England isn’t known for its good weather; however, summers tend to offer a different flavor for the damp country. While rain and grey clouds are still prevalent throughout the summer, there is an abundance of sunny days that makes the English countryside a heavenly getaway for those looking to vacation in a place other than a tropical beach. Cambridge is filled green pristine fields and has a homely small urban city which houses the myriad of colleges of its prestigious university. Furthermore, the great thing about Cambridge is that it is close to London, the capital city and the most popular tourist site in the UK. As such, if you’re ever in London, you can easily plan a day trip to Cambridge as it is only a short train ride away from the capital city.
Walking through Cambridge is walking through scholarly history, as each one of its colleges has housed some of the most brilliant minds of mathematics, science, and philosophy. For instance, Trinity College prides itself as being Isaac Newton’s place of residence and study. Just outside the college, a descendant of Newton’s famous apple tree is planted for all guests to see and photograph. William Pitt the Younger, the youngest person to ever become Prime Minister of Britain, studied and lived in Pembroke College and a statue of the former leader can be found outside the Pembroke library.
Some colleges are vast and breathtaking, such as King’s College, while others are more moderate such as St. Catherine’s. Regardless, each and every one of these colleges has a different personality to it and each one has a quirky story behind it, one such amusing tale is the one of the fierce rivalry between St. John’s and Trinity which goes back to when King Henry VIII, Trinity’s founder, executed Saint John Fischer, the founder of St. John. Most of these colleges are open to guests and tourists; however, they will close their gates by 3-4 PM and will only allow students and staff inside by that point. If you have the chance, go see the evening song at the King’s College Chapel as the King’s Choir is one of the most pleasing church choirs to listen to.
“Newton’s apple tree” outside of Trinity College. (Ali El Shamy)
It should come as no surprise that an ancient city like Cambridge would have many museums. The Fitzwilliam Museum near Pembroke College is home to many ancient antiquities from many ancient civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Rome. While the museum isn’t as vast as the British Museum, its small size makes it much easier to see all the artifacts in one setting. For science lovers, there is the University Museum of Zoology which has a lot of zoological material. Both those museums are free to enter, which would make them a perfect place to take your kids.
Ancient Egyptian artifact at the Fitzwilliam Museum. (Getty)
Like Oxford, Cambridge is famous for its punting. This activity is especially perfect when it's sunny outside, as it gives you the chance to see the city while traversing the River Cam. There are punters who can do all the work for you, but adventurous groups that enjoy doing new things can rent a punt and take turns punting. It should be noted, however, that those with bad balances and/or can’t swim probably shouldn’t try the activity themselves.
The River Cam. (Ali El Shamy)
THE CITY CENTER: MODERNITY AMIDST ANTIQUITY
Situated near King’s College is the city center where you’ll find most of the modern shops you’d find in London. While it might be tempting to go to these shops, I’d say save your shopping sprees for a more cosmopolitan city and enjoy the unique sites Cambridge has to offer instead. However, I do recommend the many ice cream shops in the city as they offer the perfect treat for those warm summer days.
All in all, summer in Cambridge presents new experiences that can be enjoyed during long vacations or a short day trip, just be sure that the weather is pleasant before going.