Explore Cambridge Strolling & Punting

Explore Cambridge Strolling & Punting

Cambridge is a lively student town in eastern England, home to the prestigious University of Cambridge and definitely worth a visit. The vibe is unique, with a lot of history, traditions, pride, and great minds – plus spectacular architecture.

Strolls on College campuses and punting on the river Cam are the highlight of a trip to Cambridge

An Introduction to Cambridge

Many years ago, my family invited me to join them in an organised tour of Great Britain. Although organised tours are not my cup of tea, I accepted the invitation because I hardly ever miss an opportunity to travel and see new places. An afternoon in Cambridge was on the programme and it was one of the highlights of that week long tour. 

A proper visit to Cambridge

Years later, I organised a visit to Cambridge and invited my mother and my partner to join me. This time, I decided to spend the night and explore the city on foot, at our own pace; which is how I like to travel.

How much research and planning to do before a trip?

Personally, I like to do research but prefer not to plan too much before I travel. I’d rather have a general idea of the highlights and places to see, than a planned schedule. This leaves space to explore freely and unleash my inner child.

Do you unleash your inner child when you travel?

Cambridge city centre and Colleges around
Cambridge city centre and Colleges around – worth photographing

Getting there

We took a train from central London and arrived in about an hour. There are also buses that go from London to Cambridge. Driving is another option.

A Different Place to stay

Instead of looking for a hotel in the centre of town, I decided to have a different experience. We stayed in the dorm rooms of one of the 31 Colleges that belong to the University of Cambridge – Jesus College. This fun experience brought me back to my university days in the USA.

The campus was filled with history, traditions such as Dining at Formal Hall, beautiful architecture. The accommodation was modern, comfortable, clean and we even had a balcony with views of the city. Breakfast was served in an old-style room with high ceilings and long tables. I would stay there again. After breakfast, we walked around campus and took beautiful pictures.

Jesus College banquet room
Jesus College banquet room

Travelling and Learning

On our first day, after checking in to our rooms and with city maps on hand, we started our exploratory adventure.

We wanted to visit the University of Cambridge campus and facilities. Instead, we found a lot of Colleges with different names and their own campuses, but no sign of the University of Cambridge campus.

We were confused and decided to do some research. We sat in a pub and started googling. Soon, we learned about the traditional collegiate university system which only six Universities in the UK follow, such as Cambridge and Oxford. We then realised that we would never find the campus we were looking for. All the Colleges we were visiting and the dorm we were staying in were part of the University of Cambridge.

The University of Cambridge and its Colleges

The University of Cambridge has 31 Colleges, many of which can be seen from the river Cam. The Colleges can be visited, some for free and some for a fee. There are beautiful campuses, chapels, gardens, courtyards, libraries and bridges to explore. Some of the most popular and beautiful Colleges to visit are:

  • King’s College
  • St John’s College
  • Trinity College
  • Jesus College
  • Queens’ College

Best time to visit Cambridge

Summer is a great time to visit Cambridge because of its many outdoor festivals and activities. It’s a city to explore on foot therefore, months with mild weather are ideal for a visit. However, winters are not too cold so a wonderful experience is in store yearlong.

flowers-and-church

Punting on the River Cam

Punt = a small, shallow, flat-bottomed boat with square ends, propelled with a pole

I hadn’t been on a punt before. I didn’t even know what a punt was. Gondolas and other kinds of boats yes, but not punts.

Punting tours on the river Cam are very popular in Cambridge. The tour guides take you along a beautiful stretch of the river where you see the College Backs surrounded by spacious lawns, intimate gardens, some of Cambridge’s finest buildings and bridges; while they tell you about the city’s fascinating history. There are shared chauffeured tours, self-hire punts for the more adventurous, and private punting tours.

We decided to go on a shared chauffeured punting tour and we loved it. The trip along the College Backs is a lot of fun yet relaxing, beautiful and perfect for photography lovers. The following day we wanted to do it again but this time we decided to go on a private punting tour and we brought ‘aperitif’ with us. The experience was even better!

Punt bar
Punt bar on the river Cam – What a great idea!

Explore the City Centre

Cambridge is a small yet lively city with restaurant options for all tastes, open-air markets with great street food and good nightlife. The city centre is where you need to walk around and find the food and vibe that makes you happy. 

Cambridge City Centre
Cambridge city centre

Happy travels!

Please feel free to write any comment, suggestion or ask questions in the comment section below.

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