Best ways to spend down time in Cambridge 

Cambridge is an educational Mecca, but it’s also a wonderful place to live and an inspiring tourist destination that keeps visitors returning time and again. So, if you’re studying or going to study at the hallowed university, how can you spend your downtime to make the most of the location as well?

Photo credit: Vysotsky (Wikimedia), CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

See the dinosaurs at The Sedgwick Museum

You knew Cambridge had a sense of history about it, but the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences takes it a step further. It is the oldest of the University of Cambridge museums, having been established in 1728. Today it has around two million fossils, minerals and rocks as well as dinosaur models, taking you on a 4.5 billion year journey through time. It illustrates the evolution of life in the oceans, on land and in the air, and is the perfect rainy day activity!

Photo credit: Robert Edwards / Winter Garden, Cambridge University Botanic Gardens

Visit Cambridge University Botanic Gardens

Much like its Oxford counterpart, Cambridge has its own Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1762, it was John Henslow, professor of Botany, whose energy and political skill persuaded the University to invest seriously in experimental botany. That resulted in the upsurge of natural science studies at Cambridge in the early 19th century, as well as the growth of the gardens and their significance. Today you can roam the gardens, explore the glasshouses and enjoy seasonal events and experiences that are definitely worth the time.

King's College carols Image credit: Flcherb, CC BY-SA 3.0

See Carols at King’s College

Carols from King’s is shown on BBC Two at Christmas time and is a real treat if you’re in the area during the festive season. Traditional, beautiful and all encompassing, it’s a service of readings and carols, it was first broadcast in 1928 and has obviously been a little different throughout Covid, but will hopefully be returning in full force!

Swim in the River Cam on New Year’s Day

In this city of tradition, a New Year’s swim is a particularly chilly one. Few things are more invigorating than a freezing cold dip in the depths of winter. Hundreds of brave swimmers take part each year, at designated points on the river, specifically between Byron’s Pool and King’s Mill Weir – arguably some of the most scenic areas. One hopes that if you take part someone will bring a mug of hot chocolate to enjoy when you get out!

Punting in Cambridge

Punting in Cambridge 

Another parallel between Oxford and Cambridge is punting. The perfect activity for bonding with your peers or spending time with family when they visit you, it’s a historic pastime to enjoy on the river. Then again, if you feel like being totally decadent, some companies in the area also offer ‘chauffeured punting’ tours.

Take in the view at Great St Mary’s 

For one of the best views of the city, head to the top of Great St Mary’s. The University Church was established in 1209 in the Diocese of Ely and attracts visitors from around the world. It’s home to the award-winning Michaelhouse Café, and guests delight in climbing to the top of its famous tower.

Fitzwilliam Museum - Image credit: Zhurakovskyi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore The Fitzwilliam Museum

The lead partner of the collections of the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) and Botanic Garden, The Fitzwilliam Museum houses a world-renowned collection of over half a million beautiful works of art, masterpiece paintings and historical artefacts. In addition, it routinely features new exhibits, so you can always pop in and find something different, no matter how often you’ve been.