ziptours cambridge

As much as some urbanites may think sometimes, big cities and their surroundings are not all that Britain has to offer. With Zipcars also in Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford, more of what this great country has to offer is within easy reach. Here are our top picks of things to see and do near Cambridge.

Feel free to suggest your own ideas below, the best ones may even be rewarded.

Look out for these icons for advice on the trip's suitability:

 = dog-friendly     = young family-friendly

(Just remember to put your dog in a carrier when you take him or her in a Zipcar, them's the rules.)

Plus we've indicated the destinations' nearest Zipcar city and the closest Zipcar to the train station for Londoners making a real break away from metropolis.


 


Newmarket

Distance from Cambridge: 16 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

If you're picking up a Zipcar in Cambridge, and if you have even the slightest interest in horseracing then Newmarket is a must-see; it is the town where the 'Sport of Kings' was born in 1622. Experience the thrills of the sport whether you put a bet on or not (we're staying neutral on the gambling front), at the Newmarket Racecourse. Take a peek behind-the-scenes and book a tour of the grounds. Or learn a little something about the sport's history at the National Horseracing Museum. But if horseracing isn't your thing, then Newmarket itself is an attractive town, dating back to the year 1200, with its Royal history going back as far as 1605 and James I.

Ely

Distance from Cambridge: 16 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

Not too far from Cambridge is the tranquil medieval town of Ely. It's hard to miss 12th Centrury Ely Cathedral, which dominates the town-scape; and with an informative guided tour included in the admission price, it's a must-see for any architecture or history enthusiasts. And if history is your thing, then you'll also want to check out the home of the ill-fated Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell. A little known fact (at least we didn't know) is that Ely is named for its involvement in eel catching in the River Ouse, which still continues today. For a beautiful stroll in the fresh air (and a good dose of eel history) take a wander along the Eel Trail, and, if you're brave enough, be sure to sample the delicacy at Ely's award-winning farmers' market.

Grantchester Meadows  

Distance from Cambridge: 4 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

Be brave and take a plunge into the River Cam at Cambridge and float down to Grantchester Meadows, made famous by the Pink Floyd song of the same name. Relax and soak up the sounds and smells of the riverside as you get pulled downstream by a gentle current. This lazy and hazy river couldn’t be further removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Be inspired like many great figures of our past including Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron and Rupert Brooke who bathed in the river and camped out under the stars. We recommend you bring a non-swimming friend to keep hold of towels and flip flops (and keys!). Dry off and recharge at the gorgeous Orchard Tea Rooms which (unsurprisingly!) is set in an orchard. Alternatively if wild swimming isn’t your bag (or it's just a bit too chilly!), pick up a punt in Cambridge and float down in style.

 

Grafham Water Park  

Distance from Cambridge: 26 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

For waterside and woodland cycling in the East of England, Grafham Water Park, a site of Special Scientific Interest, is high on the list. The paved 10-mile track offers an easy cycle circumnavigating the lake. And once you’ve completed the trail the park also offers sailing, windsurfing, fishing and plenty of picnic spots. Bikes are available from Rutland Cycling at the Marlow car park.

Grafham Water Park, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 0BH

Wicken Fen 

Distance from Cambridge: 21.5 miles; Zipcars are parked at Cambridge Station

This marshy reserve, with its winding waterways and wealth of wildlife, provides wide-open skies ideal for stargazing. The Wicken Fen reserve ordinarily closes at 5pm, however if you book to stay on their Wild Camping site in one of four open-fronted shelters you can enjoy gazing up at that great dark wonder above while getting back to basics next to a camp fire.

Loe Lane, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5XP; wild camping site £25 per group

Houghton Mill  

Distance from Cambridge: 17.5 miles; Zipcars are parked at Cambridge Station

This 18th century Mill has withstood the test of time (and attempted demolishment!) to keep running until this very day. Houghton Mill has been milling for over 1000 years and if you visit on a Sunday you can see it in operation. Enjoy a guided tour of the mill, or just take in the tranquillity of the area, either way this is definitely an interesting and unique day out for the whole family.

Houghton, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2AZ; adult entry: £4.80 (inc. GIft Aid)

Bridge End Garden 

Distance from Cambridge: 17.3 miles; Zipcars are parked at Cambridge Station

This free to enter, Victorian style garden is open every day of the year except Christmas. Bridge End Garden is actually a series of seven interlinked gardens, and even contains a maze (if you feel like getting a little lost!). This garden won ‘best small Essex attraction’ in 2011.

Bridge End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1HR; free entry

Linton Zoo 

Distance from Cambridge: 10.5 miles; Zipcars are parked at Cambridge Station

Lions, tigers and… dinosaurs, oh my! (Okay, the dinosaurs aren’t real). But Linton Zoo is a diverse zoo with all kinds of animals, from the big cats, to reptiles such as snakes, as well as having giant tortoises, and critically endangered species. You can also get up close to the animals like lemurs and tortoises from just £10, or go all out with a VIP zoo keeper experience.

Hadstock Road, Cambridge, CB21 4NT; adult entry £9

Apocalypse Paintball

Distance from Cambridge: 13.7 miles; Zipcars are parked at Cambridge Station

Battle your way through trenches, strongholds, villages and jungles with your comrades to achieve your targets. Available in affordable packages (either half or full day), and just a short drive from Cambridge, Apocalypse Paintball will be an exhilarating and fun day out for any adrenaline junkies or canny soldiers!

Old North Road, Royston, Cambridge, SG8 5JS; adult half-day entry from £20

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