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24 Hours in Cambridge

12 March 2018 | Sian Brett

It’s a city known worldwide for its historic and prestigious university, but what else does Cambridge has to offer? Besides the beautiful college buildings there’s a wealth of history, eateries, and pubs to explore.

Morning
Kickstart your day in Cambridge with some culture, and stop by Duxford Air Museum. Home to WWII crafts including The Spitfire, Lancaster, Tigermoth and The Vulcan bomber, you can get up close and personal with these bits of aviation history. Originally built for war, Duxford also has accounts from the pilots who worked and lived there over the years, so you can discover the stories of the people who live there. There’s also a range of cafes offering everything from American style meals to freshly baked cake, for whatever you might fancy for a mid-morning snack!


Image Credit: Duxford Air Museum

Midday
When those lunchtime hunger pangs begin, be sure to make your way over to The Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester. In 1897 a group of students asked the owner of the Orchard House if they could have their tea under the trees rather than on the lawn, and began a tradition that is still going to this day. Many famous Cambridge students have had their tea here, from Stephen Hawking to Virginia Woolf, so you’ll certainly be in good company.
If you’re still hungry after all that tea, and are lucky enough to be visiting Cambridge on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday afternoon, foodPark, Cambridge’s first and only street food market will be popping up between 12 and 2. You have to check the website for their exact location on any given day, but the selection of cuisines is second to none.

Afternoon
A trip to Cambridge isn’t complete until you’ve punted on the River Cam. There are loads of companies that will take you on guided tours, or you can just hire a boat yourself, and see how far you get. Seeing as you’re already on your punt, be sure to sail by The Backs, AKA where the college backs onto the river, and no doubt you will see students lazing on the greenery as well as the beautiful back of the colleges stretching out above the river.


Image Credit: Amy Gehrett via Flickr

Once you’ve seen The Backs, you should be sure to check out the fronts of the colleges too. The colleges are open to the public on certain days (so be sure to double check) and you can also visit the University Museum to discover the roots of the customs and terminologies which are commonplace on campus today. 
Another college highlight is the Bridge of Sighs, named after similar covered bridge in Venice, and linking the New Court and Third Court of St. Johns College together. It’s meant to have been Queen Victoria’s favourite part of the city, so it comes highly recommended.  

Evening
All that punting is thirsty work, and there’s nowhere better to stop for a drink than the Free Press Pub. 120-years-old and originally home to a printing press, the walls inside are decorated with newspaper cuttings. It’s got a very snug and cosy feel, with roaring fires in the winter to welcome you in. To keep up the tour of classic Cambridge pubs you should also be sure to swing by Pint Shop and The Eagle, where you can check out the graffiti from local pilots which covers the ceiling and walls in the RAF bar at the back. The Eagle is also famous for being the pub where James Watson and Francis Crick presented their discovery of the double helix DNA structure, so you can tick that off your blue plaque list too.


Image Credit: Pint Shop via Facebook

To put a cultured end to your day in Cambridge, check out what’s on at Cambridge Arts Theatre, which is home to a range of touring productions as well as home grown performances.
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