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Unforgettable Weekend in Cambridge with Culture and History

01/03/2024 by .
Weekend in Cambridge

Melania Guarda Ceccoli presents an unforgettable weekend in Cambridge highlighting history, art and culture.

Cambridge is famed for its prestigious university and innovative spirit, but its allure for a weekend in Cambridge extends beyond academia, encompassing rich history, art, and natural beauty.

Founded in 1209 by scholars who departed from the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge is a sprawling institution with 31 colleges and 100 specialized academic departments.

Notable figures who emerged from here include 116 Nobel laureates, 15 Prime Ministers, distinguished lawyers, mathematicians, politicians, and actors. Having resided in Cambridge since July, I embarked on a weekend in Cambridge adventure to uncover some of its hidden gems.

Day 1: Morning – Academic Exploration

Commence your weekend with a visit to the renowned University of Cambridge. Start at the iconic King’s College, where you can admire the stunning architecture and explore the beautiful Chapel. Built in 1441 by King Henry VI, the Chapel took 100 years to complete and boasts the world’s largest fan vault ceiling. Among its students was Alan Turing. Don’t miss the Backs, picturesque gardens along the river that provide a tranquil escape in the heart of the city.

Another must-visit college is Trinity College, founded by Henry VIII in 1546. Sir Isaac Newton and Lord Byron studied here, and the Wren Library, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, is located here.

Weekend in Cambridge

Take a break at Fitzbillies Café, right in front of King’s College, for a cappuccino and Chelsea Buns. Founded in 1920, it is in this historic place that spiral sandwiches with raisins or chocolate are prepared, then spread with a special syrup. They are truly excellent!

Next, head to the Fitzwilliam Museum, a treasure trove of art and antiquities. Housing a diverse collection, from ancient artifacts to European masterpieces, the museum is a haven for art lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

For lunch, make a stop at The Eagle. In this historic pub located in the city center, Watson and Crick announced the discovery of DNA (there’s even a plaque!). But its history goes beyond that. The pub is also renowned for its graffiti-covered ceiling, located at the back in the so-called RAF bar. During World War II, The Eagle was a gathering place for RAF and American airmen who, in their downtime between airstrikes, socialized and drank here.

At some point during the war, military patrons started using candles and petrol lighters to burn their names, squadron numbers, and doodles onto the ceiling. The attraction remains as popular as ever, with tourists still coming to inspect the extensive array of markings covering almost every inch of the now-crowded ceiling.

Day 1: Afternoon – Punting on the River Cam

Embrace the leisurely pace of Cambridge life by indulging in a quintessential activity – punting on the River Cam. Rent a punt and navigate the serene waters while enjoying scenic views of the colleges, bridges, and lush greenery. You can either try punting yourself or hire a guide who can provide entertaining insights into the city’s history and traditions.

Weekend in Cambridge

After a relaxing punt, explore the charming streets around the river, filled with quaint shops, cafes, and bookstores.

Not to be missed is the Cambridge Satchel bag and leather shop. Their iconic satchel with the bicycle symbol can be customized and made truly unique.

There are 106 coffee shops in Cambridge. Those not to be missed?
Hot Numbers: a successful independent coffee roaster has two cafes in Cambridge, one in Gwydir Street in an old Brewery and Trumpington Street opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Espresso: a tiny cafe in Bolthop Lane situated amongst the Colleges with excellent coffee e delicious cake.

The Orator: part of The Cambridge Union, a charity owned members club which is home to the world’s oldest debating society.

Day 1: Evening – Culinary Delights

Cambridge boasts a diverse culinary scene, offering options for every palate. Did you know there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant in Cambridge? Book well in advance, but Restaurant 22 is an absolute must-try.

To feel like you’re in Paris, there’s Holly Minns’ and Dan Fancett’s bistro on Mill Road.

This friendly little 24-seat restaurant is a place simply to eat well and be looked after well. Fancett’s has recently been included in the AA Guide. It has also been recommended in other leading restaurant lists, including the Michelin Guide and Good Food Guide.

Weekend in Cambridge

After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along the Cam, enjoying the enchanting ambiance created by the illuminated bridges and college buildings.

Day 2: Morning – Botanical Gardens and Historical Treasures

Begin your second day with a visit to the University Botanic Garden. Established in 1762, the garden spans 40 acres and features a wide variety of plants from around the world. Take a leisurely walk through themed gardens, glasshouses, and vibrant flower beds.

Walk to the Market Square and have lunch with the street food from one of the stalls that characterize the iconic square.

Weekend in Cambridge

For the afternoon, delve into the historical heart of Cambridge by exploring Fitzwilliam College and the Round Church. The Round Church, also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is one of only four round churches in England and a unique piece of medieval architecture.

Day 2: Afternoon – Literature and Relaxation

No visit to Cambridge is complete without paying homage to its literary legacy. Head to the Wren Library at Trinity College, where you can view rare manuscripts and the first editions of timeless classics. Alternatively, explore the Cambridge University Press Bookshop for a delightful browse through a wide range of titles.

Weekend in Cambridge

if you love house museums, Kettle’s Yard is the gem of Cambridge. The house was the home of H.S (Jim) Ede and his wife Helen between 1957 and 1973. In the 1920s and 30s Jim had been a curator at the Tate Gallery in London. Kettle’s Yard is an open, spacious home formed by joining four ruinous cottages which Ede filled with his collection of modern art by the likes of Brâncuși, Gaudier-Brzeska and the Anglo-Welsh artist and poet David Jones.

Conclude your weekend with a tranquil visit to Jesus Green, a lovely park with expansive lawns and a serene lake.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, Cambridge’s diverse attractions ensure a memorable weekend escape.

Images (C) Austin Tiffany, Cajeo Zhang, Scudamore’s Punting, Rutherfords, Botanic Gardens.

Tell me more about a weekend in Cambridge.

Visit Cambridge has lots more ideas for longer stays

Get an online Love Cambridge Map from ISSUU.

Stay at the University Arms

Spend days strolling around Cambridge but for a great stay read my review of the iconic University Arms. Book a Terrace Suite with a view of the park.



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