At the start of Summer Mark and I had a great weekend in Cambridge and I’m finally getting around to sharing it, sorry for the delay! 🙂 We took the train up from London on a Friday evening and back on a Sunday, giving us 48 hours in the charming, historic city which was plenty of time to see the top sites. Speaking of top sites, the highest rated thing to do in Cambridge is to pay a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum, one of the top art museums, but sadly it was closed when we were there. Our plan is to go back and visit both this museum and tour the inside of the colleges but instead of what we did not do, these are my top recommendations of what to do in this quaint town!
1 | Tour the University For more than 800 years the University of Cambridge has been one of the top university’s in the world and they will proudly tell you that it was granted royal charter by King Henry III in 1231 after being founded in 1209. Walking around the campus, which is integrated into the town, make sure to take in the architecture and history all around you! Below you can see one of the most iconic buildings, the King’s College Chapel with its medieval stained glass windows.
2 | Cross the River Cam – A river as number two? Why yes! It is actually difficult to visit Cambridge without seeing the River Cam, it runs through the heart of the city and more than a dozen bridges cross it with University colleges on both sides of i’s banks. When I hear river and bridge I often think of fast flowing, deep water but this is neither. Only 20 feet wide in some parts the River Cam is more of a canal and is less than a meter deep which makes it great for punting, but more on that later!
3 | Book a Walking Tour – I really should do a post on how much I love a walking tour, haha! We did four in Croatia in August and while the quality varies, regardless of the cost, we enjoyed the one we did in Cambridge, the Round Church Guided Walk. We chose the Saturday afternoon tour called University Walk and for nearly two hours we were guided around the historic streets and learned a ton about the institutions history, the evolution of the town, and quirky facts like the location of Newton’s Apple tree. It was £12 a person and I would do it again.
4 | The Corpus Clock – When I learned that most locals refer to this sculptural clock as the Grasshopper clock it was not hard to see why. This massive time piece looks medieval but it is barely a dozen years old having been opened by Stephen Hawking in 2008. It is supposed to be a locust who eats time (to prove time can not go backwards) – a little bit of a stretch for me, but sure. You can find it outside of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College.
5 | Cambridge University Botanic Garden – The gardens were not originally on my list but I am glad we squeezed them in. Only a 20 minute walk from the city center this garden boasts thousands of plans which intrigue academics – or so I am told – but for someone who just likes nature I enjoyed the hour we spent wandering through the paths of the 40 acre space. The tickets are affordable, £6.30 per adult, but often sell out so I would advise booking ahead.
7 | Tour Colleges – While seemingly similar to the first touring the University and touring the colleges are not the same thing. While students get a degree from the university during a normal three year degree they apply and study at a specific college. Academically the most prestigious is Christ’s College for undergrads, Darwin College for graduate students, and three of the most famous as they are the oldest and richest are King’s College, Trinity College, and St. John’s College.
6 | Punting – If you want to be a bit more adventurous than just walking over the River Cam I would suggest a punting trip! In doing my research Scudamore’s was the top rated and most established company so while we took a look at the Chauffeured Punt Tours They offered, Mark and I opted for self hire. However, to ensure we did not bite off more than we could chew we chose the 90 minute option (not the three hour one) and had a great time!