The Cambridge Student Survival Guide
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The Cambridge Student Survival Guide

Bargain dinners, vintage clothing and the best big nights out – get these student-friendly hangouts on your radar!

Cheap eats in Cambridge

If you’re on a shoestring budget, there are some great in-the-know gems for cheap eats here in Cambridge.

A longstanding favourite is Norfolk Street’s Zhonghua Traditional Snacks, which specialises in Chinese street food including dumplings and steamed buns. Once featured as one of the top places to eat in the city by The Guardian, its no-frills but delicious, authentic and won’t break the bank.

Also offering a street food-style experience – this time with a Mexican flavour – is Nanna Mexico, whose Big Ass burritos are the stuff of legend and provide a hearty, hefty meal for under £10.

Another beloved spot is Tradizione, which has branches on Mill Road, Cherry Hinton Road and at Cambridge Station: pay a visit for well-priced Italian fare and BYOB to keep it wallet friendly.

Where to shop in Cambridge

Looking for a unique outfit? Jemporium Vintage on Burleigh Street is a treasure trove of clothing and accessories from the 1950s to the 1990s, and with fresh stock added daily, there’s always something new to discover.

The Serpentine Swap is another vintage fave, offering a well curated blend of pre-loved dresses, t shirts and more – and as the name suggests, they’re open to clothing swaps if you want to update your wardrobe for free.

Groovy Garage, found on Magdalene Street, is a relative newcomer but already proving a hit with students for its second-hand streetwear, or the key city shopping hotspots are The Grafton (home to H&M, River Island and New Look, to name a few), and the Grand Arcade in the city centre, which is an upmarket mall with retailers including Hollister, Levi’s, Office and Mango.

Chill out with Cambridge café culture

Need somewhere to catch up on your reading list or meet a friend after a lecture? Hot Numbers (Gwydir Street and Trumpington Street) is always abuzz with students, and serves delicious coffee and cakes, while Espresso Library is bright, spacious and perfect for holing up with your laptop over a hot drink.

For a coffee or lunch with a view – head to Quayside’s Café Foy, which has outside tables overlooking the river and serves amazing cheese toasties.

A big night out in Cambridge

It might not have the buzzing nightlife of some other university towns, but there’s plenty of fun to be had on a Cambridge night on the tiles – if you know where to look.

For all-out cheese, head to Vinyl, where you’ll find a light-up dancefloor, an abundance of disco balls and a retro playlist which takes you from Abba to the Spice Girls.

Lola Lo’s puts a Tiki spin on nights out, with Polynesian cocktails, club classics and kitsch theme nights, while La Raza offers a more sophisticated option, with DJs and live bands in a stylish subterranean setting.

Slightly off the student beaten path, but absolutely worth a look, is Cambridge Junction, which plays host to big name bands and the odd club night, or try MASH (previously the Fez Club), which has recently opened with new owners and a revamped space, serving up drum and bass, funk, house and disco, depending on which night you visit.

Dine out in Cambridge with your parents

Book a table at The Orator to give your family a true taste of the city’s illustrious academic heritage. Housed in the historic Cambridge University Union, which has hosted Winston Churchill and the Dalai Lama to name a few, this brasserie and bar serves steaks, pasta, fish dishes and more – plus it’s got a gorgeous lawn to enjoy drinks on.

Top tip for cost-conscious students

If you’re a student at Cambridge University, you’re entitled to a CAMCard, which gives you discounts all over town, from 25% off at seafood restaurant Loch Fyne to 15% at Cambridge Cookery and Bistro. Get the full list of participating venues here:

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Did you know?

A big hit with visitors to the city, the Corpus Clock depicts a golden, grasshopper-like monster (the ‘Chronophage’) eating time.