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Cambridge City Guide 🇬🇧

Hello Cambridge!

For such a small town, Cambridge has a lot to offer. The city is filled with ancient buildings, an abundance of green spaces, all surrounded by the charming River Cam, where you can even take a punt if you’re feeling brave. Cambridge University and its many institutions take centre stage here, but since you Townies (that’s what the students call us visitors) are here, it’s best you jump on a Voi and head to one of the many museums and galleries to learn a thing or two yourselves. Whether you’re looking to catch a slice of wildlife, savour a focaccia sarnie the size of The Incredible Hulk’s fist, or find somewhere vegan-friendly for dinner, we’ve got you covered.

 

 

This city guide was created in collaboration with Cambridge BID. Visit their Love Cambridge website for more local great tips on exploring the city

Stourbridge Common

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and ease your way into Cambridge life by taking a ride along the river Cam to Stourbridge Common. Grab a coffee from the excellent Kerb Kollective en route, and a sweet treat, of course. You need to be alert if you want to spot a kingfisher in the wild. Park up and enjoy the sights and smells of the Local Nature Reserve, which was once home to one of Europe’s most important fairs in the 1390s. Now, it’s a slice of wildlife outside the city, where cattle tends to the grass and kingfishers, frogs, newts, and water voles live in harmony.

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Kettles Yard

Part-gallery, part-home — Kettle’s yard, which is free to visit, has a generosity and intimacy about it. Between 1958 and 1973, Jim Ede, who had been curator of the Tate gallery in the 1920s and 30s, and his wife Helen lived here and amassed a phenomenal collection of paintings, objects, ceramics, and furniture. They invited students to an ‘open house’ during term time, so they could gape at the curious collections, including works from Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Joan Miró, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Bet the Ede’s contributed to a few missed essay deadlines.

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Corpus Clock

Just outside Corpus Christi college is what’s more colloquially known as ‘The Grasshopper Clock’. It’s a bit of a riddle this one, and we’re not even sure if the boffins at the university can make sense of it. Unveiled in 2008, it’s a clock of sorts, with a gold-plated face and the design is inspired by the Big Bang, considered by some, the beginning of time. There are no hands or numbers, but if you look closely you’ll see three LED rings which show the hour, minute and second. Try and visit on the hour, and listen out for the sound of chains jangling as they hit a wooden coffin. The message is simple: Time goes on, and we all die. An existential meltdown can really work up an appetite, can’t it?

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Pint Shop

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Gastropub, set in a charming building which dates back to 1830, and offers a fantastic selection of craft beers. Inspired by the original Beer Houses of the early 19th century, there’s a welcoming atmosphere with nods to industrial design, and knowledgeable staff who’ll help you select the perfect amber nectar. Scotch eggs the size of tennis balls with fudgy yolks are an absolute must, and there’s plenty on offer for veggies and vegans, too. We can’t help but ponder what former resident of the premises, E.M Forster would’ve thought of these modern takes on pub classics.

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Fitzwilliam Museum

No matter where you step, you’re surrounded by stunning gothic architecture, but there’s nothing like the safe haven of a museum when you’re lacking inspiration, or if it’s raining. Full of art and antiquities, you can find works from a handful of art royalty like Monet, Titian and Rembrandt, but it’s perhaps the Applied Arts department that’ll get your imaginative juices flowing with more than 30,000 pieces from Europe, the Middle East, India, and the Far East. Seek out the Japanese sword furniture and some rare Korean ceramics.

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Scott Polar Research Institute

Part of Cambridge University and established in 1920, the Polar Research Institute holds the World’s premier polar library. Free to visit, it was originally a meeting place for polar travellers and explorers. There are two audio tours on offer too, where a bunch of savvy curators, scientists and staff delve deeper into the institute’s most significant objects of polar exploration. Scott, Shackleton and Franklin are names you might’ve heard of, but here you’ll learn about the details from their epic adventures. Plus, the institute’s recent research around the temperature of ice-sheets makes a visit feel all the more relevant.

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Aromi

Did you know tiramisu means pick-me-up in an old Italian dialect? And that’s exactly what everyone needs during a busy day out with Voi. While we can’t promise that the creamy, coffee-based dessert will be on the menu, we can be certain that artisan gelato, and other Sicilian baked goods will be. Choose between arancini, a variety of fresh focaccia sandwiches, or indulge with a couple of Cannolicchi (a small cannoli) to tide you over until dinner-time. The family-run eatery was conceived in Sicily, so is every bit Italian as you might imagine. Visit at quieter times as it’s only small and gets very busy.

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Newnham College

While scooting about the city, you might’ve noticed that Cambridge is all about the university, whose alumni include Sir David Attenborough, Alan Turing and Tilda Swinton. You’ve probably already whizzed past a number of the colleges, but you might not have seen Newnham College, for it’s a little further out the city centre. Voi to the rescue! Celebrated for its beautiful gardens, this college was founded in 1871 and is Cambridge’s second women’s college where women’s education was, and still is, paramount. It’s known for its luscious red brick architecture designed by Basil Champneys, and is rumoured to have the second-longest continuous indoor corridor in Europe, so the students wouldn’t have to step outside in the rain. Check the visiting hours before making the journey.

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Cambridge University Botanic Garden

William Wordsworth, yet another Cambridge uni alumni, once said ‘let nature be your teacher’ and who are we to argue with that? That’s why you shouldn’t miss visiting the famous Botanic Garden, home to 16 acres of wild plants, woodlands, as well as glasshouses containing around 3,000 plant species, including carnivorous plants and tropical rainforests. It is believed that Isaac Newton’s Apple tree is here too, you know, the one which led him to discover gravity. Be sure to book a ticket and make plenty of time, in case you too have an Isaac Newton moment.

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The Tiffin Truck

This celebrated food joint is named after Indian tiffin boxes, a staple of Indian life, where bicycles piled high with stainless steel tiered lunch boxes are delivered to workers in Mumbai. As well as offering takeaway lunches, it’s worth stopping and soaking in the convivial atmosphere and filling up on delicate crispy dosas, paneer masala, dhals, parathas, plus a selection of fish and meat mains. Vegans will be spoilt for choice too, and there’s a delightful selection of fresh juices, Indian craft beers and spiced cocktails.

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