It’s been a while since I’ve been on a little stay-cation in the UK, but when Thameslink and Great Northern Rail got in touch offering the chance to visit beautiful Cambridge as part of their Hello Spring campaign, I couldn’t resist a visit. What with their extensive 2for1 offers on various UK destinations, I was so excited to hop on board and discover some beautiful spots on this sunny Bank Holiday weekend- and with friends in the city, it just made for a perfect excuse to catch up on the river and while away a Sunday evening- not bad for an hour away from London! Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty (and where you should definitely not miss)…
Getting the grub: Aromi
Arriving in Cambridge, Aromi was one place we’d had resounding recommendations for, so pulling up on a sunny Sunday, (with a small whirr of people forming a queue) we were lucky, at 12:30 in the afternoon, to get a table. With rows of fresh handmade pizza, sourdough paninos, focaccia, cannoli and other delicious Italian delicacies (read: chocolate and ricotta brownies)- this place is pretty much my idea of heaven. It’s the perfect place to pick up a grab-and-go picnic lunch, or some carb-fuelled people watching- either way, make it top of your foodie priorities in the city.
1 Bene’t St, Cambridge CB2 3QN
6 Ice Cream
This little gem is another tucked away on Bene’t Street (somewhat of a foodie haven in Cambridge), and 6 Ice Cream was positively packed (naturally) when we hopped over to refuel when the sun came out! With a gorgeous gold, white, pink and black interior- it’s more than just delicious ice cream (their flavours include Cambridge Cream- infused with lavender, blood orange sorbet and rose and salted pistachio) but beautiful interiors too (and somewhere I’d gladly munch on a cornet come rain or shine).
6 Bene’t St, Cambridge CB2 3QN
Oh my god. Smokeworks. Oh my god. If I could validate a whole review by just using those three words I would. This place is SO good. I’m not normally one for pulled pork or more American style barbecue food, but I am so, so glad we ended up grabbing food here after a long afternoon on the river. After being told it was a total must go for comfort food, we rolled in and picked up the window seat (due to their busyness- be sure to book ahead)- and ordered some of the most delicious food we’ve eaten. With me opting for the pulled chicken burger with bacon jam and Joe opting for the pulled pork brisket with beef dripping mash- we both left feeling (comfortably) full and desperate to go again (they also do amazing shakes and deserts- I had a chocolate elderflower cream cheesecake which was also worth chatting about). So dreamy.
2 Free School Ln, Cambridge CB2 3QA
I’m sure if you’re from Cambridge, you’d have already heard of the institution that is Fitzbillies. Fuelled by deliciously sticky Chelsea buns dotted with juicy raisins and the promise of fresh bakes, delicious brunch and home-baked tarts; Fitzbillies is the perfect spot for pretty much everything. Whether you’re nervously waiting to do a talk and require endless cups of tea, need some serious laptop time, need some Cambridge-exploring fuel (~raises hand~)- then this spot is for you. Even though it’s remarkably popular, the service is speedy, warm and efficient- so an extra tick there too.
51 – 52 Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RG
Now, I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I know a nice place to eat when I see (or, ahem, taste) one- with Espresso Library being just that. Fronted by airy windows, exposed wooden tables, cycles hanging from the ceiling and natural light a-plenty (with pop up photography shows too); it’s the perfect space for taking five in the city. Additionally, the menu celebrates healthy, delicious and simple food and are somewhat experts in the avocado-toast brigade too. Alternatively, if you’re not into the green stuff- their breakfast menu, sandwiches and homemade cakes are also worth the stop-by too.
210 East Rd, Cambridge CB1 1BG
Bread and Meat/Pint Shop:
Although we didn’t have time to visit either of these places, both local friends (and wonderful Cambridge based Twitter followers) were quick to note down these places on Bene’t Street and Peas Hill as great spots for both delicious food and good drinks (particularly beers). Bread and Meat was continuously busy (their sandwiches are apparently out of this world) and Pint Shop seemed like the perfect place to grab a drink (even if you were waiting for a table elsewhere)- so I definitely wanted to note these down too!
B&M: 4 Bene’t St, Cambridge CB2 3QN, Pint Shop: 10 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PN
Playing Tourist: Punting
Although it’s probably no surprise to anyone, no visit to Cambridge is complete without a punt along the River Cam. Whether you chose to take a guided tour, or brave the open waters with friends (Caroline, Briony, Joe, Oscar and I ended up riding up and down the river for around four hours until dusk)- it’s an absolute must-do and you’ll be blown away by the amount of history you can consume along the beautiful backs and behind each college (this is where a local friend, or handy guide is hugely recommended…)!
Another for the history and culture hungry- be sure to absorb some of the magic of Cambridges colleges- they’re famous for a reason, y’all (trust me when I say the Hogwarts references are all completely just and every bit as magical as you’d expect). Although it’s likely you’ll have to pay for a visit, a walk around the courtyard gardens (and repeating to yourself ‘students actually live here’) is quite something (we popped our heads in at a student dinner and witnessed gowns, sweeping candlelit tables, gloriously rich paintings as just a taster), and knowing their past alumni including Newton, Byron and Darwin lived amongst those walls is quite something- so make it a top priority amongst all of the ice cream eating!
Be sure to also visit the Fitzwilliam musuem for incredible art and exhibitions too!
Resting your head: Hotel Felix
Hotel Felix is a little out of the city centre, but makes for a beautiful little peaceful retreat after a long day exploring the city. With stunning grounds, an exterior that could rival some of the prettiest stately homes and the deepest most relaxing baths in the bedrooms (nothing shouts ‘let’s unwind’ like a bathroom floor covered in bubbles)- this hotel is one to note down for any overnight visits! I’ve also heard wonderful things about The Varsity (their rooftop bar is meant to be beautiful on a sunny day) and Hotel Du Vin too.
Whitehouse Lane, Huntington Rd, Cambridge CB3 0LX
Getting spendy: Green Street
If you fancy popping into some beautiful homeware shops, Green Street is one to note down. With both Catesby’s and Home Stuff With History on this little lane, there’s a fair bit to get your teeth stuck into. With Catesby’s boasting idyllic French inspired homewares and scents (the candle and perfume selection in here is gorgeous) and Home Stuff With History oozing nooks and crannies filled with everything from vintage server ware, second hand cameras, collectable tins and new gifts and cards (with some seriously beautiful branding too).
Cambridge Satchel Company
You can’t not visit Cambridge without visiting the debut Cambridge Satchel Company store, can you? As a long time lover of the brand, seeing the original store (and it’s incredible new season sorbet-shaded bags) was quite the treat. Not only is it beautifully merchandised (there’s academia memorabilia a plenty), but Joe’s photos were displayed in store too- so perhaps I’m biased, but they made it worth the visit alone!
2 St Mary’s Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PQ