We had planned to visit Cambridge at the end of April for my husband’s graduation but it has been postponed because of the Coronavirus outbreak. I am sad because I was looking forward to catching up with friends and to seeing Cambridge in full bloom. Thankfully I can show you a side of Cambridge on my blog that I have been wanting to share with you for a while. Whilst there aren’t any crowds in Cambridge right now due to the lockdown, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future! I am certain that we will be able to travel and explore new places soon. In the meantime, I’m hoping that my photos and information will bring you a bit of joy and something to look forward to during this crisis.
I’m not a big fan of crowds and I try to avoid them whenever I can. But Cambridge is normally a bustling city with thousands of visitors every year, so it is tricky to find the quiet spots. However, I have a few top tips and recommendations of places to visit if you would like to enjoy Cambridge without the crowds.
1. Avoid visiting Cambridge in July and August
The summer months are peak visiting times in Cambridge. Tourists and language students from all over the world swarm the city centre. A lot of the colleges are closed too, so if you are keen to see them, I would recommend visiting Cambridge in early spring or autumn (April and September are my favourite months). If you still intend on visiting Cambridge in the summer, here is a blog post I wrote a few years back about what to do in Cambridge during the summer months.
2. Walk off the tourist track
King’s College Chapel is stunning for sure but the famous colleges are popular tourist attractions and they also request an admission fee. If you are looking to explore the more quaint and smaller colleges, take a look at this blog post about my five favourite colleges in Cambridge. I can also recommend climbing the tower of Great St Mary’s Church, where you have a wonderful view across the market square and some of the colleges.
3. Explore the surrounding area by bike
Cambridgeshire is a flat geographical area and most locals get around by bike. You could hire a bike and cycle along the river to Grantchester and enjoy a cup of tea at The Orchard or visit the nearby National Trust property Anglesey Abbey.
4. Take a break in one of the public green spaces
Cambridge has so many large public green spaces, for example Parker’s Piece, Jesus Green or Christ’s Pieces. Grab a meal to go and enjoy the sunshine on the grass! My favourite park is the Botanic Garden. You have to pay an admission fee but it is definitely worth it. It can get busy here at times but because it is such a large space you will always find a peaceful spot away from the crowds.
5. Enjoy an evening punting tour
There can be proper ‘traffic jams’ on the river due to the amount of punts but I always had the impression that in the early evening hours things calm down. So you could look into booking a punting tour between 6pm and 8pm if it is still light outside at that time. Instead of punting down the Backs you could also punt to Grantchester, a picturesque village a couple of miles south of Cambridge.
6. Get up early
I guess photographers have heard this advice often! If you get up early you can take advantage of the soft morning light and the absence of people in your photographs. Enjoy a cup of coffee afterwards in one of the independent coffee shops in Cambridge. My favourite ones are Stir, The Locker and Hot Numbers. This is not sponsored, I just genuinely like their coffee and food.
Have you ever been to Cambridge? What’s your favourite thing to do to avoid the crowds?