Best Day Trips from Cambridge – Days Out Near Cambridge
This is a round-up of some of the best day trips from Cambridge. There are many great days out near Cambridge. I have picked out some of my favourites within one hour of Cambridge and a couple of big hitters that are a bit further away. Whether you are looking to visit an interesting town or city, explore the countryside or uncover a local attraction I hope you will be able to find your ideal day trip from Cambridge.
We live in Cambridgeshire and have explored East Anglia as a family. Most of my suggestions are fun for adults too though so don’t be put off by all my talk of Cambridge and beyond with kids.
Best Towns and Cities Within an Hour of Cambridge
- Bury St Edmunds
- Lavenham and Long Melford
Best Towns and Cities further Afield
Best Local Attractions from Cambridge
- Fen Farm Museum
- Linton Zoo
- Anglesey Abbey
- Wicken Fen
- Wimpole Home Farm
- Audley End
- Thetford forest
Towns and Cities Within an Hour of Cambridge
Distance from Cambridge to Ely by car: 32 minutes
Distance from Cambridge to Ely by train: 14 minutes
Ely is an easy small city to get to from Cambridge. The full name of the city is Isle of Ely because in times past it was an island surrounded by fen. The fens have long since been drained but the isle is still a striking sight above the low-lying farmland. The riverside is close to the railway station and perfect for a walk or you can head up the hill into the town. The main reason to visit Ely is the magnificent cathedral which is stunning both inside and out.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Distance from Cambridge to Bury by car: 44 minutes
Distance from Cambridge to Bury by train: 39 minutes (note it’s an easy trip by train but the train station is a 10-15 minute walk from the town centre in both towns)
I’m a little biased as Bury St Edmunds is my hometown but I think it is one of the best day trips from Cambridge. The town has everything, good shopping, regular markets, lots of places to eat and history in spades. The Abbey Gardens are the most interesting attraction in Bury. Head down Abbeygate Street and through the gate to visit this wonderful park which was built around the ruins of an Abbey.
Distance from Cambridge to Newmarket by car: 28 minutes
If you like horses (or at least have a passing interest) then Newmarket is the place for you. We’ve never been to the museum or any of the many studs but those are an option for horse nuts. If you would like to experience the Newmarket vibe without getting too immersed in the horse culture I would recommend a walk on the gallops. After 1pm you can enjoy a stroll without the horses and enjoy the views. Before 1pm you can go along to watch the race horses going through their paces. Go early to make sure you catch the best of the spectacle.
Lavenham and Long Melford, Suffolk
Distance from Cambridge to Lavenham by car: 54 minutes-1 hour
Distance from Cambridge to Lavenham by train: There is no train station (the closest is Sudbury but it takes 3 hours from Cambridge)
South Suffolk is quintessential England at its best. Lavenham and Long Melford are both cute places to walk round. Lavenham attracts tourists for many reasons but more recently it’s because scenes from Harry Potter were filmed there. Long Melford has two interesting stately homes, Kentwell Hall and Melford Hall. Beatrix Potter was a regular visitor to Melford Hall so they have some great displays on her work.
Distance from Cambridge to London by car: It is 1 hour 40 to central London but it is unlikely you would want to drive there. We usually drive to Westfield shopping centre near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (1 hour 16 minutes) and use the easy car park there. From car park B you can be on be on the underground to central London in 5 minutes. Use the contactless on your card at the barriers and you don’t even have to worry about buying a ticket.
Distance from Cambridge to London by train: 49 minute to 1 hour 23 minutes direct to Kings Cross, St Pancras or Liverpool Street.
There have been many words written about things to do in London with and without kids. What makes it one of the best day trips from Cambridge is just how easy it is to do. It is less than an hour on the train to central London. Once you are in London you can get anywhere you like quickly on the underground which is an adventure in itself. If you are visiting the UK then you probably already have London on your itinerary. If you don’t but are wondering if you can do it in a day I would say, yes, you can tick off the main sights (Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge etc.) You will need several day trips from Cambridge if you start adding things like the museums to your list as most can absorb a day by themselves.
Distance from Cambridge to Oxford by car: 1 hour 55 minutes
Distance from Cambridge to Oxford by train: 2 hours 36 minutes to 3 hours. The route is via London and requires at least to changes on the underground.
If you’ve come to Cambridge to check out the history and architecture then the chances are you are also interested in how it compares to Oxford. The spires of Oxford are certainly and impressive sight and it is a great city to walk around. It is not the easiest day trip from Cambridge but it’s definitely doable. I probably wouldn’t recommend this one if you are travelling with kids. Two hours in the car to look at some ‘boring’ building probably won’t go down too well.
Local Attractions and Interesting Places
Denny Abbey and the Farmland Museum, Cambridgeshire
Distance from Cambridge to Denny Abbey by car: 21 minutes
If you are interested in the history of Cambridgeshire then this is worth combining with a trip to Ely. Farming is really important to the area and this museum showcases farming through the ages including lots of cool machinery. Entrance to the museum also gives you entrance to Denny Abbey. This shell of a building is not much to look at on the inside but it does have an interesting history.
They also have lots of fun activities for kids. Read about my visit with Ted here.
Linton Zoo, Cambridgeshire
Distance from Cambridge to Linton Zoo by car: 24 minutes
Linton Zoo is a small wildlife breeding center in the village of Linton. It has an interesting story and lots of genuinely awesome animals. If you have kids they will love the lions, zebras, lemurs and tapirs.
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Distance from Cambridge to Anglesey Abbey by car: 15 minutes
Anglesey Abbey is a Cambridgeshire stately home and parkland just outside of Cambridge. It is known for its snowdrops and beautiful Himilayan birches. The circular walk around the grounds is an easy stroll that everyone will enjoy. The house and grounds are owned and managed by the National Trust.
Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire
Distance from Cambridge to Wicken Fen by car: 34 minutes
Wicken Fen is another National Trust property to the north of Cambridge but it is very different to Anglesey Abbey. Wicken Fen is managed and restored fen land. Short walks are possible from the visitor centre along board walks to explore the habitat. These are There are also much longer walks, all with interesting things to see along the way.
We rented bikes and went on a longer loop around the fens. You can even reach Wicken on the cycle paths from Cambridge. You can click here to find out how we got on.
Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire
Distance from Cambridge to Wimpole by car: 26 minutes
Wimpole Estate is the final National Trust property I’m going to talk about here. It is another Cambridgeshire stately home and park combination. The parkland is much bigger than Anglesey Abbey, as is the house. This property also has a farmyard with lots of interesting farm exhibits, although you do have to pay extra for this.
Audley End, Essex
Distance from Cambridge to Audley End by car: 35 minutes
Audley End is the only one I am including on this list that we haven’t been to yet. We do have a visit pencilled in for July and there will probably be a blog post to follow so stay tuned. I’ve heard a lot of good stuff and the miniature railway looks fun so we are excited to check it out.
Thetford Forest, Suffolk and Norfolk
Distance from Cambridge to Thetford Forest by car: 52 minutes (to High Lodge)
If you would like to see something a little bit different from the fen farmland of Cambridgeshire then you could head out through the Brecks to Thetford forest. There are miles of walks, mountain bike trails and much more through this managed forest area. It’s a great place for active people to explore.
We like High Lodge and Brandon Country Park with the kids. Read more about what’s available in this post.