Here’s a taste of what you can experience in the world-famous university city less than an hour from London.
Take the train to the east of England and explore a city built on brains, beautiful architecture and an indie spirit that goes well beyond the gowns.
This Cambridge institution has been dishing out the city’s best Chelsea buns since 1921. See what all the fuss is about with a syrupy Chelsea bun, or go for a more brain-friendly brekkie such as smashed avo on toast. The original Trumpington Street branch is all art nouveau dark wood and golden lettering.Find out more
Cambridge Bike Tours
You could easily while away your 24 hours just roaming the University’s colleges. Don’t! If you’re wondering what to do in Cambridge, join a bike tour and let them show you the best bits. As well the colleges, the 2hr30 tour points out the best King’s College Chapel selfie spot.Find out more
The Fitzwilliam Museum
This place has been called “the finest small museum in Europe”, but to locals it’s simply the “Fitz”. The line between museum and art gallery is fine. The collections are important, and exquisitely beautiful, with artworks by the likes of Rembrandt and Munch alongside items such as autograph music by Handel and Purcell.Find out more
Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtime, local street food traders set up shop across Cambridge. On Fridays they’re near Mill Road, and you can stuff yourself full of everything from buttermilk fried chicken burgers, wood-fired pizza, churros and ice cream. Look out for their night markets too.Find out more
Cambridge University Botanic Gardens
More than 8,000 plant species from all over the worldare crammed into the Gardens’ 40 acres. It’s expertly planned so there’s something to see all year round, which is nothing more than you’d expect from its founder, John Steven Henslow – he was Charles Darwin’s mentor, after all. Even the winter garden is a riot of colourful stems.Find out more
Locals cite this as the ‘real’ Cambridge, with not a gown in sight. You’ll find some of the city’s best indie cafes, pubs, thrift stores, book shops and vintage finds. Stock up on vinyl and caffeine at Relevant, or see if there’s live music to accompany your brew at Hot Numbers Coffee.Find out more
King's College Chapel
No matter what your beliefs, you’ll get goosebumps when you hear choral evensong in King’s College Chapel. It’s sung by scholars destined for pro choirs and the opera so the standard is as high as the awesome fan-vault ceiling – which just happens to be the largest in the world.Find out more
Pop in to The Eagle for a pint – the Eagle DNA feels right – and lap up the history. This 16th-century pub is where Francis Crick announced he and James Watson had discovered the DNA double helix, in 1953. Check out the graffiti from World War II airmen in the RAF bar too.Find out more
Cambridge Punting Tours
Visit the city without setting foot on a punt and you’ll raise a few eyebrows – and not in a good way. Punting is one of the most popular things to do in Cambridge but you can beat the crowds with an evening punt and see the college Backs bathed in pink evening light.Find out more
Steak & Honour
Steak & Honour’s ridiculously popular burgers just got a permanent home – one of the most exciting restaurants in Cambridge. Join the queue (always a good sign) for faultless no-fuss, no-frills burgers, then head to Novi for cocktails with all the trimmings on the living roof terrace.Find out more
The Varsity Hotel & Spa
Slap-bang amongst the colleges and next to the River Cam, The Varsity’s roof terrace is a solid bet for views of Cambridge’s spires and turrets. Bedrooms in the new building are suitably techy yet comfy. There’s a spa, gym and one of the best restaurants in Cambridge in the attached 17th-century brewery.Find out more
Walk, cycle or even punt along the River Cam to Grantchester. There, take afternoon tea in the Orchard Tea Garden where war poet Brooke did much the same – admittedly with EM Forster, Virginia Woolf and Bertrand Russell for company though!
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