Cambridge local, Tilly-Jayne, is today’s guest blogger as she shares a local’s guide to Cambridge, one of the prettiest cities in the UK!
You could say I’m incredibly lucky to have grown up with Cambridge as my local city. Cambridge is rich in history, great for an Instagram shot and a popular tourist destination, for good reason! That being said it can be easy to take it for granted, rushing past Kings College without so much as a glance, and trying to avoid the punting touts (no, I don’t want to go on the river today). Even as a resident, I try and spend time in Cambridge over the summer as a tourist, visiting new bars and restaurants, and enjoying a picnic in on the city’s beautiful green spaces.
Cambridge is the perfect destination to spend a relaxing long weekend. Meander around the cobbled streets, stop off for a pastry at the daily market and explore the world-famous University buildings. There’s plenty to keep you busy, and here’s my local’s guide to Cambridge. Let’s start with the basics…
Where to Stay in Cambridge
Cambridge is home to a handful of impressive hotels, plenty of guesthouses and also student accommodation which is often rented out during the summer holiday period and is a great option for a budget stay in Cambridge.
For the best location I would recommend the brand new University Arms hotel, it’s extremely central and close to restaurants, shopping and bars. The style of the hotel is classic and luxurious – think ottomans, chandeliers and velour furnishings.
If you’re looking for a totally unique Cambridge B&B then University Rooms offer the chance to stay in the town’s famous and historic colleges.
If you’re seeking somewhere that’s a little quirkier and Instagrammable, The Tamburlaine is definitely worth checking out, even if you just pop by for a drink or afternoon tea. The interiors are gorgeous with tassel velvet sofas, a playful colour palette (hello powder pink chairs) and lots of marble. It’s a blogger paradise – just check out their Instagram!
What to Do in Cambridge
There’s something for everyone in Cambridge and it’s a city that can be visited in all seasons but I have to admit, it definitely looks the prettiest in summer time…
Go On a Punting Tour
No guide to Cambridge would be complete with mentioning punting! Cambridge is synonymous with punting, and trust me, you can’t escape it. Your trip wouldn’t be complete without a tour down the river, and if it’s good enough for the Beckhams eh?
You can choose to join a group where you’ll have your own guide (usually a student of the University), this is a nice way to see a little more of the city and find out more about its history. Alternatively, you can give it a go yourself but it’s harder than it looks and I learnt that the hard way. Pack a bottle of champers and some strawberries for a fun couple of hours! If it’s chilly, blankets are supplied to cosy up in. I’d recommend Scudamores, you can find them on Magdalene Street right by the bridge.
Have a Pint in the Eagle
This pub is the oldest in Cambridge and dates back to the 16th Century! 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. This pub is very popular with both tourists and locals of all walks of life, and in the summer you can enjoy a refreshing pint in the courtyard. I love coming here at Christmas, it feels oh so cosy and traditional.
Visit the Fitzwilliam Museum
Spend a couple of hours in one of Cambridge’s most stunning buildings, the Fitzwilliam Museum. This neoclassical building is an architectural dream housing art, antiques and illuminated manuscripts. It’s free to enter and there’s often different exhibitions and events happening too. It’s just down the road from the main hub of the city, so very walkable and definitely worth a visit. Also a great place to hide out from the inevitable UK rain…
Stop by King’s College Chapel
You can’t have a guide to Cambridge without mentioning this masterpiece of English craftsmanship. Founded by Henry VI in 1441, this chapel really does take your breath away. Featuring a fan-vault ceiling, stained glass windows and Ruben’s masterpiece. You can book onto a guided tour or if you’d prefer, you can wander around at your own pace. Tickets for adults are around £9 and there’s discounts for students and children too. The chapel is a real symbol of Cambridge and sometimes I have to remind myself to stop and appreciate it, if just for a few seconds!
Enjoy the Independents on Mill Road
If you want to escape the chains and enjoy an array of interesting independent cafes, shops and more, then head to Mill Road. This is Cambridge’s main indie scene, and I love swinging by Relevant Records for a slice of vegan cake and a browse of the vinyl. They also regularly hold events such as live music nights and quizzes. On Mill Road you’ll also find a microbrewery as well as raved about restaurants (Bedouin is next on my list).
Get Involved in the Vegan Food Scene
The Cambridge vegan food scene is exploding and there’s very much a community spirit amongst the veggies and vegans of Cambridge. A vegan friendly city, there are regular markets at the Guildhall which usually cost just £1 to enter. You can enjoy delicious cakes and savoury snacks as well as beauty products and clothing. For lunch, head to the traditional Rainbow Café – their vegan cheesecake is to die for! Stem & Glory is another great choice and is Cambridge’s first vegan-only eatery. Although I’m yet to try them myself, I’ve heard that the Dopple Ganger burgers at 2648 Bar are pretty damn good.
Wander Around the Market
Although the city’s market is fairly small it’s worth a visit if you’re after an on-the-go snack! You can also find flowers, plants, clothing, records and jewellery. It can get quite busy at the weekends, so if I need something I try to head down first thing on a Saturday for my eucalyptus and gypsophila supplies. During the summer, the market square often hosts outdoor film showings which is very popular with both families and groups of friends.
If you’re visiting in summer, the open-air Shakespeare Festival is great fun! Don’t be surprised if you spot an influx of men in leggings and padded shoulders walking around the city.
The Local’s Guide to Cambridge
Where to Eat
Alongside the veggie-friendly establishments already listed, I have to recommend the Old Bicycle Shop, formerly Britain’s oldest bike shop (hence the name) it’s a quirky eatery with a varied menu and vegan friendly wines. So popular they’ve opened two additional branches to support demand.
Aromi is a must-visit for truly Italian food. Enjoy a slice of Sicily in Cambridge, the bread is simply amazing – don’t be surprised if there’s a queue at the door, there usually is.
If you want to make your stay a little more special, book a table at Restaurant 22. Fine dining that offers value for money, it’s raved about in Cambridge!
Don’t be tempted to walk past the various food trucks you’ll find around the city, the food is usually amazing and perfect if you just want to grab something whilst exploring.
Cambridge also does an afternoon tea particularly well! If you can’t resist a cuppa and a scone, then you can head to Harriet’s Tearoom for a traditional feel.
If you fancy escaping Cambridge for an afternoon and exploring the nearby area, Newmarket’s Bedford Lodge Hotel offer a delicious afternoon tea that I have to say, is one of the best in the area I’ve enjoyed. Newmarket is also a lovely town to explore and only 25 minutes from Cambridge.
Where to Drink in Cambridge
As you can imagine, as a student city there are plenty of places to drink in Cambridge. You’ll be spoilt for choice with pubs and bars. My favourite spot for a summer drink has to be the rooftop bar at The Varsity Hotel & Spa, it’s a little pricier but worth it for ambience and views.
Baroosh and La Raza are also great for a cocktail and popular with the younger crowd. If you want somewhere to go after then check out Lola Lo, although personally my clubbing days are over but it can be a fun night out.
Check out the Visit Cambridge Instagram for further inspiration!
Tilly-Jayne is a UK travel and lifestyle blogger, keep up to date with her adventures at tillyjayne.com. Alongside blogging, Tilly is a freelance social media manager and content creator. You’ll usually find her hunting out the best new plant-based restaurants, snapping away for Instagram and attempting to be good at yoga. Her destination of choice is California and one day she hopes to embark on a mammoth Route 66 road trip.
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Friday 9th of November 2018
I went to Cambridge for a wedding last year, I can't believe it was my first time there! So lovely!