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Top ten places to visit in Cambridge

10th October 2014

When we welcome students to study with us for short or long duration, one of the main reasons for choosing Cambridge is to see the best that the city has to offer.  Here is our insider guide to the best things to do in Cambridge – some are weather-dependent!

1.  Go punting!  A visit to Cambridge simply isn’t complete without punting on the River Cam.  Universally acknowledged as the best way to see the most beautiful university college buildings, it is also a lovely relaxing trip and punting companies operate in almost any weather (with umbrellas if necessary!)  Students have the choice between enjoying a chauffeured and guided trip, when you can learn more about the university, or try punting themselves, which is generally cheaper.  When the river is busiest in the summer, we would advise enjoying the talents of a chauffeur!

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2.  Visit King’s College chapel

Although you will enjoy a great view of the chapel while punting, this beautiful and famous building deserves a special visit all of its own.  The interior is stunning and a ticket to the chapel allows you to walk in the grounds of the college as well.  Music-lovers may recognise the building from the Christmas concert which is broadcast on TV and radio around the world on Christmas Eve.

3.  Climb Great St.Mary’s Church tower

Some of the best views of central Cambridge can be enjoyed from the tower of this old and beautiful church.  Visitors are welcome to enjoy the calm and serenity of the church, and a small fee is required to climb the tower. 

4.  Go shopping for souvenirs on King’s Parade.

There is some great shopping to be had in Cambridge, with the shopping centres of the Grand Arcade and Lion Yard.  However for good old fashioned souvenirs to take home to friends and family, King’s Parade opposite King’s College entrance provides a great choice of shops.

5.  Walk to the Orchard Tea Rooms in Grantchester

Best reserved for a clear and sunny day, the walk to Grantchester from central Cambridge takes around an hour one-way.  You can also take a bus to this lovely, traditional English village.  Most famous as the home to English poet Rupert Brooke who once lived in the Vicarage, this delightful village has several pubs and the popular tea rooms.  Hot meals can be enjoyed but most choose the very English tea and scones to enjoy in the apple orchard gardens.  During the winter it is also possible to sit inside, but the real appeal comes from enjoying your tea and cake outside.

6.  If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper to do, the Fitwzilliam Museum in Cambridge is free to all visitors and contains some excellent exhibitions.  The museum building itself also boasts some terrific architecture and the beautiful columns at the entrance stand out on Trumpington Street.

7.  Visit a University of Cambridge college – there are 31 in total and all have their own history and location within the city.  The most popular are generally King’s College,Trinity College and St. John’sCollege, which all house beautiful buildings and are among some of the oldest in the city.  However some of the smaller colleges including Clare College and Magdelene College are also worth a visit.  There is normally a small fee to pay to enter as a visitor and guided tours are often available in the summer.

8.  Go to a concert, play or gig

Being a Cambridge tourist doesn’t stop at night!  There is so much to do in the evenings in Cambridge including two cinemas, four theatres, several concert venues and festivals held throughout the year.  Tickets to plays and gigs are generally quite reasonable, with prices cheaper than in London and often available last-minute – it is always worth checking!

9.  Go for a cycle!

Some of the most famous Cambridge images are of students on bikes, and many of our students hire bikes to travel from their host family or residence to the school.  It can also be fun to hire a bike for the day and cycle around our beautiful city.  There are many cycle paths which don’t run on the roads and even cyclist traffic lights, as the number of cyclists in the city is so large!  It is also possible to quite quickly cycle out of the city along the river and see some of the surrounding countryside.  See below for detailed cycle routes in the city and surrounding areas:

10.  Go out for dinner or to a typical British pub

Despite our reputation, the British do love their food!  There is a great choice of restaurants in the city as well as traditional British pubs – in fact at last count there were around 110 pubs!  Some of them are very old and have been host to famous Cambridge faces over the years, such as famous scientists Crick and Watson (who discovered DNA) at The Eagle pub.  This pub also has a room whose ceiling still bears the signatures and drawings of RAF fighters who stayed here during World War Two.

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