked in late gothic architecture, featuring ornate stained glass windows, and even consisting of the largest fan vault in the world, it indeed is a true masterpiece. There’s something magical about it that leaves you enchanted almost instantly. While its exteriors are impressive, you’ve got to take a step into its grounds to feel its magic. Even if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can still take several pretty photos of this architectural wonder!
King's College Chapel, Cambridge
Address: King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST, United Kingdom
Price: from 12 USD for adults; 8 USD for children & students
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat: 9.30 am - 3.30 pm. 1.15 pm - 2.30 pm on Sundays
Contact: +44 1223 331212
Website: King’s College Chapel
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4. Punt along the River Cam
Punting is an absolute must-do when in Cambridge. It is arguably the best way to view the campus grounds and bridges, not forgetting the famous college “Backs” that serve as the perfect backdrop for a photo of the day from almost any angle. It’s the epitome of tranquility and serenity as you move slowly along the waters with so much greenery in sight. Through the ride, your boatsman / boatswoman will share with you interesting facts and history of Cambridge and its famous alumni. You can also rent your own boat and punt yourself, but we discourage that because punting is actually harder than it looks!
Note: do not buy your punting tickets from people selling them on King’s Parade or Market Square as illegal punt operators sell tours from these locations!
Scudamore's Punting Company
Address: Granta Place, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RS
Price: from 21 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am - 8 pm
Duration: around 50 minutes
Contact: +44 (0) 1223 359750
Website: Mill Lane Punting
5. Pack your lunch and soak up some rays at Mill Pond
After punting, lay out your mats at Mill Pond (at the bottom of Mill Lane) for a picnic! Featuring picture-postcard views of elegant bridges, green lawns, and graceful willows, Mill Pond is popular among tourists and makes for a perfect picnic space. Imagine just enjoying the sunshine in the cool breeze, with delicious food, lots of lush greenery in sight, and peaceful waters alongside. It’s waterside sophistication at its finest! While you’re at it, don’t forget to take some pretty shots here!
6. Skateboard around the skate park on Jesus Green
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Featuring a good open-plan plaza with varying obstacles of different sizes for all kinds of abilities, the skate park at Jesus Green is a great place to spend an afternoon! Just grab your skateboard and flaunt your funky moves and abilities that will make the crowd gasp in awe and amazement. The skate park isn’t just for those who skate though. Even if you don’t skate, you will have a wonderful time watching the skaters doing all sorts of skateboarding tricks and showing off their skills!
Jesus Green Skate Park
Address: Jesus Green, Victoria Avenue, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB4 1EH
Website: Skate Park
7. Explore Anglesey Abbey
Anglesey Abbey is an absolute haven for all nature junkies; it’s unspoilt nature at its finest here! With several huge tranquil gardens to explore, you’ll simply fall in love with this place. There are, indeed, gardens for all seasons. During the summer it’s packed with colour, and the heady scent of the Rose Garden, combines with dazzling dahlias and the effortlessly beautiful wildflower meadows, is sure to entice you. During the winter, the spectacular Winter Garden brightens up even the coldest of winter days. Anglesey Abbey is also home to its historic Lode Mill, where you can watch grain being turned into wholesome wholemeal flour before your eyes, and a charming house that is home to several interesting artefacts.
Address: Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ, United Kingdom
Price: from 11 USD
Contact: +44 1223 810080
Website: Anglesey Abbey
8. Expand your mind at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
If you’re thinking that this is just another museum, you’re half right and half wrong. Yes, it’s a museum. But Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is not ordinary. It houses one of the world’s largest collections of fossils, bringing you all the way back to 500 million years ago to the ice age, to recent topological displays of new finds. Geography buffs will love it here; it’s like a great cabinet of curiosities! You can expect to open your mind, and marvel at nature’s diversity. It’s also a great way to keep your mind occupied for a few hours!
Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
Address: University Of Cambridge, Downing St, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, United Kingdom
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 am - 1 pm. 2 pm - 5 pm. Closed on Sundays
Contact: +44 1223 333456
Website: Sedgwick Museum of Earth Science
9. Have a pint of real ale in The Eagle pub
Cambridge is full of pubs, and really, you just wont be able to resist a pint when in this city. (And we don’t blame you!) The Eagle is one of the larger pubs in Cambridge, and it’s no random pub along the streets of Cambridge. Overflowing with great vibes, and with a vibrant atmosphere, superb and reasonably priced food and beer, and the right mix of tourists and locals, The Eagle offers you an experience like no other. Despite it being always packed and noisy, it’s a happy and relaxing place to be. Add to that its fair share of history, and it’s simply a must-visit.
The Eagle has many interesting features to look out for, including the RAF bar with its world famous ceiling showing US and British airmen inscriptions from during the Second World War, which serves as a memorial of men who fought for freedom during WWII. Not without its science connections, the pub was also the place where Francis Crick and James Watson announced the discovery of the helix structure of DNA!
Address: 8 Benet Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN, United Kingdom
Opening Hours: 8 am - 11 pm
Contact: +44 1223 505020
Website: The Eagle
10. Discover lovely artisans and authentic yummy treats at the Market Square
Up for some local street treats and souvenirs to buy? Or just looking for some hidden gems? Market Square is the place for you! Selling almost everything you could ever ask for, from books to clothes, and from fresh flowers and plants to even electronics, it’s in full swing on Sundays, when the local food stalls and arts and craft market will be open. Be sure to grab a bite of the ostrich burgers and visit the Jamaican food stall, which sells cakes and authentic patties. Do expect it to be crowded though! Although the hustle and bustle may be a turn off, the crowded atmosphere does add to the whole experience, so embrace it!
Address: Market Square, Cambridge, Cambs, CB2 3QJ
Opening Hours: 10 am - 4 pm
Contact: 01223 457467
Website: Market Square
Not just for the bookworms
It won’t take you long to fall in love with this university city extraordinaire! Just give it a day or two and you’ll find yourself in love with its peaceful streets, friendly locals, and unique culture. This small city definitely deserves a visit when you’re in the UK. Several day tours are organised from London, so check those out and put a visit on your list when visiting the UK!