Cambridgeshire in East Anglia is an ancient English county containing the iconic university city of Cambridge in the south, and beyond to the north the magical flat landscape of the Fens around Wisbech and March. Spectacular age old cathedrals and churches are dotted across the region, most famously breathtaking Ely Cathedral, a building which inspired the young Sir Christopher Wren.
Darwin cut his teeth in the beautiful Fenland landscapes of Cambridgeshire and Oliver Cromwell was born and schooled in Huntingdon. There are the great architectural college treasures and world class museums of Cambridge city centre in the region, but there is also much to delight and discover in wider Cambridgeshire.
The landscape contains a wealth of historic market towns and villages featuring some of England’s oldest inns and fine craft outlets. Cambridgeshire is also a region of waterways best explored by canal boat, rowing boat or most famously by punt.
Things to do & see
The gentle rolling countryside of Cambridgeshire is an idyllic English scene offering ample opportunities for cycling, walking and boating. The network of waterways and rivers in the region include the Great Ouse and the Cam. All of Cambridgeshire’s main destinations – Cambridge, Peterborough, Ely, St Ives, St Neots, Huntingdon and Wisbech – sit alongside rivers or canals, so you are never far away from a scenic guided or self-guided boat tour.
In the north Georgian Wisbech, known as the Capital of the Fens is a good spot to base yourself for exploring the spirit stirring Fenland landscape. Top spots to visit in The Fens include the National Trust’s Wicken Fen, the Welney Wetlands and Fenland museums at Wisbech, March and Chatteris.
Precious sites of Bronze Age settlement and ancient timber walkways have famously been unearthed in the Fenlands around Peterborough – find out more at Flag Fen Archaeological Park on the outskirts of the town.
Just to the north of Cambridge sits the region’s jewel – riverside Ely with its magnificent cathedral made more dramatic by the flat fenland landscape which surrounds it. The cathedral, visible from miles around, is fondly known as the great ‘ship of the fens’.
To the west of Cambridge are the ancient riverside market towns of Huntingdon, St Neots and St Ives, each offering peaceful bases rich in heritage charm. Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon in 1599 and his old grammar school in the town centre is today home to the Cromwell Museum.
Wonderful National Trust Georgian stately homes and gardens are here in Cambridgeshire including the Wimpole Estate south of Cambridge and Peckover House and Garden in Wisbech. Just beyond the region’s border sit more spectacular estates like English Heritage’s Audley End House and Gardens.
Many outstanding attractions and historic centres are dotted around the Cambridgeshire border, all within easy reach by car or bus from Cambridge, including the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Saffron Walden medieval village and UK centre for horse racing Newmarket.
Cambridgeshire boasts excellent transport links, with extensive bus and rail services operating in the region. Great Anglia and East Coast mainline rail networks make it easy to get to and move around Cambridgeshire with central stations at Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough (an East Coast Mainline station) with fast rail links to London and Edinburgh.
Gateway airports include Cambridge International Airport just 3 miles outside of Cambridge city centre and just off the M11 Stansted Airport with rail links to main Cambridgeshire destinations from its onsite airport station. The A1 motorway is your way in by road from north and south. The A1 links in to the fast M11 motorway to Cambridge.
Where to stay
Charming bed & breakfast accommodation is widely available across Cambridgeshire ranging from pretty farmhouse B&Bs around Huntingdon to luxury boutique guest houses in Cambridge city centre and award-winning B&Bs with cathedral views in Ely. Character old B&B inns also feature in the Cambridgeshire market towns and villages, or opt for a rural fenland cottage or barn conversion ideal for exploring the area’s great outdoors.
Extensive accommodation to suit all budgets, business and leisure visitors is available around Cambridge city centre, including stylish modern apartments, spa leisure hotels and unique B&Bs and boutique hotels. An excellent choice of budget quality chain hotels also sit close to motorway links in the region, making great bases for travel stopovers, one night business stays and for touring.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.