There’s far more to elegant and historic Cambridge than punting down the River Cam or touring some of England’s most prestigious (and beautiful) university colleges.
From rooftop bars to traditional tea rooms and local craft markets, here are our recommendations for making the most of your time in Cambridge.
1. The Orchard Tea Garden
The English tea and traditional sticky buns at Fitzbillies are world-famous, so to enjoy your cuppa in a quieter, more peaceful setting, head to the Grantchester area and pull up a chair at The Orchard Tea Garden. Best paired with a huge slice of home-baked cake, of course!
Though climbing aboard one of Cambridge’s shallow wooden boats is far from a hidden gem – it’s totally iconic, in fact – one way to escape the crowds is to go punting in the winter. You won’t have to wait for a boat to become free, prices are cheaper, and the English countryside literally sparkles on frosty mornings.
3. The Varsity Hotel Roof Bar
On sunny evenings, the rooftop bar at The Varsity Hotel is hard to beat. The terrace overlooks many of the city’s architectural treasures including an array of churches and many of the historic college buildings. During the summer it’s best to get there early to secure your spot, then enjoy a few hours sipping on a beverage and admiring the Cambridge skyline!
4. All Saints Garden Art and Craft Market
Every Saturday, the All Saints Garden on Trinity Street hosts one of Cambridge’s best craft markets. Here you’ll find everything from hand-made ceramics and jewellery, to home-baked goods and unique art pieces and sculptures. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir and support Cambridge’s local makers.
5. Hidden Rooms
We couldn’t leave Hidden Rooms off our list of hidden gems, could we? This secretive cocktail lounge is tucked away in the basement of an old Victorian bathhouse, hidden from the street behind an average, unmarked black door. The exclusive-feeling bar also hosts live music nights, cocktail-making events and is a great place for a drink if you’re trying to impress.
6. Cambridge Food Park
Screw bringing sandwiches or heading to a popular café chain, for the best on-the-go lunches in the city, track down the Food Park lunch markets. Open in different locations on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, you’ll be spoiled for choice with some of Cambridge’s top food trucks dishing up everything from soft steamed bao and wood-fired pizzas, to Sri-Lankan cuisine and loaded burritos.
7. The St Radegund
Pubs are a huge part of English culture, and Cambridge is one of the country’s most historic cities! Step back in time and enjoy a drink or two in the smallest pub in town; what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. The St Radegund is an old-world pub oozing character, including walls with college sporting memorabilia and a ‘raincheck’ tradition, which allows you to buy a drink for someone to pick up at a later date – or be bought one!
8. Mathematical Bridge
Everyone knows Cambridge’s Bridge of Sighs, so instead set off in search of the Mathematical bridge. This historic wooden footpath connects two parts of Queen’s College, separated by the River Cam, and has been sophistically designed using maths. While it appears to arch, it’s actually constructed from straight timbers.
9. Corpus Clock & Chronophage
While we’re on the topic of incredible engineering, the Corpus Clock & Chronophage is a mind-blowing mechanical clock housed at Corpus Christi College. It has no numbers, so blue LED lights which shine through moving concentric metal circles are used to demonstrate the passage of time. The clock is known for its irregularity – it’s only entirely accurate once every five minutes – but its maker says this reflects the irregularity of life itself. Spy it outside the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College.
10. Stem and Glory
The very definition of lip-smacking, this restaurant has won awards for its delicious vegan menu, with dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, head to Stem and Glory for all your plant-based culinary needs. A selection of vegan cocktails, beers and wines are also on offer during the evenings.