Cool Places to Go in Cambridge without Breaking the Bank

Catholic Church of Our Lady & The English Martyrs, Cambridge External Architecture with Spires
Catholic Church of Our Lady & The English Martyrs, Cambridge. External architecture with spires

There are many activities available to do in Cambridge through all the seasons of the year. The city can be reached in around one hour and 45 minutes drive from London. Cambridge is a little out on a limb but the M11 road is good and scenic road. It is better to stay with friend or in a hotel within striking distance of all the amenities and historical universities in Cambridge, to make the most of this unique trip. To see our recommendations on staying in this famous Oxbridge location read our article ‘Where to stay for a budget cost minibreak in Cambridge.

Walking into the city from your lodgings early in the morning provides an opportunity to enjoy breakfast. Plus its an opportunity to indulge in a speciality tea or coffee at one of the delicious independent bakeries such as ‘The Cambridge Oven’. (1)

On the way into town you will probably walk past Parker’s Place which is a large green common. Parker’s Place is ideal for relaxing and reviving with an extra hot drink treat from one of the nearby cafe stands, while watching the locals play the traditional game of cricket and other sports.

Cricket club playing at Parker's Place Cambridge
Cricket club playing at Parker’s Place Cambridge

Some say “the only way to get about in Cambridge is by bike”. We met two ladies who were topping off a wonderful day with some afternoon tea at a cafe overlooking the magnificent colleges. They had propped up their pretty pastel Primo Cycles from the shop on Jesus Lane and were taking refreshments, after a busy day sight seeing on two wheels. (2) Tom Pilgrim at the Cambridge News website has written a comprehensive blog about the best places to hire a bike in Cambridge complete with prices. This article was written in 2017 so it would be a good idea to call vendors ahead of time to check up to date details for this season and reserve your bicycle in advance. (3)

There are a lot of events and museums to experience in Cambridge like many fantastic urban locations in the UK. In keeping with the low cost theme we initially advise that bringing a good pair of walking shoes and exploring the medieval streets on foot in the way to go. It is interesting to note that Oxford and Cambridge are the oldest academic establishments of their kind in England and were first built over 800 years ago.

The architecture is stunning with amazing buildings to view such as the ‘Catholic Church of Our Lady & The English Martyrs.’ which is a fine Gothic Revival example. Spending time inside the beautiful interior of the church and attending Mass is simply organised currently by selecting the booking system on their website. (4)

The University of Cambridge buildings and the main college area give everyone who passes by a chance to marvel at the famous educational institutions. St John’s college chapel is well known for its choir and was built in 1511 so has celebrated its quincentenary. (5) King’s College Chapel is a late Gothic church with flying buttresses and medieval stained glass. Even the Lloyds bank building in the town centre is a neo-Gothic grade 1 listed monument not to miss.

There are plenty of brilliant buskers of all ages and styles to listen to and watch as they entertain all the visitors all around the market and commercial area. For the price of a few pounds donated to developing musicians, it is well worth taking the time to try out listening to some new tunes and revisit some old favourite songs performed live.

If weather turns inclement or people watching is your thing, then upstairs in Starbucks you will find comfortable chairs, a quirky lighting feature made out of mugs and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the main market square. Here you can relax and sip your favourite beverage whilst watching the world go by.

Starbucks cafe Cambridge view through to Market Square
Starbucks cafe Cambridge view through to Market Square

The Botanic Gardens are a gorgeous place to stroll around and they are open from 10am. The Sainsbury Laboratory is a new (2011) that gives the university a botanical hub which is described by the University of Cambridge as “building unprecedented opportunity to obtain an integrated understanding of plant development.” It also features a 150 seat auditorium. (6)

The Fitzwilliam Museum is a big monumental pillared building built by Richard Fitzwilliam the 7th Viscount to house art and antiquities in the early 1800’s. Considered one of the best museums in England it houses an eclectic collection which includes Egyptian pieces and Michael Angelo sculptures. The exhibitions are open again and you can book a free timed ticket on their website. (7)

Throughout the summer months you can take a punt on the Mill Pond which is fed by water from the River Cam. Granta Moorings provide a boat hire service for some nautical fun to remember along by the picturesque banks of green foliage and willow trees. (8)

Punting boats on the Mill Pond in Cambridge

There are many great restaurants to choose from in this cultured city. We recommend dining at The Millworks. A modern brasserie and riverside restaurant with a working water wheel, The Millworks can be found in Newnham Road which is a picturesque area. Booking is essential and Millworks is a member of Camcuisine. The Camcuisine website gives details of several restaurants worth looking at for quality meals in the historic city. (9) Camcuisine members are currently offering 50% off the bill if you mention ‘Why not Wednesdays’ to your waiter or waitress if you are visiting midweek. (10)

If a ‘few extra drinks to round the evening off nicely’ is in order the Eagle is a popular Greene king chain pub serving meals. It has a super aspect as the inn is set right in the middle of the characterful surroundings created by the special collegiate architecture. (11)

Continuing the upbeat atmosphere with the additional bonus of value drinks and food prices means it is definitely worth visiting the impressive old Regal cinema building. A “veritable palace” said cinema-goers in the 1930’s when they describing the venue, according to the Wetherspoon’s company who owns the spacious eatery.

The Regal’s traditional pub interior is laid out over two floors with a double winding staircase connecting one floor to the next. Open till late when government restrictions allow it is the perfect place to wind down in the company of other young, lively and friendly people.(12)

To read more about what to do in Cambridge see our next article about shopping in this famously elite student destination. We hope you have a wonderful trip!


(1) ‘Our Vision, Our Passion’ The Cambridge Oven, 19 October 2020 ‘Our Vision, Our Passion’ The Cambridge Oven

(2) ‘Bike Fitting’ Primo Cycles, 19 October 2020 Bike Fitting Primo Cyles

(3) ‘It’s the only way to travel: Where to hire a bike in Cambridge’ Tom Pilgrim, Cambridgeshire Live, 19 October 2020 ‘Where To Hire A Bike in Cambridge’ Tom Pilgrim, Cambridgeshire Live

(4) ‘Welcome To Our Church’ ‘Catholic Church of Our Lady & The English Martyrs.’ 19 October 2020 Catholic Church of Our Lady and English Martyrs website

(5) ‘St John’s College, Cambridge’ Wikipedia, 19 October 2020 ‘St John’s College, Cambridge’ Wikipedia

(6) ‘About the Sainsbury Laboratory’ University of Cambridge, 19 October 2020 ‘About the Sainsbury Laboratory’ University of Cambridge

(7) ‘Visit Us’ The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 19 October 2020 ‘Visit Us’ The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 19 October 2020

(8) ‘Summer Punting’ Granta Moorings, 19 October 2020 ‘Summer Punting’ Granta Moorings

(9) ‘About Us’ Millworks, 19 October 2020 ‘About Us’ Millworks

(10) ‘Find Us’ Camcuisine, 19 October 2020 ‘Find Us’ Camcuisine

(11) ‘Glorious Christmas Get Together’ Greene King, Eagle, 19 October 2020 ‘Glorious Christmas Get Together’ Greene King, Eagle

(12) ‘Our Menu’ The Regal, Wetherspoon, 19 October 2020 ‘Our Menu’ The Regal, Wetherspoon