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Of all the words that you could use to describe the ancient city of Cambridge, England, the most appropriate would probably have to be one of the smallest: odd (in a good way!). Decidedly Hogwarts-eque in its appearance, it's a bubble in which not much changed over the years - sure, there are a few modern chains here and there, but for somewhere that prides itself on being at the forefront of innovation and discovery, it's all quite archaic. In the Market Square, traders still ply their wares, just as they have done since the middle ages, while over at the university, wearing a gown to dinner is still a requirement. Delightfully charming as it may be, no one - not even Brits - knows exactly what to make of Cambridge.

Cambridge University

If there's one thing that Cambridge is most famous for, it's the world-leading university that it lends its name to. Rated as one of the top institutions globally, it has produced a list of notable alumni too long to possibly recount here, including 15 UK Prime Ministers and nine monarchs, as well as countless figures from the worlds of politics, economics, science and the arts. Among the famous names are Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, David Attenborough and Zadie Smith. Not bad, eh? 

Initially founded in 1209 after a fall out between scholars at its rival university, Oxford, the University of Cambridge now encompasses 31 colleges, each with their own unique character. Many of Cambridge's most iconic and picturesque buildings are actually these colleges, the most famous being the King's College Chapel or the New Court of Corpus Christi College. In fact, many of the city's popular attractions are also owned by the university, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, which holds a fascinating collection of art and antiquities.


While this city is undeniably beautiful to walk around, one of the best ways to take in the majestic medieval architecture is from the comfort of a traditional Cambridge punt. These quirky boats can either be hired with or without a tour guide, but if you're going without then there are a few things to remember: stand on the back, push your float (the stick used to push you along) into the riverbed, and keep to the right. If your stick does get stuck then let it go and paddle back to it - it will float (and to be fair you might too, but much less gracefully). Pack a picnic, take a bottle of bubbly and enjoy your afternoon on the water.

Unusual Attractions

While the city may be famous for its university and architecture, there are a range of other sites that are worthy of a visit:

  • Cambridge American Cemetery - It's easy to associate war graves with the countryside of France or Belgium, but this cemetery is dedicated US service personnel who were killed during the Second World War. With close to 4000 burials, and a further 5217 listed on the Wall of the Missing, it's a humbling and interesting experience. Guided tours, which provide further information about some of the soldiers, are also available.
  • The Cambridge Gin Lab - If you have any kind of affinity for gin, then this is the place to be. Owned and operated by the Cambridge Distillery, the Gin Lab allows you to try some tasty samples; if you book onto their 'classroom' experience, you'll get to blend your own gins, learn how to taste like a pro and get the lowdown on gin production through the ages. Pre-booking is necessary for the classroom package, so head over to their website to bag your place.

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