Key to the City™, Cambridge.
Free Toilet Parks and Gardens: City Centre (North)

Tick 9.2

River Cam

Magdalene Street, Cambridge. CB2 1UW • (01223) 457000
River Cam - The Backs, Cambridge
River Cam - The Backs, Cambridge

The River Cam flows through the heart of Cambridge and after the University is the city's main attraction. Punting on the River is a must do for visitors and the quantity of touts plying for trade in the summer can prove overwhelming. The River can be split into three - north (downstream), the Backs and south (upstream).

The name 'the Backs' refers to the backs of the riverside colleges between Magdalene Street and Silver Street bridges. Several famous bridges cross the river including the Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. This part is the core punting stretch of the River as it gives you the closest views of the college buildings and bridges. Best access to the River is from the rear of Trinity College or via Queen's Road to the west. You can't walk alongside the full length of the River in this section as most of the land is owned by the University.

The north section from Magdalene Street bridge flows alongside Jesus Green and Midsummer Common. Most punt tours of the Backs depart from the Quayside here, look out for the smaller independent operators for the best experience. This part is also much used for rowing with college boat houses sited between Victoria Avenue and Elizabeth Way. There are also many residential boats and it is a pleasant riverside walk in the summer.

South of Silver Street is where the countryside sneaks right into the centre of Cambridge. It is a very popular gathering place for riverside walking, picnickers and drinkers from the nearby pubs. Punts can be hired from the Mill Pond at Coe Fen for taking up river through the meadows to the village of Grantchester, or for floating downstream past the Backs by all the riverside colleges to Jesus Lock.


Free Entry, Light Refreshments Available, Picnic Area, Public Toilets.

No easily accessible wifi. Smoking allowed.

Opening Times:

Open all year round. Free admission.


Advance booking is not required.


The River Cam runs to the west and north of the city centre.

Getting There:

National Rail Cambridge railway station: 20-30 minutes walk.


Parking available nearby - payment required.

River Cam - The Backs, CambridgeRiver Cam - The Backs, Cambridge
River Cam - The Backs, CambridgeRiver Cam - The Backs, Cambridge
River Cam - Mill Pond, CambridgeRiver Cam - Mill Pond, Cambridge
River Cam - Coe Fen, CambridgeRiver Cam - Coe Fen, Cambridge
River Cam, Magdalene Street, Cambridge. CB2 1UW • (01223) 457000

Last Updated Thursday 28 April 2022

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