Your first class guide to a fun-packed weekend in the scholarly city
There is much more to this beautiful city than scholars and reference books. Expect plenty of good English ale, quaint tea rooms, and characterful pubs, punting galore and even city-dwelling cows. It’s hard to ignore the staggering architecture and historical charm of the city of Cambridge and there’s no doubt you’ll want to swing by the impressive King’s College for a photo opp.
Cambridge at a glance:
- Get suited and booted for an impressive Cambridge pub crawl along cobbled streets, taking in a 14th century pub where the discovery of DNA was first revealed
- Put your muscles to the test by hiring a punt for a relaxing trip along the river, with plenty of beer gardens along the route
- Explore hidden nooks and crannies and student-friendly nightspots dotted throughout the college-lined streets
- Experience the thrills and spills of a day at the races at one of the world’s most famous racecourses
Known locally as the ‘Arts Quarter’, Bene’t Street is the place to start on a sightseeing trail of Cambridge, with the Tourist Information centre located here. It’s a busy shopping street too and home to a number of lively eating and drinking venues.
If you’re after a street that epitomises the spirit of Cambridge, make sure you wander King’s Parade. Set among the university colleges, you will find a mix of trendy shops and local historical sites side-by-side.
Bridge Street and Magdalene Street
Discover a mix of independent shops, well known brands and inviting bars and restaurants, located near the attractive and bustling Quayside. The place to head to for browsing luxury boutiques or quaffing a cocktail at the water’s edge.
Green Street & Trinity Street
A picturesque and quaint cobbled street, Green Street is well worth the detour from the more popular shopping areas. There’s a variety of independent cafes and shops here too for those looking for a more individual experience.The winding Trinity Street is also a delightful find for those who like quirky independent boutiques. Enjoy the ornately decorated shop fronts here and recharge your batteries from the café within a converted church.
For the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, head to Market Square where there is always a vibrant array of stalls to greet you. Monday to Saturday you will find the general market with everything from fruit and veg to flowers, clothes to the first outdoor hairdressers. On Sunday, it’s all about arts, crafts and local produce.
Mill Road and Romsey
This is one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Cambridge city, known for its diverse and international selection of food shops, restaurants, second-hand shops, and hair salons. There are also five arts venues if you fancy making a cultural stop on your visit.
St John’s Street and All Saints Passage
Treat yourself to a tasty snack at the All Saint’s Passage cheese shop or delicatessen, or visit the All Saints Art & Craft market as a civilised way to unwind in the day before a hectic Saturday night.
Fancy a flutter while enjoying a top class day out of thrills, spills and free-flowing champagne? Just 25 minutes out of Cambridge city is the famous Newmarket race course, where you can soak up the sunshine with a drink in hand and hopefully rake in some winnings with a day at the races.
Best bars and pubs in Cambridge:
The Eagle, Bene’t Street
Situated off King’s Parade, The Eagle serves up great real ale and homemade English dishes alongside a good side serving of history. Dating back to the 14th century, it’s one of the oldest inns in Cambridge and the perfect place to get the traditional English experience. It’s also where the discovery of DNA was first announced by Watson and Crick. But the unique history doesn’t end there – the ceiling is a masterpiece in itself as during the Second World War, RAF pilots from all over the world signed their names on it using lighters, cigarettes and lipstick
The Free Press, Prospect Row
Known for its fine ales, The Free Press is a great place to completely relax with a fine cask poured pint in hand. With an intimate walled garden, a cosy snug, and a plethora of board games available to play, The Free Press boasts the motto of “Come once, and we are sure we’ll see you again...”. And they’re not wrong.
The Granta, Newnham Terrace
The Granta enjoys one of the most enviable pub locations in Cambridge, right on the river, and it even has its own punt station. Perfect excuse for a punting pub crawl if you ask us. So why not punt your way down the river to The Granta, where you can hire a private BBQ area complete with personal chef, and enjoy the local cask ales?
The Brew House, King Street
The Brew House is where you need to set up camp - but get there early. As well as the thrilling sporting atmosphere, The Brew House is also home to its own micro-brewery and offers the option of hiring The Locker Room and The Tank Room for private parties, lunches and sporting events, making it ideal for a weekend of action.
The Cambridge Blue, Gwydir Street
This award-winning pub is a self-proclaimed ‘real ale paradise’ and boasts a vast menu of European and world beers on a par with a specialist Belgian beer parlour. They are particular about ensuring each is served in the appropriate glass – just as they do in Belgium. With dozens of ales to choose from, you are sure to find a new tipple to try.
The Pickerel Inn, Magdalene Street
Said to be the oldest pub in Cambridge, The Pickerel Inn certainly delivers on old school interior. It has five real ales to choose from and is sat charmingly just over the River Cam on the main road that runs straight into town, making it the perfect starting point for any pub crawl.
River Bar, Quayside
This steak and grill house sits idyllically on the river, with a beautiful view of Magdalene College from the balcony. Head up onto the roof terrace for one of the best views of the city. From here it’s easy to while away the hours with a crisp lager in your hand. http://www.riverbarsteakhouse.com/
Baroosh, Market Passage
This hidden gem in the centre of Cambridge is perfect for kickstarting your night out in style, especially if you want to sample one of their devilish cocktails. With the option to hire private rooms too, it’s great for groups looking to enjoy a touch of luxury away from the crowds.
The Fountain, Regent Street
If you’re enjoy chilled out vibes and well chosen tunes spanning disco, funk, soul and house, then The Fountain is the place to be. It’s also one of the most contemporary venues in Cambridge and ideal for expertly-prepared drinks, especially when the 2-4-1 deals are running.
Food: eat like a local:
Punctuate your day with an afternoon tea at Harriet’s Tea Room (http://harrietscafetearooms.co.uk/
) on Green Street or head for a hearty lunch at the traditional pub highlight The Clarendon Arms, Clarendon Street.
For those who fancy a more exotic flavour, the North African themed eatery The Bedouin (http://www.bedouin-cambridge.com/
) on Mill Road is a must. It can fill up pretty quickly on weekends though, so advanced booking is advised.
For upmarket pub grub, The Kingston Arms (http://www.kingston-arms.co.uk/
), Kingston Street, is a renowned gastropub. Finally, if a good curry is what you crave to complete your weekend of fun, visit King Street’s Raja (http://rajaindiancuisine.co.uk/
) indian restaurant.
The best view of the city:
Make a quick stop at Great St Mary’s Church and climb upstairs for a breathtaking panoramic view of King’s College and the surrounding colleges, overlooking The Backs. Or if you’d prefer to, stay at ground level then wander down Queen’s Road for the famous photo opportunities of King’s College, before strolling back into town over the bridges on Silver Street or Garret Hostel Lane – the latter being much less busy.
The best time to visit:
Cambridge is a wonderful city all year round and accommodates swarms of both summer and winter tourists. The colder months see traditional Christmas Markets, the famous carol services throughout the various colleges, and a popular ice-skating rink.
During the summer, it’s time to jump on the festival bandwagon with a jam-packed calendar of the Folk Festival, Film Festival, Comedy Festival and Beer Festival. Cambridge also indulges in the eccentric music and arts festival of Strawberry Fair in addition to the 800-year-old Midsummer Fair.
Of course, the warmer months in Cambridge also make the punting experience much more tempting, and with plenty of beer gardens and parks – some complete with free-roaming cows – it’s great to hire a punt, pack some food, booze and a frisbee and find yourself that perfect al fresco spot along The Backs.
Thanks to its compact nature, getting around Cambridge is very straightforward. The city centre is walkable and, to get from one side to the other would take around half-an-hour tops. It’s quaint, cobbled and traditional – everything you’d expect and want from a world famous university city. When you start to reach the outskirts of the centre, buses are fast and regular.
Visiting Cambridge via train is easy too. The buses (Citi 1, 3 and 7) take around 10 minutes to reach the city centre and run every 5 minutes. Taxis are also a very viable option with a popular taxi rank on the corner of Hobson Street outside Christ’s College; although pre-booking can definitely work out cheaper, with CamCab one of the best firms to use in the city centre.