Cambridge is best known for one thing: its impressively ancient university. Dating back to the early 13th century, Cambridge University has been at the forefront of science for hundreds of years. Today, tourists flock here to visit its historic colleges, boat past medieval buildings on the River Cam and immerse themselves in the city’s many museums and galleries.
To inspire your next trip to England, here are the best day trips from Cambridge.
Colchester is one of the most historic places to visit in the UK and one of the best day trips from Cambridge. The town was originally founded by the Romans and for many years was the capital of the Roman provinces in Britain.
Today, travellers can learn more about the city’s past at Colchester Castle, where you can explore over 2,000 years of history. The town is also famous for its wildlife park, and you can see animals from all over the world on a trip to Colchester Zoo.
Getting there: The best way to get to Colchester is by car or National Express coach. Journey times are between 1.5 and 2 hours each way.
Ipswich is the largest town in the county of Suffolk and a day out here is one of the best day trips from Cambridge. Situated on the beautiful banks of the River Orwell, Ipswich’s riverside is a lively, bustling place with cafes, bars and restaurants serving good food and great views.
You can take a boat trip on the River Orwell and then visit the Ipswich Museum to learn more about the importance of the river and Ipswich harbour in English history. The Ipswich Transport Museum is always a hit with travellers, while the popular Christchurch Mansion offers an insight into Tudor history.
Ipswich is the gateway to some of Suffolk’s most beautiful countryside, with the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just a short drive away.
Getting there: Ipswich is a short journey from Cambridge by car or train, one hour or 1.5 hours respectively.
A traditional English seaside town, Southwold is one of the most beautiful destinations on the Suffolk coast and one of the best day trips from Cambridge. Here you can enjoy a day on the beach while eating fish and chips and hoping the seagulls don’t steal your ice-cream.
Southwold is best known for its long pier, which stretches for around 200 metres. The pier dates back to 1900 and is a lovely place to take a stroll when the sun is shining. If you’re feeling active, there are plenty of walks up and down the Suffolk coast from Southwold or, if you’re feeling brave, you can always take a dip in the sea.
Southwold is also home to one of England’s most famous independent breweries. If you’re a beer drinker, book a tour of the Adnams Brewery while you’re in town, or just pop into one of Southwold’s many pubs for a pint.
Getting there: Southwold is a two hour drive from Cambridge. If you are driving, you can combine a visit to Southwold with a trip to nearby Ipswich.
4. Sutton Hoo
The east of England is steeped in history, and one of the region’s most important archaeological sites is just a day’s drive from Cambridge. Sutton Hoo is an ancient Anglo-Saxon burial ground where gold, wealth and weapons have been found buried beneath the mounds of earth.
Important Anglo-Saxon leaders were laid to rest at Sutton Hoo in burial ships, surrounded by their wealth and often in their elaborate armour. The site was excavated in the 1930s, and the archaeological story was recently the subject of a feature-length Netflix film, The Dig.
The site is protected by the National Trust, a British conservation organisation, which runs an exhibition hall and visitor centre where you can see many of the Anglo-Saxon artefacts on display.
Getting there: The best way to get to Sutton Hoo from Cambridge is by car, as there’s little public transport. It’s a 1.5 hour drive, but you can easily combine a visit to Sutton Hoo with a trip to Ipswich or the Suffolk coast.
Just a 15-minute train ride away, Ely is one of the easiest day trips from Cambridge. It is also one of the most fascinating day trips from Cambridge because it is one of the smallest towns in the country. Ely has a population of just 20,000, but because it’s home to an important medieval cathedral, it has always been classed as a town rather than a village.
Ely is built on an island in an area of Cambridgeshire known as the Fenlands, and the name Ely comes from the fact that the local economy historically revolved around catching eels in the many waterways surrounding the town.
You can visit Ely Cathedral, see the former home of English Civil War dictator Oliver Cromwell and explore the nearby fens by boat.
Getting there: Ely is 15 minutes by train from Cambridge.