Hermitopia’s Simple City Guide to CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM
Our favourite spot to sit back and soak in the day is along the river on Jesus Green. It’s close enough to the city centre that your takeaway will still be hot when you get there, but it’s not a main thoroughfare so you’re guaranteed to find your own quiet spot to sit and enjoy the passing swans.
Image: 02. Cycle of Songs Choir rehearsal at Cambridge Junction (3) by Historyworks under CC BY 2.0 (resized)
Cambridge is the cycling capital of the UK – being a beautiful city that’s also flat and has a high number of broke students probably helped it to get that title! Make the most of the many (flat) walking and cycle tracks around the city and surrounding areas. If you want to cover the essentials on foot, on Google Maps get walking directions to these places: Cambridge University Botanic Gardens > Parker’s Piece, Cambridge > Market St, Cambridge > The Round Church > King’s College > Cambridge University Library > The Orchard Tea Gardens. That’s 1.5hr of walking, but you finish in a famous tea house so it’s totally worth it.
Big brand shopping:
Cambridge is not a large city, so it’s easy to walk between the three main shopping areas: Grand Arcade/Lion Yard (side by side), The Beehive Centre/Cambridge Retail Park (also side by side) and The Grafton Centre.
Little kooky shopping:
The city is absolutely overflowing with charity shops, full of amazing finds. The most compact street for op shopping is Burleigh St, but nearly every retail street has a thrift shop of one kind or another.
Okay, it may be famous as a tea house, but The Orchard Tea Gardens in Grantchester is the most relaxing way to enjoy a hot beverage – and a great big scone. Ideally, it’s best to sit outside if weather permits, but inside also has its charm. On a sunny day, follow the path down to the river and roam around the commons. If you’re sticking purely to the city centre, try The Green Coffee Co, right next to the tourist information centre. Good coffee and a good sized cup.
Affordable decent food:
A great benefit of being an affluent city full of penniless students is that when it comes to food there literally is something for everyone. If it’s not too crowded, have your culinary senses enlightened at The Rainbow Café, a legendary vegetarian café with a fascinating menu (Jamaican Roti Cups, anyone?) and a hippie vibe. Hong Kong Fusion has two restaurants guaranteed to stuff you with good noodle dishes and is available as takeaway.
The River Cam is possibly the smallest water body I have ever encountered to be labelled as a “river”, but it is ideal for punting. You can hire one and punt yourself, which requires some balance and a complete willingness to laugh at yourself if you get stuck in the reeds or drop your pole, otherwise you can do a tour. The bonus with the tour is that the guide also tells you about the different university colleges and some companies offer a combined punt/walking tour around town. There are several punting companies in town, but the oldest (and the only one I’ve used) is Scudamore’s.