Cambridge is famous for many reasons, but there is so much more to this beautiful city other than its world-famous university. Home to literary giants and historic figures, delicious Chelsea buns, architecturally stunning buildings and punting on the River Cam, there is much to see, do and eat in Cambridge. But what if you’re short on time and only have a mere few hours? And what happens if you’re visiting with kids? How is it possible to keep them occupied as well as interested, and allow you to be able to wander the city? Well, for our recent Cambridge day trip with National Express, we downloaded a special map and embarked on a treasure hunt in Cambridge which took us around the city’s famous landmarks and streets.
A Cambridge Day Trip In Our Own Time
Knowing we only had an afternoon to do a tour of Cambridge, I shied away from getting a guided day out in Cambridge and instead chose to download my own treasure hunt. At just a small cost of £6.99 from Treasure Trails (click here for more info) it allowed us to follow the clues and tour Cambridge at our own pace. Which when you have kids with you is so much easier because it allows you to stop, start, wander and explore off-piste without being a burden to anybody else. When Monkey wanted to break for lunch, we did. When we both wanted to stay and watch the punters along the river Cam for a time, we did. Under no time constraints, it allowed us to have a relaxing saunter and enjoy our Cambridge day trip without any pressure.
Cambridge With Kids
Our day out in Cambridge began in St Andrews Street – where we started our quest to find where supervillain Robin Spree has hidden his ill-gotten gains. While the doesn’t actually contain any directions, each clue leads on to the next and in this way we were able to walk central Cambridge, past many of its most prolific sights and colleges. We also got to find hidden gems, statues, plaques and relics that as a normal passer-by may ignore including TALOS, the Legendary man of bronze who was the guardian of Minoan Crete. Highlights of our day out in Cambridge included:
Walking through Cambridge Market Square
Alive with food stalls, arts and crafts as well as a plethora of different items for sale, Cambridge Market Square is well worth a visit. It was fantastic perusing the many artwork and photography on display from local artists, as well a grabbing a few snacks along the way.
Seeing King’s College in all its glory
One of the finest examples of medieval Gothic architecture in the country, King’s was founded in 1441 by Henry VI. It is impressive and even though we didn’t have time to venture inside and explore the College Chapel, it was still wonderful to walk around the perimeter and marvel at the design.
Peering through the gates of Magdalene, Trinity and St. Johns
A visit to any of the colleges in Cambridge is a must if you have the time. And some of the most prestigious include Trinity, St. Johns, Magdelene and Christ’s – in fact, there are a total of 31 – which welcome visitors to their grounds for a small fee. We walked past several and just spent some moments peeking through their ornate gates and admiring their gardens.
Finding The Round Church
We came across the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or The Round Church purely by chance. But we loved its quirkiness and it is, in fact, the second oldest building in Cambridge, and one of only four round churches in the UK that are still in use.
Heading To The River Cam
No day trip to Cambridge is complete without heading to the River Cam and watching the punts – of which there are so many! If you fancy a punting tour along The Backs – the area of which several colleges back onto the river – there are many companies offering their services. Although we didn’t do it this time, it was still just as enjoyable spectating.
Checking out the bridges
There are so many bridges in Cambridge, that it would be impossible to see them all in one sitting. But all have them are rich in history, and are so different in terms of aesthetics – including the stunning and famous Bridge of Sighs, the only covered bridge at St John’s College and Clare Bridge – the oldest one over the River Cam. We walked over Magdelene Bridge, and also go to see the Mathematical Bridge, which is the only wooden bridge left along The Backs.
Wandering the historic stone streets of Cambridge is a highlight within itself. You never know what you’re going to come across around each corner. Including ice cream! After walking past a small queue outside Jack’s Gelato we were tempted by all the delicious looking flavours of which there are dozens and dozens. Of course, we had to go in. And what a great move – my mint stracciatella was just YUMMY…
Cambridge activities for next time
There was so much that we didn’t do – but all the more reason for returning to Cambridge with kids. After walking past several museums including the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Fitzwilliam, as well as not actually going inside any of Cambridge University’s fine colleges to explore the likes of Wren Library at Trinity or Cambridge University Botanic Garden, we will certainly be able to fill up a whole weekend, let alone another day trip.
However, that is the beauty of just spending one day in a city, it’s the perfect way to get a taster of much more. And when you have a young child with you, there is only so much you can cram in, without tiredness overwhelming. For Monkey and I, it was a great introduction to Cambridge and, while we didn’t exactly do any specific kids activities in Cambridge, the treasure hunt made our exploring fun and interesting. We’ll just have to bring the whole family back next time!
*Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with National Express