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Welcome back to Cambridge: 10 ways to enjoy one of the world’s best small cities

Cambridge is open and safely welcoming everyone who wants to spend some time exploring – or getting reacquainted with – one of the world’s best small cities.

With very low numbers of Covid-19 cases reported here by Public Health England for two months now, this fabulous city offers a safe place to bring your family or to indulge your loved one and treat yourselves this summer.

Enjoy al fresco dining in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Enjoy al fresco dining in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Various measures have been put in place to ensure visitors to the city and those working in the many independent and national businesses are kept safe. Not only are there clear directional signs helping pedestrians to keep left on the street, but businesses have their own signs to guide customers to the areas where they can safely queue and to help them navigate their stores. Hand sanitiser is provided on entry and the wearing of masks in store provides further protection for all.

Ian Sandison, chief executive officer of Cambridge BID, said: “This summer is such a great time to enjoy the beautiful city of Cambridge.

“We have lots of al fresco dining options, fabulous buildings, world-class museums, lovely open spaces and it is a real opportunity for residents especially to rediscover Cambridge, to support their city, support the many independent shops, bars and restaurants which have had a very tough year, and to treat themselves. You can have Cambridge your way.”

Cambridge has so much to offer everyone, so even if you’re a regular visitor there is always more to see. If you have not been for a while, let’s whet your appetite and entice you back. If you live in Cambridge why not take the time to reconnect and enjoy the city your way and, for first-time visitors, well you will soon be planning your next visit. Here are 10 things not to miss - and some travel tips below.

1 Punting on the River Cam

The Traditional Punting Company and Let’s Go Punting have reopened with specially altered punts to screen customers from each other during the pandemic
The Traditional Punting Company and Let’s Go Punting have reopened with specially altered punts to screen customers from each other during the pandemic

Flowing through the city, the River Cam is a major attraction, so taking a punt along the Backs and seeing all the sights as you gently cruise your way along is a very popular activity for visitors and residents alike. Why not treat yourself and a loved one to a Champagne picnic or have a romantic afternoon or evening on the river? Rutherfords, in partnership with The University Arms, has a ‘date night’ offer – check online for details.

2 Eat Out to Help Out campaign

The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme is in operation at hundreds of Cambridge venues in August
The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme is in operation at hundreds of Cambridge venues in August

With the government’s new Eat Out to Help Out campaign, now is the time to visit all those restaurants you never quite got round to trying.

Throughout August, every Monday to Wednesday more than 100 Cambridge restaurants will be offering 50 per cent off for each person (to a maximum of £10pp, with alcoholic drinks not included).

Look out for the new Eat Out to Help Out app from your app store so you can see who is participating or visit gov.uk/guidance/get-a-discount-with-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme and click on the ‘Find a Restaurant’ link.

3 Fine dining

Daniel Clifford works on a pea and ham rissotto at Midsummer House. Picture: Richard Marsham
Daniel Clifford works on a pea and ham rissotto at Midsummer House. Picture: Richard Marsham

If you’re tired of cooking at home or you have exhausted the local takeaways, why not really treat yourself and let someone else do the hard work and the washing up.

The fabulous two Michelin Star Midsummer House is open again. Established in 2002, one of the UK’s finest restaurants is offering a range of tasting menus with dishes such as salt-aged duck, poached Cornish cod and Tandoori spice veal sweetbreads to entice you. The riverside location and conservatory make the perfect setting for that real treat.

On Trinity Street, The Ivy is giving away dinner for two worth £150 through Velvet magazine.

To enter, simply email your name, address and daytime number to alice.ryan@velvetmag.co.uk, putting The Ivy Dinner Competition as the subject. Entries should arrive no later than August 21.

For fabulous views of King’s College and the Senate House – and with a new al fresco dining area – then one of Cambridge’s favourites, the Cambridge Chophouse, is now open. With its locally sourced meats, daily fresh fish, fine wine, real ale and great views, this is also a great place to indulge yourself.

4 Take your time

Now, more than ever, we are blessed with the opportunity to take our time and spoil ourselves or a loved one. This could be learning a new instrument and Millers Music on Sussex Street or Cambridge Strings on King Street are on hand to guide you to the right purchase, or it could be visiting the great outdoors and we have plenty of cycling and outdoor stores like Decathlon, Primo Cycles, Rutland Cycling as well as Cotswold Outdoor, Mountain Warehouse and Open Air to assist you.

You could order a new tailor-made suit from Trotter and Deane on Sussex Street, buy a designer handbag from Elegant Atelier on Rose Crescent, or dial up a new luxury watch from the large, newly-opened Mappin and Webb on the market square.

And should you be tired of that stay at home haircut, well now the hairdressers and nail bars are open, we can spend a little time and money on ourselves, why not treat yourself to a fresh look?

5 Al fresco drinks

Cambridge is spoilt with a choice of al fresco bars, giving you the option to not only have a refreshing cold drink, but to also soak in those fabulous views.

The Gonville Hotel has outside dining, jazz at the weekends, Enchanted Cinema film nights in the garden and is dog friendly throughout.

Novi has a lovely outside terrace and great cocktails, No 6 at the Varsity Hotel has the highest views in Cambridge, and Revolution is a great favourite.

If you want to watch the punts go by there is no better place than the Cambridge Hotel’s riverside garden at Granta Place. Millworks restaurant, nearby, has a new roof terrace and for great people watching, the new Parker’s on the Piece al fresco seating area provides pizza and drinks.

6 Gelato

Aromi. Picture: Keith Heppell
Aromi. Picture: Keith Heppell

Let’s not forget the children (and us big kids) when looking at treats. Why not pop by to Jacks Gelato on Bene’t Street, Aromi on Peas Hill, Chocolat Chocolat on St Andrew’s Street or Bene’ts Café on King’s Parade for some of the best ice cream you will find outside Italy?

With daily changing flavours, you are spoilt for choice.

7 Market square

The market square in Cambridge
The market square in Cambridge

The market has been operating since ancient times, it is all open air and the ultimate centre of the city.

You will find yourselves mingling with locals and buzzing traders selling art, gift items and a delicious range of multicultural food.

It’s a great place to grab ‘n’ go while you still want to be on your legs to explore the city further

8 Hotels

When you’ve shopped, you need to drop and refresh before heading out for drinks and dinner.

We have a fabulous range of hotels to choose from and there are currently some great deals to have – always book direct for these.

Every hotel has your safety as a priority and have social distancing measures in place. The Ibis is convenient for the railway station, The Clayton is also nearby with a very luxurious feel, while The Cambridge Hotel has beautiful views of the river from their rooms, a riverside bar and a large car park. The Varsity has a sixth-floor rooftop bar with great views of the city, the Hilton City Centre is very close to the shopping districts, The University Arms has beautiful suites overlooking Parker’s Piece and Parker’s bar is a favourite to recline in.

The chauffeur at the Gonville Hotel can take you on a city tour in one of their classic Bentleys followed by drinks on their terrace, Hotel Du Vin has a sunken bar and lovely outside seating area, and the family-run Regent Hotel is convenient to visit all locations.

So take your pick.

9 Fun in the sun

Cambridge has many beautiful green spaces to enjoy, Parker’s Piece, Jesus Green, Midsummer Common and Lammas Land to name but a few.

Why not treat yourself to a picnic with a fine bottle of chilled wine or even a takeaway beer and pizza from the many on offer?

The University of Cambridge Botanic Garden is also open – bookings can be made online. This 16-hectare place of tranquility and calm can also be visited after hours from 6.30pm on August 6 with a bottle of prosecco for two included. See botanic.cam.ac.uk.

For those who like their fun a little more active, then the Jesus Green Lido is open. Built in 1923 it is one of the longest in Europe.

For indoor swimming, both Parkside and Abbey pools are also now available.

10 Museums, art and culture

The Fitzwilliam Museum prepares to reopen. Staff prepare part of the collection, from left, Flavia Ravailoi, Monika Stokowiec and Helena Rodwell. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Fitzwilliam Museum prepares to reopen. Staff prepare part of the collection, from left, Flavia Ravailoi, Monika Stokowiec and Helena Rodwell. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge has a fantastic selection of museums and historic buildings and one of the the main attractions is the Fitzwilliam Museum, which reopens on a pre-booked basis to the general public on August 11.

Opened in 1848 and one of the finest museums in the UK, the Fitzwilliam houses collections based on the themes that include music, textiles, furniture and clocks, ceramics and glass. You can view paintings by many of the world’s greatest artists.

Current exhibitions include Feast and Fast, a journey through the history and culture of food, which is very topical.

To book, visit fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk.

Travelling tips

This summer is the perfect time to visit Cambridge.

The city has been making improvements since the lockdown was eased, giving pedestrians more space and making it easier and more relaxed to navigate the streets.

Drive into Cambridge and you will pay £1 an hour to park all day, every day, so why not bring the family and take your time to enjoy our beautiful city, knowing your parking fee will be great value.

If you are taking the bus, then we have five Park & Rides open that allow you to park for free for up to 18 hours. The bus fare into the city centre starts at £3 with up to three children riding for free.

Stagecoach, which operates the buses around Cambridge, also has a handy app with its ‘How busy is my bus’ function. This gives passengers all the latest information and the confidence to board.

Cambridge is of course a great cycling city, many villages are connected to the city by cycle paths and in the city many streets have separate cycle lanes. There is also ample parking for bikes of all sizes.

Cambridge railway station is just one mile to the south-east of the centre and is connected by a number of Stagecoach bus services.

The Cambridge guided bus also runs regular services into Cambridge bus station from towns and villages to the west of the city, including Park & Ride stops at St Ives and Longstanton, and to the south, including Trumpington.

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