Trains from London King’s Cross and Liverpool Street take about an hour. Grantchester is a pleasant 45-minute walk from Cambridge, or a short hop on the no.18 bus. www.thetrainline.com; www.stagecoachbus.com
WHERE TO STAY
The best place to stay is the University Arms, which has been hosting visitors since 1834. Its rooms, painted in soothing Cambridge Blue, are cosied up with colourful textiles on headboards and ottomans, while elegant drapes frame views of Parker’s Piece (one of Cambridge’s most famous open spaces) or bustling Regent Street. There’s a distinct collegiate air, too, in the leather-padded writing desks, the curated selection of books and art, and the stripy hallway carpets, reminiscent of university ties. You can aspire to a Cambridge intellect in the panelled library, and free bike hire is available, so you can whizz around town like a local. www.universityarms.com
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
The University Arms has an excellent restaurant, Parker’s Tavern, with big windows overlooking Parker’s Piece. It manages to evoke the feel of a wood-panelled Cambridge dining hall – minus the dons and gowns, and with added elegance. The brasserie-style menu concentrates on British dishes with a twist, in dishes such as honey and thyme slow roast Norfolk duck, and crispy coronation chicken salad.
For tea and cake, it has to be Fitzbillies, a Cambridge institution founded in 1920. Cambridge isn’t short of historic pubs; try The Eagle, thought to be the city’s oldest pub, where in 1953 scientists Francis Crick and James Watson announced that they had discovered the double helix structure of DNA (a plaque commemorates the event). www.parkerstavern.com; www.fitzbillies.com; www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk