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If you’re planning a city break in England soon, you’re in luck – I’ve put together an itinerary for the perfect weekend break in Cambridge. I was born and raised just a few miles away from this beautiful university city and have spent many weekends enjoying all it has to offer.
Situated in East Anglia, in the county of Cambridgeshire, Cambridge is perhaps most famous for its university. Founded in 1209, it’s the world’s third-oldest university in continuous operation. Subsequently, grand university buildings dominate much of the skyline and give the entire city a feeling of grandeur.
It’s the perfect backdrop for a romantic weekend in Cambridge and is a popular international tourist destination. Home to many excellent bars, restaurants, and cafes to enjoy, it was always an easy hop from my hometown for a night out or a weekend in Cambridge with friends.
Weekend in Cambridge (2-Day Itinerary)
After visiting many times over the years, with my husband for birthday trips, with friends, and for work, I have tied together all my favorite parts of the city so you can enjoy the best of Cambridge in two days. I like experiencing plenty of culture by day and the food and drink scene by night, so let’s dive straight in:
Day 1 in Cambridge
Make sure you’ve got your most comfortable walking shoes on as Cambridge is a great city to walk around. There are loads of photo opportunities at every turn, so make sure your phone is fully charged to capture them all!
Day 1: Morning
Kick off your weekend away in Cambridge with a hearty breakfast and a good dose of caffeine. Benets Cafe serves delicious crepes and pancake breakfasts and offers stunning views of Kings College Chapel and Great St Mary’s Church.
After breakfast, take a guided walking tour of the city. It’s a great way to get to know your way around and to ensure you see all the main sights. Some guided tours include entry to three colleges such as the world-famous Kings College. Click here to find out more and to book your tour.
Finish the morning with a short stroll to the spot where gravity was discovered. That’s right, the acclaimed apple tree where Sir Isaac Newton founded the concept of gravity is located in Cambridge. Although the story of the apple hitting him on the head is a myth, the spot proudly celebrates Newton’s discovery of gravity during his Cambridge years.
Day 1: Afternoon
No Cambridge weekend break would be complete without lunch at Market House – it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the city. The stylish decor, outstanding menu, and exceptional wine and cocktail list make it the perfect place to refuel.
Much like Venice, Cambridge is famous for punting. The River Cam runs through the city and there are many boats and tours available for visitors. If you’re lucky enough, you may even cross paths with a mobile river bar and be able to grab yourself a cocktail as you enjoy the wonderful sights along the river. Be sure to plan ahead by booking your punting tour here.
Finish the first afternoon of your two days in Cambridge and get over your ‘sea legs’ (or ‘river legs’) with a pint at The Anchor. This cozy, traditional English pub is right on the banks of the river and has a wonderful terrace overlooking the water. You can enjoy watching some fellow punters ride past as you sit back and relax.
Day 1: Evening
Cambridge by night brings with it new delights. The beautiful architecture is brought to life by some stunning lighting that makes the entire city especially atmospheric to stroll around at night. Be sure to spend some time after the sun has set, simply enjoying the beauty of the city.
Head for dinner at Butch Annie’s, a popular but casual burger and pizza joint. It’s great for everything from light snacks to full dinners and has a great bar selection too. They specialize in organic farm-to-table beef and serve up some truly satisfying burgers.
Finish the first night of your weekend getaway in Cambridge with cocktails at 2648. An underground bar with a speakeasy vibe that serves generously portioned drinks. They make an exceptional Salted Caramel White Russian – a salty sweet take on the classic cocktail. Be sure to explore the secret library, if you can find it!
Day 2 in Cambridge
After all that sightseeing, food, and cocktails yesterday, I hope you got a good night’s sleep! So, if you’re ready and raring to go, let’s get started with day two of your weekend in Cambridge:
Day 2: Morning
Much like yesterday, be sure to start the day with a good breakfast and even better coffee. Head to the Copper Kettle, something of a Cambridge institution established in the early 1900s. Serving excellent breakfasts from 8 a.m. and overlooking the famous Kings College Chapel, it’s an ideal place to start your day.
Walk off your breakfast by discovering more of Cambridge’s rich history with a self-guided audio tour. From scientific breakthroughs to unique traditions, you’ll learn about the University graduation ceremony, marvel at the Corpus Clock, explore the history of the Chelsea Bun, and delve into stories about the iconic University Boat Race. Click here to book your tour.
Round off your second morning with a trip to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. The fossils, rocks, minerals, and archive material on display are of outstanding scientific and historical importance. Notebooks, photographs, and collections from many notable scientists, not least Charles Darwin, form part of this interesting exhibition.
Day 2: Afternoon
For lunch, make your way over to Bread & Meat, where they serve a concise menu of awesome roast-meat sandwiches. The tiled butcher-style setting makes for a great casual lunch spot. Their topside British beef sandwich is off the charts, (and for those who don’t eat meat, they also offer a tasty veggie sandwich).
Cambridge is packed with great historical pubs, and you can visit some of the best ones on a heritage pub tour. This unique tour, founded by two former Cambridge students will give you an authentic, intimate slice of local pub culture. It mixes informative fun with a relaxing afternoon of drinking in Cambridge’s most amazing pubs. Click here to find out more information.
Finish off the afternoon with a gentle stroll along The Backs. This is the picturesque green space where several colleges ‘back’ onto the River Cam. It’s a really pleasant area to take a gentle afternoon stroll. The National Trust Chairman rated The Backs as one of the top 10 views in England.
Day 2: Evening
As the final night descends on your 2 days in Cambridge, embrace the darkness with a ghost tour. Led by University Alumni you’ll be regaled with stories of some truly horrific events that have occurred over the centuries at Cambridge University. It’s a fascinating insight into a dark part of the city’s history. Click here to book your tour ahead of time.
For dinner, treat yourself to one of the best restaurants in the city – The Cambridge Chop House. Serving traditional British classics and fantastic steaks and chops, this stylish eaterie has sensational views of Kings College Chapel. There’s also a really cozy basement dining room. It’s a popular place and gets busy, so be sure to book ahead.
Finish off your weekend in Cambridge with a show at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. The beautiful 87-year-old, 666-seater auditorium attracts some of the biggest performers and shows in the country; including productions straight from London’s West End. Check the events calendar as there’s sure to be something great on during your visit.
How to Get to Cambridge
Cambridge has a good-sized train station that connects it to many cities in England, including London. Regular and reliable trains run daily to and from Cambridge. Ticket costs vary but be advised that it’s best to book around 12 weeks ahead of time to secure the best price.
If you plan to drive to Cambridge you’ll find an excellent park-and-ride scheme that keeps the center as car-free as possible. Simply park up at any of the 5 free car parks around the city and regular bus services will drop you into the heart. Bus tickets start at £3 ($3.70) return, and up to 3 kids under the age of 16 travel for free with a paying adult.
If you’re flying in for a two-day trip to Cambridge the nearest international airport is London Stansted. Cambridge is around 30 miles away – it’s a straightforward drive, and hiring a car from the airport is easy. The airport train station is walkable from arrivals and regular trains will drop you in central Cambridge within 30-40 minutes.
Cambridge is a particularly walkable city, but for assistance getting around, reliable local buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services like Uber operate daily.
Where to Stay With 2 Days in Cambridge
The City Center is undoubtedly the main attraction when planning a trip to Cambridge. But the city also has several popular areas and surrounding villages that offer great options and amenities for a 2-night break in Cambridge.
Central Cambridge: Central Cambridge is famous for its historic colleges, museums, and scenic parks. Along the River Cam, you’ll spot boaters punting and practicing for the annual Boat Race. Historic pubs, tea rooms, hotels, and restaurants are also in abundance here for visitors. Check out this great central hotel option.
Mill Road: Mill Road is a vibrant neighborhood near Cambridge Station. It has plenty of Victorian architecture with live music pubs, a craft brewery, and stylish coffee shops. You’ll also find Asian and Middle Eastern markets for groceries and can enjoy dining in Japanese, North African, and Indian restaurants. Here’s an amazing accommodation choice near Mill Road.
Trumpington: Consider staying a little further out of the city where hotels are often a little cheaper. Trumpington is just over 2 miles away and offers easy access in and out of central Cambridge daily. The village also has plenty of its own quaint shops, pubs, and restaurants to explore. Have a look at this great place to stay – it’s a 17th-century pub!
Tips for a Weekend Trip to Cambridge
With so much to fit in during a 2-day trip to Cambridge, I’ve put together a few of my top tips to help refine your itinerary. Take these on board to ensure you have the perfect trip:
1. Plan ahead: Cambridge is a popular, international tourist destination and with the University centrally located in the city, things can get busy! Plan your tours, trips, hotels, and even restaurant bookings ahead of time to ensure you get to do everything you want to do.
2. Park-and-ride: The Park-and-Ride system has been active in Cambridge for as long as I can remember. And although you can still park in the city, it’s expensive, and the traffic and one-way system can be a nightmare. Simply park up for free at one of 5 parking lots on the outskirts and get the bus in – it’s much more convenient.
3. Save money staying further afield: A weekend break in Cambridge for 2 can become expensive, especially if you’re planning on staying centrally. There are many great hotels, B&B, and apartment options available a few miles out of town that are still within easy access of the City Center.
4. Enjoy the free stuff: Cambridge is such a beautiful city and just walking around can be an activity in itself. Stunning architecture, impressive chapels, beautiful parks, centuries-old churches, and magnificent museums and theaters are all to be found just strolling the streets.
5. Know your happy hours: As a city with a vibrant student community, Cambridge features a variety of bars with enticing drink specials, including 2-for-1 cocktails. This offer runs all day, every day at Las Iguanas.
Additionally, Cambridge is home to a Wetherspoons pub – The Regal. This well-known UK chain of 800+ pubs is celebrated for its extensive menu of affordable food and drinks. They serve everything from breakfast bites to dinner plates and everything in between.
6. Wear comfortable shoes: Cambridge is a very walkable city and you’ll easily rack up the steps just strolling around the many beautiful sights and attractions. Wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers to ensure your feet don’t tire out before you’re ready to call it a day.
7. Remember you’re in England: Having lived in England most of my life I can confirm the rumors about the weather are mostly true. Even if you’re traveling during the summer months, be prepared for some wet weather and pack your suitcase accordingly.
8. Train prices can be steep: Unlike some neighboring countries in Europe, the UK’s train network is privatized which means prices are often quite high. It’s a major bone of contention amongst the British public. The best prices are generally available around 12 weeks before, so plan well ahead if possible. One of the best options for booking rail tickets is trainline.com.
FAQs About a Weekend Getaway in Cambridge
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about weekend breaks in Cambridge:
You can absolutely do Cambridge in just a weekend. There’s plenty to see and do, but with the right 2-day itinerary for Cambridge, you can ensure you hit all the key sights during your stay. Additionally, the city is particularly walkable, and getting around is very easy.
Be sure to research a weekend itinerary for Cambridge. There are lots of tours, museums, and sights to see but it’s always advisable to book ahead. You can also enjoy the many historical pubs, excellent restaurants, and quaint cafes and tea rooms that can be found all over the city at your leisure.
There are a number of great accommodation options in Central Cambridge. Staying here will mean you have easy access to everything the city has to offer. Staying a little further afield may be a more economical option, and there are good public transport options that link the city to many of the outer villages and regions.
A figure of around $250 per person for 48 hours in Cambridge should suffice for comfortable accommodation, dining, drinks, and a couple of tours. But, given the abundance of tours, museums, free sightseeing options, and enjoyable walks available, crafting an itinerary to suit various budget preferences is entirely possible.
The best month to visit Cambridge depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and the type of experience you want. Many people find spring and early autumn to be particularly pleasant times to visit; when the weather is comfortable, and there are fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season.
Cambridge is an excellent city break. The abundance of history and culture mixed in with great bars and restaurants make it a terrific option for a getaway. There are so many things to do, and Cambridge is a popular international tourist destination. So, be sure to plan ahead with your tours, trips, and restaurant bookings.
Cambridge City Center has a designated “Pedestrian Zone” in operation 24/7 where general vehicle access is limited and controlled by bollards. This is further heightened between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Typically, only buses, bicycles, and some authorized vehicles are allowed within this zone.
Maybe I’m biased, but Cambridge is prettier than Oxford. I grew up just a few miles away from Cambridge and although I’ve visited the lovely city of Oxford numerous times, I think the beauty of Cambridge has the edge.
Like any city, there are expensive options and there are cheaper options. Whether considering accommodation, dining, or drinking you can make a weekend itinerary for most budgets.
It’s always advisable to plan ahead and do your research. In my experience, Cambridge is cheaper (in general) than London, but is pretty much on par with other major UK cities.
The approximate distance from central Cambridge to central London is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) in a straight line. By train, the journey from Cambridge to London usually takes around 1 hour. If you’re driving, it can take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on traffic and the route you choose.
Enjoy Your Weekend Trip to Cambridge
It’s been a real treat to relive a few days away in Cambridge. Growing up close by it was always easy to take it for granted when considering a city break away somewhere in the UK. But time and time again, the beautiful and vibrant city has been my preference for day trips, nights out, and weekends away with friends.
So, whether you enjoy history and culture, having a great bar and restaurant scene, or both, Cambridge has everything you need for an amazing weekend city break.