Growing up, I never realised quite how fortunate I was to have Cambridge as my local city. Dashing past Kings College without so much as a second glance, and meandering my way around the punting touts trying to sell me river tours. It’s only as I’ve grown older that I’ve really appreciated the beauty of my local city. Realising that, actually, despite my teenage moans of how ‘boring’ it is where I live, it’s actually pretty great. There’s the beautiful architecture, Harry Potter-like cobbled streets, cute cafés, green spaces and plenty of opportunity and innovation. Did you know Cambridge has a booming tech scene?
If you’re looking for a relaxing staycation, Cambridge is simply perfect. Small enough to see everything yet big enough not to get bored. From exploring the world-famous universities, to biting into world-famous Fitzbillies Chelsea buns, there’s plenty to keep you busy!
Here’s what you need to know…
Where to stay in Cambridge
As a local to the city, I’ve never actually had the pleasure of staying overnight in any of the hotel’s, but I have of course visited for drinks, dinner and to hold meetings. My recommendations would be one of the city’s newest openings, The University Arms hotel, or for quirky Instagrammable interiors, there’s the Tamburlaine – it’s a little further outside of the city centre but conveniently positioned right by the train station with easy access into town. Think powder pink chairs, lots of marble and statement wallpaper, it really is a blogger dream! If you’re on a budget, Cambridge is also home to the usual budget hotel’s such as Premier Inn, or, you could check out one of the many B&B’s scattered around the city.
What to do in Cambridge
For me, Cambridge truly comes alive in the summer months. The river is packed with locals and tourists sharing a glass of fizzy as they try to navigate the perils of punting (it’s NOT as easy as it looks, trust me!) and not to mention everything looks prettier in the sunshine.
Go on a Punting Tour
Cambridge is synonymous with punting, and you really can’t avoid it! Plus, it’s super fun and quite interesting too. You can opt to either join a group where you’ll have your own guide (this is often University/college students), I would probably recommend this as they have tonnes of facts and info which make the journey up and down the river much more interesting. Or, you can give it a go yourself but I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s a little tricky and requires more arm strength than I personally have. I’d recommend Scudamores, you can find them on Magdalene Street which is right by the bridge – you won’t be able to miss it, there’s generally a flock of young guys in boat shoes and navy shorts hanging around.
Visit Kings College
Kings College and its chapel is undoubtedly one of the ‘main’ attractions in Cambridge, and you can’t leave the city without having visited this masterpiece of English craftsmanship. Founded by Henry VI in 1441, the Kings College chapel is truly breathtaking. Featuring a fan-vault ceiling, stained glass windows and Ruben’s masterpiece. You can either enjoy at your own pace, or book onto one of the tours. Tickets for adults are around £9 and there’s discounts for students and children too.
Enjoy a pint in The Eagle
The Eagle is in fact the oldest pub in Cambridge and dates back to the 16th Century. This pub is very popular with both tourists and locals too, in the summer you can enjoy a refreshing drink and typical pub grub in the courtyard. The interior is fascinating, and be sure to check out the RAF bar which has the signatures of airmen from World War II on the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention it was the drinking spot of the two men who discovered DNA? Go on, google it!
Visit the Fitzwilliam Museum
You simply must stop by one of Cambridge’s most beautiful buildings, home to the Fitzwilliam Museum. This neoclassical building is an architectural dream housing art, antiques and illuminated manuscripts. It’s also free to enter which is a bonus, and there’s often different exhibitions and events happening too. Breakaway from the bustle of the city and enjoy an hour or two perusing all of the artefacts.
Check out the independent scene
Whilst I love Cambridge, if there’s one thing I’d love to see more of, it’s the return of independents in the city. There’s way too many chains that have edged their way in, but fortunately, Mill Road is still a beacon of hope! Home to independent cafés, shops and record stores, it’s definitely worth a visit. If music is your thing, swing by Relevant Records for a browse of their extensive vinyl collection – they have a great café and regular events too! Whilst wandering down Mill Road, you’ll also encounter a fabulous microbrewery and many highly acclaimed restaurants such as Bedouin.
Where to eat and drink in Cambridge
As a vegan, I will be biased for some of the more plant-friendly eateries in the city. At the moment, Cambridge is home to just two 100% vegan restaurants, but they’re pretty great. Stem & Glory is where you’ll find healthy, veg-focussed meals such as cauliflower buffalo wings, Thai green curry and salad bowls. If you’re looking for something a bit naughtier, had to Doppelgänger for dreamy plant based burgers! Aromi, Restaurant 22 and Old Bicycle Shop are also among my favourite haunts for dinner.
Thirsty? Cambridge has plenty of bars and pubs to keep the drinks flowing. For a swanky rooftop bar, head to the Varsity Hotel & Spa, it offers views over the city, but it’s a little pricey and gets very busy during the summer months. Baroosh and La Raza are great spots for a few vodkas, and there’s also tonnes of pubs if you’re looking for a cosier vibe.