If you've found yourself in Cambridge for 48 hours and don't know where to start, let us help.
Despite being synonymous with its world-famous university, Cambridge is a city rich in history, culture and entertainment that goes far beyond its student population. Sure, a major part of its charm is its awe-inspiring architecture, a large chunk of which is made up of the University of Cambridge’s 31 colleges. But the city’s bustling cobbled streets, wealth of green spaces, museums, galleries and independent shops, not to mention its sprawling restaurant scene, are all part of the reason Cambridge has become a hugely popular tourist destination in the UK.
Cambridge is without a doubt a fantastic area to retreat to for a relaxing getaway, but its plethora of restaurants, cafes, bars and eateries make it a top-class foodie destination in its own right. From Fitzbillies bakery’s famed Chelsea buns, to ice cream at Jack’s Gelato and freshly-made Sicilian pizza at Aromi, you’d be hard pressed to fit every must-try restaurant into a day's excursion. Our advice? Don’t. Plan a weekend away (or more) to Cambridge to really make the most of its spectacular food offering.
So abundant is the city with incredible places to eat, that knowing where to begin can feel a little overwhelming – and that’s where this guide comes in. If it’s your first time in the city and you want to hit up the very best places to eat, then consider this your ultimate travel guide to a foodie weekend in Cambridge. We’ve done the leg work for you and narrowed down the restaurants that really are not to be missed, while providing tips and suggestions throughout so you can adapt it to suit your trip. From Saturday brunch to a slap-up Sunday roast, we’ve put together a two-day itinerary for Cambridge to ensure you get the most out of a foodie trip to this pretty city. Good luck and happy eating!
Day one in Cambridge
Allow us to set the scene: it's day one of your foodie trip, you're feeling fresh, your appetite is strong and Cambridge's dining scene awaits. These are the places to get stuck into - immediately.
10am: Brunch at Smokeworks
What: Located a five-minute walk from the main station, Smokeworks is a great place to fuel up before a day of ambling around Cambridge’s cobbled pavements. This laid-back, American-style joint only serves brunch on Saturdays, so it makes sense to capitalise on its decadent dishes if you’re in town for the weekend. Look out for things like pork belly benedict, loaded pulled pork breakfast fries and the ‘Big Smoke’ for its take on a full English. These guys focus on barbecued meat, but they do offer some excellent veggie dishes, too – the mushroom and halloumi benedict is killer!
Where: 1-3 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2JB
Book now: Smokeworks Station Road
Hungry for more? Located just around the corner from Smokeworks is The Old Bicycle Shop, a shabby-chic but oh-so trendy bar and restaurant housed inside what used to be Britain’s oldest bike shop. It serves a mostly veggie and vegan all-day menu, with brunch served seven days a week. Find it at the top of Regent Street which handily leads directly into the city centre.
1pm: Lunch at Pinch
What: This cosy tapas bar on Rose Crescent, a pretty side street packed with boutique shops, cafes and bars, serves pinxtos (small snacks) and Spanish wines, as well as pastries and coffee. Keep things light with a selection of small plates from the ever-changing menu – think smoked almonds, Manchego with piquillo pepper marmalade, chilli broad beans and marinated aubergines – which are perfect for picking at over a glass of Rioja, while still leaving room for the rest of the day’s foodie activates. It’s excellent value too, with plates ranging between £2-5 each. A worthwhile pitstop!
Where: 6 Rose Crescent, Cambridge, CB2 3LL
Book now: Pinch
Hungry for more? Aromi is another Cambridge must-visit in the centre of town, a Sicilian bakery serving freshly-made pizza by the slice, plus pastries, coffee and gelato. You’ll find queues out the door on weekends as hungry diners wait to try its authentic Sicilian pizza, but the wait is totally worth it. Both eat-in and takeaway options are available here, so you can grab a bite and enjoy your goodies next to the river or in a park, if you like.
3:30pm: Ice cream at Jack’s Gelato
What: There are lots of good ice cream parlours in Cambridge, but one of the best has got to be Jack’s Gelato. It has two sites in Cambridge, but the main one is on Bene’t Street where it serves ice cream to hungry visitors seven days a week, 361 days a year! Easily recognisable by its cobalt blue door in the centre of town, signature flavours include roasted banana, marmalade, Cambridge elderflower sorbet and double honeycomb.
Where: 6 Bene't Street, CB2 3QN
Book now: Jack’s Gelato
Hungry for more? This foodie activity is by no means mandatory, but we think it’s a rather crafty way of combining one of Cambridge’s most popular activities – punting – with one of our favourite pastimes: eating. Book an afternoon tea on a punting boat to enjoy a 45-minute ride up the river, complete with a box of goodies from Fitzbillies bakery (when booked through Rutherford's).
7:30pm: Dinner at Trinity
What: Trinity is a fine dining restaurant and Champagne and oyster bar in the historic heart of Cambridge and a suitable finale to your first day exploring the city. If you can’t stomach the idea of a full three-course meal after a gastronomic day, it’s still worth popping in to sample a selection of oysters with a glass of Champagne at one of its smart stools and tables. One look at the expertly-crafted plates will encourage you to stay for dinner though. Look out for confit halibut with cauliflower masala and goat’s cheese veloute, roasted pork belly with morcilla ketchup, peperonata and prawn jus, and baked brioche with pineapple caramel and kulfi to finish.
Where: 15 Trinity Street, CB2 1TB
Book now: Trinity Restaurant
Hungry for more? If you’re after something a little more casual, The Pint Shop is a popular British boozer housed inside a Grade II-listed building that was once home to EM Forster. Enjoying a pint of bitter here is pretty much a Cambridge rite of passage, but stick around for the food too which is also very good.
Day two in Cambridge
Yesterday's foodie antics certainly filled a gap, but you've still got room for a few more pitstops - right? Round-off your trip with these must-try restaurants.
10am: Brunch at NOVI
What: Allow yourself a lazy morning lie-in on day two before strolling on down to this much-loved brunch spot. Everything from nutritious granola bowls to more indulgent plates, such as American waffles with fried chicken, smoky bacon and maple syrup, are served in a simple Scandi-style setting. The bar opens at 10am on weekends too, so why not make it a boozy brunch and order one of its signature cocktails alongside?
Where: 12 Regent Street, CB2 1DB
Book now: NOVI
Hungry for more? Still full from yesterday's antics? Pop into artisan bakery The Cambridge Oven a little further up the road from NOVI, which turns out impeccable pastries and sourdough made fresh in-house every day. If it’s a sunny morning, grab your order to-go and take it to enjoy on Parker’s Piece green a two-minute walk up the road.
2pm: A roast dinner at The Cambridge Chop House
What: If you're in Cambridge for the weekend, end your visit on a high with a slap-up Sunday roast, which we highly recommend you do courtesy of The Cambridge Chop House. As the name suggests, it’s a meaty affair, where high-quality cuts are used to create a menu of no-nonsense British staples, and its Sunday lunch is very generous - choose from beef, pork belly or half a chicken with all the trimmings.
Where: 1 King's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1SJ
Book now: The Cambridge Chop House
Hungry for more? The Pint Shop and The Clarendon Arms are both popular options for a Sunday roast in the centre of town.
4:30pm: Chelsea buns at Fitzbillies
What: Before you catch the train home, you can’t leave Cambridge without nipping into Fitzbillies to try one of its famous Chelsea buns. Served in giant, syrup-slicked rectangular baking trays, we can attest that they’re one of the best of their kind we’ve tried. Demolish immediately upon purchase or save for the journey home - if you have the willpower.
Where: 51-52 Trumpington Street, CB2 1RG
Book now: Fitzbillies
Where to stay in Cambridge: Hotels with restaurants
Because it's important that you're never more than a skip and a jump away from a fabulous meal, these are the best hotels with restaurants in Cambridge.
The Graduate Hotel
What: While we love this boutique hotel for its riverside views, central location and playful décor (the lobby boasts punting boats fixed to the walls and a huge DNA double helix suspended above the reception), it's also home to a fantastic restaurant: Garden House. Featuring an open kitchen that spans the width of the room and glamorous emerald green banquet seating, the restaurant specialises in seasonal British sharing plates executed to an exceptional level. Examples of dishes include smoked eel and sauce vierge, herdwick lamb rump with grilled courgette and smoked anchovy, and a Cambridge cream tart to finish.
Where: Mill Lane, CB2 1RT
Book now: Garden House at The Graduate
Hungry for more? Another hotel with an impeccable restaurant is the prestigious University Arms. It’s the oldest, and most beautiful, hotel in Cambridge, boasting grand Edwardian interiors throughout. The brasserie-style restaurant, Parker’s Tavern, is headed up by Tristan Welch whose menu places British staples firmly at the fore - from spag bol to chicken Kiev. You can also enjoy a Winnie the Pooh themed afternoon tea here!
Find out more at Visit Cambridge, or discover our ultimate list of all the best restaurants in Cambridge if you're planning on staying for longer than a night!