Some suggestions of things to do while in Cambridge
Travel to Cambridge
In brief, international travellers should aim for London (Stansted). Cambridge station is just 1 mile from the hotel and Stansted Airport is just 28 miles. London is 63 miles from the hotel
Travel details from the different airports can be found on the attached website (http://www.tourinaday.com/cambridge/bus-train-car-plane.html)
For local attractions in Cambridge see Tourist Information at VisitCambridge.org
Cakes and ale
Look down on King's and other colleges from the tower of Great St Mary's Church (www.gsm.cam.ac.uk) – 10am starters get the bonus of an empty spiral staircase.
The Eagle pub (8 Benet Street; 01223 505020) was favoured by the discoverers of DNA. Nourish your brain with its fish and chips, and sup fine ale in memory of Second World War aircrew, whose ghostly graffiti embellish one ceiling.
Have coffee in the Cambridge Union Society bar (www.cus.org). Debate whether to walk across the meadows to Grantchester or go by river. Perhaps hire a rowing boat from Scudamore's (359750; www.scudamores.com), find a suitable landing point and stroll to The Orchard Tea Garden (45-47 Mill Way; 551125; www.orchard-grantchester.com). Take cream teas beneath its apple trees or in the charming wooden Pavilion.
Shop in classy Grand Arcade, also home to the splendid Cambridge Central Library, where you can check emails as a temporary member. Academic hothouse? Admire the orchids and other plants in the University Botanic Garden (1 Brookside; 336265; www.botanic.cam.ac.uk).
Bikes and buses
On your bike
To make the most of a visit to Cambridge, hire a bicycle – there are plenty of places you can do so, including at the railway station, but a Day Rider bus ticket is only £3.40 and well worth it. The free City Circle bus circulates every 15 minutes, connecting the main historical and shopping areas, giving in effect a mini tour. The market is wonderful, highlights being Dixie's, where savvy students buy bargain designer May Ball finery, and Stevens of Bolton, for magnificent flowers and plants.
At the nearby Visitor Centre, pick up the University's What's On for details of lectures and exhibitions open to visitors. Several colleges allow free entry, including Christ's College and Peterhouse. Then pick up a picnic from the Market Square and choose a bottle of wine from Cambridge Wines. Cycle to the Fitzwilliam Museum to view Spencer, Epstein, Monet, Matisse and Bonnard.
In late afternoon, catch a bus and stop off at the American Cemetery at Madingley (01954 210350; www.madingleyamericancemetery.info). On a clear day one can admire Ely Cathedral in the far distance. A refreshing tea in Auntie's Tea Shop (1 St Mary's Passage; 01223 315641; www.auntiesteashop.co.uk) will not be cheap but is nicely olde worlde. The Fitzwilliam Museum is a short walk from the centre and is full of artistic treasures. Charity shop paradise lies down Burleigh Road and the market in the centre is quite close to the modern Lion Yard, which has a John Lewis. At 5.30pm, Evensong at King's College Chapel is recommended as a wonderful way to hear angelic voices and catch a glimpse of some beautiful architecture.
Even a short stay in Cambridge can be quite an education. See a clock that is only accurate every five minutes. Perhaps because it has neither hands nor numbers. You can find the Corpus Clock at Corpus Christi College, but beware the Chronophage, a scary time-eater insect.
Follow in the footsteps of Oliver Cromwell to Sidney Sussex College, where he once studied. Head for a plaque which states that Cromwell's head is to be found somewhere nearby.
For a weekend, start with Castle Mound at sunset for the romantic view. Try the Chop House (1 King's Parade; 359506; www.thecambridgechophouse.co.uk) for dinner, and breakfast next day at the Copper Kettle (4 King's Parade; 365068) opposite King's College for the best fry-up in town. Then visit King's, with its beautiful chapel, and Trinity, whose Great Court featured in Chariots of Fire. The tower of St Mary's provides a fabulous view, then off to Newton's Mathematical bridge and into Queens with its gorgeous Tudor buildings.
The best view of the Cam is from the Trinity Hall bridge, where you can watch punters beneath Clare Bridge, with the King's and St John's "Wedding cake building" behind. To try your own hand at punting, hire from beside the Anchor opposite Queens, or just buy a pint and watch others struggle.
Other special places include Clare College's lovely Fellows' Garden and Patisserie Valerie or Fitzbillies for tea and the best Chelsea buns.
Art and science
Join one of the walking tours that start at the tourist bureau. It is incredible to stand outside the Cavendish Laboratory where nuclear science started and the potential of DNA was realised. Discover Queens and its fantastic array of buildings, and then King's College. You may not be as lucky as we were and hear young men auditioning for the choir but you can at least feast your eyes on Rubens' Adoration of the Magi (1641).
Think beyond colleges and punting, and take a short walk from the city centre to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Lensfield Road (336540; www.spri.cam.ac.uk). Its Polar Museum houses a wonderful collection of artwork, photographs and artefacts (most notably from Scott's ill-fated expedition) plus regular exhibitions of polar art.
Even if polar exploration is not your thing, this museum cannot fail to impress. Of the many exhibits, it is impossible not to be moved by the poignant last letters written by members of Scott's team to their loved ones, or by Captain Oates's sleeping bag, slit open to enable him to manoeuvre his badly frostbitten feet in and out.
This is not a large museum so it is easy to see everything in a relatively short period of time; it is a real gem and well worth a visit.
Then go and have dinner at the Rice Boat (37 Newnham Road; 302800; www.riceboat.com), a short walk away (amazing Keralan cuisine). The house special of Kerala – red fish curry – is highly recommended, but you might need a few mango lassis to wash it down.
A trip to Cambridge isn't complete without seeing the colleges. But why not go off the beaten track? Try the tranquil Clare College, with its spectacular gardens. Fancy a romantic walk? Try the trail to
Grantchester, and count the number of amorous students you see. Finish with dinner in style – head to the two Michelin-starred Midsummer House (Midsummer Common; 369299; www.midsummerhouse.co.uk). Maybe after this it is too early for bed, so why not head down to The Vaults (14 Trinity Street; 506090; www.thevaults.biz), a basement bar in a dimly lit side street, and indulge in cocktails.
Get a guide
You can find out more on the city in general by contacting Cambridge's Tourist Information Centre (www.visitcambridge.org), but I'd also recommend asking for a star Blue Badge Guide