With its ornate stone university and waistcoat-clad punters gliding along the river, Cambridge has heaps of old-world charm. You can almost hear the whispers of the college’s most famous alumni – Christopher Marlowe, John Milton and Charles Darwin – from the creaking libraries and majestic student digs. But this historic city has so much more to offer than academia. Trendy artisan eateries, a growing craft beer scene and high-profile hotel openings have given Cambridge a new lease of life. It’s easy to get around on foot (or bicycle), too. Take in its delights, old and new, with our handy guide.
Old bicycle shop
This bustling café happily sates everyone from young mums meeting up for sweet potato pancakes to students staving off hangovers with doorstopper sarnies. When the sun’s shining, eat out in the pretty, flower-filled garden.
LUNCH & DINNER
Bread & meat
Fuel up for an afternoon of sightseeing at this no-frills eatery. The signature porchetta sandwich, served with house-made salsa verde and the crispiest crackling, is ideal with a cold beer.
Steak & honour
The first permanent site from one of Cambridge’s most popular street-food traders, this quick, casual restaurant is all about juicy beef patties piled high with oozy cheese, crispy bacon and pickles.
For a special dinner, try the innovative European fare at chef Hans Schweitzer’s fine dining restaurant in the Goneville Hotel. Cap off the night with his exquisite earl grey-scented chocolates.
COFFEE & CAKE
A Cambridge institution, this bakery has been turning out its legendary chelsea buns since 1921. There’s also a fill-your-boots brunch menu and elegant afternoon tea.
Stop at this little café, tucked away from the main tourist drag, for a big wedge of homemade cake, a crumpet from local Dovecote bakery and a natter with owner Jo.
Hot numbers coffee
A laid-back coffee shop that serves java made with beans roasted in-house. Look out for live jazz nights at the Gwydir street site.
hotnumberscoffee.co.uk Bould brothers coffee
Top British producers, such as London’s Origin Coffee, are showcased at the city’s slickest new espresso bar.
Author EM Forster once lived in this renovated early 19th-century house, but nowadays it’s more about beer drinking than deep thinking. Find cask and keg ales from small-scale brewers, and British fare to soak it up.
pintshop.co.uk Cambridge wine merchants
Experts at these three stores will help you choose from a huge selection of wines and local beers to take home, or you can sample them by the glass on the sunny terrace at the Bridge Street branch.
A modern all-day bar with sharing charcuterie platters, coffee from local roasters Frank and Earnest, and cocktails stirred with homemade vinegars and shrubs.
Find a dramatic spiral staircase, botanical prints, and velvet-suited staff mixing cocktails at the marble bar in this stylish new hotel. The in-house deli, stocked with cold-pressed juices and salad bowls, is a handy place for picnic treats.
Cambridge contemporary craft
Ceramics, glassware and prints made by talented British craftspeople.
Find more travel tips in Jamie magazine every issue, or click here to save on a subscription. Words: Heather Taylor