How to plan a day trip to Cambridge from London

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If you’re staying in London for a whole week, we wholeheartedly recommend that you seize the opportunity to take a day trip out of the city. The south of England is teeming with beautiful cities that are rich in history and culture. Where best to start than by taking a day out to Cambridge? This romantic, bohemian city is the location of one of the world’s most famous universities and one of the coolest water activities in the United Kingdom! Pause from searching for the best London hotels special offers and cast an eye over our guide on how to plan a day trip to Cambridge from London.

Getting to Cambridge from London

The best way to get to Cambridge from London is via train. The fastest options depart from King’s Cross and take less than one hour. You can purchase a paper ticket at the station in person or a digital ticket via the Trainline app. 

Trains to and from London depart regularly throughout the day. Travel after 9.30 am and you will benefit from cheaper “off peak” fares. 

Buses also connect the two cities. These leave from Victoria Coach Station and are operated by Megabus and National Express. Tickets are cheaper but the savings are marginal and you will lose most of your day sitting on the bus. We encourage the train. 

Alternatively, you can book an organised tour. Ask the reception staff at your Bayswater accommodation for recommendations about local options. 

Getting around Cambridge

Cambridge is a tiny city. Once you’ve tackled the 10-minute walk into the centre from the train station, you can spend the day getting around on foot. 

Cycling is a popular means of getting around in Cambridge. But, as a day tripper, this isn’t necessary. 

If you require a taxi back to the train station, you can use the ride-share apps, Uber or Bolt, or hail a cab from the street.

Best Things to do in Cambridge

Start the day with a huge breakfast, today will be jam-packed! When you book directly, you will receive a daily complimentary breakfast at the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Restaurant.

Once you arrive in Cambridge, you can fill the day as you see fit. These are the best things to do in Cambridge for one day. 

University of Cambridge

Established in 1209, Cambridge University is one of the most prestigious learning institutions in the world. The university consists of 31 colleges that are scattered throughout the city. Many of which are open to the public, and you should prioritise seeing King’s College, Trinity College, and Corpus Christi College. Note that colleges are subject to close at times due to exams and private events. You might want to check the relevant websites prior to leaving your Bayswater accommodation for the day trip.

Cambridge University Botanic Gardens

Originally designed by Professor John Henslow, mentor to Charles Darwin, the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens delight with over 40 acres of green space. You can see a surplus of 8,000 plant and flower species from all over the world in a serene environment. Open daily, the gardens are located close to the train station so do plan your visit to consider this. 

Punting in Cambridge

Punting is an activity that takes place in a flat-bottomed wooden boat called a punt. Punters steer these watercrafts along the “backs” of River Cam with the aid of a long wooden pole. You will pass by the back of colleges and cruise beneath the Bridge of Sighs. Regular tours depart year-round and you can purchase a seat on the spot. Or, if you feel brave, you can rent a punt for your party and have a go at self-punting. It’s trickier than it looks and many first-timers end up taking a dip. Do consider packing a dry bag or your valuables and a change of clothing prior to leaving the Grand Royale Hotel London.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Cambridge’s star museum exhibits all manner of items including classical relics from Ancient Greece and Rome, European pottery, and Asian ceramics. The work of such artists as Hogarth, Rembrandt, and Turner hang on the gallery walls. If you’re passionate about history and beautiful objects, do factor in an hour or two to visit the collection. The museum is open from Tuesday until Sunday; advance tickets are not required. 

Kettle’s Yard

This one-of-a-kind art gallery displays masterpieces from the early to mid-20th century. Such names include Barbara Hepworth and Joan Mirò. Kettle’s Yard occupies what was once the private residence of Jim Ede and it truly does feel as though you are exploring the personal collection of a family home. The gallery is open from Tuesday until Sunday and there is no need to pre-book a ticket. 

Cambridge Market Square

Cambridge Market Square hosts a daily open-air market. You can purchase all types of handicrafts, gift items, and unique souvenirs. The market is here come rain or shine and you can expect the items on sale to reflect the changing seasons. Peckish? Cambridge Market Square is a hub of artisanal food products and tasty street eats. This will line your stomach perfectly until you return to the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Restaurant for supper. 

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology belongs to the University of Cambridge. Ethnographic items on display are collected from every corner of the earth and spotlight the works of Indigenous cultures. Expect to see the likes of totem poles, boats, teapots, tools, and sculptures. The museum is open Tuesday until Sunday and no advance tickets are required. 

Scott Polar Research Institute Museum

If you have your heart set on a trip to the Arctic or Antarctica next after your stay at the Grand Royale Hotel London, then this museum is a must-see. The Scott Polar Research Institute Museum showcases the daring ventures made by early explorers to these final frontiers, with an emphasis on the work of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shakleton. The museum is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Booking is not necessary.