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Sightseeing & Tours in Cambridge

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Sightseeing and Tours in Cambridge: things to know before you go

Cambridge is a city where you want to take in all the things to see and do – from fantastic riverside walks to soaking up that educational atmosphere on every corner. In many ways it’s the ideal university town – the architecture is stunning, every nook and cranny oozes history, and learning seems to permeate the very stone and soil. Make sure you don’t miss an inch of this incredible city with our guide to the best sightseeing and tours.

What are the top sights in Cambridge?

Cambridge is the sort of city that really rewards just strolling around and soaking up your surroundings. Walk down any street around the university colleges and let your imagination cast you back through the centuries. But, of course, there are a few sights that you really ought to get to while you’re here.

  • In a city that’s packed with jaw-dropping architecture, King’s College Chapel still manages to stand out. Built in the 16th century, it is one of Britain’s great examples of gothic architecture.
  • The Fitzwilliam Museum (or ‘the Fitz’ to locals) was one of the first public art galleries in the country. Built in a grandiose neoclassical style, it houses works ranging from artefacts taken from Egyptian and Roman tombs, to paintings by the grand masters.
  • A great change of pace can be found at The Backs, a series of gardens and parks lined up along the river behind the colleges. A stroll through them is a perfect way to unwind in the city.

Other highlights include Trinity College, The Polar Museum, Cambridge University Botanical Garden, Kettle’s Yard and Corpus Christi College.

Are there any hop-on, hop-off sightseeing or tours in Cambridge?

Hop on, hop off sightseeing tours in Cambridge are a great way to take in the city at your own pace, and there are some great options available.

Operators like City Sightseeing Ltd have stops right across the city and run regular bus tours. If you want to sit through it from start to finish, you’ll be on board for around 80 minutes, but if you choose to disembark to take a closer look at one of the sights, you won’t have to wait long to get on the next one – buses are usually every 20 minutes in summer and every 40 minutes in winter, giving you a quick way to get a whistle-stop tour of the city.

What sort of sightseeing and tours can I go on in Cambridge?

There are a range of different ways to see Cambridge, with each offering its own perspective.

  • Flying tours are a great way to get a birds-eye view of everything in the city, whether you choose to go by plane, helicopter or even by hot air balloon for that added vintage vibe.
  • Bike and Segway tours are a great way to get around in the same manner that a lot of students and dons do while seeing the city at your own pace.

The classic way, of course, is with a Cambridge punting tour. Drift around the back ways of the colleges by boat and just soak it up in complete serenity. The Cambridge Punting Company offers chauffeur-guided boat tours that last 45 minutes.

Which Cambridge colleges are open to the public?

Most of the colleges are open to the public in some form or other, though the hours may vary depending on whether it’s term time or during exams. Some will charge a small fee, but many allow you to visit for free.

Some of the colleges that you can visit for free include Churchill College, Christ's College, Clare Hall, Darwin College, Downing College, Girton College and Gonville & Caius College. You can find a more detailed list here.

Cambridge Alumni Tours offer walking tours of the university with a graduate, giving you insider knowledge from one of the world’s most historic and famous universities.