When you think of England, you probably think first of London: the capital city, bustling, big, always on the move and very popular with internationals. At the same time you think of the countryside, the Thames and the world-famous university cities: Oxford and Cambridge. Two smaller cities in England, but with a very wide history. Not only popular for students and locals, but also with large groups of tourists. Earlier we visited Oxford and got really curious about Cambridge, the competitor for the title ‘Great Britain’s most typical English city‘.
Cambridge is a city and district in England in the county of Cambridgeshire, about 80 kilometers northeast of London. The city is especially famous for the University of Cambridge, which is one of the two major English universities with Oxford and one of the most famous in the world. The different buildings are spread all over the city, but all part of the same university.
In contrast with Oxford, Cambridge is further away from Chiswick. After driven two hours to the north we reached our destination. With thanks to Parkopedia, which we always recommend, we parked our car for free in a parking lot outside the city centre. What surprised us well, because the street we had to walk through turned out to be very cozy with eateries, shops, barbers and some antiques stores.
Within a 15-minute walk we approached the St. Andrew’s Street, a shopping street where you can also find the Grand Arcade, a large covered shopping center with almost all known stores under one roof. Something for which we didn’t come to Cambridge, but perfect for a quick toilet stop. Right behind the shopping centre, you’ll enter the Market Square. Exactly the place we wanted to go first. We love markets, and preferably organic food markets where you can go for your daily shopping, but also enjoying a little lunch. To get into the Spanish holiday mood, which will start in about two weeks, we chose a tortilla and a portion of vegetable with meat croquettes. Lara walked immediately to the extensive bakery stand and chose a delicious cake.
Adjacent to the market you’ll find King’s College, next to Trinity College, one of the crowd pullers. A visit is not free, tickets can be obtained online or at the Visitor Information Centre. Another option is to book a guided tour, which gives you access to several university buildings in the city. If you want to go a step further and truly experience the student life in Cambridge. Then book a night at University Rooms, which rent student rooms to visitors. The proceeds contribute to the maintenance of the buildings and the outdoor areas, in the evening you can have diner in the dining rooms and drinks in the student bar. Prices start from £40 per night, with a choice of room-en-suites or shared bathrooms, and many single rooms, which are perfect for solo travelers.
Cambridge is the perfect city for anyone who loves nothing more than strolling through museums. After London, Cambridge has the highest concentration of internationally recognized collections. And whatever form of culture you find interesting, there is no excuse for not going to a few of these must-see tourist highlights. View art and antiques in the Fitzwilliam Museum, wander through the history of the Imperial War Museum or experience nature at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.
When walking through the narrow streets of Cambridge, pay attention to the many cyclists. Since a large part of the population consists of students who are only allowed to park a car somewhere at special parking lots, the bicycle is one of the most popular way of transport. The bicycle-friendly layout of the city stimulates the use of this way of transport as well. As a result, the city is not as full of cars as in other places in Britain. As a visitor it’s also very easy to rent a bike, the city has several bike rental points which you can find here.
In addition to historic architecture, Cambridge offers a lot of green in parks and around the river Cam, to which Cambridge is named: Cambridge means bridge over the Cam. On the river you’ll find another popular attraction of Cambridge: the punts. Flat boats, which look a bit like Venetian gondolas. You can rent one yourself, but also get on board at a standard boat. A perfect way to see some of the most impressive colleges.
We continue our way back towards the city centre, where we quickly come to the conclusion that Cambridge is not very big. You can easily walk through it in one day. Yet Cambridge, with its impressive landscapes and many hidden gems, is certainly worth a visit. In addition, in order to meet the needs of young residents, the city also organizes various outdoor activities and events throughout the year. View the program here.
If you would like to plan a visit to one of the world’s most famous University cities and want to have more information about accommodations, sights and bookings then please take a look at the website of Cambridge.