Cambridge: the home of history, knowledge and – fun!
January 1, 1970
by Daria Orlova
If you are as much into all things connected with England as I am, you must have thought about visiting Cambridge once or twice. It’s quite a Mecca, both for someone fancying knowledge, education and the power they give and for someone fascinated by architecture and history.
So many famous prominent people walked those paved narrow streets that breathing the air they breathed is a must for a thorough tourist. I was lucky enough to become more than a mere tourist for almost a year while studying at Anglia Ruskin University and living in Cambridge in 2014-2015. This was a brilliant experience, yet pretty hard at times, and there’s much to share with you, ardent English fan.
Must See Places In Cambridge
Since Cambridge is first and foremost a university town, familiarizing yourself with different colleges and territories around them is what you should aim for. Don’t be surprised with the word “town” here, as it is really not that big. The town center is absolutely within walking distance of anyone who has steady shoes and passionate desire for adventure.
Speaking of colleges, there are 31, and I’d recommend starting with King’s College which is right in the center. You can’t miss it, as it is so grand and impressive. Hundreds of people are always piling up in front of its main entrance to take a picture. If you get a chance of going inside the yard (it might be closed for public admissions or you might not want to pay the ticket price), you will feel totally Harry Potter-ish, surrounded by movie-like buildings and meadows.
Cambridge University Press Bookshop
If learning – or teaching – English is your thing, then visiting the Cambridge University Press shop not far from King’s College would be wise. You’ll find yourself among tons of student’s and teacher’s books, fiction and professional literature, dictionaries, guides and what not – all to make you want them all.
Fitzwilliam Museum at Trumpington Street is also a place of interest for anyone enjoying art and historical objects. What’s more, the entrance is free. The Egyptian collection in this museum is profound, and there are lots of paintings too.
Cambridge Botanic Gardens
When tired of being inside, the best option in almost any time of the year is going to Cambridge Botanical Gardens. There’s always something blooming, and the territory of 40 acres is vast and well suited for long walks and contemplation. The plant collection is really impressive, both outdoors and in the green houses. The café in the midst of the Garden provides refreshments for exhausted travelers.
Things You Really Ought To Do When In Cambridge
Mind you, Cambridge is expensive, I won’t lie here. It’s actually among the most expensive cities in England, especially when you’re a student on a budget. It should be easier for tourists though, yet be prepared still. However, there at least two things you should definitely invest into.
Punting is the all time favourite Cambridge activity of everyone! The tradition of sailing on the river Cam in long flat-bottomed boats called punts goes back in history. Except for obvious reasons like having lots of fun while sailing with a good company, punting also gives you an amazing opportunity to see some of the Cambridge University Colleges from the other side. The view on King’s College Chapel is especially exquisite from the river. All professional punters are fully packed with interesting historical facts and stories of the past, so they will entertain you on your way along the river banks. Don’t miss the chance to lead the punt and do all the work yourself! There’s such an option too, and though you won’t hear the stories, you’ll have lots of fun instead. But it’s hard work too. Beware of ducks and willows!
Full English Breakfast
I don’t know a single person who hasn’t heard of the full English breakfast! Don’t think that if you devour 5 eggs every morning then you’re somewhere close to the Englishmen’s passion for a steady meal at the beginning of the day. The full English breakfast includes: fried eggs, baked beans, potato hash browns, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, black pudding, sausages, bacon, toast with butter and in the end – tea and marmalade! Some variations may of course occur, but generally it’s like that.
Some of the best places to experience this traditional English meal in Cambridge are:
- Fitzbillies at Trumpignton Street, 51-51 (Arrange it in the way that you first have breakfast there, then take a short stroll to the Fitzwilliam’s Museum nearby and digest it all while walking the galleries and contemplating art)
- The Copper Kettle at King’s Parade, 3-4 (That’s right in the center of the town, so you can combine it with sightseeing afterwards too)
Where to stay in Cambridge
ibis Cambridge Central Station hotel
I stayed in this hotel when I came to Cambridge in autumn of 2016 for the University Graduation Ceremony and enjoyed the time sent there very much. Its most obvious advantage is location – it’s situated right at the railway station. But don’t you worry, your sleep and rest will not be interrupted by the noise. The hotel is compact, but very cozy and modern at the same time. Their canteen provides great breakfast and view too. The staff was extremely nice, and they even helped me out when I asked them via email to receive some of my parcels from Amazon which arrived earlier than I did.
To cut it short, Cambridge is really a wonderful place to visit – vibrant in its night life and quiet in its little hidden streets that scream history to you, ancient in surroundings and so modern in its everyday life and customs. It’s full of students during the school year and full of tourists in the summer, yet there’s a place for all. The service is great, the amount of shops, restaurants, clubs and cultural venues to visit is limitless, and you will inevitable enjoy your adventure to this cradle of English wisdom.