Located a hundred kilometers north of London, Cambridge is famous for its universities, considered among the best in the world. This town of 80 inhabitants, a quarter of whom are students, is a little gem for the elegance of its architecture and its charming river Cam which can be traveled aboard a punt.
Cambridge, one of the most beautiful small towns in the United Kingdom which combines dynamism, tradition and modernity in an enchanting setting! This majestic city can be visited in a single day although a weekend or short stay will allow you to immerse yourself in the subtleties and the atmosphere and discover its surroundings worthy of interest!
When to visit Cambridge?
One of Cambridge's essential visits and of course that of its colleges, the common areas of which are open to visitors except during exam periods, generally between the end of April and the end of June. Ideally plan your visit to Cambridge outside of school holidays and check the universities website to make sure they are open.
Visit Cambridge's famous colleges
Cambridge has 31 colleges, three of which only accept women (Murray Edwards, Newnham and Lucy Cavendish) and the remaining 28 are co-ed. The University of Cambridge is also in third position in the Shanghai 2019 ranking of the best world universities, while Oxford appears in seventh position.
To apply to one of these prestigious universities, students must present excellent high school reports with a minimum required of 16 or 17 overall average. And to complicate matters even further, they cannot apply simultaneously to Cambridge and Oxford universities or fall back on the other. They must therefore make a choice.
Each College is independently run and has its own specialty, King's College is world famous for economics and Churchill College for science and technology. They are all grouped together on the eastern bank of the Cam River and each college communicates by a bridge with the opposite bank, known as The Backs.
Founded in 1441 by Henry VI, King's College is arguably the most prestigious and famous of Cambridge universities.
One of the jewels of King's college is undoubtedly its XNUMXth century chapel, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture whose architecture and stained glass windows are more like those of a cathedral than a small chapel.
At 80 m long, it houses the largest fan vault in the world that the public can admire. It is also possible to attend a performance of the College Chapel choir which is one of the most famous in the UK
Finally, guided tours lasting 45 minutes are provided on certain days by a Cambridge City Blue Badge certified guide.
Address : West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DN
Saint John's College and the Bridge of Sighs
Founded in 1511 by the mother of Henry VII of England, Saint John's College is the second most important college in Cambridge. With its portal, decorated with a coat of arms, is one of the most beautiful in the city, its courtyards essentially in Tudor style and its Bridge of Sighs (copy of the Venetian Bridge), the visit of this university is a journey into the world of architecture.
Among the college's alumni are nine Nobel laureates and six prime ministers.
Address : St John’s Street, Cambridge CB2 1TP
Founded in 1546 by Henry VIII, Trinity College is the largest university in Cambridge where 33 Nobel Prize winners and numerous personalities were trained, among them the Prince of Wales Charles, a graduate in anthropology, archeology and history.
Open to the public, Trinity College is also known for its majestic library, the Wren Library considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Named after its architect Christopher Wren, it was completed in 1695 and today boasts more than 55000 remarkable works, including the cane and manuscripts of Isaac Newton and that of Winnie the Pooh.
The library, which is free to visit, is generally open to the public for a limited number of hours each day.
Address : Trinity Street, CB2 1TQ Cambridge
Schedules and information
Since its founding in 1871 by moralist Henry Sidgwick, Newnham College has always participated in feminist movements. It was indeed reserved for women at a time when they were not allowed to attend university.
Today the Queen Anne-style red brick buildings and flower gardens considered to be Cambridge's “hidden gem” still cater exclusively to women.
Besides these magnificent buildings, the college also has a prestigious art collection including works by Turner and Rembrandt as well as sculptures displayed in public spaces and gardens.
With exotic flowers, the latter of interest are open to the public who can visit freely or benefit from a private tour accompanied by the head gardener of the college.
Address : Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DF
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Founded for the University of Cambridge in 1831, the Botanical Garden is a 16 hectare park with more than 8 species of plants and an impressive collection of ancient trees.
Today, this haven of peace welcomes more than 300 visitors a year who come to admire these greenhouses, have a picnic or simply relax around the lake. The Cambridge Botanic Garden is considered the second largest behind the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Entrance for an adult costs £ 6 and free for children up to the age of 16.
Address : 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE
The Fitzwilliam Museum: an art museum
With more than 500 works, The Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the most important museums in England. Among the many works, one can admire the works of Veneziano, Titian, Veronese, Palma the Elder, Guido Reni as well as an impressive collection of English paintings from the 000th century and impressionist paintings.
The museum also has Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities as well as a remarkable collection of handwritten scores.
Entrance to the Fitzwilliam Museum is free, it is open every day except Monday and public holidays from 10 a.m. to 17 p.m.
Address : Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB
“Punt” ride on the Cam river
The punt is a long boat with a flat bottom that is propelled using a pole. The punter stands at the back of the boat and presses the end of the pole into the bottom of the river to push the boat. The bravest will rent the boat to try out the adventure themselves, while the others will opt for a 50-minute guided tour, led by a student.
This river trip, a true haven of peace, allows you to discover 8 Cambridge colleges and 9 bridges including the Mathematical Bridge and the famous Bridge of Sighs. In addition, the punt tour is the only way to see The Backs, the backyards of the colleges some of which are private, overlooking the water, with grandiose gardens.
Depending on the weather, an umbrella, blanket or parasol is made available to passengers.
Schedules and information
Cambridge guided tours
Top tip: Free guided city tour of Cambridge!
On this free two-hour tour, led by an English-speaking guide, you'll visit King's College, Mathematical Bridge, Great St Mary's Church, stroll through the elegant gardens of famous universities and pass The Eagle , one of Cambridge's most famous pubs.
Guided tour of Cambridge universities with a student
This 1-hour student tour will take you to Cambridge's most famous colleges such as Clare and Trinity. The unique opportunity to meet a student who will share his feedback and explain to you what are the prerequisites for applying to one of these universities.
Guided tour in the footsteps of Pink Floyd
From London to Cambridge, follow in the footsteps of rock legends, the Pink Floyd! During this visit, you will be introduced to their former homes, schools and the places where the band members live in Cambridge, as well as their recording studios such as Abbey Road and Britannia Road.
This full-day guided tour will tell you about the history of Pink Floyd and the influence of the city of Cambridge on the titles and lyrics of the songs of the band.
Unusual accommodation in Cambridge
Little known, but some Cambridge University Colleges offer rooms for tourists. An extraordinary experience and also a good plan because these rooms are often less expensive than a hotel. To find out which Colleges offer rooms, availability and prices, I invite you to consult the website University Rooms.
For a change from traditional hotels, why not stay at the superb Christ's College ?! This emblematic College in the heart of Cambridge, offers a few rooms to visitors outside of school periods. Single or double, these adults-only rooms have a private bathroom. A unique and unusual experience to be in total immersion.
Given the high demand, it is strongly advised to book as early as possible!
Address : St Andrews Street, Cambridge, CB2 3BU
A 10-minute walk from the center of Cambridge, Westminster College is an oasis of calm offering 38 rooms and 2 cottages all year round. Ideally located for exploring Cambridge on foot, Westminster College offers good value for money accommodation with many amenities such as breakfast, wifi and free parking.
Address : Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0AA
How to get to Cambridge from London?
By train : Cambridge can be reached from London between 50 minutes (best time) and 1h10, by taking the train from King's Cross, St Pancras or Liverpool Street stations.
Departures are regular all day; you are strongly advised to book your tickets in advance on trainline, to benefit from the best price.
The center of Cambridge is a 15-minute walk from the station.
Schedules and information
By bus : National Express connects London Stratford to Cambridge in 1h35.
Schedules and information
If you arrive from London Stansted Airport, the Greater Anglia train connects Stansted airport to Cambridge between 30 and 50 minutes depending on the train.
What to visit around Cambridge?
Ely Cathedral: one of the most beautiful cathedrals in England
24 km north of Cambridge, Ely is a pretty town famous for its cathedral, built by the Normans in a Romanesque style, then restored by the English in typical Gothic architecture, including a spectacular and very well preserved octagonal tower.
In the series The Crown (S01-E01), Ely Cathedral serves as the setting for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, originally celebrated at theWestminster Abbey.
How to get to Ely from Cambridge? The quickest and easiest way is to take the train, which departs regularly approximately every 10 minutes with a journey time of less than 20 minutes. Information and reservations on the Trainline website.
Address : Chapter House, The College, Ely CB7 4DL
Medieval Lavenham Village and Harry Potter House
This charming medieval village east of Cambridge in Suffolk County has 340 half-timbered houses, listed as historic monuments. Considered the most beautiful and prestigious village in Britain, Lavenham inspired the village of Godric's Hollow where Harry Potter's parents are murdered by Voldemort. It was also in Lavenham that the famous scene was filmed where Harry received his scar in the shape of a lightning bolt.
The building first appeared on screen in 2011 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In reality, this house classified "grade I" that is to say of exceptional interest, is today a bed & breakfast in the name of "De Vere House" where you can stay by booking via the Airbnb site .
Steeped in history, it contains period furniture and structures such as its framework, fireplaces, murals and a rare stone staircase whose ramp is carved in brick.
Fans of the saga will be able to stay in this house, available for rent on the site de AirBnB.
How to get to Lavenham from Cambridge? Located 65km from Cambridge, the fastest route to Lavenham will be by car.
However, it is possible to get there by public transport, taking the train from Cambridge station to St Edmunds then the bus line 753 to Lavenham. Allow around 2h30 for the journey. For the train journey: information and reservations on the Trainline website.
Imperial War Museum a museum for aviation and history enthusiasts
The Imperial War Museum is the largest aviation museum in the UK displaying a collection of over 100 fighter and civilian aircraft including the iconic Lancasters, Spitfire and Concorde, which can be boarded. This impressive collection is exhibited in large hangars which served as an air base for the British during the Battle of Britain, at the start of World War II, and then for the US Air Force.
How to get to Imperial War Museum in Cambridge? Just 14 miles south of Cambridge on junction 10 of the M11, IWM Duxford is an easy 15-minute drive away with ample free parking.
The closest station to IWM Duxford is Whittlesford Parkway Station, which you can get to directly from London Liverpool Street Station or Cambridge Station.
All the practical information to get to the museum is indicated on the museum site.
Address : Duxford Airfield, Building 425, Cambridge CB22 4QR
Audley End House & Gardens
Located 21 miles south of Cambridge, Audley End House is one of England's finest and largest Jacobean houses with an impressive collection of works of art, including paintings by Canaletto and Giovanni Battista Cipriani.
This charming 17th century residence is surrounded by an elegant park designed by Lancelot "Capability", considered "the greatest gardener in England" who designed and landscaped more than 250 gardens including that of Hampton Court.
This mansion was chosen by the production of The Crown to represent the interiors of Balmoral Castle in season 3. The Great Hall and the bookstore also served as the sets in seasons 1 and 2 of the series, for the Windsor Castle and Eton College where Prince Charles studied.
Address : Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden CB11 4JF
How to get to Audley End House in Cambridge? Located 25km from Cambridge, the fastest route to Audley End House will be by car.
However, it is possible to get there by public transport, taking the train from Cambridge station to Audley End Station and then the bus line 590 to Saffron Walden, High School. Allow around 2 hours 10 minutes for the journey. For the train journey: information and reservations on the Trainline website.