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River Cam
River Cam

River Cam

The Basics

Visitors can picnic or wander along the banks of the River Cam—a popular stop on hop-on hop-off bus routes—but punting remains the most popular way to experience this attraction. Punts can be hired from several points along the river, both the upper and lower sections.

Travelers who are apprehensive about propelling themselves along independently can opt for chauffeured punting experiences, which offer more time to enjoy the views and snap photos. Highlights to look out for include the Wren Library, King’s College, and the Bridge of Sighs, as well as university rowing teams practicing for the Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • The River Cam starts in Essex, but most people visit the lower river stretch in Cambridge which passes by many university buildings.

  • The upper river stretch of the River Cam in Cambridge is generally quieter.

  • The banks of the River Cam make for the perfect picnic spots during warmer summer months.

  • Visitors can hire punts independently or opt for a chauffeured punt for ease.

  • The banks of the River Cam may not be fully wheelchair or stroller accessible; the punts are not accessible either.

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How to Get There

The River Cam runs for roughly 43 miles (69 kilometers) between Debden, Essex and The Great Ouse, cutting through the heart of Cambridge along the way. Most travelers visit the lower stretch of the River Cam which goes from Bishops Mill to Jesus Lock, is lined by buildings from eight Cambridge University colleges, and is easily accessible on foot from the city center.

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When to Get There

In general, visitors can admire and punt down the River Cam year-round, although summer is perhaps the best time to visit. Summer, weekends, and public holidays are peak punting season on the River Cam, though, and it gets very busy; visit outside of those times for a less congested and cheaper experience. Punting on the River Cam is only hindered by extremely heavy rain.

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What to Do in Cambridge

The River Cam is one of Cambridge’s top attractions, but this university city has plenty more to offer travelers. Start with the obvious and visit one or more of the Cambridge University colleges such as King’s or Trinity independently or during a tour. Then, visit the (University-owned) Botanic Gardens or catch a live show at Cambridge Junction, an independent arts venue.

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