City life in Cambridge

Students in Cambridge

Cambridge is renowned worldwide for its history, exquisite architecture and huge cultural appeal.

From Newton’s law of universal gravitation to the discovery of the structure of DNA by Crick and Watson, Cambridge has helped to shape the world as we know it. As a student here, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in this world-famous centre of learning.

Cambridge highlights

One of the best things about Cambridge is its size. It’s compact, and easy to explore on foot or by bicycle. Or, of course, you can wander down to the River Cam and hire one of the city’s famous punts. It’s a glorious way to sightsee.

And what will you see? You’ll discover a network of medieval streets and passageways, college courts, gardens, bridges and churches. Sometimes there seem to be theatres, galleries, craft markets, cafés and tiny secondhand bookshops around every corner. With so much to see and do it can be hard to pick out the highlights, but we think you might like:

  • taking a walking tour of Cambridge (or hiring a bike and exploring on two wheels)
  • punting on the River Cam
  • exploring the extensive collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum
  • visiting the magnificent King’s College Chapel
  • relaxing in open spaces such as the Botanic Gardens, Midsummer Common and Parker’s Piece
  • admiring the eye-catching Corpus (or ‘Grasshopper’) Clock.

What's on in Cambridge?

Download a copy of the Cambridge BID magazine, your guide to seasonal events, culture, shopping, and days out.

Visit Love Cambridge or Visit Cambridge to discover more about the events and projects happening in the city.

Art and culture

In Cambridge, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to art and culture. We’ve already mentioned the Fitzwilliam Museum which takes pride of place on Trumpington Street, but there’s an array of smaller museums and galleries to choose from, too.

Kettle's Yard has a distinctive collection of 20th-century art displayed in a beautiful house, the former home of curator Jim Ede. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s exhibits span almost two million years of human history, with a notable collection from the South Pacific. The Polar Museum holds a collection relating to polar exploration and science, alongside outstanding examples of Inuit art. Honourable mention must go to our very own Ruskin Gallery, which hosts shows by student and professionals artists throughout the year.

Cambridge is also home to well-known music venues – including the Corn Exchange and The Junction – as well as the Cambridge Arts Theatre and the ADC Theatre, Britain’s oldest university playhouse. On campus you’ll find the Mumford Theatre with its year-round programme of plays, musicals, comedy and children’s shows.

Food and drink

When it comes to food and drink, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets in Cambridge.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with cafés: everything from charming tea rooms to quaint coffee shops, spilling out onto Market Square, lining King’s Parade and tucked away in churches and quiet back streets. For a cup of artisan hot chocolate, drop into Chocolat Chocolat on St Andrew’s Street.

The city and surrounding villages are home to some of the best pubs in the region, most serving lunches and dinners. Famously, The Eagle on Benet Street is the place where Nobel prize-winners Francis Crick and James Watson went to celebrate their discovery of the structure of DNA. Other popular pub grub locations include The Punter, Pint Shop, and The Old Bicycle Shop which is a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.

There’re plenty of cheap eats to be had when you’re on the go in Cambridge, too. Favourites with locals include The Mac Daddy, Vegan Vice, Bread & Meat, Amelie, and Jian Bing House.

You can discover new restaurants and dishes at the Eat Cambridge food festival. It celebrates local producers, and will delight you if you’re a bit of a foodie. It takes place every year in May and features a food fair, pop-up restaurants, secret supper clubs and more.


For seasoned shopaholics the Grand Arcade, in the heart of Cambridge, offers a mix of 50 designer and high street retailers. Just a few minutes’ walk from our campus is another major shopping complex, the Grafton Centre, which also has a cinema.

Cambridge is also home to a vast number of independent shops. You’ll find all sorts of gems in the city’s passageways and squares. The Mill Road area is known for being a hub of indie stores and community events, and King Street – tucked away behind the Grand Arcade – is well worth a look, too.  

Slap-bang in the middle of Cambridge you’ll find Market Square, with its thriving outdoor market which can trace its roots back to the Middle Ages. If you want to get a good deal on organic produce and support local farmers and retailers, this is the place to go. We’re also fans of the mobile coffee cart which pitches up on Saturdays. Find fresh food and flowers, jewellery, cycle services and much more.

Browse the local artists’ market at All Saints Garden or explore the Arts Quarter – Bene’t Street Area as well as a range of independent shops and eateries.

Sport and fitness

It goes without saying that cycling is a popular past-time in Cambridge. If you don’t own a bike, it’s easy to hire one.

Rowing is another sport that’s closely associated with Cambridge. We have a rowing club on campus, the Anglia Ruskin Boat Club, which competes in local races on the River Cam and at British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) events and regattas.

As well as the rowing club, you’ll find a range of sports clubs that are open to all our students – everything from football and Frisbee, to netball and cricket. You can also make use of our Helmore Gym or drop into nearby Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre for discounted fitness classes. It’s all part of our Sport and Active Anglia programme.

Natural Cambridge

As cities go, Cambridge is known for being particularly green, and you won’t need to go far to feel at one with nature. There are plenty of parks in the city where you can enjoy relaxing next to the River Cam. Midsummer Common, with its famous cows, is a favourite with locals.

If you're yearning for slightly wilder scenery, 12 areas of Cambridgeshire are designated as local nature reserves – including much of its famous fenland. Each reserve is home to an array of wildlife and is helping to protect beautiful natural habitats. Follow one of the many walking or cycling routes to see the best that the countryside has to offer.

For an experience really close to campus...

Mill Road is just a stone's throw from our Cambridge campus. Head off campus via the ‘rear’ gates near the Coslett building and down MacKenzie Road to get to Mill Road. It has a range of independent restaurants and cafés, with two family-run Italian restaurants, a tapas bar and range of cafés with outdoor, pavement seating. You'll also find two specialist fish eateries, two Maghrebian restaurants, Syrian, Lebanese and Chinese cuisine... you name it, Mill Road has it.

The side streets also have a range of great pubs that are worth seeking out. There's a huge range of independent shops in which you can buy just about any speciality food, too.

For cyclists, Mill Road has a brilliant range of bike shops which, between them, can sell you, or repair for you, just about any cycle.

There are more hairdressers and barbers than you can shake a stick at, alongside shops selling a wonderful range of antiques and bric-à-brac, charity shops, Relevant Records for vinyl albums, and more.

For more information about Mill Road visit Mill Road Bridges.

Supporting local businesses

You can get the Love Cambridge Gift Card to support local businesses. The card is accepted by a huge variety of businesses from shops and restaurants, cafes and bars to hairdressers and beauty salons.

Visit us in Cambridge

Interested in seeing Cambridge for yourself? Come along and explore. We’d love to welcome you to our campus.