The town originated during the Roman occupation, when a Roman encampment was built on a small hill beside the River Cam (originally called the River Granta). By the 5th century it had become a Saxon market town, in the 9th century it was a Danish army base and during the 11th a Norman military stronghold. It was not until the 13th century that the first students appeared.
The university and its many colleges now form the very heart of Cambridge, with its grand educational institutions, libraries, historic churches and museums covering much of the city centre. Even the commercial enterprises, which have expanded the outer city into a modern science-based industrial centre, owe their existence to the university; with trades such as instrument-making and electronics among its largest employers. If you are planning a sight seeing tour around the old city it would be wise to plan in advance, as there is much of interest to see.
Cambridge has numerous good quality restaurants, pubs and cafes to enjoy. There is a vibrant night life, with live music venues such as the Cambridge Corn Exchange hosting top artists, plus many smaller cafes and pubs like CB2, Man on the Moon, and The Locomotive featuring local up-and-coming talent. The Junction theatre provides a diverse range of live music, comedy, dance, theatre and cultural performances, with the West Road Concert Hall also hosting a wide variety of classical and more traditional music.
The town also has a great deal to offer both the casual and serious shopper, with five shopping centres and a large open market square, from which radiates many little side streets and alleyways full of unique and unusual shops.
Cambridge centre is notoriously short of places to stay so book early, once the colleges have closed for the summer you can stay in the halls of residence at reasonable prices. (college site and accommodation www.cam.ac.uk) There are plenty of bed and breakfast accommodation in the villages around Cambridge at more reasonable rates than in Cambridge itself.
Peas Hill, Cambridge, CB2 3AD - Tel: 0871 226 8006
Shopping, sight seeing, punting along the river Cam, bike hire, bus tours, walking tours, museums and colleges.
Cycle tours are now becoming very popular in Cambridge, which is an ideal way to explore this fascinating and historic city. The benefit of a cycle tour is that you can take in more of the sights and cover a much wider area than a walking tour. Plus it's a lot more fun, and provides you with an insight in to the city's famous cycling heritage.
The tours operate from April to October, and cover many of the city's famous sights and university colleges, plus some of the surrounding villages and countryside. For details of routes, times and prices visit the Cambridge Bike Tours website.
Over 40 acres of beautiful gardens and glasshouses, just south of the city centre.
Official tours of the city and the University Colleges are provided by Cambridge City Council. You can also guide yourself around with a city centre map or even a podcast tour. Chauffeured or self guided punting tours along the College 'Backs' is an ideal and relaxing way to enjoy the river and see much of University grounds. Cycling is also a great way of getting around and bike hire is widely available throughout the city. Details of maps, official tours and cycle hire is available from the Tourist Information Centre.
Many of the university colleges and libraries are open to the public during "Open Cambridge" weekend, usually held in early September. For details visit the Cambridge University web site.
The Art Museum of Cambridge University. One of the world's greatest museums, founded in 1816 by Viscount Fitzwilliam. Exhibits include Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, illuminated manuscripts, ceramics, coins, arms and armour. There is also an outstanding collection of paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Titian, Constable and Turner.
A series of rooms representing the history of the everyday life of Cambridgeshire over the last 600 years. Each room is devoted to a theme such as domestic life, trades and occupations, children's toys and rural life.
Exhibits peculiar to the Fenland crafts include equipment for catching eels, and overshoes for both men and horses to prevent them sinking into the mud.
Founded as a memorial to Captain Scott and his companions, who perished at the South Pole in 1912. Exhibits include: letters, diaries and photographs from their journey, together with records and souvenirs of other polar expeditions.
Anglesey Abbey | Cambridge University | Clare Cottage | Ely Cathedral | The Fens | The Gog Magog Hills | Kimbolton Castle | King's College Chapel | Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse | Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre | Wandlebury Ring | Wimpole Hall