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Cambridge sightseeing



  • Browse through this website for an idea of what to see and do:
    www.visitcambridge.org > 'Things to See and Do'.
  • A calendar of University organised exhibitions, talks, concerts, and theatre performances - usually held in University museums, departments, or in colleges - can be found on: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/whatson/
  • A variety of walks and guided tours of Cambridge city centre are available, see:
    Two-hour guided walking tours of the town and colleges leave from the Tourist Information Office on Bene't Street/Wheeler Street at 10:30 Mon-Sat, and daily at 11:30, 13:30, and 14:30. Entrance to King's College and Chapel is included when available; if closed, the tour visits St. John's College and Chapel. The cost of the tour is £10/person (£8.50 concessions) if King's is included, and £8.50 (£8) if St. John's is included. You can just show up a quarter of an hour before the tour leaves. If you want to make sure you have secured a place, call the Tourist Office at 01223 457574 or e-mail tours at cambridge.gov.uk to book.
    Apart from traditional guided tours, there are highly recommended self-guided 'interactive map' walks, and 'podcast/mp3 audio walks'.
  • 'Interactive map' ShapeWalks (www.strideguides.com/ShapeWalks) include the following themed tours: Historic Higlights; Tudor Cambridge; Victorian; Contemporary Architecture; Green Spaces; Clocks and Sundials. Print your map and guide booklet with detailed information about buildings off the web free of charge, and walk round Cambridge at your own pace. Don't forget to print off your selected tour before arriving in Cambridge.
  • Stride Guide Audio Walks (www.strideguides.com/StrideGuides/index.aspx) include the following themed tours: Cambridge Past and Present; Buildings, Lives and Legacies (a celebration of the University from its early beginnings to the present day); 800 Years of Death and Disease (a Cambridge history of illness and its cures over the last eight centuries); Walking in Henslow's Garden (a walk round the Botanic Garden, learning about its influences on Charles Darwin). Print your map and download an audio trail as a iTunes/iPod Podcast or an MP3 file. For some audio walks, you can also print the whole text of the tour. Don't forget to print off your map or text, and download your selected tour before arriving in Cambridge.

Don't miss

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  • Punting on the river Cam
    There are several commercial punt stations on the river where you can hire a punt with a chauffeur/guide for around £10 or £12/person, or rent a punt to drive it yourself (Scudamore's punting technique webpage explains how to punt: http://www.scudamores.com/cam/technique.php). You can also rent a punt, or punt plus chauffeur, from a punt station at Trinity College. If the weather is good the river is likely to be very crowded, so try to go early, or wait until Thursday afternoon (after the conference) which is likely to be less busy. Some punt hire companies:
    Trinity punts: http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/index.php?pageid=664
    Scudamores: http://www.scudamores.com/
    Granta Punt Hire: http://www.puntingincambridge.com/
  • Climbing the tower of Great St. Mary's
    Great St. Mary's is the University Church; its tower, which was completed in 1608, provides excellent panoramic views of the city and colleges (http://www.gsm.cam.ac.uk/gsm/Visitors/Tower/tower.html). The chimes from this clock tower were copied for the Westminster chimes at Big Ben in London. Many of the Cambridge Protestant reformers preached in St. Mary's. Entry to the church is free; tickets for the tower are £2.50, there are concessions for students and senior citizens.
  • The Eagle Pub
    The Eagle (8 Bene't Street) was once the most important coaching inn in Cambridge and its history is on display throughout its five large rooms. The decor features medieval wall paintings, fireplaces and panelling from the 16th century, and the signatures of British and American World War II airmen etched into the ceiling with cigarette lighters. The Eagle has always been a popular watering hole for scientists working at the Old Cavendish laboratory nearby, and it was here, on 28 February 1953, that Francis Crick and James Watson first announced that they had 'discovered the secret of life', DNA.
  • St. Bene't's Church
    The oldest building in Cambridge, St. Bene't's (Benedict's) Church predates the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and so the church stood long before the establishment of the University. The Anglo-Saxon tower remains (dating from around 1025), the semi-ruined sides noticeably more crude than the later Norman architecture. Inside there are colourful angels on the roof beams of the north transept, but more noteworthy is an arch and pair of lions dating from around 1000. You may sometimes hear change-ringing from St. Bene't's tower (i.e. ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called 'changes').
  • Corpus Clock, or Chronophage ('time eater')
    On the corner of Trumpington Street and Bene't Street, a few steps from the Eagle Pub. Entirely mechanically controlled, with the world's largest grasshopper escapement mechanism. Designed to be accurate only every five minutes, its erratic motion reflects life's 'irregularity'. The hour is tolled by the sound of a chain clanking into a small wooden coffin hidden in the back of the clock, and below the clock is an inscription from the Vulgate 1 John 2:17: mundus transit et concupiscentia eius ('the world passeth away, and the lust thereof'). The clock was conceived and funded by John C. Taylor, an old member of Corpus Christi College. It was officially unveiled to the public on 19 September 2008 by Stephen Hawking.

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  • King's College Chapel
    King's College Chapel (www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel) is the grandest building in Cambridge and ranks among the most important examples of late gothic (perpendicular) architecture in the world. Entry to visit the Chapel is by ticket which you can buy at The Shop at King's, opposite the entrance of the College, on King's Parade (£5/person, £3.50 concessions). Please note that the Chapel is occasionally closed to the public because of recordings, concerts and private ceremonies (you can check the dates with amended opening times online). You do not have to buy a ticket if you come to the Chapel to attend a religious service.
    On Saturday 11 July and Sunday 12 July, the famous King's College Choir will be singing at Evensong and Eucharist for the last time before they break up for summer vacation. I have planned a group visit of LFG09 participants to the Chapel on Sunday to attend Evensong at 3:30 pm (click here for a pdf of the programme, excerpted from the King's College Chapel Services booklet).
  • Bridge of Sighs, St. John's College
    If you don't get to St. John's College with a guided tour, you may choose to drop in especially (tourist admission charge is £3); it is next door to Trinity. St. John's was founded in 1511 by Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII; it is the second largest Cambridge college, and its Bridge of Sighs, a single-span bridge of stone with a highly decorative Neo-Gothic footbridge covered with traceried openings, is of the most photographed buildings in Cambridge. You can catch a glimpse of the Bridge of Sighs from Trinity College when you visit the Wren Library at Trinity (see below); while walking up the stairs in a splendid staircase leading up to the Wren Library, do not forget to look through the window.
  • Wren Library, Trinity College
    The Wren Library was completed in 1695 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren, and it also features stunning limewood carvings by Grinling Gibbons and marble busts by Roubiliac. Today it contains the manuscripts and printed books which were in the college library by 1820, together with various special collections given to the college during the last 190 years. Among the special collections housed in the Wren are 1250 medieval manuscripts (including an 8th century copy of the Epistles of St. Paul); the Capell collection of early Shakespeare editions; many books from Sir Isaac Newton's own library (including a first edition copy of Principia Mathematica with Newton's handwritten notes for the second edition); the Rothschild collection of 18th century English literature; and A.A. Milne's manuscripts of Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Several of these treasures are on display in the Wren Library.
    The Wren Library is open to the public, but the opening times are very limited (from 12 midday to 2pm weekdays). However, since LFG09 conference is hosted by Trinity, LFG09 participants will be exceptionally allowed to visit the Wren Library any time between 9am and 5pm Mon-Fri. If you wish to take advantage of this opportunity, please go to Trinity Library entrance in Nevile's Court and identify yourself to the person at the Library Reception Desk (please wear your LFG09 name badge). Only small groups or individuals will be admitted, so please don't arrange to visit the Library in a large group. If you choose to visit the Library between 12-2pm, you will have to join the queue which may form outside the Library. Please note that the Wren Library is not open on Saturdays in July.
  • Darwin's Rooms, Christ's College
    In Darwin's anniversary year Christ's College is celebrating its famous alumnus in various ways. On Sat 2-4 pm, Wed and Thu 10-12 and 2-4 pm, Darwin's Rooms will be open to the public (admission charge £2.50). Members of the public can also go on a Darwin Walk through the college and see the Darwin Portico, Sun to Sat, from 9:30 am (£1; you will be able to take the walk without a charge if you reside in Christ's College). Furthermore, the Old Library at Christ's College is currently holding an exhibition 'Charles Darwin: On Land and At Sea', to which admission is free of charge; the exhibitions is open every Wed and Thu 10-12 and 2-4 pm. Please note that occasionally the Library may be shut at short notice.


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The University has a number of world-class museums which can be visited free of charge. All of them are within comfortable walking distance of Trinity College. Please see the University webpages for detailed information:
Overview: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/museums/
Visitor information: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/museums/visitors.html

A list of University museums (with links to their individual webpages):

  • Fitzwilliam Museum
    World-class collections of works of art and antiquities. Paintings include masterpieces by Veneziano, Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, and a fine collection of 20th century art.
  • Kettle's Yard
    A beautiful and unique house which belonged to H.S. 'Jim' Ede, a curator at the Tate Gallery in London in the 1920-30s, and an adjacent gallery of modern art. The house, with a remarkable collection of early 20th century art, is particularly worth a visit, but please note the limited opening times. It was envisaged by Jim Ede as a place where visitors would 'find a home and a welcome, a refuge of peace and order, of the visual arts and of music.'
  • Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
    Local, national and world archaeology including Captain Cook's collection and a 14-metre-high totem pole. Additionally, the Museum is currently holding an excellent special exhibition 'Assembling Bodies', an innovative, multi-disciplinary exhibition which examines ways that bodies are constructed, known and transformed in various historical, cross-cultural and disciplinary contexts. It invites visitors to explore various technologies through which bodies are known and made visible.
  • Museum of Zoology
    A huge variety of recent and fossil animals, intricately beautiful shells, a comprehensive collection of British birds, and many large skeletons of mammals.
  • Museum of Classical Archaeology
    [One of the largest collections of plaster casts of Greek and Roman statues.] Unfortunately this museum is closed for building work until spring 2010.
  • Whipple Museum of the History of Science
    An internationally important collection of scientific instruments and models dating from the Middle Ages to the present.
  • The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
    500 million years of the history of life on Earth. Superb exhibits and presentation. Includes items collected by Darwin on his Beagle voyage; a spectacular mineral gallery; a piece of Apollo's heat shield.
  • Scott Polar Research Institute
    [Holds a unique collection of artifacts, journals, paintings, photographs, clothing equipment, maps, and other materials illustrating polar exploration and polar science.] Unfortunately this museum is also closed for renovation until spring 2010.
  • The University Library
    One of the greatest collections of books and manuscripts in the world. From 6 July, the Library Exhibition centre will be holding an exhibition 'A Voyage Round the World: Charles Darwin and the Beagle Collections in the University of Cambridge'.


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  • A shorter walk: along the college 'Backs', i.e. behind the main line of colleges, on the west side of the River Cam. Each college owns its own part of the river banks, so it is not possible to walk immediately by the river, but you can walk along Queen's Road (there is a nice path beside the road for most of the way), catching sights of the colleges through the trees, in particular the picture-perfect sight of King's College Chapel. The Backs can be reached by three public bridges: Silver Street Bridge (from which you can see another bridge: the famous Mathematical Bridge at Queens' College), Garret Hostel Bridge, and Magdalene Bridge. As participants in a conference held at Trinity College, you will also be allowed to cross the private Trinity Bridge.
  • A longer walk: from Quayside by Magdalene Bridge, along the southern bank of the river, via Jesus Green (a large area with excellent grass to sit on, perfect for an outdoor lunch or picnic), to Midsummer Common, and if you wish even further to Stourbridge Common and Fen Ditton. A very relaxing walk away from the noise of the city.
  • A walk in the University Botanic Garden, a heritage Garden showcasing some 8000 plant species. 40 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens including a Rock Garden, Woodland Garden, Water Garden, Winter Garden and Glasshouses full of seasonal plants. Note the opening times (10am - 6pm; the Glasshouses close 5:30pm) and an admission charge (£4 adult; £3.50 student). Stride Guide Audio Walks (www.strideguides.com/StrideGuides/index.aspx) have a themed tour of the Botanic Garden: 'Walking in Henslow's Garden' (a walk round the Botanic Garden, learning about its influences on Charles Darwin). You can print your map and download an audio trail as a iTunes/iPod Podcast or an MP3 file (don't forget to do it before arriving in Cambridge).

Outdoor swimming pool

  • Should it be boiling hot, Jesus Green outdoor swimming pool may perhaps be a temptation. Click here for more information. On the page which opens there is a further link to opening times, prices, etc.


  • In July, there are likely to be dozens of interesting concerts in various locations in the city (including various college chapels). To find out about them, read posters attached to the railings in numerous places in the city centre, visit the Tourist Information Office in Bene't Street/Wheeler Street, or the City Centre Box Office next door to the Tourist Informaton Centre, or check the online 'Concert Diary' (http://www.concert-diary.com/). For many smaller concerts advertised locally via posters and leaflets, you don't need to pre-book, but it's usually sufficient to just turn up.
  • On Sat 11 July 7:30pm (6:30pm pre-concert talk) the Academy of Ancient Music, who are resident in Cambridge, will be giving a concert 'Mozart and Hummel - Summer serenades' in West Road Concert Hall (the concert hall of the University of Cambridge Department of Music; within very close walking distance of Trinity College); tickets might still be available from Cambridge Arts Theatre Box Office, 6 St. Edward's Passage (between St. Bene't's Street and the market square), open Mon-Sat 12noon - 8pm, or by phone +44 (0)1223 503333 Mon-Sat 12noon - 8pm.
  • Also on Sat 11 July 8 pm, there will be a concert in King's College Chapel of 'quintessentially English song and poetry. George Butterworth's hauntingly beautiful A Shropshire Lad and readings from Rupert Brooke and A.E. Housman combine with rediscovered gems from the First World War period.' Organised in partnership with the 'Music and Literature of the First World War' conference at King's College. Andrew Kennedy (tenor), Julius Drake (piano), Timothy West (reader). Tickets £16 (£5 for students under 25 on door only), available from the Cambridge Corn Exchange Box Office (opposite the Tourist Information Office), or +44 (0)1223 357851.

Shakespeare in the college gardens

  • This is a great Cambridge experience. The Merchant of Venice will be performed in Robinson College Gardens; Much Ado about Nothing in St. John's College Gardens; and Romeo and Juliet in Downing College Gardens. All performances begin at 7:30 pm (except for special charity performances which begin at 2:30 pm). Tickets can always be bought on the door. Or you can buy them from the City Centre Box Office (next door to the Tourist Information Office), +44 (0)1223 357851. Or check and pre-book online via the website of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival (held 13 July - 29 August 2009): http://www.cambridgeshakespeare.com/

Arts Picturehouse

  • At the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, opposite Emmanuel College, you can see a wide range of independent and classic films in luxurious yet historic surroundings. The cinema was built in 1937 and many of the original features remain including an art deco cafe bar for a pre or post-film drinks. Check what's on: http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema_home_date.aspx?venueId=camb

Around Cambridge

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Cambridge is surrounded by gorgeous countryside, with quaint villages, impressive country houses, and other places of historic interest to explore.

Please follow this quick link to Options 3-7 on the 'Pre-conference activities' page for ideas of excursions around Cambridge.

And the following link will take you to a special page with detailed information about the 'Cycle ride to Heydon' (13 miles south of Cambridge), planned as part of the 'Pre-conference activities' on Sunday, 12 July, in the evening.

This page created 15 June 2009
This page last updated 15 June 2009
Maintained by Anna Kibort
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