It’s past time for a visit to Cambridge in England. Depending on the time of year you go, it’s not a bad idea to pack up your wellies and brolly in case of rain.

England is known for its prestigious universities, located in Oxford and Cambridge, named after their respective towns. Both are equidistant train or road trips from London. I only had the opportunity to see one on my last U.K. vacation – Cambridge became that memorable trip.

Though Oxford is one of Europe’s oldest universities, Cambridge is only 40 years younger. From its 31 colleges (16 of medieval origin), Cambridge has produced such prominent alumni as John Milton, Darwin, Newton and Stephen Hawking to name a few.

Aside from the university, itself is a top draw, Cambridge in England has a number of other worthwhile attractions making for a perfect day trip from London.

Make the most of your visit in Cambridge

Mathematical Bridge

Leave it to a college town to sport a really cool bridge. The wooden footbridge structure erected in 1749 is considered an 18th-century engineering wonder.

Though it possesses an appealing arch-shaped design, it is constructed solely from straight timber parts. William Etheridge, who came from a family line of master carpenters, was the bridge’s creator. It is one of the most photographed spots in Cambridge.

Visiting the University and Botanic Gardens

King’s College and its King’s College Chapel play a central role in college life as well as being the most instantly recognizable and iconic building in Cambridge. When the weather is warm and sunny, it’s an absolute treat strolling through the pristine Cambridge University Botanic Garden boasting a collection of over 8,000 plant species from all over the world.

Attend The Shakespeare Festival

William Shakespeare is a world-renowned English icon and if you’re visiting Cambridge in England during the summer, check out a production of his works by some of the UK’s best poets and playwrights at various college gardens.

Summer is peak season for a visit in Cambridge and if you are planning to attend the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, plan ahead to peruse the list of productions; arrive early as there are only 200 seats! If you can’t get a seat, no worries, there are plenty of open spaces on the campus grounds where you can spread out a blanket and still enjoy the play.

Check out the Midsummer Fair

Another centuries-old tradition in Cambridge is its Midsummer Fair, one of the oldest in England. The lively event takes places on the last week of June. It’s another very popular event held on the city center’s Midsummer Common.

Because the event is very similar to a fair, you can expect carnival-type rides and lots of good food.

Check out Market Square’s Retail Treasures

The Cambridge Market Square has been around since the Middle Ages. The seven-day-a-week market features homemade foods, fresh produce, art, music, antiques and lots of old books. We actually found a very dated version of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” here during our visit in Cambridge.

If you happen to be in Cambridge on a Saturday, an Arts and Crafts Market draws lots of patrons to its stalls selling various types of handmade jewelry, sculpture, pottery, and even clothing.

Go Punting on the Cam

Punting on the River Cam & Mathematical Bridge; photo by Pixabay
Punting on the River Cam & Mathematical Bridge; photo by Pixabay

The river running through Cambridge in England is known as the Cam, hence the name of the town, and one of the most sought-after activities in the city is its long-standing tradition of ‘punting.’

Punting is boating in a punt which is a long boat with a flat bottom. The punter pushes a pole against the river bed moving the boat in the direction of choice. Our first time on a punt reminded us a lot of being on the gondolas of Venice. It really is a fun and relaxing experience with great views to admire along the way. Guided tours are available.

Drink a Pint at Historic Eagle Pub

The Eagle is a Cambridge public house that opened in 1667 as a coaching inn. As the second oldest pub in town, the Brits say the pub led to the discovery of DNA given that eminent scientists Crick and Watson often frequented. Eagle Pub even has an ale called DNA in the scientists’ honor.

Perhaps it was Eagle Pub’s award-winning cask ales or its savory pub grub that aided the scientists, either way, this vibrant tavern pouring frothy ale, tasty English cider and serving top-notch fish and chips is must-see.

Our bartender reminded my husband and I to look up to where American airmen and Royal Air Force personnel used candles to burn their names into World War II history. The Eagle Pub ceiling immortalizes their legacy.

We have fond memories of our visit in Cambridge, but in the back of our minds, we hear Oxford calling next.

Author

  • Noreen Kompanik

    Noreen Kompanik is a retired registered nurse, legal nurse consultant, and military spouse turned travel writer. She launched her travel writing career in 2014 and has over 600 articles in both digital and print publications.

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