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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, this our 2023 guide to the best bars and pubs in Cambridge:
Table of Contents
Best pubs and bars in Cambridge map
Best pubs and bars in Cambridge
1. The Pint Shop
We start our best Cambridge pubs list with a visit to the Pint Shop in the heart of Cambridge city centre, with 17 taps and a cute, cosy taproom.
In a city where there is a plethora of pubs (many historic), you really have to work hard to differentiate yourself and the Pint Shop have done this, a welcome addition to the Cambridge pub and city craft beer scene.
We visited the Pint Shop 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 Pint Shop’s pub interior in Cambridge is warm and welcoming (albeit downstairs is a little like a Cambridge classroom). 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: The Pint Shop, 10 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PN
2. The Town and Gown
One of the best Cambridge city centre bar and pub set-ups and hidden away in a side street, the Town and Gown is a cultural centre of sorts boasting a beautiful bar, a famous frimge theatre and a restaurant on site.
The drink selection was good and we opted for an Rivertown Brewery IPA and a McMullens Brewery / Macs IPA.
Located in Market Passage, we liked the Town and Gown as the interiors were lush, including balconies where you could drink overlooking the bar (great for people watching) plus there were the rather unusual barrel style tables where you could eat and drink in a semi-barrel recess.
The Town and Gown theatre hosts regular events, from comedy and live music through to plays and quiz nights – we are very very intrigued by Bingo at TIffany’s and will be planning a return visit!
Address: The Town and Gown, 8 Market Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PF
3. The Grain and Hop Store
A charming yet cavernous Cambridge pub,The Grain and Hop Store was a former warehouse overlooking Parker’s Piece green.
The first Cambridge pub we visited after jumping off a train (it is pretty close to Cambridge Station), we enjoyed our mid afternoon beers at the Grain and Hop primarily due to the craft range on tap – but also due to super-friendly and knowledgeable bar man (we didn’t get his name but amazing beard!).
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 at the Grain and Hop Store with high vaulted ceilings and woodwork everywhere.
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.
A chic-cy, craft beer Cambridge pub, the Grain and Hop Store is possibly too modern for some tastes (not ours) but we would definitely return.
Address: The Grain and Hop Store, 69 Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1AB
4. The Eagle Cambridge (AKA Cambridge’s DNA pub)
Possibly the best known Cambridge pub due to its moment of fame, the Eagle is renowned as the drinking establishment where Watson and Francis Crick first celebrated their DNA discovery and the ‘secret of life’.
Dating back to the 14th century in parts, the Eagle pub in Cambridge 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. Whilst at The Eagle, an American family were adding their scrawls to their ceiling – we had no clue if they were allowed to; maybe it is in their DNA?
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).
Into your DNA? You might like the Francis Crick Institute near Euston station in London.
Address: The Eagle, Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN
5. 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.
A very popular Cambridge pub given its prime riverside location, whilst we didn’t eat here, the food in The Mill 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 pub is a good drinking spot for locals and tourists alike in Cambridge and a great spot to explore the nearby meadows and Mill Pond.
Address: The Mill, 14 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX
6. The Cambridge Blue
The busiest Cambridge pub we visited 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 Cambridge Blue beer fridge, chock full of beautiful Belgian goodness as you first walk in).
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: The Cambridge Blue, 85-87 Gwydir Street, Cambridge CB1 2LG
7. The Anchor Cambridge
Possibly the best view for a Cambridge pub, The Anchor has several tables indoors (plus a small riverside terrace) directly overlooking the River Cam and Mill Pond. This means you are in a prime spot to enjoy a pint whilst watching the punting (the famous Cambridge rowing boats).
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: The Anchor Cambridge pub, Silver Street, Cambridge CB3 9EL
8. The Granta
A cracking Cambridge pub, The Granta’s USP is that not only does have a sublime riverside setting (with a huge terrace overlooking Mill Pond) 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!
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: The Granta, 14 Newnham Road, Cambridge CB3 9EX
9. Thirsty Cambridge
We hadn’t heard of this taproom / bottle shop before visiting Cambridge but The Thirsty Cambridge pub / taproom came highly recommended by a barman at Eagle so it was nice to see some brotherly love between the Cambridge pubs.
Consisting of a well stocked taproom and outdoor courtyard on Chesterton Road and popular with craft connoisseurs and students alike, Thirsty Cambridge has various visiting street-food pop-ups and does a mean cheese toastie too, priding itself on ‘Revolutionary Drinking’.
We last visited the Thirsty taproom in Cambridge during the summer and were impressed by their 20+ range, chilled out play-list and general laid back atmosphere.
Each night, a different street food truck rocks up outside and you can see the full list of the upcoming food vans on a chalf-board outside.
Our last Thirsty visit coincided with a 25c day (hot!) so the discovery of Snail’s Bank Raspberry Ripple cider on that day was an absolute blessing – cooling cider and the flavour of icecream in one glass).
As you’d expect, the range at Thirsty Cambridge changes regularly so expect to try something new on every visit.
Address: Thirsty, 46 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 1EN
10. Fort St George
Like the Mitre, the Fort St George is another gem of a Greene King owned Cambridge pub, a little walk away from the city centre.
Inside Fort St George, 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.
In the summer months, Fort St George not only has a few tables overlooking the River Cam but also a huge beer garden overlooking the nearby park, Midsummer Common.
If you are looking to do a Cambridge riverside pub crawl, combine the Fort St George with The Granta, The Anchor and The Mill (you’re welcome and cheers!).
Address: Fort St George, Midsummer Common, Cambridge CB4 1HA
11. The Orator
Now this is one nice beer garden! Located in a stately Victorian building that is home to the world-famous Cambridge Union, The Orator brasserie and bar inside have lush opulent interiors and more shiny brass than a locomotive steam engine.
With the Union having previously hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and the current Dalai Lama, these truly are hallowed halls and the Orator bar and seating area outside make this a charming Cambridge pub.
Also it is hard to believe this calm and peaceful Orator outdoor area surrounded by historic buildings is literally just a stone’s throw away from one of Cambridge’s busiest thoroughfares.
Address: The Orator, Round Church Street, Cambridge CB5 8AD
12. The Boat House
As you’d expect from a pub called The Boat House, this Greene King Cambridge pub has prime views over the River Cam with a sunny beer garden and terrace that spirals over seven levels until it reaches the river edge.
The Boat House has a family-orientated pub with ample indoor seating spaces and a cheap and cheerful pub grub menu.
For instance, you can buy two pub classic dishes like fish and chips or bangers and mash together for less than £14 on Monday to Saturday.
With live entertainment and sports also a main-stay, this is your standard chain pub made all the better with its outdoor seating and riverside area.
Address: The Boat House, 14 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 3AX
Recently opened in Cambridge in the summer of 2022, the Tivoli is an epic social space and entertainment venue located over several floors.
A former theatre (and once a Wetherspoons pub), the Tivoli has been transformed with a beautiful rooftop bar taking pride of place overlooking the River Cam (with an equally nice bar on the ground level as you first enter
Serving all manner of street-food and specialsing in pizzas and burgers, you can also play a round of crazy golf on the nine hole Electric Greens or a spot of shuffle board in the basement section called Club Shuffle.
We visited the Tivoli one searingly sunny, summer Saturday afternoon – it was a very hot day so the Cambridge Rivoli rooftop bar was bustling.
The deck chairs overlooking the Cam were incredibly popular and the craft beer range was good. Artwork on the terrace walls also added to the pleasant outdoor environment.
Address: Tivoli, 16 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 3AX
14. 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 Cambridge centre.
Started in 2014 by two brothers, Calverley’s Brewery and Taproom has a wide selection of their own and guest beers on tap and their latest taproom is quite new having opened in April 2021.
Service at Caverley’s Brewery 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 (their own version of Kölsch).
For a new taproom set-up, prices were very reasonable and definitely somewhere we would return to again next time we visit Cambridge.
Address: Calverley’s Brewery, 23A Hooper Street, Cambridge CB1 2NZ
15. 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.
Obviously specialising in Belgian beers, we stuck with local ales and found The Elm Tree 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 Cambridge pub luckily wasn’t a ‘nightmare’ on Elm Street.
Address: The Elm Tree, 16A Orchard Street, Cambridge CB1 1JT
16. The Free Press
Perched along Prospect Row and one of the oldest Cambridge pubs, 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 upwith 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 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: The Free Press, 7 Prospect Row, Cambridge CB1 1DU
17. The Bath House
If you can’t face the tourist hordes of the famous Eagle DNA pub a few doors down, the Bath House might be the Cambridge pub city centre for you.
Based along Bene’t Street, the Bath House is brought to you by the Greene King brewery chain of pubs, meaning you know you’ll get an OK pint and hearty pub grub.
OK, this may not be the most original and outstanding pub in Cambridge but the reason we include it is it appears to be a bolt-hole for locals, who actually sometimes want a nice pint with a seat and aren’t able to get that in a lot of pubs due to all the tourists.
The beer selection was good with standard Greene King fare like Ice Breaker but there were also a few more craft choices like Tiny Rebel craft brewery and Beavertown (a brewery we’ve visited before in Tottenham) – so if you fancy a peaceful pint in a nice setting, the Bath House in Cambridge might be for you.
Address: The Bath House, 3 Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN
18. The Punter
A charming Cambridge pub with a cosy as beer garden and rustic interiors, the Punter is a Cambridge institution found in the back streets of Pound Hill.
As you arrive, the first thing you notice is a lovely looking, white painted neighbourhood pub with an array of colourful hanging baskets and flowers on the outside.
An old coaching house / horse stables, the Punter has an array of eclectic fittings and furnishings inside and feels a little rough and ready inside which is all part of its charm – note that given the name, you might be expecting a riverside location but this is more of your classic backstreet boozer.
Address: The Punter, 3 Pound Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AE
19. 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 The Tram Shed on a cold January evening, we practically had the place to ourselves, meaning we could bag one of the big, comfy sofas – bonus!
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: Tram Depot, 5 Dover Street, Cambridge CB1 1DY
20. 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 Cambridge city centre location and old world / classic interior, popular with tourists and out of town visitors.
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: The Mitre Cambridge pub, 17 Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UF
21. 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 Cambridge pub and tourist trail, the beer and ale selection at the Wrestlers is also good (lots of nearby breweries like Charlie Wells and BrewPoint) plus the Thai food is delicious and reasonably priced (spice levels to your choosing).
Address: The Wrestlers pub, Newmarket Road, Cambridge CB5 8JE
22. 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.
We also think the Maypole possibly has one of the largest beer gardens of any Cambridge pub, with a warren of outdoor tables and hidey holes plus a little serving hatch for takeaways or outdoor pints – so if The Maypole is full, you can always grab a craft beer takeaway and drink it on nearby Midsummer Common.
One of the best craft beer collections on tap in Cambridge, the Maypole fittingly had us dancing with joy
Address: The Maypole, 20A Portugal Place, Cambridge CB5 8AF
23. 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.
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: Old Ticket Office, Unit 1, Cambridge Railway Station, Cambridge CB1 2JW
24. Station Tavern
No prizes for guessing where this is located in Cambridge. The Station Tavern is a new-build pub, part of all the recent development work and infrastructure improvements located around the Cambridge train station frontage.
Very much a meeting place for people getting on or off trains (we visited on a Saturday morning and it was heaving with family get togethers and hen dos etc), this is more of a warm-up or ‘one last beer before our train’ type place than a destination pub.
Inside, the Station Tavern has a certain faux-rustic charm and the large terrace outside was convivial and full of cheer.
Events at the Station Tavern are quite eclectic and we were intrigued by the upcoming ‘Paint and Prosecco’ workshop – cocktail offers also come as standard.
Address: Station Tavern, 2 Station Square, Cambridge CB1 2GA
25. The Pickerel Inn
Although this Cambridge 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.
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: The Pickerel Inn, 30 Magdalene Street, Cambridge CB3 0AF
26. The Cambridge Brewhouse
Time for some brews and bites! Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year (2023), the Cambridge Brewhouse is a microbrewery (best known for its King’s Parade Best Bitter and Misty River Pale Ale) that takes pride in its beer and food pairings.
Try a tasting paddle of their best or newest brews or hearty pub grub like beef brisket, BBQ chicken wings or pulled pork fried – a vegan menu is also available.
Recent Cambridge Brewhouse brews include Night Porter, Dry Stout and a Weisse, Weisse Baby (love it!), a German style wheat beer.
Address: The Cambridge Brewhouse, 1 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LH
27. 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.
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.
The Cambridge Brewhouse is doggy friendly too and a good place to watch live sports
Address: The Regal / Wetherspoons Cambridge, 38-39 St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge CB2 3AR
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