Discovering Cambridge's Top 10 Parks and Green Spaces

Published: 03/11/2023

Nestled in the heart of the Cambridgeshire countryside, the historic city of Cambridge offers a perfect blend of nature and culture. The first thing that strikes you is the stunning River Cam, lazily winding its way through the city, inviting you to take a peaceful punt ride or a stroll along its banks…maybe both. It's a tranquil escape from the urban hustle. But that's just the beginning. Cambridge boasts an array of meticulously maintained parks and gardens where you can unwind, exercise, or simply soak up the sun. If you're contemplating a move to this charming city or are already a resident looking to explore your surroundings, you're in for a treat.
Beyond green spaces, Cambridge's charming streets are adorned with historic architecture, making it a joy to explore on foot or by bicycle. Whether wandering through the quaint colleges or discovering hidden courtyards, you'll find surprises around every corner. But today, we are focusing on the beauty of the green spaces and have selected ten of our favourites. Come and find out more…

1. Jesus Green - Ah, Jesus Green – where leisure meets the river. This vast expanse of greenery stretches along the River Cam, offering the perfect setting for a relaxing day outdoors. There are tennis courts, a lido for those scorching summer days, and plenty of space for picnics or a leisurely game of frisbee. The weeping willows lining the riverbank create a serene atmosphere, making it an ideal spot to read a book or enjoy a romantic stroll.

2. Midsummer Common - Located just a stone's throw from the city centre, Midsummer Common is a real treasure. With the stunning backdrop of St. John's College and the River Cam, it's a favourite spot for punting, picnicking, and watching the world go by. In early June, this common comes alive with the annual Midsummer Fair, an event that's been part of Cambridge's history for centuries. During this event, you can enjoy a lively mix of food stalls, games, and rides. If you are a foodie (or like a tipple), this is the place to be every summer.

3. Parker’s Piece - If you're into sports or just want a wide-open space to unwind, Parker's Piece is your go-to spot. This historic park is renowned as the birthplace of modern football. The sprawling grounds offer ample room for a game of football, cricket, or a leisurely walk; plus, it's home to the iconic University Arms Hotel, where you can enjoy a drink or a meal with views of this picturesque park.

4. Grantchester Meadows - Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by taking a short walk or bike ride along the River Cam to Grantchester Meadows. This tranquil spot inspired the likes of Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke. The riverside path is perfect for a leisurely bike ride, and once you arrive, you can enjoy a picnic by the river, visit the celebrated Grantchester Tea Rooms, or even take a dip in the Cam (if you are feeling brave). It's the perfect place to unwind and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Cambridge.

5. Wandlebury Country Park - For a more immersive experience in nature, head to Wandlebury Country Park. Located just a short drive from the city centre, this 110-acre park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and hikers alike. Meandering trails wind through ancient woodlands, open meadows, and even Iron Age hill forts. The panoramic views from the Gog Magog Hills are worth the climb, and you'll often spot local wildlife like deer and rabbits. It is truly stunning.

6. Coe Fen - Coe Fen is a hidden gem nestled along the River Cam. It's an ideal spot for birdwatching, as the area is home to various waterfowl and other avian species. The serene atmosphere makes it a dream place to escape the city without venturing too far. You can follow the riverbank walk or sit and watch the rowers glide by. It's a slice of tranquility right on the doorstep of Cambridge. But keep this one to yourself as it’s one of Cambridge’s best-kept secrets.

7. Botanic Gardens - Visiting Cambridge's Botanic Garden is like taking a world tour through various plant species. Established in 1762, this 40-acre garden is a horticultural paradise. Stroll through the meticulously curated collections of plants from around the globe, or simply relax in the peaceful surroundings. It's an excellent spot for a leisurely Sunday afternoon, and their seasonal events are a treat for all ages. We would definitely say it’s a must-go attraction when visiting the city.

8. Coldham’s Common - For those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience, Coldham's Common is a lesser-known gem in Cambridge. Located east of the city, it offers a vast open space with a rustic charm. While it may not have the manicured appeal of some other parks, it's perfect for dog walkers and those looking for a peaceful escape from the urban hustle.

9. Stourbridge Common - This common has witnessed centuries of history, from battles to fairs. Today, it's a pleasant spot to take a riverside walk or relax by the water. Keep an eye out for the charming Stourbridge Fair plaque, commemorating the famous fair that once occurred here. It is not as commercialised as some of the other parks, but it is packed with history and one to tick off the list.

10. The Backs - Last but certainly not least, The Backs offers an iconic view of Cambridge's historic colleges along the River Cam. Stroll along the paved path, soak in the grandeur of King's College Chapel, and admire the lush gardens that line the riverbank. It's a breathtaking setting that encapsulates the essence of Cambridge. And right on the doorstep, you will stumble (excuse the pun) across a selection of popular traditional pubs and the opportunity to jump on a punt for a chauffeured tour of the city…now that is not to be missed.

Take Your Pick!

If you're looking to enjoy the great outdoors without venturing far from a vibrant cultural hub, Cambridge should be at the top of your list. It's a place where nature and history coexist in perfect harmony, providing a unique and delightful experience for all who visit. Whether you're seeking relaxation, exercise, or a bit of history, there's a green oasis in Cambridge that suits your needs. So, pack a picnic, grab your bike, and explore these fantastic outdoor gems that make Cambridge an exceptional place to live.
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