Friday 3pm: Check into the Graduate Hotel
With a picturesque riverside location and all the main landmarks within easy walking distance, this newly minted hotel is the perfect base for your weekend in Cambridge. Leaning into the city’s academic heritage, the interiors take inspiration from Cambridge University’s historic buildings, with nods to college crests and plenty of donnish leather armchairs. Rooms are traditionally styled and cosy, and the hotel offers a 20% discount for Cambridge University graduates – perfect for former students visiting their old alma mater.
Friday 4pm: Hit the River
The hotel’s location means you’re perfectly placed to enjoy the next item on your itinerary: a punting trip. It might be a bit of a Cambridge cliché, but that doesn’t make this ancient pursuit any less fun – and there’s really no better way of seeing the sights. Pick up a bottle of something from Cambridge Wine Merchants then make your way to the Mill Lane punt station, where you can hop aboard a boat and enjoy a chauffeured tour of The Backs, taking in iconic sights such as King’s College Chapel and the Bridge of Sighs. If you’re feeling confident, you can do your own punting – but be warned, it’s trickier than it looks! If there’s time, make like a local and grab a pint from the Mill Pub, enjoying it on the grass outside while the sun sets.
Friday 7pm: Dinner Time
A five-minute walk from the hotel, The Senate on St Mary’s Passage is a great little bistro with a prime location. Dishes are unashamedly indulgent (think creamy gnocchi and slow-cooked beef cheeks with dauphinoise potatoes), and it’s surrounded by impressive sights including Senate House and Great St Mary’s Church – best admired from the tables out the front, if the weather allows.
Saturday 11am: See the Sights
After a lie-in and lazy brunch at the hotel, put on some comfy shoes and head out on foot to explore the city. From the medieval Round Church to the golden Corpus Clock, there’s plenty to see, but it would be a mistake to visit Cambridge and not get a closer look at the world-famous colleges. All of the city centre colleges can be visited by the public, but you’ll need to check opening times in advance, and be aware that some may require advance booking.
Saturday 3pm: Fitzbillies & The Fitz
Time for a pitstop, and there’s nowhere better than Fitzbillies on Trumpington Street, a local institution that’s been delighting the city’s tastebuds for over 100 years. From brunches and sandwiches to a huge selection of colourful cakes and confections, the food here is fabulous, but the must-try is the legendary Chelsea bun: syrupy, deliciously spiced and completely addictive. While you’re riding the sugar high, mosey a little further down the street to the Fitzwilliam Museum, which houses a world-renowned collection of art and artefacts, and hosts exhibitions throughout the year.
Saturday 8pm: Meat, Bread & Beer
An homage to the original beer houses or ‘Tom and Jerry Shops’, Pint Shop takes its booze very seriously. Endless artisan gins and top-quality whiskies, plus a chalkboard filled with craft beers, mean you’re spoiled for choice, but it’s the food that really pulls in the punters at this Cambridge pub. Expect smoky flavours, posh kebabs, proper Scotch eggs and great burgers. Vegetarian diners: don’t be put off by the ‘Meat. Bread. Beer’ slogan, the chefs are just as skilled at whipping up tantalising plant-based dishes.
Sunday 10am: Brunch & Indie Shopping
Make the most of your final few hours in the city by beginning your day with a visit to Hot Numbers on Trumpington Street. The café has its own roastery and serves fantastic speciality coffee, as well as reliably great brunch dishes. Once you’ve had your fill, hit the shops: Cambridge has a fabulous array of independent retailers dotted around the city centre. Favourites include gift emporiums Ark and Podarok, homewares and furniture store Angela Reed, and Hill St, a pastel-pink chocolate shop tucked away on All Saint’s Passage where you can pick up a box of treats to take home.