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Punting in Cambridge: How, where and why?

If you’re heading to Cambridge, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than with a spot of punting along the River Cam. Unlike rowing or kayaking, you don’t need to be the one doing the work – you can simply sit back, relax and maybe even have a snooze while the punt glides seamlessly along the water. 

Read on to discover our top tips for securing the best Cambridge punting experience possible, and don’t forget to visit our journey planner to secure your digital tickets.

a wooden boat in a body of water

What is punting in Cambridge?

Punting is one of the most calming ways to travel. Introduced to Cambridge in the early 20th century, punting has remained an incredibly popular activity for visitors, tourists and residents alike.

Specifically designed for use on narrow rivers or shallow waters, punts are long, flat-bottomed vessels with a square-shaped bow, and they’re not to be confused with gondolas. They’re operated by a punter who stands on the end of the boat, propelling it with a long pole.

If you go punting in Cambridge, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the city and its regal University buildings from your own comfortable space. It’s up to you whether you punt yourself or hop onto a punting tour in Cambridge if you’d prefer to recline and take in the scenery.  

a bridge over a body of water

Which Cambridge punting tours are available?

Whether you’re heading to the city on a hen do or you’re celebrating a big birthday, a wide range of Cambridge punting tours can cater for almost any occasion. If history’s more your thing, you can also choose an educational guided tour.

Punting along the river in Cambridge doesn't have to involve a tour. For a spot of unspoilt serenity, we'd recommend choosing an early morning or evening slot during the week. Gaze over at King's College Chapel before passing underneath the breathtaking Bridge of Sighs, either enjoying an informative tour or just the sound of the water lapping gently by the boat.

Do you need to book punting in Cambridge?

Most companies offer on-the-day punting slots, so you probably won’t need to book punting in Cambridge if you’re only in a small group or you have a flexible schedule. 

However, most punting tour companies in Cambridge also offer online bookings, which could be perfect for larger parties, special occasions or day trips with a tight schedule. You could also save money on your Cambridge punting by booking in advance, as on-the-day rates might be higher.

Self-hire punting in Cambridge doesn’t usually require booking; you can just turn up and hire a punt on the spot. Furthermore, many punting companies will allow you to bring food and drink on board, offering a perfect picnic opportunity.

How much does it cost to go punting in Cambridge?

The price of punting in Cambridge varies depending on the level of service and the type of punt you choose. For a cost-effective option, booking a shared tour could be a sensible choice, normally costing between £30 and £50 for two people. 

If you’re interested in booking a private tour for a larger group, you can expect to pay around £100 – or more during peak times and weekends. You might also want to add optional extras like drinks and snacks to your Cambridge river punting experience, which could come with a fee.

a small boat in a river next to a body of water

Book train tickets to Cambridge with Great Northern today 

Punting along the River Cam is an essential part of any visit to this charming, ancient city. Get your picnic basket ready and book train tickets to Cambridge today to ensure a smooth and seamless journey from start to finish, without the hassle of parking.

Buying tickets

You can buy Great Northern tickets online and collect them from the ticket machine before you travel. You can also buy them from a ticket machine or ticket office at the station.