Last weekend, Tim and I had a lovely couple of days away in Cambridge. It’s a city I’ve been meaning to visit for ages, but have just never got around to it. Desperate to fill the gap between our holidays in Copenhagen and Sri Lanka, March was the perfect time to finally go.
With just one night in the city, we were determined to make it count. But was that enough to do it all? We certainly thought so. Here’s what we did with our 24 hours.
Arrive just in time for lunch
It’s no surprise that Cambridge can get really busy on weekends. The car parks fill up early and the streets are packed with tourists, locals and students. We were lucky enough to have free parking at our Air B&B apartment, so we were able to rock up just before lunch and walk in to the centre from there.
Of course we needed some energy to keep us going, so we had lunch in one of our favourite restaurants – Bill’s. It was jam packed when we arrived, with a queue falling out the door. We felt really smug walking straight to the front to our reserved table. I would definitely book a table if you want to go to Bill’s too! Actually – I would recommend a table anywhere because all restaurants were packed, unless you want to eat at McDonald’s.
The food was amazing as always, and the service was great too. Our bellies completely satisfied, we were then ready to explore.
Wander the streets
One of the best ways to see the city is to walk aimlessly around the streets, trying not to get run over by the millions of bicycles that announce their arrival with a friendly ‘ding ding DING DING DING!!’ There really is something to see on every corner, with beautiful mediaeval buildings taking up the majority of the space.
Sadly, most of the colleges charge entry to wander around the grounds – up to £10 each! And we didn’t look enough like Cambridge students to sneak in. We were too cheapskate to pay the admission fees (Why would I pay to go to university?! Oh wait… I’ve already done that…) so we instead looked around the few colleges that don’t charge, including Stephen Hawking’s old one – Gonville & Caius College. And actually, it’s one of the prettiest.
Take a punting tour (Must Do!)
We couldn’t visit Cambridge without taking a trip on the river. We joined a shared punting tour led by Let’s Go Punting and listened to our tour guide getting increasingly out of breath as he told us less than interesting facts about the city. (I’d recommend trying Scudmore instead, though, they seemed much more professional!)
We didn’t bank on it being the most bizarre weekend of the year, weather-wise. One minute it was hailing, the next we were wishing we had brought our sunglasses! Luckily, Let’s Go provided blankets and umbrellas so we wrapped up warm and relaxed into the tour.
Punting along the river is really the only way to see some of the sights you normally have to pay admission to see – especially the bridges that are owned by the colleges (including the really famous Bridge of Sighs). However, one of the highlights of the tour was watching poor souls who had decided to punt themselves. We were desperately willing someone to fall in, and it seemed as though our guide was too – he went straight into one of them!
Book a table for dinner
We ate dinner at The Pint Shop – a small but highly recommended restaurant in the centre. There are loads of chain restaurants, but it really is worth seeking out an independent place as the atmosphere is so much better. As with lunch, definitely book a table. Even two weeks in advance, we didn’t have nearly as much choice as we should have done, but The Pint Shop turned out to be a great find.
I ignored the subliminal messaging to eat Meat, Bread & Beer (Tim didn’t…) and chose Souffle, Salad & Juice instead. Oh my god, I’m salivating just thinking about it again now. You HAVE to try the purple sprouting! I’ve never got so excited about broccoli in my life!
Cambridge is a compact city with loads of beautiful buildings, but not actually much else… But that’s the beauty of Cambridge – you can do it in 24 hours and still at quite a leisurely pace.
Have you been to Cambridge? Would you recommend anything else we didn’t get to see?