Welcome to my home city!
Lockdown has meant being a tourist where I live has been a real treat, and I’ve spent much more time in Cambridge than I ever have before. It’s been lovely exploring the amazing things this city has on offer that I’ve often overlooked. Cambridge really does make for an ideal UK city break, so I’ve pulled together a perfect itinerary for spending 48 hours in my wonderful home city. You’ll notice my photos are from all seasons, some gloomy and some sunny – but I hope that you agree no matter the weather, the city is beautiful.
A. Grab breakfast at Agora at the Copper Kettle
Get a stay in Cambridge off to a great start with breakfast overlooking the historic King’s College Chapel. The breakfast menu ranges from classic British dishes such as the Full English, through to various egg options, healthy options and even Mediterranean and Turkish breakfast options including beef sausages and honey. It really is delicious, and the views can’t be beaten.
B. Go punting
Punting is a Cambridge tradition and you can’t visit the city without giving it a go. After breakfast, head in to the city centre and try to get to the punting stations before 11am when it starts to get really busy. Whenever I go, I try to arrive at around 10.30am and have booked in advance online via either Scudamores or Cambridge Punters.
Punting is effectively a much less fancy Venetian Gondola ride. You can either hire a boat and punt yourself, or hire a boat and a punter and be punted about by a professional while you sit back and relax. If you’re a tourist, I recommend the latter.
Views from the boat
That said, punting is expensive. If you want a boat to yourself and to be punted, then the price is around £130 a boat for a 45 minute tour. If you’re happy to share with others, then a boat of up to 10 will charge around £15 a person. Or you could hire a boat and punt yourselves for a cost of around £40 for the boat for 90 minutes.
More beautiful river views in early Spring
C. Round Church & Museum
The round church is a lovely building in the centre of Cambridge, which was built in 1130! There is a little museum and film on the history of Cambridge inside, and this is also a starting point for a lot of the guided walking tours which run daily as well.
D. Afternoon tea at Fitzbillies
Fitzbillies was founded in 1920 by Ernest and Arthur Mason, using their ‘demob’ money from the First World War. Their initials are still visible in worn-out gold letters on the shop front. During the post war years, the Fitzbillie’s sponge cake became an institution of Cambridge, and their Chelsea Buns boomed. Despite going bankrupt in the 80s/90s due to competition from supermarkets, Fitzbillie’s was relaunched in 2011 – it bakes everything on site and its afternoon tea is, in my very humble opinion, the best in Cambridge. It’s also served from 11am to 4pm so whatever time of day suits you, it will be able to cater to.
Delicious afternoon tea including traditional scones with jam and cream
E. Evensong at King’s College Chapel
One of the most iconic buildings in Cambridge is King’s College Chapel, founded by King Henry VI in the 1400s. It’s a stunningly beautiful building and inside is a lovely museum about the Chapel’s history. If you can visit for evensong, to hear the choir sing, then it’s a super special experience. Evensong is held at 5.30pm Monday-Saturday and then 3.30pm on Sundays.
F. Walk the Backs
After a visit to the Chapel, take an evening stroll before dinner through the Cambridge Backs, one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Sometimes I come here when I’m feeling a bit low, or just need some headspace, and just watch the world go by against the stunning backdrop of the ancient University.
G. Dinner for any budget
Cambridge has an incredible range of eating options. For really tasty, well priced steak, walk out of town to Maison du Steak, one of Cambridge’s best restaurant secrets. Or if you want to stay more central, you could try Sticks n Sushi for Japanese or Navadhanya for incredible Indian cuisine. And if you want to go all out you could try Michelin starred Midsummer House, run by Daniel Clifford.
Navadhanya (L) and Sticks n Sushi (R)
At Midsummer House
A. Brunch at The Ivy
Start your second day off with a big breakfast or brunch at The Ivy, in the centre of the city. Inside the restaurant is decorated amazingly and the food is tasty. I really recommend the berry smoothies as they are absolutely delicious.
B. Trinity Lane & Rose Crescent
Just a few seconds’ walk away from The Ivy are two of the most beautiful streets in Cambridge – Trinity Lane and Rose Crescent. Trinity Lane is known for its picture perfect row of chimneys and it’s a must see while you’re in this part of the city, and Rose Crescent is home to lots of lovely browsing shops and looks a bit like it’s straight out of Harry Potter.
C. University Tour
You can’t come to Cambridge and not visit one of its most famous institutions – its University. Founded in 1209, it’s the world’s 4th oldest surviving University. Graduates include Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Rachel Weisz, Thandie Newton, Hugh Laurie and Arianna Huffington. Walk in theirs, and many others’ footsteps, by exploring some of the colleges open to the public. You could join a tour, but many don’t take you inside the college grounds, just walk past them – so my advice is pick one or two colleges and visit independently. My personal favourites are Kings College and Trinity College, which you can turn up to and buy tickets.
D. Great St Mary’s Church
Great St Mary’s church sits almost directly opposite King’s College Chapel and is one of the city’s best kept secrets. Inside, you can not only visit the church itself, but you can climb the 124 steps up to get a panoramic view of the city. If you manage to time it for a market day, the views out of the colourful stalls in the square are my favourite.
E. Grantchester Meadows walk & Grantchester village
Taking a stroll out of the city to get some fresh air is always a good idea, and walks don’t come much more picturesque than this, following the River Cam out of the city towards the quaint village of Grantchester. The walk takes you from Eltisley Avenue in Cambridge, in to Grantchester Meadows and across the fields to the village which is full of thatched cottages and cosy pubs. The full route walk can be found HERE.
F. Varsity rooftop bar
Once you’ve returned from your walk, it’s time to relax with a lovely final dinner and drinks at one of Cambridge’s nicest rooftop bars – The Varsity. The food is delicious, and the views out over Cambridge’s skyline for sunset are the perfect end to the trip.
Rooftop views and tasty drinks
Then if you have longer in Cambridge (you could easily spend a week here if you explore things outside of the city too), you could also:
- Check out some of the other things to do in and around the city, such as visiting the world’s first eco mosque, the Polar Museum or some grand local stately homes- post HERE.
- Explore slightly further afield and do some wonderful walks in the countryside surrounding Cambridge HERE.
- Visit the market town of St Ives and beautiful surrounding villages in my very favourite Cambridgeshire walk HERE (post coming soon).
I hope you’ve enjoyed the whistle-stop tour around Cambridge, and that it might have inspired you to visit one day. What do you think of my home city? Stay safe and happy travelling all!