Steeped in history and educational excellence, Cambridge is a city renowned for its colleges, but look past the university and there is an exciting city waiting to be explored, full of architectural triumphs, boutique shops dotted along quaint streets, with plenty of beautiful green spaces waiting to be enjoyed over a long weekend.
WHAT TO DO
Take to the water to navigate Cambridge’s history
Punting is an iconic Cambridge sight which dates back to the start of the 20th century, when pleasure craft took to the water to navigate the River Cam. Now, this leisurely pastime offers unrivalled views of the historic city from its magical waterways, bookable through a number of companies, including Scudamore’s and Rutherford’s.
The punts can be privately hired by visitors keen to put their punting skills to the test, but for those wishing to kick back and relax there are an abundance of packages to choose from, including leisurely Champagne, afternoon tea or gin punting tours, in addition to chauffeured college tours that unlock the history of the backwaters. For something a little different, the river can also be navigated by stand-up paddle boards or kayaks too, allowing the chance for everyone to get out and enjoy the water.
Explore the University of Cambridge and its many museums
Visitors to Cambridge can follow in the footsteps of the city’s luminaries, including Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking, with guided walking tours available that take in some of the 31 beautiful colleges that make up the university. Those inspired by the city’s educational prowess can peruse one of the eight University of Cambridge Museums to learn something new, whether it’s a visit to The Polar Museum, marvel at ancient Egyptian relics in The Fitzwilliam Museum, or inspect the original specimens that Darwin collected on his famous trip on The Beagle at the University Museum of Zoology. Alternatively, visit the crown jewel of Cambridge, King’s College Chapel, renowned for its 12-bay perpendicular-style interior, beautiful medieval stained-glass windows and the world’s largest fan vaulted ceiling, a true English masterpiece and must-see when visiting the city.
Embrace Cambridge’s green spaces
With a variety of cycling and walking routes throughout the city and its surrounding countryside, Cambridge is the perfect place to take a step back from everyday life and embrace nature among the many green spaces. Visitors can wander through The Backs, offering iconic views of King’s College and its chapel, meander along the River Cam to view the Bridge of Sighs and wooden Mathematical Bridge, or pass through picturesque meadows peppered with grazing cattle. Gardening enthusiasts can take in the beauty of the University Botanic Garden, which is home to an impressive collection of more than 8,000 species of plants from around the world. Covering 40 acres, visitors can wander through the many garden sections, look into the tropical glasshouses and follow wild flower trails, or take a guided tour which is free on a Sunday.
Cambridge is a shopping paradise, with an array of interesting independent shops throughout its cobbled streets, selling everything from hand-crafted jewellery to antiquarian books, perfect for spending or just window shopping. Visitors can flick through stunning fabric designs at the Cambridge Fabric Company, pick out a novel at The Haunted Bookshop, peer at crafted hats within Laird Hatters, or decide between bag designs at the Cambridge Satchel Company. Bookworms looking to while away a few hours in the land of literature, in a city that is known for its knowledge, can visit one of the many bookshops Cambridge has to offer, or set off on a trail taking in five of the city’s independent bookstores.
WHERE TO EAT
When in Cambridge, visitors seeking an indulgent and contemporary British dining experience of the highest quality can dine at the two Michelin-star Midsummer House, where dishes using luxurious ingredients are generously served in this beautiful Victorian villa, set on the banks of the River Cam. Midsummer House has held its two-Michelin-star status for an astonishing 17 consecutive years, with the menu skilfully shaped from passion and creativity, with Daniel Clifford at the helm as chef patron.
Restaurant Twenty-Two is a Cambridge institution, having first opened 40 years ago, it now serves contemporary British dishes using seasonal locally-sourced ingredients from its elegant Victorian style dining room.
Every dining experience at Restaurant Twenty-Two is unique, thanks to the menu being crafted daily based on what seasonal produce its Cambridgeshire partners have delivered.
Located on the top floor of The Varsity Hotel, SIX Brasserie offers a wood stone oven, grill and rotisserie dining experience, whilst providing stunning views across the city’s key colleges, including St. John’s, Trinity, Jesus and Magdalene. As well as serving locally sourced food, the restaurant also offers a selection of cocktails and over 30 gins, served within an informal setting. After dinner, guests can head to the rooftop bar and take in the breath-taking 360-degree views across the Cambridge skyline, whilst enjoying a drink or two.
WHERE TO STAY
The Gonville Hotel
Overlooking the green surrounds of Parker's Piece, The Gonville Hotel offers a truly unique experience. At the back of the property is a secluded garden with an entrance to the stunning Gresham House, offering eight 'feature' bedrooms. In the main hotel building, bedrooms are beautifully decorated with Cambridge inspired artwork and offer ESPA amenities. Guests can make use of two restaurants and a bar which serve local produce, an outdoor cinema in the summer months and a new garden bar which puts on live music. For something extra special, guests can book a one-hour tour of the city in the hotel's own Bentley, driven by Elliot who can point out the sights. Additionally, the hotel is one of the few pet friendly properties in the city, with pooches receiving a welcome pack upon arrival.
With a stunning interior and incredible bedroom views, the University Arms is a must-visit to rest weary legs and retire for the night. The hotel's recent restoration was carried out by classical architect John Simpson and designer Martin Brudnizki, whose past work includes that of Kensington Palace, Annabel's and The Ivy. The hotel offers complimentary bikes to guests, with rooms consisting of cast-iron baths and D.R. Harris & Co amenities. A cosy wooden-panelled bar downstairs leads onto Parker's Tavern, the hotel's popular restaurant which is headed up by Tristan Welch, who counts Rhodes, Roux Jr and Ramsay among his former mentors.
The Graduate Cambridge
The Graduate Cambridge is the city's newest boutique, pet-friendly hotel, inspired by the prestigious University of Cambridge, featuring classical nods to college architecture and notable alumni. The hotel has an enviable location right on the banks of the River Cam, with its Garden House restaurant and riverside terrace offering the perfect spot to watch punters go by. Guests can stay in one of the 148-rooms, explore the city on one of the complimentary bikes or make use of the hotel's swimming pool and sauna.
For further information, please visit www.visitcambridge.org