Cambridge for the frugal traveller
Grand: The entrance to Trinity College in Cambridge.

History, architecture and a jovial student atmosphere draws almost five million visitors to Cambridge, Britain, each year.

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The compact city, where Newton, Darwin and Wordsworth, once lived, is still home to an outrageous amount of brain power. But this little town can pull on the purse strings if you find yourself visiting during the peak summer and Christmas seasons. However, with a little forward planning, you can save yourself plenty of pounds.


ACCOMMODATION

First, book yourself some affordable accommodation in advance. The cheapest place to stay in town is in the University of Cambridge colleges. These rooms are available mainly in the summer (June to September), Christmas and Easter (March and April) when students clear their rooms.

For around STG34 ($52) a night you can score yourself a bed in a historic building in the centre of town and eat breakfast in a halls where the likes of Newton, Darwin or Wordsworth dined. See www.cambridgerooms.co.uk .
READ MORE ABOUT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION AROUND THE WORLD


GETTING THERE

Now that you've booked your accommodation you need to get yourself to Cambridge.

From London your public transport options are the bus or train. The coach service run by National Express is your cheapest option. There are frequent coach connections from London's Victoria coach station to Cambridge. The trip takes about two hours.

If you're in a rush then take the train. There are regular train connections from London's Kings Cross or Liverpool Street stations to Cambridge. The journey time of the faster Kings Cross trains (Cambridge cruiser trains) is about 45 minutes, while the other trains are slower and take about 70 minutes. Railway services are run by National Rail.


TRANSPORT

Once you've landed in Cambridge you'll spend hardly a penny getting around. Cambridge is a compact city that is easily covered on foot or by bicycle.

Nearly all the locals, from students to software millionaires, travel by bicycle. If you arrive in Cambridge by rail then walk in to town or hire a bike at the train station and ride. If necessary, you can leave your luggage in the suitcase storage facility at the station.


DINING

Cambridge is jam-packed with superb Michelin-starred restaurants, old coaching inns and pavement restaurants. The cheapest place to eat in town is at the pub with the students. One of the best spots for a drink and a meal is the Eagle, one of Cambridge's oldest inns (located on Bene't Street in the centre of town).

The inn serves affordable, hearty home-cooked food and traditional English cask ales. It was here in this cosy pub that Cambridge scientists Crick and Watson first announced their discovery of how DNA carries genetic medication.

If you look towards the ceiling you'll discover the signatures of pilots from all over the world who returned from WW2 and wrote their names using only cigarette lighters, candle smoke and lipstick.


ACTIVITIES

There is so much to see in Cambridge, from colleges and pubs to green spaces and leafy towpaths, that you would be hard pressed to fit it all in to one or two days.

The most interesting colleges to visit are the two largest: Trinity and King's. It only costs a couple of pounds to gain entry into these colleges. Inside Trinity visit the college chapel, Great Court, Hall, Nevile's Court and the Wren library, where you can view early Shakespeare editions, books from Sir Isaac Newton's own library and A.A. Milne's manuscripts of Winnie-the-Pooh. At King's College, founded by Henry VI in 1441 visit the King's College Chapel, one of the most famous medieval buildings in England. It's home to Rubens' painting The Adoration of the Magi.

If you're religious or not, you'll no doubt enjoy catching a choral service at the chapel. Visitors are welcome to attend all services.

Once you've explored on foot you need to get on the river. One of the best ways to see the glorious gardens in Cambridge is by hiring a punt (a flat-bottomed boat) and taking yourself out on the Cam.

If you are a bit nervous about captaining your own boat then opt for the more expensive guided tour, punted by students in straw boaters and traditional dress.

There is no need to book either the self-guided or guided punt trips in advance as there are many hire companies dotted around town, staffed with students ready to get you on the water.

The West Australian

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