CK Travels

19 best pubs and bars in Cambridge, UK

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After a long day of exploring Cambridge or punting on the River Cam, we can think of no better reward than a pint in one of Cambridge’s best pubs and bars (because city adventures are thirsty work)!

There are over 100 pubs, bars and taprooms in Cambridge frequented by locals, students and tourists alike. From riverside pubs to backstreet bars and boozers, there is something for all ‘tastes’ and these are the best bars and pubs in Cambridge:

Best pubs and bars in Cambridge city centre

1. The Pint Store

What is not to love about the Pint Store, one of Cambridge’s best (and smallest) pubs with 17 taps and a cute, cosy taproom in the very heart of the city centre? In a city where there is a plethora of pubs, many of which are historic and hugely popular,  you really have to work hard to differentiate yourself and the Pint Store have done this, a welcome addition to the Cambridge city craft beer scene.

We visited one weekday afternoon and it was nice see to the front parlour come to life with a mix of couples, locals and students.

After much deliberation (so much choice), we opted for a Mother’s Hip APA and an Egyptian Cream for Nene Valley Brewery (tap choices change often). The pub’s interior is warm and welcoming (albeit downstairs is a little like a classroom) and it is quite easy just to stay here, work your way through the taps and watch the world go by through the large bay windows. Recommended.

Address: 10 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PN

2. The Grain and Hop Store

This charming and cavernous pub, a former warehouse overlooking Parker’s Piece green, was the first pub we visited in Cambridge after jumping off the train and we were not disappointed, primarily due to the craft range on tap and the super-friendly and knowledgeable bar man (we didn’t get his name but amazing beard!).

The Hop and Grain Store Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

First impressions of the Grain and Hop Store were Its lush interiors although this may be due to the fact it was recently refurbished in late 2021 so it is fairly new in terms of its current look. We grabbed a booth at the end of the huge bar downstairs with views of the green. There is also an upstairs area similarly decorated with high vaulted ceilings and woodwork everywhere.

The Hop and Grain Store Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

We opted for a Wild Card Pogo and Brewboard’s Bambino APA after being given several samples by the barman. The pub is possibly too modern for some tastes (not ours) but we would definitely return.

Address: 69 Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1AB

The Hop and Grain Store Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

3. The Eagle Cambridge

Possibly the most well known pub in Cambridge, the Eagle is renowned as the drinking establishment where Watson and Crick first celebrated their DNA discovery and the ‘secret of life’.

Dating back to the 14th century in parts, the Eagle feels like stepping back in time when you first enter – wood paneling and wooden beams dominate the back bar and at the front there is a larger bar with signatures and scrawls from visiting guests over the years adorn the walls. Whilst we there, an American family were adding their scrawls to their ceiling – no clue if they were allowed to.

The Eagle pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

We really liked the Eagle, more for the history and setting than the beer (although I tried a pint of their own Eagle DNA ale  – surprisingly good). Most of the drinkers appeared to be tourists and prices were a little more expensive than most of the other Cambridge pubs we visited.

Their sister pub The Bath House is also just a few doors down on the same street (Bene’t Street).

Address: Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN

The Eagle pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

4. The Mill

Located just across from the Scudamore’s punting station and overlooking Laundress Green and the River Cam, the Mill is a classic Cambridge pub, cosy as with a curious mix of the old and new. The neon jukebox and craft beer bridge are somewhat at odds with the historic fireplaces and dimly lit settings.

The Mill pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

A very popular pub given its prime riverside location, whilst we didn’t eat here, the food smelt amazing as it wafted around the small snug we were sitting in. With board games a plenty and a 15% student discount available, the 19th century Mill is a good drinking spot for locals and tourists alike and a great spot to explore the nearby meadows and Mill Pond.

Address: 14 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX

The Mill pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

5. The Elm Tree

Hidden amongst the Cambridge backstreets in a quiet residential area, the Elm Tree is a quirky real ale and Belgian beer pub, decorated inside with a multitude of retro and vintage advertising and transport signs (it kind of felt like a museum, but in a fun way). The quirkiness continues with a series of upside hats stuck to the ceiling plus oodles of pictures of previous nights out and events at the Elm Tree.

Elm Tree pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

Obviously specialising in Belgian beers, we stuck with local ales and found this to be our cheapest round during the whole of our Cambridge trip. Like the Free Press pub, we found this to be  a friendly, local pub and definitely worth seeking out. Located on Elm Street, visiting this pub luckily wasn’t a ‘nightmare’ on Elm Street.

Address: 16A Orchard Street, Cambridge CB1 1JT

6. The Cambridge Blue

The busiest pub we visited in Cambridge by far, The Cambridge Blue is an award-winning freehouse, popular for its range of ales on tap, as well as a huge Belgian beer bottle selection (check out the fridge chock full of beautiful Belgian goodness as you first walk in).

The Cambridge Blue pub. Copyright CK Travels

Depending on what your choice of drink is, a night out at the Cambridge Blue can either be a cheap as affair or expensive evening. Our half a pint of stout was £2 whilst the Belgian beer we picked from the fridge was over £7 (no prices on display so you many want to ask first).

With a nice mix of locals, students and workers, we could recommend a session in the Cambridge Blue based on the beer selection (although we did find the service here a little surly).

Address: 85-87 Gwydir Street, Cambridge CB1 2LG

The Cambridge Blue pub. Copyright CK Travels

7. The Anchor Cambridge

Possibly the best pub viewpoint in Cambridge, The Anchor has several tables indoors (plus a small terrace) directly overlooking the River Cam and Mill Pond meaning you can enjoy a pint whilst watching the punting (the famous Cambridge rowing boats).

The Anchor pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

Dating back to the 1860s, the historic Anchor pub has an enviable setting and draws in many tourists, looking to try traditional British fare like fish and chips and Sunday roasts. Alas, the beers on offer are all quite standard (Amstel, Beavertown etc) but with an incredible vantage point like this, it can be forgiven (just).

The Anchor is also famous as it where the band Pink Floyd used to play a lot before they became famous (founder Syd Barrett was a regular) and there are several references to the band in the pub including a mural downstairs.

Address: Silver Street, Cambridge CB3 9EL

The Anchor pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels
The Anchor pub Cambridge outdoor beer garden. Copyright CK Travels
Outdoor dining at The Anchor Cambridge

8. Calverley’s Brewery

Whilst doing our research into Cambridge pubs and bars before we visited, we were surprised to see that there were hardly any boutique or locally based taprooms or breweries in the city. Thankfully, we discovered Calverley’s Brewery, a small batch brewery that has a cute and charming taproom just off Mill Road, a short walk from the city centre.

Caverley's Brewery pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

Started in 2014 by two brothers, Calverley’s Brewery and Taproomhas a wide selection of their own and guest beers on tap and their latest taproom is quite new having opened in April 2021.

Service was great (very friendly) and the neighbouring table had ordered sourdough pizzas which smelled amazing. Calverley’s range includes IPA, porter, pale ale and coelsch; for a new taproom set-up, prices were very reasonable and definitely somewhere we would return to again next time we visit Cambridge.

Address: 23A Hooper Street, Cambridge CB1 2NZ

9. The Free Press

Perched along Prospect Row and one of the oldest pubs in Cambridge, this felt a very charming and cosy pub, dimly lit with candles in the fireplaces. We visited mid afternoon and as we walked in, were greeted by a small group of locals drinking at the bars on stools (always a good sign). The bar then soon started to fill up with drinkers and their dogs; possibly ready for the Free Press pub quiz that evening. It was nice to see a local pub doing well.

The Free Press pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

The decor is quirky, with the walls adorned with hundreds of passport style pictures of staff, locals and all the visitors who have been there over the years. Outside, there is also a huge beer garden and outdoor terrace (a bit cold to use in the winter unless you are smoking).

So how did the Free Press get its quirky name? The pub originated in the 1830s when local home brewer Sarah Horne opened up her home to distribute home brew. This coincided with a teetotal movement campaign newspaper launching called the Free Press (which only lasted one edition).

Address: 7 Prospect Row, Cambridge CB1 1DU

The Free Press pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

10. The Tram Depot

The Tram Depot is a huge, plush pub converted from what used to be a horse tram depot (hence the name). Next door to the Anglia Ruskin campus, expect it to be busy with students and campus staff during term-time. Although when we visited on a cold January evening, we practically had the place to ourselves, meaning we could bag one of the big, comfy sofas- bonus!

Tram depot pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

The renovation of the Tram Depot has been done well (tiled floors, huge timbered beams etc) and the tap range was good. It has a separate dining room although most people seemed to prefer to eat in the bar. Our preferences for unfiltered lager and a fruity number were satisfied; Tram-tastic!

Address: 5 Dover Street, Cambridge CB1 1DY

11. The Granta

The Granta’s USP is that not only does have a sublime riverside setting (with a huge terrace overlooking Mill Pond; likely the largest waterside terrace in downtown Cambridge) but it also has its very own punting set-up whereby you can hire a punt before you head in for a pint – but remember – drink responsibly and do not drink and punt!

The Granta pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

Along with the nearby Anchor and Mill pubs, The Granta’s view overlooking water makes this easily one of Cambridge’s best pubs. The terrace is heated too in the winter making this an all year round affair.

Promising the ‘best of British cuisine’ and an extensive home-cooked a la carte menu with seasonal dishes, indulge in a Charter Pie whilst you look out towards Coe Fen Gardens and the River Cam.

Address: 14 Newnham Road, Cambridge CB3 9EX

12. The Mitre Cambridge

Based on Bridge Street and a short walk from the famous Cambridge Round Church, the Mitre is a Nicholson’s pub (UK brewery chain) and given its city centre location and old world / classic interior, popular with tourists and out of town visitors.

The Mitre pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

The Mitre specialises in pie dishes and the award winning Nicholson’s pale ale and steak pie comes recommended as does the beef rib version (vegan and veggie dishes are also available along with the usual pub grub fare).

Address: 17 Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UF

13. The Pickerel Inn

Although this pub sounds quite ‘fishy’ (and actually located just a stone’s throw from the River Cam at one of the main punting areas), the Pickerel is one of Cambridge’s most popular bars and has a gorgeous bar. 

The Pickerel Inn pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

Operated and run by mega brewer Greene KIng, the Pickerel is one of their flagship pubs and has changed ownership many times over the years. In fact, the Pickerel is one of Cambridge’s oldest pubs (some say the oldest pub in Cambridge but open to much debate), with a licensed venue first recorded at this location back in the early 17th century (although the beer is much fresher today).

The building itself partially dates back to the 1500s and has been everything from an undertaker to a brothel (do not confuse the two!) and serves up hearty traditional food like fish and chips or steak.

Address: 30 Magdalene Street, Cambridge CB3 0AF

14. Old Ticket Office

Fancy a pint as soon as you ‘hop’ off the train at Cambridge Central? Then the Old Ticket Office might be for you! As well as convenience (this is literally 15 seconds walk from jumping off the train), the experience here is all about the lush interiors and railway themed decor.

Old Ticket Office pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

You can (probably) ignore the ‘Beware of the Trains’ signs as you sit in the railway carriage inspired snug, drinking your craft beer or cocktails. The Old Ticket Office often has drink offers like 2 for 1 cocktails on selected nights, plus an outdoor terrace at the front overlooking the newly developed square.

Address: Unit 1, Cambridge Railway Station, Cambridge CB1 2JW

15. The Wrestlers

Located a little way out of Cambridge city centre and the furthest out pub in this ‘best Cambridge pubs’ list, The Wrestlers is famous for its Thai food kitchen and was recommended by several bar staff at other pubs we frequented whilst exploring the city.

Very much a hidden gem in terms of the tourist trail, The beer and ale selection at the Wrestlers is also good (lots of nearby breweries like Charlie Wells and BrewPoint) and the Thai food is delicious and reasonably priced (spice levels to your choosing).

Address: Newmarket Road, Cambridge CB5 8JE

16. Thirsty Cambridge

We hadn’t heard of this taproom / bottle shop before visiting Cambridge but it came highly recommended by a barman at Eagle so it was nice to see some brotherly love between the pubs in Cambridge.

Consisting of a well stocked taproom and outdoor courtyard on Chesterton Road and popular with craft connoisseurs and students alike, Thirsty has various visiting street-food pop-ups and does a mean cheese toastie too, priding itself on ‘Revolutionary Drinking’.

In the summer months, Thirsty also hosts outdoor pop-ups and a beer garden along the River Cam – Thirsty Riverside, although dates for summer 2022 are still TBC at the time of writing.

Address: 46 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 1EN

17. Fort St George

Like the Mitre, this is another gem of a Greene King owned pub, a little walk away from the Cambridge city centre but well worth it due to its riverside views and huge beer garden, making this one of the best spots for sunny drinking days in Cambridge.

Inside you’ll find the standard beer lines on tap (so far, so average) and wooden fires and historic fireplaces but this is all about the incredible location directly on the River Cam.

If you are looking to do a riverside pub crawl, combine the Fort St George with The Granta, The Anchor and The Mill (you’re welcome and cheers!)

Address: Midsummer Common, Cambridge CB4 1HA

18. The Maypole Freehouse

Located along Portugal Place in Cambridge, the Maypole is a family-run freehouse (meaning it isn’t tied to a particular brewery or supplier) and is famous for its drinks selection. So much so that it was awarded the accolade of Cambridge CAMRA pub of the year a couple of years back. The Maypole Freehouse has 20+ taps and kegs on at any one time, plus a wide range of gins, whiskeys and other spirits on.

Dating back to the 1850s, The Maypole offers a warm welcome plus hot Italian inspired dishes such as open pizza sandwiches, polpette and arancini balls as well as the standard burger fare.

Address: 20A Portugal Place, Cambridge CB5 8AF

19. The Regal / Wetherspoons Cambridge

Finally, we’ve included the Regal (a Wetherspoon pub) mainly because it is housed in a former cinema so the quirky is quite interior (check out the film reels woven into the carpets) and if you are on a budget, this is likely the cheapest pub in Cambridge.

The Regal / Wetherspoons pub Cambridge. Copyright CK Travels

People from overseas may not have heard of the Wetherspoon chain, but it is known as one of the least expensive bar brands in the United Kingdom and the Regal is quite a good Wetherspoon pub as they go.

Pints of ale start from as little as £1 so it is definitely the cheapest pub in Cambridge (even when you take into account student discounts) and like all Wetherspoon pubs, it has long trading hours (open from first thing to late night). This is also a good opportunity to try a traditional England breakfast (a fry-up) or other traditional English dishes.

Address: 38-39 St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge CB2 3AR

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