With the summer holidays almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking of places to go. Cambridgeshire is full of exciting and interesting things to see and do, whether it’s making the most of the outdoors on a sunny day, or discovering indoor activities. Here is our guide to the best summer holiday activities in Cambridgeshire.
River tours in Cambridge
One of the top activities in Cambridge is punting. A punt is a flat-bottomed boat which is propelled down a river by a punter. It was introduced to Cambridge at the start of the 20th century, and is still a popular activity today. It’s a lovely way to see the city, especially on a warm summer’s day. As you glide down the River Cam, you’ll spot some of the city’s most iconic landmarks like King’s College Chapel, the Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. If it’s your first time punting, then it’s recommended that you hire a punt that comes with a punter. You’ll get to hear some fascinating tales about the city too! But if you’ve been punting before then you can hire a punt and explore on your own – you’ll find hire companies all around the city.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
While you’re in Cambridge, pay a visit to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. This 40 acre heritage garden is home to a collection of over 8,000 plant species from all around the world. You can easily spend the entire day here, as the garden has a huge range of sections, from the vibrant Bee Borders and the charming Mediterranean Beds, to the beautiful Scented Garden and lush Stream Garden. The garden also has a range of glasshouses which include tropical rainforests, arid lands and delights of the alpine flora. Find a plant you like? Check out the Garden Shop for a variety of plants and flowers, as well as gardening tools, stationery, gifts and books. Take a break from walking and enjoy a drink and treat at the Garden Cafe.
Anglesey Abbey and Hoe Fen
Anglesey Abbey is a historic, Jacobean-style house which was once home to Lord Fairhaven. Over the years he collected many antiques, and today you can step inside the house and see rare and fascinating objects, ranging from books and paintings, to silver and rare clocks. Outside, there are 114 acres of nature to explore. Find a whole range of themed gardens, from the Rose Garden, Dahlia Garden and the Wildflower Meadow, to the Skylight Garden and statue collection. Little ones will love spending time at Hoe Fen. The Wildlife Discovery Area is filled with outdoor fun, including a two storey treehouse and a magical woodland fort. Have a go at den building, or see how many birds, insects and butterflies you can spot!
The cathedral city of Ely is a great day out. It offers a wonderful mix of history and present-day, and there are plenty of things to keep the whole family entertained. A must is a visit to Ely Cathedral. Dating back to 1083, it’s famed for its rich architectural history, and you can take guided tours to follow in the footsteps of medieval monks. Another fun activity in Ely is visiting Oliver Cromwell’s former family home. Through recreated period rooms, find out what life was like in the 17th century. If you’re interested in a little shopping, the Waterside Antiques Centre is the largest antiques centre in East Anglia, with over 65 dealers.
Wicken Fen Nature Reserve
Just outside Ely you’ll find the Wicken Fen Nature Reserve. Owned by the National Trust, it’s home to over 9,000 species of flora and fauna. All year round, there’s an amazing array of wildlife to spot, including rare orchids, marsh harriers, butterflies and dragonflies in summer. There are many ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the nature reserve. There are a number of cycle routes to follow, including the Lodes Way which runs through the fens to Anglesey Abbey. For a short stroll, try the Wicken Fens Adventurers Trail, a three mile walk exploring the different areas of wetland. You can even enjoy a peaceful cruise along the waterways of Wicken Fen on a boat trip with the ‘Mayfly’.
Nene Valley Railway
For lovers of heritage railways, one of the best things to do this summer in Cambridgeshire is a trip on the Nene Valley Railway. It runs for 7.5 miles along the River Nene from Peterborough to the village of Yarwell. There are a selection of experiences if you’re looking for something extra special, including the Steam Starter Experience and the Signal Box Experience where you can have a go at driving the steam and diesel locomotives. Throughout the year the railway runs themed rides like Fish & Chips and Steam, Afternoon Tea and Thomas Big Adventure.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge isn’t just another boring museum. It’s chock a block with over half a million pieces of art dating as far back as 2500 BC. Whatever kind of art you’re interested in, you’re bound to find it here. Enthusiastic about paintings? Discover works by Monet, Picasso and Constable. Fancy yourself as a bit of an archaeologist? Unearth artefacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. There are also vast collections of medieval coins, manuscripts, ceramics, silver, jewellery, textiles, furniture and arms and armour.