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unique things to do in Cambridge

Whether you are coming to Cambridge for the day, weekend or you’re a local looking for something a bit different to do, this list has you covered. Cambridge is a bustling city that welcomes thousands of tourists weekly, it is estimated that the city sees around 8 million visitors a year.


There are an abundance of reasons as to why Cambridge is so popular, its rich cultural and educational history being the forefront of why we receive so many visitors each year. There are plenty of other reasons as to why Cambridge should be the next city trip you should take. Keep reading for a list of unique things to do in Cambridge.



Arguably Punting is as equally as famous as the University, the two seem to exist in a complimentary symbiosis. Punting in Cambridge is a year round activity, but is especially popular during the summer months. We offer both Private and Shared punting tours, each lasting for 50 minutes. During your tour you will be guided down the historical college backs, basking (hopefully) in sunshine. You are welcome to bring your own food and drinks on board, but if you would like us to supply any prosecco or champagne please ask as we will be able to add drinks onto your tour.



We are coming into the summer months, so this blog is definitely following an outdoor theme. Paus, situated on the outskirts of the city, is a place where you can relax, unwind and put your feet up. Here you will find ten cedar hot tubs, a sauna, and a cold plunge pool. As well as an emphasis on health and wellness, Paus offers a delicious homecooked seasonal menu that highlights local produce.


Cambridge Rowing Experience

Nothing quite says Cambridge like a boat on the river! As funny as that statement may be, its true. Think of postcards of Cambridge with pictures of punting, and the infamous boat race that happens annually in March against Oxford. Boathouses, Canal Boats and Punts all line the River Cam. Newly introduced to the city is Cambridge Rowing Experience, a fully immersive day allowing you to try the famous university sport, without having to commit to a club. You will be taken through the training regime both on land and on the water and you will get the chance to row in a coxed ‘eight’ boat.


Jesus Green Lido

Originally designed to mimic the nearby river, the Lido on Jesus Green is one of the last remaining long length pools built during the 1920s. Situated a 3 minute walk from our landing stage, the lido is the perfect place to cool down during the hot summer months.


The Eagle

Who doesn’t love the pub, right? It’s inherently British. What better way to wash down the day then by having a pint in the pub where the discovery of DNA was announced. Talk about unique things to do in Cambridge!


The short answer is yes, definitely, punting’s worth it.


Punting is a quintessential British activity, and paired with the atmospheric sights of some of Cambridge University’s most iconic colleges (we are looking at you, Kings College Chapel) it is an almost inevitable must-do on any trip to Cambridge.


A bit about Punting in Cambridge


Punting in Cambridge has been around since 1910 when Scudamores founded their punting station on Mill Lane. Since then punting has been taking over Cambridge by storm. By the 1920’s Punting overtook any other form of boating to be the largest activity on the river in Cambridge. There have also been many pieces of literature that have referenced the River Cam, including ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester‘ by Rupert Brooke and ‘Taking Leave of Cambridge Again‘ by Xu Zhimo.


Our tours are a 50 minute return trip of the College Backs, we depart and return from our landing stage on the corner of Jesus Green. During your tour of the mile long stretch of the College Backs you will see seven colleges and nine bridges. The famous College Backs route is largely only accessible by either buying admissions to the individual colleges or by taking a punting tour with one of the licenced tour operators.


We offer chauffeured guided shared or private tours, meaning you can cruise down the river without the worry of navigating the tens of other boats also out on the river. Your experienced guide will delight you in various anecdotes surrounding the colleges and university life, making punting a worthwhile trip.


Why you should do it? 


Firstly, it is a traditional English activity, ‘pleasure punting’ has been around since the nineteenth century, first starting off in London. Nowadays ‘pleasure punting’ can be done in several English cities including Bath, Canterbury, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon. However, it is Cambridge which undoubtedly takes the crown when it comes to the popularity of punting. Pictures of people punting in Cambridge can be found published all throughout the UK and even Europe. There is a Spanish textbook which has a picture of somebody punting in Cambridge as its cover.


Not only is punting one of the top things to do in Cambridge, it is also one of the top things to do in the United Kingdom. Just think you wouldn’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, or you wouldn’t go to New York without seeing the Statue of Liberty. So why would you come to Cambridge and not go punting?


Punting also provides an excuse to indulge in the slower pace of life or as the Italians call it ‘Dolce Far Niete’ (pleasant idleness). Punting is worth it as gives you 50 minutes to sit, relax, marvel at the atmospheric beauty of the college architecture, and observe the vibrant ecosystem that habits the River Cam. Just look at these paintings (Lady in a Punt by Henry John Yeend King, and Lady and Child Asleep in a Punt Under the Willows by John Singer Sargent) from the nineteenth century and you’ll see exactly how recreational punting is.


What makes it so special?


Almost a rhetorical question, as the answers are infinite. Some of the highlights include;


  1. Punting is one of the only way to access the College Backs, unless you pay individual entry fees to each of the nine colleges. Not only do you see more but it is also a far cheaper alternative.
  2. As our tours are guided you will gain access to anecdotes about Cambridge University you wouldn’t otherwise hear, especially as most of our tours are done by Cambridge locals.
  3. During your tour you will see some of the famous Cambridge locations including Bridge of Sighs, Kings College Chapel and Mathamatical Bridge.


Punting in Cambridge as Lockdown eases

Punting in Cambridge has finally become a reality again, rather than a distant dream.

England has been on lockdown due to Covid-19 since March, and the government is now looking forward to lifting some movement restrictions. People will slowly be allowed to leave their homes and venture out to catch the sunny rays that are shining across the country as summer approaches.

The best way to bask in all that glorious sunshine is by going on punting in Cambridge with a friend or two.

Usually, punting in Cambridge is a favourite among international tourists who fly from around the world to visit the famous colleges.

However, it is also the most quintessential English pastime that many residents can take advantage of, especially since tourist flights are currently still halted.

This will also make social distancing more comfortable because there are no crowds.

You can grab a Cambridge punt all to yourself and go for a row or lie back and enjoy the ride without sharing the boat with too many other people.

Here are the reasons why every resident should take an afternoon break to go punting in Cambridge as lockdown rules slowly lift in the upcoming weeks. 

Enjoy the Summer Breeze

As the country continues to have incredibly warm and sunny days, it is never a better time to catch some rays to make up for all that lost time during isolation.

Grab a comfy t-shirt over a cute pair of shorts and head out for a day punting in Cambridge down the River Cam.

Getting enough sunlight is essential to maintain vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps maintain strong and healthy bones.

Trust us when we say that punting in Cambridge is way more fun than taking supplements, such as sardines, cod liver oil, or beef liver, to get your natural fix of natural D while taking selfies with sun-kissed drooping trees in the background. 

Enjoy the Gorgeous Scenery

Even though Cambridge is a city, it does not feel like it most of the time, thanks to its vast and picturesque green spaces.

It makes it easier to get away from the bustle of the inner city, to catch a breath in a scenic place that helps your mind escape.

Grab a camera and go for a quick Cambridge punt. And then sprawl across an open field for a picnic and afternoon nap before exploring the colleges on foot.

It sounds like a great way to celebrate coming out of isolation, right?

Enjoy the Soulful History

Are you a history buff who tears up watching movies like Braveheart? This city is full of so much history that makes so many brits proud.

You can easily have a drink in the same pub where DNA was discovered or find a similar apple tree that helped discover gravity.

When you wander down the streets of Cambridge, you embark on the footsteps of eight hundred years of historical achievements.

The city has been around since the Bronze Age, and the first game of football with association rules was played here!

Book a Cambridge punting tour and pick your chauffeur’s brains to find out whether The Mathematical Bridge really was built by Sir Isaac Newton or not.

Post Lockdown Punting

Everybody in the United Kingdom is currently still under lockdown due to COVID-19.

This means that no matter how gorgeous the hot weather is outside, there are still restrictions on people’s movements and social distancing rules that should not be broken until the government says so.

After that, nothing would sound better than a Cambridge punt to breathe in all the scenery and fresh air to make up for all those weeks you spent at home to save lives.

Here are a few tips to organize the best Cambridge punting ride when society returns to socializing outside again.

Book A Post Lockdown Private Tour for Your Group

Let’s face it, even after coronavirus restrictions are officially lifted by the government later this year, it will still take a while for us all to start feeling close to each other again, post lockdown.

In this case, you might not want an overcrowded tour with strangers, especially if you already have a group of your own friends and family to accompany you.

It is best to book a private tour for your party, which would only cost the same as a Sunday roast at the pub.

This will be significantly cheaper per person to go back in time along the Cambridge Backs on your very own Cambridge punt and chauffeur.

Then you can all sit back and enjoy all the sights from one of the most historically rich and famous stretches of water in the world.

Beat the Crowds by Coming Early

When all international borders are open again, Cambridge welcomes millions of tourists from around the world who visit to explore all the renowned colleges.

If you are planning to go on a shared Cambridge punting tour, you might want to arrive early morning to secure a spot and beat the queues.

Mornings are perfect for punting in Cambridge, especially post lockdown.

Aside from a lack of crowds, there are also fewer boats fighting for space on the River Cam.

You can enjoy that crisp morning air while absorbing a great sense of splendour and history as you view the bridges and colleges with private views.

The sunlight reflecting across the water and colleges is stunning, and that is why it would be a crime to forget your camera at home.

Bring Something to Eat or Drink on your Post Lockdown Punt

A Cambridge punt can take up to an hour to catch all the magnificent sites, and you are bound to get hungry or thirsty along the ride.

Since you get to sit back and relax comfortably on a punt, why not bring some snacks to make the trip extra special?

On a private Cambridge punting tour, you can pop open some champagne to celebrate spending time with loved ones. For a fancier adventure, why not pack some fresh strawberries and cream to down with the bubbly?

Social Distancing whilst Punting in Cambridge

The weather in England has been full of sunshine and warmth for the past few days, but the whole world is unfortunately still on lockdown due to the widespread of COVID-19.

The British government has requested that people follow strict distancing measures by staying at home to contain the disease.

However, people can venture out for daily exercise to remain sane during the lockdown, and a Cambridge punt is the best way to enjoy the trees blossoming under the
warm sunset that beams its rays across all the buildings.

Social Distancing Outdoors

Cambridge Punting is a favourite pastime because it is a relaxing boat ride down the River Cam,
where you can breathe in the beautiful scenery on a sunny day.

Since most tourists are not around due to the coronavirus lockdown, locals can try a Cambridge punt without the hectic

Punting in Cambridge is one of the best ways to hear all the historical tales about the famous college backs.

The architecture speaks for itself and gives you a different feeling while rowing past sitting in a punt.

Practising Safe Social Distancing

A punting tour is an activity that brings people together with a capacity of approximately 12 people per ride.

However, due to COVID-19, it is essential to maintain strict social distancing rules.

Unlike regular year-round tours, you can try private tours with loved ones, if you are not more than six people to ensure safety.

Members of your household who display coronavirus symptoms should stay at home and avoid punting in Cambridge.

Any booked tours can be rescheduled to a later date so that people may recover from all symptoms before punting.

Everybody should always remember to wash their hands and use sanitizers before and after boarding a punt.

It is recommended to limit non-essential contact with your chauffeur while punting in Cambridge.

If you need assistance, the chauffeur can offer their shoulder or elbow while getting on and off the boat.

Everybody should attempt to sit with significant gaps in between each other, and still be close enough to the centre of the punt to avoid tipping over.

Private tours will have plenty of space to spread apart while keeping arms and legs safely inside the punt.

To prevent breaking social distancing rules, every member of your group should be living together.

People are still advised against gathering in large groups or visiting friends and family who are not part of the same household.

These are troubling times for everyone in the world, and passenger safety is of utmost importance.

Businesses and tourists have been affected by the necessary lockdown measures and need to remain healthy and resilient during this challenging period.

Although punting in Cambridge is one of the safest activities in the country, being mindful of a few simple social distancing rules is critical to flattening the curve.

Punting in Cambridge

If you have been wanting to take a boat ride in scenic England, nothing beats punting in Cambridge. Cambridge has plenty of history and cultural traditions, and it is one of the most famous cities in the world because of its University.

However, what you might not know before booking punting in Cambridge is that the conversations and utterings between people are also famous, even if that is on a smaller scale.

Your tour might be a crazy adventure because people say the funniest things.

Here are some examples that will make you go, “Wow, that is such a Cambridge thing to say.” 

“Dad! You cannot feed the geese Pimm’s!”

This was overheard on a Cambridge punt by tourists who could not stop laughing while a child begged their dad to avoid feeding the geese some alcohol. Pimm’s is a gin-based spirit that is made with orange and warm spices. Even though this is a delicious drink to have onboard whilst punting in Cambridge, it is certainly not meant to be shared with any geese. 

Famously among punting companies, there is a Pimms boat that frequents the River Cam during the summer months.

If you are punting in Cambridge during the summer be sure to check it out.

“Punting in Cambridge Is the Poor Man’s Gondola Ride.”

To some, a Cambridge punt may not seem as luxurious as going on holiday to Italy. Although gondola rides are still affordable for many tourists, they were a method of transportation for only the elites and upper-class living in historical Venice.

However, it is the journey to Venice from England that also adds on to the overall cost, which is why many wealthy people can take the plunge faster than others.

There are no significant differences between both experiences.

A gondola ride has the reputation of being a one-of-a-kind romantic experience, but Cambridge punting is catching on too.

You can hire a private punt for you and your partner, and ride into the sunset with champagne and strawberries on board.

Like a punt, a gondola is also a flat-bottomed wooden boat driven by “Gondoliers” instead of “Chauffeurs.”

There is no requirement for a gondolier to sing like they do in the movies.

Chauffeurs who transport tourists in Cambridge do not have a strict uniform and are often students studying at the university.

Gondoliers wear striped t-shirts with red, white, or black colours. Punts have a natural wood colour, but gondolas are all painted in black due to a law that goes back to the 16th century. 

“Don’t Worry. Your Moustache Is More Charles De Gaulle Than Adolf Hitler.” 

These were comforting words that were overheard outside Christ’s College.

Christ’s College is part of Cambridge University, and you can see it during your punting in Cambridge tour.

The college was founded by William Bingham back in 1437 as “God’s House.”

Charles Darwin and John Milton were some of the most famous alumni of this college. Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays Borat, studied at Christ’s College too.

The college is an essential landmark at the university, which is why one must always keep their moustache in good shape whilst punting in Cambridge. 

“There Is So Much Latin In This City, You Wouldn’t Even Think You Are in England Anymore.” 

The city of Cambridge has a lot of fascinating history, and that is why many tourists flock here to explore the University and all its glory.

However, some people might struggle to go back to history.

Latin was initially used by ancient Romans, and a significant portion of the English vocabulary has been derived from Latinate and Romance sources.

Nearly 70% of English words are inspired by Latin.

For example, “Cantabrigia” is the old Latin name for “Cambridge.”

Every part of Cambridge consists of historical wonders. Even if you dislike Latin, there is so much to learn about this city because it has a very special place in England’s heart.

Valentines Punting Tour

Valentine’s day is the most romantic time of the year, and a Cambridge punt is perfect for a
well-deserved date night to celebrate true love with your special someone.

You can take your loved one on a relaxing valentines punting tour so that you can fall in love with Cambridge together on a
peaceful trip while holding hands and cuddling on the river.

Here is why Cambridge is such a special place to celebrate romance in the air with your significant other.

Feel the Romance on The River Cam

Punting in Cambridge is one of the best surprises you can gift that wonderful person in your life
this upcoming valentine’s day.

A valentines punting tour on the River Cam will transport you through the heart of the city and will grow your hearts for each other too.

It will reward you with breath-taking views of the famous bridges and colleges that line the river.

This traditional English pastime is ideal for couples who want to book a private tour to spend quality time together amidst all the scenery.

To make your Cambridge punt extra special, your chauffeur can provide cushions and blankets to keep you warm as you huddle close during the ride.

Your boat can also be decorated with roses and any other perks you might want to make your trip as romantic as possible just for the two of you.

Since this is a private tour, you can make a playlist with all your favourite love songs to listen to during the ride while popping open that bottle of
champagne on the water during sunset.

Please let us know in advance if you wanted anything in particular added to your tour.

Explore History Together

If you share a passion for culture and learning together, a Cambridge valentines punting trip will fulfil your desire for history with some mind-blowing tales.

You will also get up close and personal with some of the most iconic buildings and sights, such as the grounds of Trinity College, The
Mathematical Bridge, Kings College Chapel, The Bridge of Sighs, Clare Bridge, New Court St Johns, The Wren Library, and so much more.

These are the locations where academic geniuses made England a world leader thanks to alumni members, such as the legendary Stephen
Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Edward VII, George VI, Sylvia Plath, and Alan Turing.

If you and your partner enjoy the famous Netflix show “The Crown,” you will be pleased to know that Olivia Colman, who plays her majesty the Queen in season three, is also an alumnus
of the university.

For the Adventurers

This valentine’s day, you can also go on an exciting ghost tour while punting in Cambridge if you prefer something offbeat and thrilling.

This is a fun way to experience Cambridge’s darker side with a spooky trip that will keep you and your loved one on the edge of your seats the entire

There is a lot of history in Cambridge, and a lot of epic stories of scary hauntings at the colleges.

If that does not scare you enough, Freddie Highmore, who played Norman Bates from Bates Motel, is also a Cambridge University graduate.

Layer up for a Cambridge Punt in February

The average weather in Cambridge during February is a low of 2 degrees with a high of 9 degrees Celsius.

Although this is not as cold as earlier months, you should still layer up if you are going punting in Cambridge. The city is surrounded by water and can feel a lot colder than being in central London or the southern parts of the country. Even if it is slightly windy, you might feel the windchill through your bones.

This can make your Cambridge punt uncomfortable if you are not wearing the right clothes. This is what you should pack in your suitcase if you are planning to visit the city for a Cambridge punt in February.

Coats and Jackets for a Cambridge Punt

Although the weather forecast predicts around eight days of rain, England is very unpredictable. You never know when a random shower might surprise you while punting in Cambridge, especially if you do not have an umbrella or a headcover.

When you bring a coat, you should ensure that it is waterproof to wear in the rain and not get your inner clothes wet. Your coats and jackets should be lined with warm fleece on the inside to keep you toasty enough to spend the day on the River Cam comfortably.

This way, you will be able to appreciate the ride instead of shivering and wanting to rush indoors.

Woolly Hats

When you are punting in Cambridge, a woolly hat in February can be a lifesaver to keep your head and ears warm.

It might not be the most flattering part of your winter wardrobe and might wreak havoc on your hair, but it will help your body lose less heat to withstand the cold weather.

You can pull a woolly hat all the way down over your eyes to the top of your neck. Then it can also act as a cover for the back of your neck in case you do not have a scarf.

If you buy a black woolly hat, it can match any outfit. You can also get them without the fluffy ball material on top in a fitted size that covers your head fuss-free.

Scarves and Gloves

Scarves are always fashionable, no matter what season. Wearing a scarf to cover your mouth and neck, creates better insulation with a pocket of warm air.

Then you will not have to breathe in the cold air while punting in Cambridge on the River Cam.

If it is uncomfortably chilly, you should also wear gloves to keep your fingers warm, or else they might feel numb.

Many gloves are designed to use on smartphone and camera touchscreens, which is beneficial because you will want to take plenty of photos during your Cambridge punting trip.

The Right Boots

Even though the predicted temperature is not below freezing, parts of England do experience snowfall in February and March.

You will need to buy boots that are waterproof for treading snow with high-quality rubber soles and significant traction to prevent you from slipping on ice.

The best boots can be both fashionable and versatile for cold and rainy days.

Look for sneakers or boots that have a thick faux fur lining on the inside for extra warmth during your magical Cambridge punt this winter season.

Importance of the River Cam

A trip to England would never feel complete without punting in Cambridge and marvelling at
the sights surrounding the world-famous university that was home to legends like Professor
Stephen Hawking.

A Cambridge punt involves a flat-bottomed wooden boat with a quirky
chauffeur who is most likely a resident or a student at the university.

You can take a ride with friends and family and learn about the history of Cambridge and why it has a special place in
many people’s hearts. If you are visiting the city for the first time, you might be wondering
which side of the River Cam to take the tour from to get the best views. There are two main options
for a Cambridge punting tour.

Please note that we only do tours along the College Backs  (the lower River Cam).

The Lower River Cam

This is a short stretch of River Cam that runs through the heart of Cambridge University and is best if
you want to see all the famous landmarks, such as King’s College Chapel and the Mathematical

If you want to explore the university, this is the better tour because then you will get to
enjoy all the views and stories during your Cambridge punting tour. This is an exceptional ride that will
give you a lot of insights into student life at this renowned establishment.

During the tourist season, this route may be the most crowded, but you can always book in advance to avoid
queues and secure tickets for your preferred timings.

Unless you steal a student card or sneak into the university, this is the best way to see all the grounds and iconic buildings even if you
spend less time on the River Cam.

The Upper River Cam

The upper River Cam is a lengthier stretch that leads towards picturesque villages outside Cambridge.
Instead of gazing at buildings, you might see more natural scenery and farms.

This side of the river is less crowded, so if you are self-punting in Cambridge for the first time and need some
space to master your punting techniques, you can practice your skills on this side without
bumping into all the tourist boats that swarm the lower river.

Unlike the lower River Cam, you can also enjoy a more relaxing atmosphere because there are hardly any crowds at the upper river,
and you will find plenty of beautiful scenic spots for a picnic break.

However, be careful of swans and ducks that might attempt to steal your food.

Please note we no longer offer self hire.

The Popular Route

The lower river is a popular choice among tourists, but the upper river is preferred by locals because of its serenity and chance to
spend more time on the river.

You should not have any problems buying tickets at the last minute, but it is always better to book those beforehand because Cambridge gets very crowded
during the warmer months.

If you are only visiting for a day, you might miss out on a punting in Cambridge tour if there are too many people and you have not booked the tour on the college backs in advance.

Punting in Cambridge: the technical bits.

A quant is a pole that is used to propel a barge or punt boat through the shallow waters while punting in Cambridge. The barge quant has a cap at the top and a prong or teeth resembling a pitchfork at the bottom. This stops the pole from sinking into the mud. A quant used for

Cambridge punts are usually around four meters or thirteen feet long and is generally made of hollow metal or wood. This way, it can always float even if it is left in the water. Depending on the size of the punt, a longer quant might be required to propel it.

In earlier days, these poles were essential to drive yachts when there were no engines or if the wind was not strong enough. Sailors for large vessels relied on quant poles that were at least twenty-six feet long. Aside from propelling a Cambridge punt, the quant is used to steer the boats by acting as a rudder. The rudder is a primary control surface that helps boats move through the water.

The chauffeur using the quant can quickly stick it behind the punt to safely control and navigate the direction it moves.

There is also a common saying, “I wouldn’t touch that thing with a barge pole,” or “I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole,” which usually referred to a long pole that is meant to tread through dirty slush and mud at the bottom of a river.

How to Use A Quant whilst punting in Cambridge.

The main reason quants are used for punting in Cambridge is to propel the boat from the rear or front deck. The angle that the chauffeur holds the quant depends on how deep the water is and how fast they want to travel.

For large tour groups, they will go relatively slow because punting in Cambridge is a relaxing trip for you to see the sights around the university, so you might notice that they are not holding the quant at a steeper level, which is meant for deep waters. This is because the bottom of the quant should be able to reach the bed of the canal, and a shallower angle is needed for speed. Your chauffeur might hold it relatively straight because they do not want to go all fast and furious with families and children on board.

Your punting chauffeur will drive the quant downward and then push it slightly back, which propels the punt.

On larger boats, the chauffeur will walk along the side of the punt and brace against the quant to drive forward at the speed they are walking in. For reversing, the quant needs to be pushed forwards and then pulled out of the water.

Your chauffeur will place their hand over it and then pull up, as though they are climbing up and down the pole. Whilst punting in Cambridge, the chauffeur will usually stand at the back for most of the rider and then slide their quant in the water at a forward angle.

This will glide the punt loosely in the direction they want it to go. They will then push the quant just past a vertical angle, sloping it downwards from front to the back of your punt, and then push on the quant to propel forward. At the end of this stroke, the quant gets twisted with a downward roll of their wrist to break it free from the bottom and then retrieve it by throwing their hands forward, getting ready for the next stroke.

You will notice how smooth and rhythmic this style is, which is the best form to give you a safe yet adventurous ride that will satisfy all your punting in Cambridge tourist needs.

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