It’s no secret that Cambridge is a green city with riverside parks, flower-filled gardens, grassy commons, and meadows blanketed by wildflowers. Cattle roaming the city commons are a usual sight, and cows grazing in town have become iconic and even loved by tourists and locals alike. It’s relatively small compared to other British cities, but its green spaces are expansive, offering anyone numerous places to lie on the grass, play, picnic under the trees, go out for a long walk, or observe wildlife.
The parks in Cambridge are a paradise for nature enthusiasts, plant lovers, children, thrill seekers, families, or anyone who wants to escape into nature and enjoy scenic views. But with over eighty parks and playgrounds in Cambridge of all sizes and twelve nature reserves, where do you start?
This guide covers some of the top Cambridge parks you don’t want to miss, whether you’re a local looking for a serene place to chill or a tourist in the mood for a stroll through nature. Be sure to travel light for a stress-free trip. Use bounce baggage storage in Cambridge to avoid the hassle of carrying heavy items and focus on enjoying your eco-adventure.
If you’re in southwest Cambridge, stop by Lammas Land. It’s half a mile from Cambridge City Centre, with a large playground for children of all ages and a well-maintained lawn for picnics. It has a bowling green, home to the Newnham Bowls Club, a tennis table, and a tennis court for those who love these sports.
The Lammas Land Pool is only open in summer, and during peak summer months, it’s filled with people excited to spend a warm day in the water. Take the kids who will enjoy swimming in the shallow paddling pool, which is suitable for toddlers. It will give your little ones hours of fun with others. And the best part? The pool is free, which is probably the reason behind its popularity.
If it’s too cold for a swim, the city park can be your gateway to several points of interest nearby, including the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Classical Archaeology, housed in the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Classics.
Jesus Green is one of the beautiful parks along the River Cam, immediately north of central Cambridge. It covers 11.3 hectares of large open green spaces, with a variety of shrubs and trees, tennis courts, a skate park, a barbecue area, and a public swimming pool. There are benches by the river, where you can sit while enjoying the sight of the flowing water and birds.
Like Lammas Land Park, summer is the busiest season at Jesus Green, and though it’s filled with local park-goers and tourists, there is still a lot of space for picnics and recreation. It has nice paths for leisure strolls, bike rides, and running.
One of the park’s prominent features is the open public swimming pool. It opened in 1923 and is one of the few remaining examples of a lido constructed in the 1920s across the country. Unlike other lidos, the pool is significantly longer than it’s wide, designed to mimic swimming the river nearby. It’s unheated, so wetsuits are highly recommended, especially if water temperatures reach below 14 degrees Celsius. Besides the pool, there’s also a sunbathing space and a newly built sauna.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Not far from Cambridge Station, the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden welcomes visitors to discover over 8,000 varieties of plant species in an area of sixteen acres. It’s five minutes from Cambridge train station and a fifteen-minute walk from Cambridge City Centre.
The garden areas are vast, with themed glasshouses featuring a collection of heritage trees and botanical treasures you won’t find anywhere else. Explore the Main Walk, with a wide gravel path that will take you from the Fountain to Trumpington Road. The walking trail is lined with majestic coniferous trees.
The Rising Path is another part of the Botanic Garden you shouldn’t miss, offering a birds-eye view of the plants and fascinating Systematic Beds. The path was completed in September 2018, allowing visitors to gain fresh insight into the Garden’s Beds and surroundings.
Spend at least half a day at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, as there are plenty of things to see and activities to join. If you don’t know where to start, you can participate in the free garden tour with an expert guide who will introduce you to the Garden’s seasonal highlights. Tours typically last for an hour and start from the Main Lawn. In addition to the trees, plants, and flowers, this green space also has an army of insects, amphibians, and birds, adding life and color to the gardens.
Milton Country Park
There’s no shortage of green areas to explore and exhilarating nature activities at Milton Country Park. It’s a few miles north of the heart of town, offering a varied natural habitat for wildlife with lakes, woodland, and attractive pathways for lazy walks, bikes, and wheelchairs. You’ll also discover a sensory garden, two children’s playgrounds, lakes, a café, a visitor area, and numerous events and water adventures.
Every season offers something new and delightful at Milton Country Park. Spring is a favorite season among botanists and plant lovers, with significant blossoms in the park. In the middle of this season, you’ll see stunning canopies of flowers and birds looking their best to find a mate.
In summer, damselflies and dragonflies bask on the bridges and chill by the lake, while butterflies and bees become more abundant, attracted by wildflowers. Fall is a beautiful season, with once-verdant leaves start shedding their spring colors to change to the vibrant oranges, reds, and browns of fall. Although visitors at the park become rare as temperatures drop, it has its own charm in winter, with more migratory birds taking up residence and frosts and ice on the lakes.
Milton Country Park is open all year, 24/7, regardless of the season. However, the toilets, visitor information area, and car park are available from 8 AM and close at different times, depending on the time of the year. It has barbecue areas, but BBQs are limited to the open spaces and strictly prohibited in the woodland. It is accessible by bus, public vehicles, and an attractive bike ride along the River Cam.
Cherry Hinton Hall Park
Cherry Hinton Hall Park deserves a spot on the list of the most beautiful parks in Cambridge. It has wide-open grass spaces for picnics, water and play areas for young families and children, and an interactive tree trail that shows off the park’s variety of lush trees. There are also two padding pools, a tennis court, and table tennis visitors can use for free.
Set in the park is a Grade II listed Victorian country house called Cherry Hinton Hall. It has a long history and has had many occupants. The original hall was constructed in 1839, with Tudor-style windows, doors, and chimneys that are still visible today.
Today, the hall grounds are known for hosting events, including the annual Cambridge Folk Festival, drawing thousands of visitors to the park. When there’s no event, this park in Cambridge is alive, with locals and residents spending time at the playground, padding pool, lawns, and ponds. Many also love to stroll through the park and watch animals in their natural habitat, including birds, ducks, swans, and squirrels.
Together with Jesus Green, Midsummer Common is central Cambridge’s largest public green space. They were separated in 1890 when Victoria Avenue was constructed. Midsummer Common is located northwest of the central area of the city, bordered by the River Cam on one side, with its many college boathouses on the north bank.
This ancient grassland area has a storied history dating back to the twelfth century. It was in a poor state with a declining number of trees, so the city worked hard in recent years to restore its beauty and bring it back to how it looked from the beginning. The goal is to increase biodiversity in the park to address the threatened wildlife and the growing needs of the city dwellers so they continue planting wild seeds and new trees.
If you visit between April and October, you’ll likely witness a herd of Red Poll cattle grazing at the common. It has also been the home to the Midsummer Fair, one of England’s long-established fairs, with more than fifty rides and activities for children and adults. When planning a visit around this busy time, remember that the roads are busier than usual. It’s one of the most popular outdoor events in Cambridge, so expect many people, including residents and international tourists, to gather in one location.
Centrally located amidst the town, Parker’s Piece is one of Cambridge’s best-known open green spaces with well-maintained grassland perfect for picnics. It’s also a favored spot for games of cricket and football. You’ll find it in the southeast part of the university campus, covering 25 acres of flat parkland.
The name of the park comes from Edward Parker, who retained the right to the pasture land. It became widely used in the 19th century for first-class cricket matches and Varsity games between the Oxford and Cambridge Universities. In 1838, it catered to more than 15,000 people who attended the coronation feast for Queen Victoria.
For centuries, Parker’s Piece has seen countless annual and seasonal events, sports, bands, choirs, games, and people gathered together to celebrate and meet. Today, it remains a famous place for fairs, events, football, crickets, and picnics.
A giant observation wheel is the newest feature at the park, which is set on Parker’s Piece for up to sixteen weeks every summer from 2021 to 2025. It stands thirty-six meters tall with twenty-four covered gondolas, offering gorgeous views across the city.
Alexandra Gardens is a quiet and little hidden gem near central Cambridge and Jesus Green and a short walk from Castle Hill and the Bridge of Sighs. Although it was created in the late 19th century, the grounds weren’t formally opened until April 1907 after the regulations for playing tennis and bowls in the recreation site were approved.
Much of the original landscaping and planting remains, so you can find ancient trees at the park. These include the century-old plane trees, which are, sadly, threatened by particular organizations. However, a group of residents is working hard to preserve the beauty of this restful park for future generations.
It’s a small yet wonderful park, offering a tranquil place to get away from the city noise and rest under the shady trees. Besides the trees, it has benches, a playground, and a grassy area for picnics, games, and physical activity.
Byrons Pool Local Nature Reserve
If you prefer the woods over the flat parkland, head to Byrons Pool local nature reserve, a dense woodland on the river’s north bank. The walking path is relatively narrow, so bikes aren’t allowed in the area. Following the route, you’ll pass small ponds and find yourself in the woods.
The eleven-acre site was part of the lucrative Trumpington Hall Estate until it was acquired by the City of Cambridge in 1949. The name comes from Lord Byron, a British romantic poet who is believed to have bathed in a weir pool on the site while a student at Trinity College.
In summer, Byrons Pool is a meeting place among nearby residents and visitors for a nature walk and sightseeing. On hot days, you’ll be under the tree canopies providing shade, allowing you to explore the park without worrying about the heat.
Get ready for your next adventure at the best parks in Cambridge
Many might easily recognize Cambridge for its legendary university, intriguing museums, and magnificent historic buildings as far as the eye can see. But besides its architectural splendor are parks, playgrounds, and open spaces offering locals and tourists a place to rest, escape the crowd, and focus on nature.