Things to Do in Cambridge
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Made up of six schools, 31 constituent colleges, and more than 100 academic departments, the historic university boasts an impressive alumni, which includes Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and Lord Byron.
Founded in 1441 by Henry VI, King’s College is one of the most prestigious and perhaps the best-known of the Cambridge colleges. Notable alumni include writer Zadie Smith and mathematician Alan Turing; however, it’s the grounds and buildings which are of most interest to visitors. Here, explore landscaped gardens, stroll along the River Cam, and admire the 15th-century Gothic King’s College Chapel.
Founded by Henry VIII in 1546, Trinity College is the largest Cambridge University college and the alma mater of many British Prime Ministers, Royal Family members, and Nobel Prize winners. Here, visitors can explore the 17th-century Great Court, Trinity College Clock, and Wren Library among other buildings, as well as attend public lectures and rent punts for use along the River Cam.
Hailed as the most impressive work of medieval architecture and Gothic design in Britain, Kings College Chapel now ranks as the most-visited attraction in Cambridge. The church is famous for its Gothic facade and elaborate stained glass windows, and for the fact that the foundation stone was laid by Henry VI himself in the 15th century.
Dating back to the 15th century, Queens’ College is among Cambridge University’s oldest colleges. The photogenic, river-straddling campus encompasses medieval courtyards; the President’s Lodge, a Tudor-style half-timbered building; and Mathematical Bridge, a wooden arch footbridge constructed entirely from straight timber beams.
Spanning the River Cam, this wooden footbridge is often attributed to Isaac Newton, who—as the story goes—designed it in such a way that no bolts were needed to keep it in place. In reality, the bridge was built more than 20 years after Newton’s death, and is held together by bolts, though it is still recognized as an engineering marvel.
Built in 1831, this bridge spans the River Cam, linking the New Court of St. John’s College with the older Third Court. While Cambridge’s covered bridge bears only a passing resemblance to its Venetian namesake, the Grade I-listed structure—with its neo-Gothic arches and tracery windows—is architecturally significant in its own right.
The River Cam cuts through the heart of Cambridge and is one of the city’s most important natural attractions. While visitors can stroll along its banks, floating down the River Cam in a traditional flat-bottomed punt is one of the most quintessential Cambridge experiences and a convenient way to see some of Cambridge University’s most prestigious and otherwise inaccessible college buildings.
Fondly known as "the Fitz", this grand neoclassical building houses Cambridge University’s principal museum. Its collection, originally bequeathed by a Cambridge alum and nobleman in the early 19th century, has since grown to include some 500,000 artworks and antiquities; ranging from mummies to paintings by Titian, Matisse, and Rubens.