Let me tell you about the fantastic summer I spent in Cambridge. I visited a few famous schools, and it was like walking right into a chapter of a dark academic book.

Everything about the design and history spoke of the mysterious academy. So, as I returned, I simply had to share things to do in Cambridge.

Walking along those cobbled streets amidst those scholarly surroundings felt as though I were a character in an intelligent story.

Does this sound like the ideal weekend for lovers of books and fans of gloomy academia?

Because that is what it was!

So, here is how you can fulfill your dark academia dream!

From the best colleges you can visit to some of the perfect walks, here is your guide to your perfect week in Cambridge!


Unleashing Your Inner Dark Academia Fanatic On Your Walk To Cambridge 

So, without further ado, here is how you can make your first visit worth all your dark academia dreams.

There are things to do in Cambridge as a fan of the academics!

 1. Attend The Libraries

Visiting the libraries in Cambridge as a lover of dark academia is like getting thrown straight into the depths of a thrilling literary book.

This was like walking through the holy halls, antique books, and a gentle whispering of pages from the book.

At that time, I was not an ordinary visitor, but I was one of the characters in the rich tapestry of dark academia, where every book has secrets that can only be discovered.

So, here are the libraries you can start with!

Cambridge Public Library 

West Road



United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge’s primary research library is the Cambridge University Library, one of the UK’s and Ireland’s six legal deposit libraries.

It contains about eight million items, such as books, maps, manuscripts, and journals. It has expanded to incorporate an array of electronic sources.

In fact, within the library’s walls, I sought refuge amidst dusty tomes and forgotten manuscripts that bore the memory of history.

The aged paper’s smell had filled the air, evoking a feeling of nostalgia when books were considered sacred sources of information.

Selwyn College (Bartlam Library) 

Grange Road

Cambridge CB3 9DQ

United Kingdom

All college students have Selwyn’s Bartlam Library as their source and venue. From 7:00 am—2:00 pm, it is open throughout the school year, while during summer is open from 7:00 am to midnight.

Yes, it has approximately 35,000 book titles and around 100 seats or study spaces. So, you will either be in book heaven, or wonder how can you finish reading it all at once.

Plus, do not hesitate to inquire about anything unclear to you from the library’s personnel.

Thus, a static era meets dark academia enthusiasts who visit Selwyn College’s Bartlam Library. The ivy-covered walls and Gothic windows of the library’s architecture create a feeling of mystical scholarship.

The moment you enter, the silence and the soft glimmer of antique lanterns take you back in time.

Corpus Christi College (Parker Library) 

Trumpington Street

Cambridge CB2 1RH

United Kingdom

If you ever want to visit a library that reminds you of the Hogwarts Library, you have to visit this place.

Parker Library is renowned globally as it houses many Anglo-Saxon and various medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. It ranks among the best and most intact Renaissance libraries in Europe.

Albeit, a fan of dark academia, a trip to the Parker Library is equivalent to walking through the history of thoughts, where the building design and feeling add to the experience.

Plus, the scent of ancient parchment and old books leaves no room for doubt as you navigate the holy halls.

Additionally, the nostalgic setting is further supported by the ambient lighting coming from the moody aesthetical antique lamps, which beckons one to submerge in the intellectual sanctuary.

2. Peruse The Magical School Grounds

I cannot complete the things to do on the Cambridge list without walking through the sidewalks of the college campuses. So, here are the top three you should visit!

Trinity College 



United Kingdom

It is situated along the River Cam and forms part of the prestigious historic city of Cambridge’s University of Cambridge.

The surrounding buildings on the college campus are beautiful old-style constructions with spacious courtyards. In fact, they are close to well-known places such as the Wren Library or the Great Court.

Visitors often appreciate the surroundings of Trinity College, especially for their beauty and their association with the academic and cultural past of this place.

Trinity College has a unique beauty and an interwoven blend of history and architecture, making it an essential part of the Cambridge scene.

Pembroke College 

Trumpington Street



United Kingdom

Located at the center of Cambridge, Pembroke College resides within the University of Cambridge. Plus, the college boasts impressive historic architecture gardens and is close to many educational and cultural destinations in the city.

A well-known and easy-to-reach landmark destination in Cambridge is a visit to Pembroke College.

When you have dark academia in your heart and love reading novels that take place in history, visiting Pembroke College is similar to being in a novel.

Churchill College 

Storey’s Way



United Kingdom

One of the constituent colleges at the University of Cambridge is Churchill College, which is situated on the west side of the city center.

In contrast, the modern architecture of the college, designed by Richard Sheppard, Robson, and Partners, offers a stark contrast to those buildings found at all other colleges.

Therefore, this sets apart the quiet and clean surrounding grounds that make Churchill College a unique tour from the university’s diverse campuses.

A dark academy enthusiast will have an uncommon experience in Churchill College by combining modernist architectural style with thought-provoking ambiance and tranquil settings.

3. Attend A Shakespearean Play

Visiting a Shakespearean play in Cambridge entails magical travel into the core of world literature. Soaked in traditions for centuries, these renowned theaters provide gateways into Shakespeare’s universe.

When the curtains go up, the time-honored words ring, reverberating throughout the shrines of education. Bred by the historical setting, the play brings the bards’ works alive.

Every word spoken becomes an ode to the literary greats who walked these streets. Shaking hands with the past, Shakespeare’s plays live beyond the bounds of time and enter people into the cultural immersion that lasts in Cambridge’s embrace.

Places to see the best plays are:

  • Cambridge Arts Theatre.
  • The Mumford Theatre.
  • The Corpus Playroom.
  • The Fitzpatrick Hall, Queens’ College.

4. Find Hidden Bookshops

These pleasant secret bookstores were hidden in small alleys that I found. It was as if stepping back into an age long gone. Cannot complete the list of things to do in Cambridge without mentioning them.

Imagine a place with squeaky floorboards, low lighting, and dusty old bookcases. It felt as though discovering a backdoor into a textual universe.

They don’t stay at the busy crossroads. They waited for me as I had to hurry around in a maze of streets.

Some of the best ones you should visit at all costs to get that full dark academia feel are:

  • Sarah Key
  • Waterstones
  • G. David Bookseller

5. A Day For The Museum 

Enter into the mystical realm of Cambridge and allow a visit to the museum to be a magical journey for those fond of the dark academic atmosphere.

A time capsule of the past unfolds in the majestic Fitzwilliam Museum. Once inside, the antique artifacts and the paintings speak of the bygone eras.

Each chapter of Cambridge’s dark academic tale lies in one exhibit from the museum. It welcomes enthusiasts into the perennial beauty of knowledge and art.

However, the day is more than just a visit to the museum—it is a pilgrimage to erudition and aesthetic beauty.

Some of the best museums to visit during your Cambridge are:

  • Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
  • Whipple Museum of the History of Science.
  • Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences.
  • The Museum of Classical Archaeology.

6. Sit At A Small Cafe 

Just picture a snug nook amid old Cambridge and cobbled streets leading to a tiny restaurant with an old-world ambiance. It is a day’s worth for an enthusiast of the dark academia ambiance.

The best small cafes and restaurants that you should not be missing out on when on the streets of Cambridge are:

Black Cat Café 

Ambiance: A small book-themed café lit by dim light and filled with antiques. It is ideal for having a quiet reading time.

Menu: Enjoy some of their rich coffee blends and a variety of pastries in a quiet atmosphere.

Afternoon Tease 

Ambiance: Its old-fashioned look and wooden furnishings give Afternoon Tease a distinctive sense of nostalgia. Perfect for an afternoon of just thinking.

Menu: The delightfully flavored teas and self-prepared biscuits are meant to provide an intimate ambiance for lovers of dark academia.

Hot Numbers Coffee 

Ambiance: Hot Numbers is modern and inviting. Great place to talk with thinkers, and relax in the bustle.

Menu: Taste their unique coffee blends and delve into their exciting cafeteria offering that energizes people looking for a livelier café.


Ambiance: For me, visiting Fitzbillies is like reading a hard, leather-bound book. It is a sanctuary for dark academia lovers drawn to its ageless decorations and soft lighting.

Menu: Do not forget their famous Chelsea Buns and good old-fashioned coffee in an area full of mind works.

Bould Brothers Coffee 

Ambiance: This modern coffee haven combines simplicity with sophistication and brings together different kinds of people. For those looking for a modern, dark academia vibe, they’ve got the perfect blend.

Menu: Check out their artisan coffee selections and snacks for a new spin on the old café.

7. Embrace The Best Dark Academia Fashion

When looking for things to do in Cambridge, you do not always have to find the delights of dark academia externally. Sometimes, it is about wearing the right dark academic fashion and having a serene day.

You know, the kind where you do not have the stress and panic of finishing some itinerary.

Here are some must-haves you should pack for your dark academia days at Cambridge!

Tweed Blazer: Go for that classy academia feel in a tweed blazer. It gives a certain degree of elegance and coziness to your image.

High-Waisted Trousers or Skirt: Go for high-waisted trousers or skirts to get the classic and vintage-influenced look. It’s perfect blends with different tops and layers.

Oxford Shoes: To top it up, add an Oxford shoe. Besides being comfortable in exploration, they maintain traditional aesthetics.

Turtleneck Sweater: Do not forget a turtleneck sweater and stay warm. Adding neutral tones like beige, brown, and dark green will accentuate the dark academia color palette.

Suspenders: Go for suspenders and get some old-world flair into your look. More than this, they become an integral part of the whole picture of a retro style.

Wool Scarf: For instance, it’s not uncommon for Cambridge temperatures to drop, so wool scarves are necessary. Go for a plaid or houndstooth design consistent with the academic style.

Vintage-Inspired Accessories: Vintage-inspired accessories include old-fashioned brooches, pocket watches, and a classy wristwatch. This makes it even more appealing.

Leather Gloves: Wear leather gloves to keep your style up and warm. They enhance the elegance of your dressing, particularly for winter visits.

Structured Handbag: Always ensure you carry crucial items in an organized handbag. Choose a simple, minimalistic, and ageless composition that perfectly fits your dark academic outfit.

Woolen Beret: Complete your attire with a woolen beret. This is both literary and artistic, offering warmth for colder weather. Do you think I covered everything to please your dark academia dreams at Cambridge? If you have more for our readers, why not add them in the comment section below?

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sibashree bhattacharya
Sibashree has been into SEO and eCommerce content writing for more than 9 years. She loves reading books and is a huge fan of those over-the-top period dramas. Her favorite niches are fashion, lifestyle, beauty, traveling, relationships, women's interests, and movies. The strength of her writing lies in thorough research backing and an understanding of readers’ pain points.

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