From its world-famous university (whose alumni includes the likes of Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing) to relaxing waterways, Cambridge has mastered blending old-school architecture and traditions with modern attitudes and facilities.
Watch Rosie Jones and Ashley Storrie as they explore this East of England city as part of Channel 4’s Mission: Accessible series, and discover more about the locations featured, along with a few extra ideas of things to do, with our handy guide.
Cambridge Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1762, the Cambridge Botanic Gardens were originally used to grow plants for teaching medical students. Today, the city oasis is open for you to explore its series of luscious landscapes and feast your eyes on over 8,000 plant species from around the world. With sloped paving ramps, much of the garden is accessible to wheelchair users. Make your way through the Dry Garden, filled with colourful succulents and cacti, admire the bee borders (a honeypot for bees and visitors alike) and discover the colours, smells and sights in the tropical glasshouses.
Electric scooters and wheelchairs can be hired and wheelchair-accessible picnic tables are dotted throughout the gardens. Induction loops are available from reception and assistance dogs are more than welcome to potter around the plants too.
Explore Cambridge from the water with Let's Go Punting. On a chauffeur-guided punting trip along the River Cam, you’ll get to see a bunch of historic landmarks and sights, from the iconic College Backs (views of the university’s famous buildings and green spaces) to the Italianate Bridge of Sighs, accompanied by anecdotes about the city’s history. Originally a Victorian pastime, Let's Go Punting work to ensure that ‘pleasure punting’ can be enjoyed by as many as possible. You’ll board the boats using a small set of steps (though assistance is on hand if you need it), and mobility aids can be stored at the station while you’re on your trip. Carers can claim concessionary tickets and assistance dogs can come aboard for the ride too.
Fancy a pint? There’s one pub in particular that you definitely shouldn’t miss. The Eagle may look like a traditional English pub but it’s actually the location where Francis Crick and James Watson announced they (along with Rosalind Franklin) had discovered the structure of DNA back in 1953.
Pop in for a drink (there’s wheelchair access through the front door) and order the Eagle’s DNA – a special ale to commemorate the historic event. If you pop to the loo (there’s an accessible toilet too), look out for the RAF bar at the back of the pub where you’ll spot graffiti left by World War II aircrews across the walls and ceilings.
See the night sky in all its glory with a stargazing evening at Cambridge’s prestigious observatory. The observing season tends to be between October and March, with events every Wednesday. During your visit, you’ll get to hear more about the art of astronomy before diving into a spot of stargazing using the observatory’s impressive telescopes – one of which is being upgraded to help cater to wheelchair users.
The Institute also offers private tours, meaning you can see the stars without the crowds – the quiet surroundings also make it a perfect activity for autistic and other neurodivergent visitors. The team are also working on acquiring 3D printed models and audio descriptions to help make astronomy more accessible to people with visual impairments.
With over half a million works of art, paintings and historical artefacts – from ancient Egyptian and Roman antiquities to medieval manuscripts and famous sculptures – The Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the brightest jewels in Cambridge’s crown. As well as child-friendly activities, the museum has plenty of facilities that cater to disabled visitors. First off, before you visit, have a flick through the online visual guide to get the gist of what the museum’s like. On the day of your visit, there’s step-free access at the Courtyard Entrance, and lifts that’ll take you to all the floors and galleries. Induction loops are available as well as free visitor wheelchairs.
For a more hands-on visit, join a Making Sense tour. Led by a member of the Museum’s Education team, these verbal and touch tours combine the opportunity to touch selected objects on display with visual description. Audio descriptions of paintings are also available.
Put on your glad rags and catch a show at the largest theatre in Cambridge. From musicals to children’s shows, tons of performances at Cambridge Arts Theatre are made to be as inclusive as possible. Wheelchair users can nab exclusive seats in the stalls and can reach all levels of the building using the lift. Programmes are available in large print or audiotape, and some performances are audio-described and British Sign Language-interpreted. Disabled guests can also enjoy reduced price tickets while carers can watch the performances for free. On top of that, the theatre also offers relaxed performances of certain productions for autistic and other neurodivergent guests.
Please note: While the attractions listed in this article have achieved good levels of accessibility, please be sure to make your own checks and inquiries directly with the attractions before travelling to ensure your individual accessibility requirements can be met. You can also find independently assessed accessible accommodation across the country and further ideas and inspiration in the Access for All section.