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Top 15 reasons to visit Cambridgeshire

By Tracey Lattimore

There are so many reasons to visit Cambridgeshire, but here are our top 15.

It’s fun to mooch around the colleges

Cambridge’s colleges are fascinating places to spend time in. Many are free to visit, and you can often wander around the grounds and pop your head into the dining hall or chapel. They all have beautiful gardens as well as stunning lists of famous alumni, the newest of whom is Prince William, who took a course in agriculture in 2014 at St John’s.

Messing about on the river

The River Cam is central to the city – it runs right through it and past many of the major colleges as it winds its way out. Take a punt tour or do it yourself if you’re brave enough. Or pack a picnic and relax in one of the parks by the water’s edge, watching the rowers glide by and other punting tourists getting wet.

Punting, Cambridge

Enjoy the novelty of punting whilst in Cambridge

You can have a pint at a famous pub

Cambridge is home to many fine pubs, but The Eagle on Bene’t Street is famed not only for being the place where Crick and Watson announced their discovery of the structure of DNA, but it’s also where World War II airmen used to scrawl their names and messages on the ceiling using cigarette lighters before flying off on their next missions.

You’ll taste the best outdoor cuppa

There’s nothing like having a cup of tea outside, and there’s also nothing so good as having it in a deckchair in an apple orchard. Head on down to Grantchester via the beautiful riverside path from Newnham, passing punters along the river and cattle grazing freely, before sinking down into a green deckchair at The Orchard Tea Garden. You deserve it.

Cycling in the city is simple

Cambridge is a city of cyclists. Bike paths abound and, even when you’re pootling along, you’ll be joined by tens of others. Catch the breeze by freewheeling down Castle Hill, and feel the freedom of shopping without needing to watch your parking ticket by cycling into the city centre.

Cycling cambridge

Feel like a local, cycling through the cobbled streets

The Fens are unique

Cambridge’s beautiful cities, towns and villages are surrounded by the Fens and its unique wetland landscape, where wildlife abounds. Wicken Fen nature reserve, between Cambridge and Ely, is a haven for birds, butterflies and dragonflies, with acres of flowering meadows and reedbeds. Its raised boardwalk is perfect for accessing this wild landscape, while there are cycle paths nearby for a longer ride.

It’s full of bookshops and curiosities

As well as all the usual chain stores, Cambridge has more than its fair share of interesting bookshops and curiosities. Try St Edward’s Passage, where you’ll find The Haunted Bookshop and heaps of historical tomes, collectibles and children’s books, as well as G David, a few doors up.

It’s easy to get around

As a city, Cambridge is pretty small, even though it’s packed with fabulous things to see and do. Walking across the centre takes less than half an hour, meaning you’ve more time to see the things that interest you and less time spent getting blisters.

The architecture is mesmerising

Take a stroll into the city from Magdalene Bridge, where you’ll find quirky buildings – many of which look like they’re leaning into the road – that date from the 1500s, including Cambridge’s oldest pub (The Pickerel, 1608). Turn right down St John’s Street, just as you pass the Round Church, and you’ll find a lane of beautiful college buildings leading to the city’s shopping streets.

Trinity College Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

There’s always a festival

Whatever the season, there seems to be a festival going on. Whether you’re into history (Feb-March); science (March); literature (April/Nov); food (Eat Cambridge (May); hippy things (Strawberry Fair, June), live entertainment (Big Weekend, July); comedy (July); Shakespeare (July-Aug); folk music (Aug) or film (Sept), there’s something here for you.

It’s so leafy

Whatever the season, Cambridge seems to flourish. Early spring brings vivid green trees in new leaf and beautiful bulbs along The Backs; summer gives us bountiful blooms in the University Botanic Garden and college gardens; autumn offers golden and bronze leaf displays; while winter showcases the famous Winter Garden at the Botanic Garden. And there are so many parks you’ll be spoiled for choice.

It’s steeped in history

From Oliver Cromwell and Henry VIII to Isaac Newton and Crick and Watson, there’s something interesting to see in every city and town in the region. Take a walking tour to discover the hidden secrets of the main towns, or hire a guide to talk you through the main events.

Oliver Cromwell's House

Visit Oliver Cromwell’s House

It’s easy to cruise the waterways

Narrowboats and day launchers can be hired in Ely and March, where you can explore the fenland waterways and cruise the River Ouse, Cam or Nene at your leisure. Choose from a day trip or go for a week-long tour – maps and bedding are provided, so you can moor up whenever and wherever you like!

You can tour the region by bike

With such a flat – yet beautiful – terrain, Cambridgeshire is the perfect place for a cycling tour. Maps can be downloaded from the Cambridgeshire County Council website, with routes covering Cambridge and surrounding villages; Ely; Huntingdon; St Neots; Wisbech; the Guided Busway from Cambridge to St Ives; and Cambridge’s historic World War One sights.

The climate is good

Cambridgeshire enjoys a decent climate, with below average rainfall for the UK thanks to its low altitude and high ground to the west. Eastern England is also one of the most sheltered parts of the UK in terms of wind, and Cambridgeshire tends to receive higher temperatures during the summer months thanks to its low-lying, inland position.

Read more about Cambridgeshire

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Image credits: ©Howard Rice/Cambridge University Botanic Gardens; Oliver Cromwell's House;

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