Cambridge is located about 60 miles (100 Km) from London. Its university was founded in the eleventh century by disaffected academics from Oxford University. The oldest building from that time is in St John’s College but the oldest surviving college is Peterhouse. Cambridge and Oxford are similar distances from London: Oxford lies to the west and Cambridge to the north. The distance was sufficiently great that the ruling monarch could not travel from London to either town in mediaeval times in one day. This was an advantage for academics if the monarch acted on impulse and thought a few executions would boost morale!
“Its possible to walk or take a bicycle – a car is probably inadvisable unless you are familiar with the area.”
The best time to visit Cambridge as a tourist is in the first half of June, particularly the week known as May-week – a Cambridge chronological mystery. All exams are over by then and the students want to relax with parties, open-air drama, rowing races on the river, all-night balls in the Colleges and general mayhem. Most of the events are open to the public and ticket prices are usually low, the exceptions being the College balls (May balls) where prices are high and tickets are usually sold-out in April. Only go to a May-ball in a college that sits along the Backs (the college backs onto the river Cam).
A visit to the bumping races on the river is well worth while during May-week but means an excursion outside Cambridge to the north east. Its possible to walk or take a bicycle – a car is probably inadvisable unless you are familiar with the area. Cambridge is crowded with tourists between April and September. Most arrive and depart by coach in the same day and don’t get much past Silver Street Bridge (to look at the Mathematical Bridge in Queens’ College) and King’s Parade (to see King’s College Chapel). Many of the colleges are now charging admission and restricting the times of access for visitors.