Cambridge is famous the world over for its first class university, and of course that institution certainly dominates this fantastic town. But beyond the colleges and the hustle and bustle of student life, there are also plenty of other things to see in this historic place: and many of them are accessible for all visitors. Here are just a few of our personal highlights.
Explore the colleges
Of course, no visit to Cambridge would be complete without spending a bit of time in and around the city’s iconic university. In fact it is, in many ways, impossible to avoid: everywhere you turn you will see signs of this historic institution, that has been an integral part of Cambridge life since 1209. You can get into the main courtyards and chapels of many of the big colleges along the river, including King’s (founded by Henry VI in the 1400s), Clare, Trinity & St John’s via their ramped entrances but it is worth bearing in mind that many of these historic buildings will not have been designed with accessibility in mind. The university is doing a lot to address this, but it is always worth getting in touch with individual colleges to speak to the team before you visit to check the specific facilities they have available. There is a list of all of the Cambridge University colleges and their contact details here.
Take to the water on a punt
Punting on the River Cam is a big part of Cambridge life and a wonderful way to sit back, relax and enjoy this beautiful city. We were particularly impressed by Scudamores who were one of the first operators in the city, and who have made a real effort to make their punts as accessible as possible. While it isn’t practical to take a wheelchair onto one of their punts, they do have level access on the riverside and will store any mobility equipment for you while you are out on the water. They provide guided punt tours as well, and the punts are packed with plenty of cushions in order to make them as comfortable as possible. There is plenty of on-street parking near to both the Mill Lane and Quayside punt docking stations.
Indulge yourself a little in Cambridge Market
We love a good market, and Cambridge’s open air one certainly doesn’t disappoint. Open seven days a week it is one of those places that never seems to rest. Around every corner, in every stall, there is something interesting to try, whether it is the finest quality local food or a good second hand book. We’d also recommend the fantastic All Saint’s Garden Art and Craft Market on Trinity Street too. The Grand Arcade car park is the most central one in Cambridge, and there is space for 35 Blue Badge holders to stay there for up to three hours for free.
Chill out with the cows on the Common
The cows are one of the wonderful oddities of Cambridge, and little taste of a simpler country life right in the city. The town’s Midsummer Common is just a lovely place to spend time anyway and we highly recommend you take a look if you want a bit of a break from the town itself. There are six Blue Badge spaces at the Grafton West car park and four at the Park Street car park.
Another great place to begin your trip to Cambridge is Visit Cambridge’s accessibility page here where you will find lots more information.
Eating out in Cambridge
As you’d expect in a city that has so many students, it is relatively easy to find somewhere cheap and tasty to eat. We are big fans of the traditional pub grub on offer at The Eagle on the corner of King’s Parade in town, and while it can be a bit of a squash inside it’s all fully accessible. For something a little more refined (and a lot pricier) head to Midsummer House. It’s a beautiful building right by the River Cam and they serve up a great selection of high quality, locally sourced British dishes. It has a modern, light and airy atmosphere, and is fully accessible.
An honourable mention also has to go to Fitzbillies and their world famous Chelsea buns. It’s been around since the 1920s and is a real Cambridge institution. You’ll need to go in via the level bakery entrance (rather than the stepped coffee shop one), but it is well, well worth the effort.
Getting to Cambridge
Getting to Cambridge by car is straightforward. From the south, head up the M11, while if you’re coming from the north just follow the A1 and M1 to the A14 into the city. There are regular services by train from London Kings Cross and London Liverpool Street, as well as connections via Peterborough from the north. It’s also just 30 miles from London Gatwick airport.
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