A Weekend In Cambridge

Considering I have lived in the UK my entire life, I’ve not really taken city breaks or explored the country I call home very much. So this year, it was part of my 2019 goals to travel more within the UK and see some of the history and culture we have here, starting with a weekend in Cambridge.

Cambridge is a historical university city which has been home for the likes of Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin and Stephen Fry and is also famous for its rivalry with fellow high-status university, Oxford. I feel Cambridge is often overlooked by people of my age as a holiday destination as you could be fooled into thinking it is all centred on history or around the university, but in our weekend in Cambridge, we realised there is more to this University city than it seems.

Cambridge college with blue sk and text overlay "travel diary cambridge uk"

A Weekend In Cambridge: Day 1

We arrived in Cambridge on Friday afternoon and went straight to the hotel to drop off our bags and sort ourselves out. As myself and my boyfriend are both on a bit of a budget at the moment, we chose to stay in a Premier Inn as we’ve always had good experiences and it’s such good value for money. The hotel was about a 20-minute walk from the city centre which was fine for us, but something to bear in mind.

Once we had settled in, we went for a wander around to get a feel for the city and find somewhere for lunch. We had been recommended a variety of places by a friend and opted for Aromi – an Italian bakery and coffeehouse. Aromi served everything from handmade sourdough pizzas to cannoli, to cocktails. We both opted for meaty pizzas and I can honestly say it was probably the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. It was so incredibly fresh and left me feeling full but not bloated or heavy.

close up picture of pizza with bacon, red and yellow peppers and tomato

After our very successful lunch stop, we wandered around the colleges for a while, visited the Corpus Clock and popped into a few independent shops. One of my personal highlights from our weekend in Cambridge overall was the amount of small independent businesses and cafes making a name for themselves. It was a real treat to see so much individuality in one place.

We then walked back to the hotel to change for dinner. We had made reservations at Jamie’s Italian earlier in the day as this is one of our favourite restaurants but there aren’t any local to us at home so it’s a bit of a treat. As usual, we had a lovely meal, great cocktails and a really great chocolate fondant dessert that was new on the menu! Sadly, this has now closed but there were lots of similar Italian restaurants in the city!

On the recommendations of our waitress, we then went to La Raza for cocktails as they had live music on and it sounded perfect for us. La Raza is a basement cocktail bar under the cobbles of Rose Crescent, and it seems pretty unassuming from the outside. But downstairs is a really great bar with some incredible and unique cocktails. My boyfriend and I made full use of the happy hour offer and both fell heads over heels for the ‘Love You Berry Much’ cocktail – I would highly recommend if you like fruity drinks!

On that evening, there was a band called Swagger playing. They did a mix of modern pop songs as well as classic get-up-and-dance tunes. Think wedding disco, but cooler. I’m not exactly sure where they are from but I assume they are local to Cambridge – again, I would highly recommend seeing them as they were ace and really good fun!

Food, Punting and More Food: Day 2

On our first full day in Cambridge, we headed out for brunch at Fitzbillies. Fitzbillies is a charming little cafe in the city centre that serves hot food as well as cakes, afternoon tea and the traditional Chelsea buns. Both my boyfriend and I opted for a Full English and it was stunning. Hands down the best fry up I’ve ever had, with a really nice atmosphere and friendly service too.

After brunch, we decided to do what Cambridge is probably best known for (except for the university) – punting. We headed towards the river and as expected, there were many different companies offering different tours and discounts and all sorts. We took our tour with Rutherford’s, who did not disappoint. Our guide was really funny yet informative and we definitely learnt a lot about Cambridge that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. For what it is, I think punting is quite pricey, but it’s worth it to say you’ve done it and it is a great way to see a lot of the city.

traditional english buildings viewed from the river in cambridge

We took the rest of the afternoon pretty easy after punting, just having a stroll around before popping back to the hotel again to get ready for dinner. We booked in at Wildwood after struggling to find a table at most other restaurants. Side note – I would definitely recommend booking restaurants a week or so in advance if you are visiting Cambridge at a weekend as we found everywhere was very busy! Again, we were both really happy with our meals and cocktails and would definitely visit again.

After dinner, we went to explore a cocktail bar that we had heard of called Hidden Rooms, which as the name suggests, is hidden in a bit of a side street. The bar itself is underground and definitely has a bit of a premium vibe – but actually, the drinks were quite reasonably priced and I didn’t feel out of place there. I had a Bramble and my boyfriend had a Singapore Gin Sling, both of which were very boozy but really tasty.

Goodbye Cambridge: Day 3

Our last day on our whistlestop weekend in Cambridge saw us starting the day at yet another restaurant for brunch (we like food, okay). This morning, we chose Bill’s as they had a good range of brunch and lunch options that were a little different to the other cafes we had been to. I’ll try not to talk about the food too much but I had a chicken burger and my boyfriend had another Full English and they were both delicious.

The weather was looking a bit grey and gloomy on our last day, so we didn’t do too much in the way of activities. As typical Brits, we didn’t let it put us off so we took a rainy stroll down the river and through Jesus Green which is really pretty. I can imagine in the summer it’s a really lovely place for a picnic or just chilling out.

As the day went on, the weather did get worse so we went and took shelter back in Fitzbillies as we had eyed up some of the cakes when we went for brunch the previous day. We had planned on checking out a few more of the local independent shops that afternoon, but unfortunately, the rain persisted so we headed home.

For our first proper UK city break, Cambridge did not disappoint. There was so much to do and it’s a really beautiful place just to walk around if you want a chilled weekend away. I’d definitely come back and visit more of the museums and colleges as I do feel we took a very quick tour of what is a very interesting and historical city.

Have you ever visited Cambridge or do you plan to? What would you do differently to us?

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  1. Claire says

    I love this post, we are off to Cambridge next weekend and it’s a first for me. I can’t wait.

    Have pinned this to look at again next week.

  2. Kristin Harris/Tales from Home says

    This is a great goal for 2019! It’s really easy to get caught up in wanting to travel all over and forget about all the sweet little spots that are closer by! It sounds like your guys had a great trip despite the rain on the last day too which is great!

  3. Jenny in Neverland says

    I’ve lived in the UK all my life too and although I think I’ve been to a fair few places, cities are never one of them! I’ve never been to Cambridge but it looks gorgeous! I’d love to go on one of those little boat rides!

  4. Annelize says

    We’ve recently visited Cambridge also for the first time ever and it was very very beautiful! Wasn’t the Corpus Clock really interesting?

  5. Molly Catherine says

    I’ve never been to Cambridge but would love to visit! Your photos are lovely, also love how much you mention the food as I am a real foodie!! Lovely post 🙂 x

    • whatabigailsays says

      I wouldn’t say it was any more expensive than other UK cities, and because we stayed in a Premier Inn the hotel was really cheap. I really loved punting, it was so relaxing and you got to see so much of the city from a different perspective

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