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If there were such a thing as the perfect city, Cambridge may just come close. Steeped in centuries of history, quite obvious in the city’s divine architecture, packed to the rafters with some of the most powerful minds in the world and surrounded by breath-taking natural beauty, it’s difficult to find fault. The outskirts are just as impressive and only a few hours by road travellers will find the most charming and seemingly untouched villages, and even a few cultural and historical gems.
Who to Book With
Many car rental companies have a presence in Cambridge including the more popular ones such as Avis and Budget. There are also many reliable local companies like Cambridge Car and Alamo. The offices of most of these agencies can be found at the usual places like the airport and the central railway station. Travellers can make online bookings with all of the international companies located in the city.
Best time to go
Peak season in Cambridge is between the months of March and May. During this time the weather is warm and the flowers are in full bloom, but the prices of accommodation and car rental also spike significantly. During winter the region sees a great deal of snow which can make driving on the roads quite dangerous.
Need to Know Essentials
Don’t forget the following must-haves when collecting that new rental car:
- A form of photographic identification, like a passport
- The credit card that was used to make the deposit
- A valid driver’s license or an International Driver’s Permit
The city has made an effort to discourage people from driving in the city, and to an effective end at that. Driving, and especially parking, in Cambridge can become frustrating to say the least. Much of the centre has been pedestrianised and can be rather confusing for drivers unfamiliar with Cambridge’s tricky streets. Other areas only allow access to authorized vehicles, usually those working for the city or the local emergency services.
It is possible to find parking in the city but definitely at a steep price. There are, however, several park-and-ride facilities which should be taken full advantage of. Drivers can choose to pay an hourly or a daily rate and the most popular parks are at Barbraham, Milton and Madingley Roads. From here commuters can take a shuttle bus to their desired destination. All park-and-ride facilities close a 19.00 and overnight parking is not permitted.
Most of Cambridge is easily explored by foot and the city has gone to lengths to ensure that the streets are pedestrian-friendly. That said, walking is not mandatory and there are a couple of public transport options available. Travellers interested in exploring the outskirts of the city should, however, consider renting a vehicle.
The most popular mode of transport, with locals at least, is the public bus. Operated by Stagecoach, the buses run to several different areas in Cambridge. The heart of the city centre is also serviced by an express shuttle for which there is no fee. For all other trips passengers need to purchase a ticket, which ranges between £1 and £3 depending on the distance. Single journey tickets can be purchased on board. Tourists may also want to consider using the sightseeing bus which operates a hop-on, hop-off service.
Another option is to enlist the services of a metred taxi. These can simply be hailed from the side of the road and travel to practically anywhere in the city. They can also be found waiting for business at any one of the many taxi ranks including the main bus station. Alternatively, taxis can also be booked in advance with one of the many private taxis companies like Panther and Camtax.
There is no doubt that Cambridge is a magnificent town but once all the sites have been explored, travellers should remember that there is much more waiting beyond the city walls. From excursions of an historical nature to adventures in neighbouring towns, the options are endless.
Duxford Imperial War Museum - Travellers interested in British history will no doubt be enthralled by the exhibits on display in this Museum. The museum, located to the south of the city centre, is focused on aviation and home to several well-preserved and well-looked after military aircraft.
Lavenham - Cambridge is surrounded by lovely villages worthy of day trips. One such village is Lavenham where visitors can marvel at the old fashioned cottages, and have an afternoon cuppa in the quaintest of tea rooms. This enchanting village is located about an hour outside of Cambridge.
Thetford forest - Nature gurus will love Thetford forest, as it is one of the largest pine forests in the country. Those with a calling for the outdoors can embark on myriad activities in the area including hiking and biking. There are even quite reasonable camping facilities.