Cambridge is home to one of England’s great universities. Its beauty, its great parks, its historic interest, and its proximity to London make it an ideal place to take a daytrip to from the capital. Within a couple of hours of being in central London you could be punting down the Cam, taking tea in a tearoom, or exploring the ancient colleges.
There are both buses and trains that run regularly from London to Cambridge and back, and there are connections to Cambridge on the bus from all of the major airports in the South East (Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted). If you have access to a car and wish to drive yourself to Cambridge, then you should leave London to the east or north, and make your way around the M25 to the M11.
Trains to Cambridge run from either Kings Cross on First Capital Connect, or Liverpool Street on National Express East Anglia. Timetables can be found on their websites, or using the National Rail journey planner.
Cambridge is one of the UKs Cycling Cities, a distinction awarded in 2008, and is home not just to timeless colleges, but also to Anglia Ruskin University, and also to Silicon Fen: an area which is home to a lot of high-tech companies that take advantage of the profusion of maths and sciences graduates in the area.
The main attraction in Cambridge is, obviously, the university. Founded by students fleeing from Oxford in 1209, the oldest college that still remains and teaches is Peterhouse, which was founded in 1284. When visiting Cambridge you should certainly take the opportunity to visit The Backs, the picturesque college gardens that abut the river Cam.
The Arts Theatre is in the city centre and seats 666, and the Corn Exchange often has both theatrical and musical events. Punting is a hugely popular pastime for tourists, and it offers an ideal way to both relax and see the colleges at their best at the same time. It is not so relaxing, however, for the person who has to actually push the punt forward with the pole, and you should be careful not to keep hold of a pole that has become stuck in the mud when your punt is travelling away from you, unless a short dip in the water is your idea of a fun afternoon.
There are a number of fairs and festivals in Cambridge if you are there at the right time. The Midsummer Fair dates back to 1211, and takes place over the midsummer weekend. The first Saturday in June is also the date of the Strawberry Fair, which is aimed at children and families and features music and attractions. In May the Cambridge Beer Festival takes place on Jesus Green, and there is a yearly Cambridge Folk Festival for those interested in Britain’s traditional music and real ales. Every September, the Cambridge Film Festival takes place, and in the summer there is an open air festival of Shakespeares works.
Whatever your tipple or your taste, Cambridge offers a picturesque and unique way of coming to know something of the rural England.