Famed for its prestigious university and ancient architecture, Cambridge’s charm will make you want to return again and again. And it’s less than an hour from my hometown, Bedford! Here’s your essential guide to a weekend in the city, including the top five things that have to feature on your itinerary.
Fortunately, Cambridge is super accessible. Catching a train to Cambridge is the easiest way – it’s only a short journey from London and you can easily walk from the station into the centre, or jump in a taxi if you’re laden with luggage.
Five ‘Must Do’ Activities in Cambridge
1. Admire the Architecture
You can’t travel to Cambridge without exploring the history of the city. A good place to start is the university colleges – King’s College is famous for its stunning Gothic Chapel, with stained-glass windows and an impressive fan-vaulted ceiling. Head to St John’s for its beautiful grounds or Trinity to admire the Wren Library. You could make life really easy for yourself and book onto a guided walking tour.
2. Go Punting
A Cambridge tradition, punting involves a flat-bottomed boat and using a big, long pole to push off the river bed and travel down the Cam. If you’re feeling brave, you can operate it yourself – or, if you prefer to sit back and enjoy the view, book a tour and admire a number of the city’s famous landmarks.
3. Visit the Many Museums
Unsurprisingly for such an academic city, Cambridge is home to an array of museums, including a number that belong to the University. Whether you’re interested in zoology or archaeology, there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy. The stunning Fitzwilliam Museum is home to over half a million works of art from all over the world, while the Museum of Cambridge offers a fascinating insight into the history of the area.
4. Hit the Shops
Cambridge market is a must visit if you’re partial to some retail therapy with a difference. Take a wander and explore the many book, jewellery and craft stalls – and pick up some deliciously fresh food and drink to keep your energy levels up. Head on to King’s Parade and Bridge Street for some beautiful independent shops. Cambridge was actually named the number one area for shopping in the UK for two years in a row – so it’s bound to hit the spot.
5. Book a Festival
It might be worth planning your visit around one of Cambridge’s popular festivals. The Strawberries and Cream Festival, in September is for you, if you’re a fan of urban and dance music. If something gentler is more your thing, The Cambridge Folk Festival, at the end of July, is one of the longest running and most famous folk festivals in the world. If eating and drinking is more your thing, head to the city in July for the Cambridge Foodies Festival.
Food and Drink
With such a jam-packed itinerary, you’ll need to make sure you keep yourself hydrated. If you’re after a traditional boozer, head to The Eagle pub, where scientists Crick and Watson sketched the structure of DNA on a napkin. If cocktails are more your thing, book a table at Hidden Rooms. When your stomach starts to rumble, pop to Fitzbillies for a slice of delicious cake; Stem + Glory for some vegan-friendly fare; or if you’re up for something a little more fancy, check out two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House.