Visiting Cambridge with Kids: A Complete 2024 City Break Guide

(Last Updated On: November 6, 2023)

Cambridge with kids was one of our favourite UK city breaks. The city blends its prestigious university setting and historical buildings with lots of engaging indoor and outdoor activities for kids of all ages. It is truly a city engaging for toddlers, younger children, tweens and teens and is a great place to visit for adults. 

uk, cambridge, university

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Is Cambridge Child-Friendly?

Cambridge is very family-oriented, with lots of parks and open green spaces, child-friendly museums and adventurous activities. We loved that the city was compact and mostly pedestrianised, making it easy to navigate on foot, by bicycle or on the river.


When is the Best Time to Visit Cambridge?

The best time to visit Cambridge would be in Spring, Summer or Autumn when the weather is warm and mostly dry so that you can enjoy the many outdoor activities on offer. During Winter there is more chance of cold, rainy and misty weather. If you want to visit the many colleges, avoid visiting from early May until mid-June as they will be closed due to examinations. 


Cambridge in April

April is a perfect Spring month to visit Cambridge as the many parks and gardens will be in bloom, so visits to places like the Botanic Gardens and Wimpole Home Farm will be stunning.

The weather is a little cooler (average 14°C), so it’s a good idea to pack some warmer clothing and raincoats.


Cambridge in August

August is one of the warmest months in Cambridge, where the temperature averages around 23°C, so great weather to enjoy the outdoors.

One of the great free things to do in Cambridgeshire is Music in the Parks. This event runs during August, where free live concerts are held every Sunday afternoon across many Cambridge parks (including Cherry Hinton Hall and Jesus Green).

The events have great kids activities and the opportunity to picnic in the sun.


How to Get to Cambridge

Cambridge is about 1 hour and 30 minutes north of London Heathrow Airport (70 Km) via car, or you can take the train from the airport, which takes approximately two hours.

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If you stay in London, there are direct train and bus services from King’s Cross or Liverpool Street stations. 

The train station is not in central Cambridge (2km south of the city centre), but only a short bus or taxi ride and there are local bus services across the city and surrounding areas.

Hiring a car is another option that is a lot easier when travelling with kids and enables you to visit surrounding areas easily.


Where to Stay in Cambridge UK with Kids

Cambridge city centre provides lots of great options in terms of accommodation and closes to the main city attractions with additional excellent transport links. Cambridge is surrounded by beautiful countryside. 


Budget: Holiday Inn Cambridge (IHG Hotel)

The Holiday Inn Cambridge has excellent, reasonably priced family rooms, a health club with an indoor swimming pool, a children’s playground as well as a restaurant and coffee shop on-site.

Free parking is available, and the hotel is situated about 3km from the picturesque Cambridge College Backs, where you the family can enjoy a punting tour. 


Mid-Range: Quy Mill Hotel & Spa (BW Premier Collection)

Located just outside Cambridge in a beautiful rural location, this historic building is home to a hotel, spa and health club (with indoor swimming pool), scenic gardens and a great restaurant.

The Quy Mill Hotel is only 10 minutes from Cambridge city centre via car and the Park and Ride bus service is close by (5 mins). Cots and extra beds are available on request.


Splashing Out: Gonville Hotel

Beautiful boutique hotel situated in the centre of Cambridge and overlooking Parker’s Piece (grassy common), with spacious bedrooms and excellent facilities, including an iPad valet system located in each room. The Terrace Restaurant serves fresh British cuisine, and kids meals are available.

The location of the Gonville Hotel is ideal as only a five-minute walk to the city centre, and Parker’s Piece is home to many local fairs and recreational activities in the summer months.

View prices and availability for your dates here >>>

 


Top 10 Things to do in Cambridge with Kids 

There are plenty of things to do in Cambridge with kids. We travelled with younger children, but we were highly impressed by the kids’ activities in Cambridge if you travel with older children and teenagers. This makes Cambridge an ideal location for a family trip as well as a place to revisit as your kids grow.   


1. Punting

punting in Cambridge, bridge of sighs cambridge

One of the best things to do in Cambridge with children! We took a punting tour of the ‘Backs’ where you can see some of the beautiful college’s historical sites and enjoy the River Cam.

The Bridge of Sighs is truly stunning and one of Cambridge’s most famous landmarks. The tours take about 45 minutes, and the guides are informative and amusing, so it’s a great family activity.

Book your punting tour here.


2. Wimpole Home Farm

wimphole farm, cambridge
By Karen Roe

Beautiful mansion, parkland, gardens and farm located in Arrington, just 12km south-east of Cambridge. Explore Wimpole Hall with grand halls, servants’ quarters and a huge sunken Roman bath, then head out to the gardens and see if the kids can find the secret laurel tunnel in the Pleasure Grounds and enjoy the Walled Garden.

The kids will enjoy seeing the farm animals, including Shire horses, Shetland ponies, pigs, goats, rabbits, geese, cattle and sheep.


3. Cambridge Science Centre

The kids loved the interactive science activities, and this science centre is an excellent indoor activity in Cambridge on a rainy day. There are interactive STEM areas and activities related to the human body, inventing a planet and arts & crafts. The centre is open to the public at the weekend, and you can book workshops on various weekdays.


4. Cambridge Colleges

cambridge for childeren, cambridge colleges

Cambridge is home to 29 colleges with beautiful architecture to admire and a fun walking tour with the kids. The main colleges to see are Kings, Queens, Trinity, Chapel and Clare College, with a small entrance charge. Great St Mary’s Church is well worth visiting to climb the tower and enjoy the view over Kings College and Cambridge. 


5. Audley End House & Gardens

audley house and gardens

Located just outside of Cambridge in Saffron Walden, this impressive Jacobean-style house and gardens offer a great family day out in Cambridgeshire. The house includes staterooms, servant’s wing and art collection, then explore the stables, kitchen garden and beautiful grounds.

There are two cafes on-site, picnic areas, a playground and a gift shop. Events are held across the year, including Half Term Explorer Quests and the Enchanted Lights Walk in December. 


6. Centre for Computing History

computing history, coding, museums in Cambridge, UK city break with kids

Great museum that includes interactive displays of computers and gaming consoles from the 1960s, with many opportunities to play games and learn about the history of computing and coding.

The kids will enjoy all the hands-on activities, and it’s also a blast from the past for adults. There is a café and gift shop on site.


7. Botanic Gardens

botanic gardens cambridge

This oasis is home to over 8,000 plant species from across the world, set across 30 different garden sections and a great place to go in Cambridge with kids.

The kids loved the Glasshouse Range (glasshouses featuring alpine and tropical settings), grass maze and the fountains area. The Botanic Gardens have fantastic family events, including free science, nature and art Saturday events for kids, as well as fun seasonal trail and discovery activities. 


8. Clip ‘n Climb Cambridge

If you are taking a city break to Cambridge with active kids, then Clip’n Climb is a great place to visit, with over 20 unique climbing challenges, including the Stairway to Heaven and Vertical Drop Slide challenges (for a small extra charge).

The activities are available to kids aged 4+, and the centre also offers Autism-friendly and SEN sessions.


9. Market Square

This historic square in central Cambridge has been home to vibrant markets since the Middle Ages. Surrounding the square, there are many winding streets to explore, including Trinity Street and Rose Crescent, with lovely boutique shops and window displays.

There are stalls with lots of different goods throughout the week, and on Sunday, there is a local food, arts and crafts market.


10. Milton Country Park

Milton Park, Cambridge
By Stacy MacNaught

Milton country park just North of Cambridge and well worth a visit as over two miles of surfaced paths for walking and biking, marked trails for horseriding, picnic and play areas, as well as fishing lakes.

There are many significant events for kids here, such as forest schools, paddle boarding, kayaking and outdoor programmes for teenagers. 


Where to Eat in Cambridge for Families 

Cambridge has many great places to eat for families, including independent cafes and restaurants serving local produce. We enjoyed a variety of cuisines during our stay, with Italian, American and British fusion cuisines rating as our top three during our city break.

Aromi – Great family-friendly café in the centre of Cambridge (Bene’t Street), serving beautiful Italian/Sicilian food, including fresh pizza, delicious sandwiches, cakes and ice cream.

Herbie’s American Diner – A Vibrant American diner located just outside Cambridge on Huntingdon Road, with a great selection of food, drinks and desserts, including indulgent burgers, tasty fries and spectacular milkshakes, which the kids loved. 

Bread & Meat – Comfort food at its best. This café (located on Bene’t Street) serves British fusion cuisine, with fantastic roast sandwiches, poutine or bowls, tasty sides and milkshakes. 


2 Days in Cambridge UK Itinerary

If you are visiting Cambridge for a short break, then here is a family-focused itinerary that ensures you make the most of your two-day visit.

Cambridge may be most well-known for its university, but we found the city full of surprises and lots of opportunities in Cambridge for kids activities.


Day 1: 1 Day in Cambridge UK

Whether you’re looking for a Cambridge day trip itinerary or you’re wondering how to spend the first day of your city break, here’s everything you need to know.

Morning:  Take a 45-minute punting tour on the River Cam, where the kids will love being on the river and seeing the historical locations of Cambridge University as well as the beautiful riverside scenery.

Head to Great St Mary’s Church (a 5-minute walk from Thompson’s Lane) to climb the tower and admire the view over Kings College, which is also well worth a visit to see the medieval architecture and chapel.

Market Square is nearby to look around the market stalls before lunch.

Afternoon:  Enjoy some lunch at Aromi or Bread & Meat on Bene’t Street, just next to Kings College. You can take a taxi that takes only five minutes or hop on the bus at Pembroke Street (near Bene’t Street), which takes under 10 minutes.

Head to the Botanic Gardens for a relaxing afternoon, where the kids can let off some steam, explore the grass maze and cool off in the fountains.


Day 2: 48 Hours in Cambridge with Kids

Morning: Take the kids on an adventure to Wimpole Home Farm in Arrington, which takes only 20 minutes via car, and the kids will enjoy seeing the farm animals as well as exploring the surrounding gardens. Check out the animal feeding times on arrival.

You can also visit Wimpole Hall, the gift shop and have some food at the restaurant if you need a break from the outdoors.

Afternoon: Head back to the city centre and visit the Cambridge Science Centre (Clifton Street) for interactive Science activities. Check out the website as there are details on the activities available and which ones you need to pre-book, such as STEMTots, STEMClub and CodeClub. 


Day Trips from Cambridge with Kids

Cambridge has a great location in terms of the many beautiful cities and areas of natural beauty in East Anglia that you can visit.

The Norfolk Coast, London and Oxford are only two hours away so there are many days trip options!


Ely

Ely is a beautiful city and a great place to take kids to Cambridgeshire (about 30 minutes by car and 14 minutes via train from Cambridge).

The city’s main attraction is Ely Cathedral, a stunning building with beautiful gardens and an impressive tower (tours available for children aged ten and over). Ely has several excellent museums, such as Oliver Cromwell’s House and the Stained Glass Museum.

We enjoyed the outdoor activities, including a beautiful walk by the river to see the ducks, canal barges, parks, and stop at a café. Ely Market is held every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday in Market Square. 


Thetford Forest / Go Ape

Thetford Forest is the largest pine forest in England (47K acres) and is located about 45 minutes from Cambridge by car. The forest has excellent walks, play areas and biking routes, and the High Lodge Thetford Forest Centre, a massive hit with the kids. There is a great nature play area for toddlers and younger children at the forest centre (including the Toddler Tower!) and Go Ape high ropes, archery, and segway activities for older kids. 


Norfolk Coast

england, great britain, sky, Norfolk coast

 If you fancy a beach day with the kids, the Norfolk Coast is not far from Cambridge (1 hour 45 minutes via car) and well worth a visit.

We headed to Cromer and stayed overnight as it was a two-hour journey, but there are other options such as Wells-next-the-Sea or Holkham.

Cromer is a traditional seaside town, with sandy beaches, Victorian pier, lifeboat station and Pavilion Theatre. Cromer is famous for its crabs, and in the summer, the annual Cromer Carnival and Crab and Lobster Festival is held, which was a fun event for the kids.


How to Get Around Cambridge 

Walking is the best way to get around Cambridge as the centre is only accessible to pedestrians and as the city is relatively compact it’s not too tiring for the kids.

Cycling is also a popular way to get around, and you can hire bikes from the train station.

Cambridge has an excellent local bus service across the city and surrounding areas and the Hop On Hop Off Bus, which leaves from the Visitor Information Centre. Book your hop-on-hop-off bus ticket here.

If you wish to travel to Cambridge by car but not drive in the town centre, the Park & Ride service is a great option.


Plan Your Trip to Cambridge with Kids

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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.

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