Hi folks, welcome to my series on United Kingdom! Having lived as a student in London from 2011-12 and visited it multiple times, I’m sharing my knowledge of this wonderful city and places I visited around it. I plan to post content every week. The content will largely focus on my recent trip there in June-July 2018, but there’ll also be some gems from the past. If you’d like to know more, please follow my blog.
My husband is currently studying at the University of Cambridge, so we planned a short trip there on our recent visit to London. Our party consisted of my parents, my younger brother, my husband and my toddler son, so all our activities were family-friendly. Here’s my list of what to see, where to eat and where to shop in Cambridge.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Cambridge is well-connected to most other cities in the United Kingdom by rail. There are multiple trains that leave every hour. Book your tickets online in advance to avail the best deals on prices.
From London, one can drive to Cambridge or take a bus.
WHERE TO STAY:
As a family of six with a young toddler, we were very happy with our stay at the Gonville Hotel. It was centrally located and quite luxurious. There are many hotel/ youth hostel and other options to suit different budgets available in this famous town.
Check out the Gonville Hotel by clicking here
WHAT TO SEE:
PUNTING ON RIVER CAM:
Though UK is peppered with pretty towns and even prettier villages, Cambridge is high on the ranks owing to its old-world architecture overlooking the gorgeous river Cam. The best way to tour the university buildings and town is by punting (boating) down the river with a guide who rows the boat, and a couple of beers to set the mood. The guide gives anecdotal and factual information about this university town and keeps you entertained throughout.
In peak season, it can be difficult to hire a punt. I recommend booking in advance. You could also explore the possibility of hiring a boat and punting yourself by taking turns. This is the cheapest option but not an easy one. There have been instances of people falling in or the boat just refusing to move!
TOUR THE COLLEGES:
Cambridge is one of the foremost university towns of the world, with prestigious colleges dating back to the 13th century. You can map a route of the most famous colleges and visit them on foot, if you’re not keen on boating. Most colleges offer guided tours as do some private companies. Here are my picks of must-see sights in the colleges:
KING’S COLLEGE CHAPEL:
Built in the 15th century, this towering chapel is a fine example of gothic architecture. Don’t miss the fine stained glass and the world’s largest fan vault. Try and catch a service if you have time.
MATHEMATICAL BRIDGE AT QUEENS COLLEGE:
This picturesque bridge was built in the 18th century and is attached to the oldest building on the river Cam.
Right outside Porter’s Lodge, Trinity College, stands an unobtrusive tree that claims to be responsible for Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity. Though there is no such famed connection, it’s worth having a look!
BRIDGE OF SIGHS:
The story behind this iconic bridge is that a famous queen once claimed this bridge to be a likeness of the original “Bridge of Sighs” from Venice, Italy. Though the bridges looked nothing like each other, a queen’s word couldn’t be disputed and hence the name stuck!
This gorgeous medieval library is located in Trinity College, and houses some literary treasures from many centuries past.
This unique time measurement device has been a part of Cambridge public infrastructure since 2008. Its unique design signifies the passage of time and the inevitable eventuality of death.
GREAT ST. MARY’S CHURCH:
The official University church has been around for over 800 years. Take a tour of the lovely property and climb the tall tower for a full experience.
If you prefer enjoying a leisurely picnic in the park over the hustle-bustle of sightseeing, Parker’s Piece is the place to go.
WHERE TO EAT:
A historic city has many historic pubs that are worth checking out! Try ‘The Eagle’ which is the oldest one, ‘The Anchor’ which looks on to the river, and ‘The Cambridge Blue’.
If you’re looking for a taste of home in Cambridge, visit Taj Tandoori for some Indian delicacies.
As Mexican food shares ingredients and flavors with Indian food, you’ll definitely enjoy the cuisine here.
This Vietnamese joint offers authentic, flavorful and filling food.
Visit this restaurant to sample the best Thai cuisine Cambridge has to offer.
This famous bakery should definitely be on your list. Though known for its Chelsea Buns, my favorite is the Florentine.
THE ATRIUM AT THE GONVILLE HOTEL:
Breakfast and dinner at The Atrium restaurant were included in our hotel package at The Gonville. It’s a great option for English fine-dining. The helpings are quite large so keep an empty stomach before the meal!
THE GRAIN & HOP STORE:
The Grain & Hop Store was the most popular place to watch the Football World Cup matches, with its multiple large screens, beer on tap, and congenial ‘sports-bar’ atmosphere. We also enjoyed our fish & chips and bangers & mash meals.
WHERE TO SHOP:
This shopping arena has everything you need in one place and is located in the heart of town. With many restaurants also located nearby, you don’t need to venture elsewhere.
WEEKEND STREET MARKETS:
As with London, street markets are an inherent part of the shopping culture in Cambridge. Tourists can snag some bargains as well as enjoy a local experience. I scored some beautiful handmade wooden pens from Gilbert House Pens as gifts, among other treasures.
I hope you liked my edit of what to do/ see/ eat in Cambridge, UK in 24 hours. Stay tuned for the final post in my UK series, which is a review of the Gonville Hotel. Don’t forget to check out my previous posts in this series! They are all linked here.