||Blending more than 800 years of history into a cosmopolitan city isn’t easy, but Cambridge seems to have found the perfect balance.
Those who want to savour the traditions of punting on the River Cam or take a cycle ride through the narrow bustling streets can still do so, but Cambridge is a university city and this, of course, brings with it an exciting mix of cultures and a vibrant nightlife.
Every year the city plays host to a number of festivals including the BBC-backed Cambridge Folk Festival. Having occupied a prominent position in the UK’s musical calendar for more than 40 years the Folk Festival plays host to an eclectic mix of the finest musicians in Europe.
Having achieved the status of “Europe’s finest small museum” no visit to Cambridge would be complete without a trip to The Fitzwilliam Museum [map], which is home to a number of important works of art from esteemed artisans such as Gainsborough and Hogarth.
Those in search of the quintessential “Cambridge experience” should make the university their first port of call. There is no main campus, rather a series of 31 colleges scattered around the city and each offering a different glimpse into the fascinating life of academics here through the ages. From Peterhouse, founded in 1284, to Robinson, which was built in 1977, you’ll be able to witness the changes in history as well as architecture as you cycle, or walk, from college to college.
If you’re keen to see what Cambridge has to offer when the lights go down, you will find an excellent mix of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres.
The arts thrive in Cambridge and there are plenty of places to see what creative locals have to offer. Traditional pantomimes and touring musicals direct from the West End are always in season at The Cambridge Corn Exchange [map], whilst places such as The Cambridge Arts Theatre [map] and The Cambridge Drama Centre [map] offer new and exciting plays dealing with unusual subjects.
The young, and young at heart, will be able to party until the small hours with a great selection of nightclubs and music venues. Whether you want to dine and then dance at Coco [map] or listen to the latest acoustic set from your favourite band at The Boat Race [map] live music venue, you’re sure to have a memorable evening on the town.
For a gentler kind of entertainment take a leisurely stroll to a leafy corner of Cambridge and The Art and Craft Market [map] where you’ll find a number of beautiful items at affordable prices.
If you’re keen to flex your credit card in a more serious fashion, head to Harvard Square for all the exclusive names and high street brands your heart could desire. Alternatively, stroll to downtown Cambridge, Central Square, where you’ll be able to browse dozens of independent stores offering unique gifts and services.
Cambridge is a cosmopolitan and unusual city that offers quiet lazy days by the river, as well as vibrant nights of drink and dancing. Use our guide to get the best out of your visit to this traditional, yet modern, slice of English life.
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