Rutherfords Punting

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Punting Oxford VS Cambridge: Pros, Cons And Differences

A family with children in a punting boat with Kings College Chapel, an impressive stone building, in the background.

If you’re looking for a unique way to see the sights in England, then taking a punt along a river could be the perfect choice for you.

Using a flat-bottomed boat, punters are able to glide through the water and see the glorious sights on the banks.

Punting around a historic university city is an amazing way to see more of the UK’s beautiful waterways and stunning architecture.

It’s lucky, then, that England has not one but two historic cities, each with its own world-renowned university, where you can go punting: Oxford and Cambridge.

These two cities are well-known for their punting cultures. While you can punt around other cities in the UK, such as London, Brighton, and Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford are the most renowned.

Both cities are home to amazing rivers that you can punt along. In Oxford, punters can travel on the River Thames and the River Cherwell.

In Cambridge, there’s the River Cam and the River Granta, which is the name given to two of the four tributaries of the Cam.

Each one affords punters the opportunity to explore and see the glorious architecture of the city.

If you’re planning a punting expedition but aren’t sure which city to choose, then here’s everything you need to know about punting in Oxford and Cambridge.

Punting In Cambridge

Cambridge, with its iconic Backs and the serene River Cam, is renowned for its punting culture. The city boasts a range of iconic landmarks, and punting tours can be an ideal way to make the most of your trip.


      • Rich history spanning centuries, meaning there are loads of things to learn about and see in Cambridge.

      • Great culture and amenities, including parks, shops and eateries, so there’s something for everyone after you’ve been punting.

      • Shallow waters that move slowly, making the rivers in Cambridge safe for punting in case of accidents.

      • Loads of great punting companies operate in Cambridge, including Rutherford’s.


        • Cambridge can become crowded, especially during the summer months.

        • Small rivers mean frequent collisions, although these are usually harmless to passengers and cause nothing more than a slight rocking of the vessel.

        • Cambridge is usually considered slightly more costly, although you get great value from chauffeured punting tours.

      Punting In Oxford

      Oxford offers a more rural setting for punters, with the banks of the River Thames and the River Cherwell providing a glimpse of gorgeous greenery and stunning countryside settings.


          • Gorgeous views of the countryside and the splendour of Oxford.

          • Oxford’s rivers are often less crowded, making them a peaceful setting for your punting trip.

          • Cheaper self-punting options make Oxford a more cost-effective option for some travellers.


            • Fewer landmarks to see from the water in Oxford.

            • Parking can be difficult in the city, particularly during popular times such as weekends and the summer.

            • Collisions are more frequent in Oxford due to the number of amateur punters.

          Do They Punt Differently In Oxford And Cambridge?

          Both cities use the same sort of punts to traverse the rivers, but each has its own way of handling them.

          The main difference between the two punting styles is that in Cambridge, we stand on the till (the raised platform) and punt forwards with the open end facing front.

          In Oxford, the punter stands inside the punt with the till end forward. In both cities, the pole is used to push the punt along the river bed and drive it forward to its destination.

          While both cities think they have the ideal way to push a punt, it has to be said that putting the punter on the till at the back, as we do in Cambridge, means everyone in the boat gets a full view of the city and all its sights, without someone’s legs in the way!

          How To Choose The Right University City For Your Punting Trip

          At the end of the day, both these cities are amazing parts of the country, offering a range of historic colleges and stunning scenery.

          At Rutherford’s, we’ve been punting on the River Cam in Cambridge since 2016, so we have experience creating amazing punting tours for visitors to our beautiful city.

          We might be biased, but we think the College Backs and gorgeous architecture make Cambridge one of the best places in the world to go punting.

          Our team of dedicated guides offer shared punting and private punting, as well as punting experiences and events, so there’s an option for everyone.

          If you’re eager to see Cambridge from the best seats in the house (heated, of course), then book your Rutherford’s Punting Tour today.