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Cambridge City Guide

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The City

With an educational history which stretches back over 800 years, Cambridge is one of the most beautiful and iconic places to live as a student. With a college around every corner, and a cyclist ready to knock you over at every turn, Cambridge is one of the UK’s truly distinctive cities.”

Describing itself as a ‘bubble’, Cambridge is packed full of cultural activities, pubs and museums to enjoy as a student. You’ll never run out of things to do in this city, whether you’re strolling around the colleges, punting on the river, or enjoying a quirky Cambridge night out. Here’s a student guide to this amazing city so you can get the most out of your time there.

 

Things To Do

If you’re studying at Cambridge: get out of the library and do something fun! For example:

  • Go punting – whether you’re going around the Backs (the riverside gardens of the colleges) or to the nearby village of Grantchester, you can’t beat watching your friends humiliate themselves at punting. Some colleges have punting cards which get you FREE punting, so it’s worth asking around for that.
  • Go shopping – though Cambridge is notorious for its chain stores (wittily nicknamed ‘Chainbridge’ by some), there’s basically everything you could need as a student in The Grand Arcade and the Grafton Centre.
  • Walk to Grantchester or any of the villages near Cambridge. While you’re in Grantchester, visit the Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester Meadows which was a popular haunt for well-known writers such as Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke.

Arts and Culture

There’s more culture in Cambridge than gowns in a formal hall. Check out:

  • Some top-notch student drama: If you’re a bit of a drama queen (or king), the ADC theatre and the Corpus Playroom are where it all happens. With some impressive alumni such as Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson and Simon Russell Beale, you might witness the next star on stage, and student tickets are pretty cheap too.
  • Some hilarious student comedy: there’s a reason the Cambridge Footlights are well-known in the comedy world, and I’d go see them if you get the chance. They frequent both the ADC and Corpus.

Music and Nightlife

Don’t laugh: Cambridge does have a nightlife, just not in the same way as Manchester or Leeds. If you fancy sampling an authentic Cambridge night out, the most popular student nights are as follows:

  • Cindies (the sign calls it ‘Bellare, but students don’t) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This is as big as Cambridge clubs get (still small) and is extremely popular with students on Wednesday nights due to its cheesy music and VKs.
  • Life on Fridays and Sundays – (the sign calls it ‘Kuda’, but students don’t). Closer to chart music than Cindies, Life is another popular student night which might be worth checking out, despite its tiny dance floor.
  • Fez on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays – A bit dark and dingy indoors, and not one for cheese-lovers, but popular with students who are into rap, grime and garage.
  • Lola Lo on Thursdays (Cambridge students call it by its actual name! – With multiple floors playing R&B and chart music downstairs, and cheese and rock upstairs, Lola’s offers something a bit more interesting than Life or Cindies. Plus the Hawaiian theme is fun.
  • Wetherspoons (‘The Regal’)Spoons is enduringly popular, especially with graduate students who don’t fancy the nights out popular with undergraduates.

If it’s live music you’re looking for, your best options are probably:

  • The affordable and frequent concerts at the West Road Concert Hall. In particular, check out the lunchtime concerts which run here and are FREE.
  • The Cambridge Junction is located much further out than the other two venues, but is definitely worth a look. I saw Akala there, and it feels like a big-city venue.

If you want a more relaxed evening, there are plenty of good bars and pubs in the city too. Those worth visiting include:

  • Hidden Rooms on Jesus Lane for top-notch cocktails (pre-book if you’re in a larger group as it gets very busy).
  • The Granta on Newnham Road for its river-view, food and quiz night.
  • One of the Snug Bars on Lensfield Road, or on East Road, near the Grafton Centre.
  • If you’re into wine, Cambridge Wine Merchants is a must-visit. Expect to pay £5+ for a glass, but you won’t be disappointed.

Top Three Places to Eat

  • Aromi. This my top student food recommendation for Cambridge. Aromi is a Sicilian-style cafe which serves massive slices of pizza and pasta dishes for fantastic prices: much better than rival chain Italians in the city.
  • The St John’s Chop House. They do an excellent early-dining deal (5-7pm weekdays), and serve amazing food, but it’s probably not one for the vegetarians.
  • Butch Annie’s for burgers as they should be. You’ll be given it wrapped up, with no cutlery or anything fancy: delicious.

Top 5 Student Discounts in Cambridge

Just show your student card, and save yourself some pennies:

  • You can also get some money off punting with your Cambridge student ID at Scudamore’s.

Top Things to Do in January

17th January Dance for Syria @ Lola Lo: 10pm start, all ticket sales go to Medical Teams International.

19th January Turf, featuring Vincent Floyd and Napper @ Kuda: Turf returns to Kuda with a real innovator in house music from Chicago: Vincent Floyd. 10pm-4am.

27th January Better than TV @ Hot Numbers: Fantastic Jazz at one of Cambridge’s best cafes, 7.30pm start.

 

 

Holly Smith Editor

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