If you are spending your vacation in the East of England, there are few better places to stay than Peterborough. With plenty of historical interest and within easy reach of the famous Fenlands, there is much for the tourist to see and do.
Places of Interest
Peterborough is a city that is steeped in history, having been a place of settlement since the Stone Age, but as well as historical interest, there are some great activities and days out for the tourist.
The Cathedral: If you only visit one building in Peterborough, it must be this one. Visible for several miles as you approach Peterborough, the cathedral towers majestically over the city. Approaching by foot from the town centre, the gloriously gothic West Front, with its three great arches is an awe-inspiring sight. The present building dates to 1118, but its foundations were begun in AD 654 when a monastery was built on the site. The nave is a supreme example of the Romanesque style with its high wooden roof decorated with 13th century paintings. You can also visit the tomb of Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII.
The Museum: Housed in a Regency building, which is said to be the most haunted in Peterborough, the museum holds fascinating collections, including a hands-on archaeological gallery and one of the best collections of ancient sea creatures who swam here 150 million years ago. Other displays include artefacts from Napoleon’s troops and information about historical local residents, the local poet, John Clare, and Mary Queen of Scots.
The Art Gallery: The Space4 Gallery is located in the museum, and holds exciting modern exhibitions that can include holograms, computers and film. Focusing on science and technology, the community, space and the environment, the gallery is innovative and of interest to all ages. Open Tuesday and at the weekend.
Flag Fen: Just outside Peterborough is the Bronze Age Centre, Flag Fen. The site was discovered in 1982 when timber found there was dated to 1000 BC. The site has since been an area of excavation. There is a very interesting museum, as well as a heritage centre and shop, and visitors can explore the Roman walkway, bronze roundhouse and park, and children will love the animals, which are breeds that would have been kept in Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.
Parks: Peterborough has several parks and open spaces where you can enjoy a peaceful walk by the river or spot wildlife. The Broadwalks, alongside the River Nene, and Eye Green with lake and fishing platforms, are nature reserves, while Holywell Ponds at Longthorpe Green are of historical interest, and Cuckoo’s Hollow is an important wildlife habitat.
Things to Do
Peterborough is full of interesting and exciting things to do, including shopping, river and steam travel! There is much to suit all ages and interests.
Shopping: The Queensgate Shopping Centre is the main indoor shopping mall, with all the high street shops available and a multi-storey car park. Hereward Cross is another shopping arcade, which also leads on to the City Market with about 150 stalls of local produce, including fresh fish and meat, specialist cheeses, fabrics and other goods. Rivergate and Westgate arcades also provide a smaller selection of shops and restaurants.
Boat Trips: Key Ferry Cruises offer group bookings departing from the Key Embankment. Cruises include teas, evening meals and summer jazz.
Steam Trains: The Nene Valley Railway provides trips on original steam engines and is famous for inclusion in TV and film dramas. It is also the home of Thomas the Tank Engine. For more information about rail travel, you can visit Railworld, a railway exhibition centre and museum in the heart of Peterborough.
Ghost Walks and Guided Tours: Peterborough offers many themed guided tours, including its popular Ghost Walk, which begins at the haunted museum and includes storytelling of a ghoulish and supernatural nature. Other tours include a history of the local inns and taverns and a tour of Medieval Peterborough.
Food & Drink
Whatever your culinary taste, there is something to suit you. Peterborough has a wide range of international cuisines, as well as fast food and pub food. Below are a few examples of the highest rated cafes, bars and restaurants.
Topo Gigio: A busy Italian restaurant with a good range of pizzas and pasta, with friendly and helpful service.
Judge’s Restaurant: A café/restaurant popular with locals, and suitable for pre-theatre meals.
Charter’s: Peterborough’s floating pub; located on a converted barge, it has a range of quality ales and an upstairs restaurant.
Andreas Greek Taverna: A friendly restaurant with an intimate atmosphere and friendly staff. Greek music and weekend entertainment.
The Solstice: A pub with real ale, food and live music.
Peterborough Hotels & Accommodation
Peterborough offers a range of hotels, guest houses and bed & breakfasts to suit your budget. There are large four and three-star hotels with all the usual luxury facilities, including saunas and Jacuzzis, set in beautiful grounds and offering superb dining experiences. Or you might want to try one of the historical hotels or coaching inns either close to the city, or in the town centre. If you prefer a more personal atmosphere, you might like one of the many guest houses or bed & breakfasts that offer friendly and cosy accommodation, some housed in old farmhouses or thatched cottages. Alternatively, there is the option of self-catering accommodation in traditional cottages in the nearby countryside.
Express by Holiday Inn Peterborough
Holiday Inn Peterborough West
Charlotte House Hotel LTD
Thorpe Lodge Hotel
Best Western Orton Hall Hotel
The Queensgate Hotel
Aaron Park Hotel
Sleep Inn Peterborough
The Key Theatre, which prides itself for its unique and intimate atmosphere, shows local and touring productions as well as concerts
The Broadway Theatre is a larger venue, showing west end productions and big live music events. It carries all the latest technologies and is great for a family night out.
The Cresset Theatre: A little way out of the city centre, this theatre offers a range of comedy, theatre, music and dance.
The Showcase Cinema: Showing all the latest films, with special bargain matinees and days.
Night Clubs: There are several popular night clubs in the town centre, including The Chicago Rock Café, Edwards and Faith, all offering opportunities for a great night out.
Peterborough is a great place to visit, with a comfortable mix of the historical and modern. There is always something to see, whatever time of year you visit, and in the summer months there are outside events and festivals. The local tourist centre will give you all the information you need to find out what’s on in the area and you are sure to have an interesting and entertaining visit.