When most people think of visiting the UK, they think of London. Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the list goes on…
Intersperse these famous landmarks with a few trips to souvenir shops and maybe an afternoon tea somewhere, and there you have it, you have officially ‘seen London’.
Whilst these places are popular tourist destinations for a reason, there is a lot more to explore in England than the famous landmarks. England is made up of 48 counties, each with a unique character. So why limit your travels to just London?
Those traveling within the UK will often choose to visit London for its buzz and excitement or head to Devon or Cornwall for a classic ‘seaside’ holiday. But there are so many other counties to choose from.
One county that is sometimes overlooked is Cambridgeshire. Absolutely brimming with character, history, charm, and culture, Cambridgeshire is a fantastic place to visit if you are looking to travel somewhere other than London.
Home to the prestigious Cambridge University, the area is a magnet for intellectuals. Relaxing in coffee lounges you will find free thinkers engaging in friendly debates. Walking alongside the River Cam you will come across writers and artists, quietly soaking up inspiration for their next projects. And in the grounds of the university are scientists and musicians, completely immersed in their work.
That isn’t to say that Cambridgeshire is exclusive or insular. In fact, it is just the opposite. There is a feeling of acceptance and collaboration about the area that leaves you feeling inspired and enthusiastic; making it a perfect travel destination if you want to feel reenergized and full of ideas.
Whatever your area of interest, there are plenty of things to do and places to explore.
Cambridgeshire has links to many famous scientists including biologist, Charles Darwin, and theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking.
Those interested in how science has progressed over time should visit the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, whilst children will be in their element experimenting and learning via a hands-on approach at the Cambridge Science Centre.
Art & Architecture
Cambridgeshire is filled with examples of stunning art and intricate architectural design. Even if you don’t usually have much of an interest in architecture, it’s hard not to be amazed by the design and execution of buildings like the Chapel in King’s College.
Art fans should head to the Fitzwilliam Museum. As well as regular temporary exhibitions, the Fitzwilliam is home to a fantastic collection of work by famous artists such as Van Gough, Monet, Rembrandt, William Blake, J.M.W Turner, and Edward Degas.
For music lovers, Liutaio music café and shop is a fantastic place to visit. During the day, you can browse the Classical and Baroque violins in the shop or take some time out to relax with a cup of specialty tea or coffee in the café.
In the evening, Liutaio serves Oriental and Western dishes with a range of vegan options. What makes it special is the regular live music events, where you can enjoy your meal to a soundtrack of incredible live performances from resident musicians on the house grand piano and stringed instruments.
If you’re in need of some nature, Cambridge University Botanic Garden has over 40 acres of it. Beautifully landscaped and boasting 8,000 species, the Botanic Garden provides a relaxing oasis of calm, perfect for gathering your thoughts and taking inspiration from the environment around you.
Photographs of Cambridgeshire often feature the River Cam, and for good reason. Surrounded by still water reflecting the lush greenery on the water’s edge, punting along the River Cam in a traditional boat is a great way to soak up Cambridge, taking in the sights along the way as you saunter down the river at a relaxed pace. And don’t forget your camera, you’ll want to take plenty of photos!
It isn’t possible to mention Cambridgeshire without mentioning its history, as there is so much of it. History buffs will enjoy visiting Oliver Cromwell’s House, and you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to historical houses with all sorts of options including Anglesey Abbey, Peckover House, Elton Hall, and Wimpole Hall.
But Cambridgeshire isn’t just historical. It also has an edgier, more modern side. Contrast your historical day trip with a coffee break or lunch at one of the many modern, unique cafés, such as Espresso Library or The Urban Shed.
So next time you’re planning a UK based trip, why not delve a little further, research more than ever and venture into the lesser known destinations… There is plenty to explore, and you might just find a hidden gem or two.
Contributor: Lucy Barnes
Lucy Barnes has created content for a range of travel websites and blogs, most recently The Tourist Trail.