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Free Things to do in Cambridge

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Are you looking to explore somewhere new, but not spend a fortune doing it? Well, Cambridge is an excellent choice. This small but perfectly formed city welcomes thousands of tourists from across the globe every year. But it needn’t be an expensive day out, because Cambridge is bursting with free things to do, nestled around every corner.

The great thing about Cambridge is that it’s small and compact, meaning that once you get there, you can walk round and explore really cheaply. In order to save more money, why not book your tickets in advance and check out our cheap tickets page?

Free things to do in Cambridge:

1. Explore the Colleges

Getting there: Take the U bus to Pembroke Street and walk through the city centre.

The first thing on any list of things to do in Cambridge is completely free: explore the colleges. Enjoy the amazing architecture from the outside, or if they happen to be open walk through to see the quiet, hallowed insides. There are hidden gems inside some of the colleges, like the famous Mathematical Bridge in Queen’s College. 

The Mathematical Bridge in Queen’s College, Cambridge is a favourite thing to see because of it’s complicated wooden design, which is curved but made only from straight lines. It’s also free to see!

2. The Fitzwilliam Museum

Getting there: It’s a 20-minute walk from the station or take the U bus.
The Fitzwilliam Museum may look like the beautiful colleges around it, but it’s actually a fascinating museum stuffed with the most interesting and diverse exhibitions. Whether you’re interested in Art or the art of war, there’ll be something for you to see here.

3. Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial

Getting there: This is the furthest attraction from the station – take the 1 Citi-bus to Jesus College and then take the number 4 Citi-bus out to American Cemetery.

It might take a little time to get out to the Cambridge American Cemetery; it’s about 15 minutes out of the city centre, away from the station. However, it’s worth it to enjoy this beautiful, calm and affecting green space.

The curved lines of white crosses against the green grass at the American Cemetery and Memorial make for a moving but also calming experience.

4. Kettle’s Yard

Getting there: Take the A the busway bus to The Busway Shire Hall. This takes 17 minutes.

Kettle’s Yard is an often-overlooked house and art gallery which is completely free to explore. There’s loads to see and do, with frequent activities, as well as the permanent exhibitions. Plus, you can enjoy a wonderful gift shop and café.

5. Trinity College’s Wren Library

Getting there: Take the U bus to Pembroke Street and then walk through Cambridge city centre.
Wren Library in Trinity College is an architectural delight, designed by Christopher Wren who is perhaps best known for designing St Paul’s Cathedral, London. However, this perfectly formed library is also home to a rate manuscript of Winnie the Pooh.

6. The Backs

Getting there: Take the U to Silver Street, Queens College, and then walk.

Many of the picture postcard photographs of the architectural triumphs of the Cambridge Colleges are taken from the backs. Basically, what we’re saying is, if you’re looking for that shot for Instagram, this is where to come. You’re welcome!

The architectural delights of Cambridge colleges seen over the water from the backs makes for the perfect picture, and a great free thing to do in Cambridge.

7. University Museum of Zoology

Getting there: Take the U bus to Pembroke Street and walk through the city centre.
Cambridge is absolutely packed with amazing museums which are hidden in plain sight, tucked in between the colleges. The University Museum of Zoology is a particular favourite with families, with loads of cool animals, plenty of activities and fascinating exhibits.

8. Listen to Evensong at a college chapel

Getting there: Take a bus or walk into town.
Evensong in a College Chapel is an experience that is just about unique to Cambridge. Luckily, most of the time, it’s free to walk in and enjoy some truly world-class music from the outstanding music scholars. Jesus College is a popular choice, but check on the college websites to find one!

There are few places where you can hear music in quite as impressive surroundings as in King’s College Chapel with its incredible high vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, and dark wooden choral seating.

Places to eat & drink:

1. The Eagle

Getting there: Take the U bus to Pembroke Street and then walk through Cambridge city centre.
This pub is the perfect low-key place to grab a pint and some traditional pub grub, but it also doubles as a free thing to do. You’ll find graffiti from American Servicemen posted in Cambridge during the second world war. It’s also where Watson and Crick announced they had discovered DNA.

2. Mill Road

Getting there: Mill Road is less than a 10-minute walk from the station.
The Mill Road area of Cambridge isn’t as touristy as the city centre, and as such it’s a great place to find amazing off the beaten track cafes and restaurants selling yummy food from all over the world. Settle down in a café to people watch or try anything from North African to Japanese cuisine.

3. Earl of Beaconsfield, Mill Road

Getting there: About 10-minute walk from the station.
One option right on Mill Road is this traditional pub, which also doubles as a free activity. The local watering hole frequently hosts live music nights, meaning that for the price of a pint and a plate of chips, you can enjoy local talent.

4. Cambridge Market Square

Getting there: Take the U bus to Pembroke Street and then walk through Cambridge city centre.
Cambridge is a bustling international city, and nowhere is this more evident than at the outdoor market. Explore the stalls and discover tasty treats from across the globe, with loads of options for veggies and vegans.

5. Granchester

Getting there: A little off the beaten track, Grantchester is a 2 mile walk along the River Cam.
A trip out to Grantchester is both a fun, free activity, and a great place to find somewhere to grab a bite to eat. This chocolate box village just outside of Cambridge is everything you want the British countryside to be. Quaint and Instagram-ready, you’ll also find a couple of decent pubs here.

With a range of free things to do in Cambridge, it is most definitely an option for a budget-conscious traveller. Whenever you would like to visit, remember that you can buy an Advance ticket to Cambridge via our Train Tickets app.

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