The university city of Cambridge is steeped in the most amazing history. With its beautiful University colleges, museums, art galleries and bridges across the River Cam there’s a feast of glorious architecture for the eyes around every corner.
Many of the University colleges, such as Trinity, St John’s and King’s, offer tours with some of the buildings dating back to the 15th century. You can stroll happily around the public areas and grounds of many of these colleges if an organised tour is too restrictive for your plans.
King’s College Chapel is a must-see and is essentially Cambridge’s cathedral. As beautiful inside as it is out you can take an official tour and even take photographs inside of the intricate high ceilings and stained glass windows.
The most iconic thing you can do in Cambridge, however, is go punting on the River Cam. You can pay for a boat tour or be brave and hire one to give it a try yourself. It’s one of the best ways to experience the bridges on the river including the stunning gothic Bridge of Sighs. Named after its Venetian cousin, the bridge can be crossed by foot if you have paid to enter St John’s College.
Or if that all seems like too much effort, sit by the banks and watch the punts gently glide up and down the river on a sunny afternoon. The river runs along the part of Cambridge known as The Backs, as it flows at the back of all the colleges. This is a little haven of peace in a bustling city, with ducks and swans swimming on the Cam, and can be walked rather than punted if you prefer.
Wander back into the main city centre for a meander around the market square with its fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, arts and crafts, gifts and leather goods. The shopping in Cambridge is a mix of high street brands, high-end boutiques, independent shops, and department stores with some in the winding back streets and many in the recently purpose-built shopping centre Grand Arcade.
In a city dominated by students and tourists, eating out is an eclectic mix from a cheap but authentic steaming bowl of Thai noodles from a market vendor to elegant, fine dining and everything in between, including all the usual high street food chains.
Wilderness Reserve 67 miles
Norwich is packed with things to do for all ages and tastes. You could spend the day shopping with two large shopping centres, department stores and independent boutiques to tempt you. Chapelfield is the latest shopping centre to open in the city with some high-end high street names nestled in amongst the more familiar shops. The permanent undercover market situated near the impressive town hall clock is a mixture of sounds, smells and tastes of local Norfolk fare and well worth a visit. Eating out is no problem in Norwich with a wide range of chains and independent restaurants and pubs to choose from.
If you prefer history to shopping then Norwich Castle is a day out in itself. The Norman keep is still standing proud on top of the hill and as well as housing an insight into local history, the Castle is now a fine art gallery and natural history museum.
Or visit the Cathedral Quarter with its quaint cobbled streets, cafes, galleries and shops in the oldest part of the city known as Tombland. In the heart of all this is the Cathedral itself, which is free to enter, although donations are welcome and you can take a guided tour to learn more about this fine example of a Norman Anglican structure.
Travel east of Norwich towards the coast and spend a day messing about on the river. The Norfolk Broads were created as a result of peat digging in the area in the 14th century, which created the now 200km of rivers and lakes without locks that can be easily navigated by small boats and barges. You can hire a boat yourself, take an organised river cruise, spend the day fishing or just sit back and relax at a riverside hostelry spotting the birds and wildlife that inhabit the area.
Venture further north of Norwich and you’ll discover the beautiful North Norfolk coast with it’s stunning miles of sandy beaches at Holkham and Wells-Next-the-Sea, trips to see the seals off Blakeney Point and the charming village of Burnham Market with it’s boutiques, antique and home furnishing shops. North Norfolk also has three fine examples of classic English stately homes. Houghton Hall is as beautiful inside as it is outside with its magnificent staterooms and glorious gardens, where white fallow deer roam in the 450 acre estate.
Holkham Hall is still home to the 8th Earl of Leicester and his family and houses a fine collection of landscape paintings and one of the most complete collections of roman statues in any country house in England. The grounds of Holkham Hall are a sheer delight with boating, canoeing and kayaking on the impressive lake and the famous Holkham deer, bred for venison, strolling in the parkland.
Sandringham House is one of the monarch’s country homes and traditionally where the Royal Family spend Christmas every year. There’s the house itself, a museum and the gardens and grounds to explore as well as the 16th century St Mary Magdalene Church, where the Royal Family worship when in residency.
Norwich from Wilderness Reserve 35 miles
Houghton Hall from Wilderness Reserve 75 miles
Holkham Hall from Wilderness Reserve 76 miles
Sandringham Estate from Wilderness Reserve 81 miles
The Broads Centre from Wilderness Reserve 44 miles
Wroxham Boat Hire from Wilderness Reserve 44 miles