Cambridge is one of the world’s leading centers of academia, but aside from its big brain it also possesses a captivating beauty thanks to its gothic buildings, weeping willows and wide open spaces. From browsing for bargains from fresh fruit and vegetables to other trinkets in the market square, to lazing the afternoon away in the shady Backs, Cambridge’s combination of tradition, innovation and quintessentially English style makes it an irresistible place to visit. Its large international student population guarantee a bustling nightlife in the city’s many bars and clubs, and a global palette in its wide array of restaurants.
Things to see
Of all the colleges which make up Cambridge’s city center, Kings College is arguably its most recognisable, and world-renowned, thanks in part to the choir who fill its vaulted gothic chapel with carols every Christmas, but perform far more regularly than their festive reputation may suggest. The grand college was founded in 1441, and from the cows who graze on its Back Lawn to its Victorian Fellows’ Garden with mature trees and shrubs, it’s a living, working slice of history. A different era of the Sceptred Isle’s past can be discovered at the nearby village of Duxford, where the Imperial War Museum stands on the grounds of a World War II airfield, and is home to ranks of Spitfires and Merlin Engines. The neo-classical building of Downing College, founded relatively recently in 1800, is offset with a spectacular court at its front, as well as a Paddock and boathouse on the banks of the Cam.
Hotels in Cambridge
Finding hotels in Cambridge during summer can be tricky, so it’s advisable to book well in advance. While there are no five-star luxury resorts, there is both comfort and convenience to be found in the mid-range hotels which are plentiful. Most of them offer a wide-range of amenities from WiFi to flat-screen televisions. It’s also possible to find hotels in Cambridge which have on-site saunas and fitness centers, as well as business meeting rooms and concierge services. As well as plenty of chain hotels, there are also quirkier guesthouses and inns on offer, not to mention plenty of apartments for hire.
Where to stay
Cambridge city is a study in architecture in itself. Thanks to the wide span of time in which its colleges, shops and other facilities were built you’ll encounter everything from 16th Century gothic to 1970s modernism as you stroll around its streets. Staying in the heart of Cambridge may be difficult, thanks to the colleges which dominate the center, but hotels and guesthouses just outside the center are within easy walking distance. They’re also conveniently placed for the department stores and shopping centers which have sprung up in recent years, while being a stone’s throw from the lawns, quads and grandeur of the University.
How to get to
Cambridge Station is the likeliest entry point to the city, with trains running throughout the UK and journey times of under an hour from central London to Cambridge. The station’s within walking distance of the colleges, shops and market, with regular bus routes also serving the city. It’s not a city for motorists, so you may want to consider joining the locals on two wheels, with bike hire a cheap and convenient option. Most attractions are within walking distance of each other, however. Cambridge is handily placed for flights from Stansted Airport, with train journey times of around 40 minutes to and from the international airport.