A guide to visiting Cambridge

August 23rd, 2020

Scholars Punting proposal tour Monday July 27 2020.
Photo credit Chris Radburn/Fixed Point Media

Whether your visiting for a long weekend or just the day, Cambridge offers the perfect blend of rivers, historic buildings, restaurants, and shopping opportunities

I have put together a list of recommendations of things which you should consider doing:

Where to Park

You can park with on-street pay and display, or in a multi-storey car park such as Grand Arcade. As a cheaper alternative, why not use the park and ride. There are five car parks all around the city, together they cover all major routes into the city.

Where to stay

Cambridge has a broad spectrum of accommodation. I have selected my choice of three very different hotels.

Affordable accommodation

The Cambridge Guest House is situated on Milton road. It’s a £7 taxi from the city centre or roughly a 10-minute walk.

Accommodation is clean, cosy and spacious. Below is a link to their website;

Unique accommodation

The Varsity Hotel and Spa is located in the heart of the city centre. It has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city.

Prices vary from expensive to very expensive.

The spa includes a gym and jacuzzi with river views.

Natural accommodation

The Old Hall is based nearby in Ely. This spacious countryside location makes for wonderful natural views, especially at sunset.

The building dates back to 1830 so the accommodation has an old fashioned feel

Where to have Breakfast

Fancy breakfast

Located outside of the city centre, Stir is an independent cafe where you will find rowers eating after a morning outing. Stir serves locally sourced food catering for all, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. It is also worth checking out their bakery next door.

Note: there is no parking

Traditional to Cambridge

No trip to Cambridge is complete without tasting a Fitzbillies Chelsea bun. They offer a broad range of breakfast options but be warned you will pay restaurant prices.

Full English

As an expert in fried breakfasts, you will be surprised to hear me recommend the restaurant chain Côte. All the ingredients are of high quality and the cooking, including the scrambled eggs, are spot on.

Unlike your local greasy spoon, there is nobody across the table eating with their mouth open. It’s possible that they are scared of by the price, however surprisingly a full English with a coffee and glass of fruit juice is actually around a tenner.

Walking Tour

There are many walking tours available in Cambridge. We recommend using a company who employ qualified Blue or Green badge guides. The qualification is both difficult and expensive to attain which is a sign of quality.

Cambridge Tour Guides are a company who provide officially badged tour guides, however, there are many other companies and individuals who provide this service.

Where to Shop

Check out the Grand Arcade which is Cambridge’s most popular shopping centre, with a selection of over 60 premium and high street retailers, including John Lewis. It is located right in the centre amongst the colleges and has a multi-storey car park.

Where to have Lunch

Cambridge is packed with cafes and restaurants. I recommend Aromi for food on the move. They sell a small range of traditional Italian treats. Choose your timing wisely though, as their food is so good that there are often large queues around lunchtime.

Where to get Coffee

I recommend Bould Brothers for coffee which is located close to the Round Church. Coffee connoisseurs will appreciate their attention to detail.

Where to go Punting

Of course, I can only recommend Scholars Punting Cambridge.

Where to get a Drink for the Tour

If you fancy having a tipple whilst out on the river, then I suggest a trip to Cambridge Wine merchants. It’s conveniently located close to the punting on Bridge Street. They have disposable glasses especially for punting.

If you are in a hurry and don’t want to miss the boat, then you can buy drinks from the Pimm’s punt located at different places on the river. Unfortunately, they don’t have a website at present.

Where to Eat Dinner

I have come up with two different options for dinner.

Dinner with a view

Why not migrate to the village of Grantchester for your dinner? You can enjoy a pint and some pub-grub whilst watching the sunset over the famous Grantchester meadows.

Here is a link; https://www.redliongrantchester.co.uk/

Atmospheric dinner

Stolen Cambridge, formally Darry’s is based in a Victorian building with a shady, shabby chic atmosphere.  Try to get a seat on the rooftop balcony which overlooks the courtyard.