Few cities can take the breath away quite like Cambridge. It’s not just its tightly packed core of exquisite architecture, or even the mind-boggling mass of brain power that has passed through its world-famous university, but also it’s the sensation of drowning in history, tradition and quirky ritual that only seems to deepen the more you discover. But so too there is plentiful opportunity to come up for air, relaxing in the manicured college gardens, punting along the beautiful river ‘backs’ and roaming the lush water meadows that run out of the city.
And of course Cambridge is no mere repository of history and charm, it is very much a living city; its narrow streets are alive with the click and whirr of cyclists. The river is clogged with red-faced rowers, drifting punts and on occasion floundering freshmen. College porters still potter around in bowler hats, while gowned students wine and dine in cavernous medieval halls. Historic pubs echo with the same equal mix of intellectual banter and rowdy merrymaking that they have for centuries past. And a new generation of designer boutiques, coffee houses and slick nightlife venues is finding its niche in among the intriguing passageways and medieval doorways of the old town.
While you’ll find all these qualities and more in ‘the other place’ (as rival Oxford is referred to here), Cambridge is the more concentrated of England’s two great university cities and in our humble opinion, far the prettier.