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8 Things to do on a Cambridge mini-break

8 Things to do on a Cambridge mini-break

Are you thinking of going to the beautiful, historic city of Cambridge for a weekend trip or a mini-break? Here’s what you can do for a relaxing visit that will leave you rested and reinvigorated

Stay here: The Varsity Hotel and Spa

Varsity Hotel and Spa entranceThe beautiful Varsity Hotel and Spa has two restaurants, a spa and 48 boutique rooms

Both a luxury spa hotel and a boutique hotel, The Varsity is, in my opinion, the most stunning and relaxing hotel in Cambridge. The uniquely designed rooms celebrate the cultural heritage of the city. It is also located right by the River Cam and has incredible views of both the river and the city.

"Both a luxury spa hotel and a boutique hotel, The Varsity is, in my opinion, the most stunning and relaxing hotel in Cambridge"

The Varsity’s two restaurants, the SIX Brasserie (on the sixth floor, with breakfast and afternoon tea all being served here) and the River Bar Steakhouse and Grill (with amazing steak and vegetarian options), provide delicious food and views, while their rooftop terrace is the best place in Cambridge for having a drink and enjoying the summer sun or watching the sunset over this beautiful city.

SIX brasserie in the Varsity hotelThe SIX brasserie provides breathtaking views of Cambridge all around you

With reasonable rates, friendly and helpful staff, a free continental breakfast and exclusive guest treatment packages for the spa, it’s a luxury stay you will remember and a hotel that you’ll be keen to return to. It’s perfect for a romantic weekend or a calming mini-break away.

View from a Varsity hotel roomThe senior fellows superking rooms includes stunning floor-to-ceiling views

And if you’re surprising a loved one, why not go for one of the Varsity’s magnificent
senior fellows superking room, with a super king-size bed and with some rooms featuring four-poster beds, bathrooms with underfloor heating, walk-in showers or Victorian free-standing bath-tubs. Bliss!

 

Explore here: Walk or punt along the River Cam

Punting on the River CamWhether you're punting or walking alongside the river, it's a must-see Cambridge attraction

The River Cam flows through the heart of picturesque Cambridge and is an easy (and free!) way to see some of the city’s highlights. Recently voted one of ITV’s best walking routes in Britain, and it’s certainly an enjoyable method of sightseeing. It’s around two hours in length, but you can obviously just do the city centre part of the walk easily and see many wonderful sights. These include college “Backs”, including Jesus, Magdalene and St John’s, as well as the Fitzwilliam Museum.

For those who want to see the sights without walking alongside the river, why not take to the river itself in one of the many chauffeured punting tours available—offering the most relaxing, iconic and informative way to see the city. King’s College Chapel, The Wren Library at Trinity College and the Bridge of Sighs. A truly unforgettable experience.
 

Drink here: Fort Saint George pub

Fort Saint GeorgeThe Fort Saint George pub dates back to the 1500s

With tasty pub food, drinks to suit every palate and cheery bar staff, this is a perfect spot for a drink after you’ve explored walking alongside or punting down the River Cam. Popular with locals and tourists alike, its location right by both the river and green spaces make it the perfect location for drinks with friends, family and loved ones.

Fort Saint George viewThe pub offers views of the Midsummer Common and Jesus Green from one side

Claiming the title of “the oldest pub on the river”, this wonderful and welcoming pub dates back to the 16th century and contains oak beams, large windows and an Inglenook fireplace. More importantly, at this time of year, it has a large patio and views overlooking the River Cam, Midsummer Common and Jesus Green. One of the most relaxing pubs in the city.

Eat here: The River Bar Steakhouse and Grill

River Bar Steakhouse The River Bar Steakhouse is a perfect place for a romantic meal or a family dinner

Part of the Varsity Hotel and Spa (and literally out of the front door and round the corner from the hotel) there is no place in Cambridge better to indulge in tender prime aged steak, burgers, traditional and innovative cocktails, Sunday roast or fresh fish and lobster.

"Located on the Quayside in a restored 18th-century warehouse, this is a beautiful spot for date nights and celebrations"

Located on the Quayside in a restored 18th-century bonded warehouse beside the River Cam and Magdalene College, this is a beautiful spot for everything from date nights to private events and celebrations.

River Bar Steakhouse baked camembert shared starterThe camembert shared starter is an indulgent treat

The vegetarian options are also surprisingly superb, with Moving Mountains and halloumi burgers both delicious, while the shared baked camembert starter and sticky toffee pudding dessert are both also highly recommended. With excellent service and cocktail options, you will leave the River Bar Steakhouse with a full belly and a smile on your face. 
 

Explore here: Churches and chapels

Round ChurchThe Round Church was built by crusaders in the 12th century

It seems that Cambridge has one of the greatest concentrations of awe-inspiring ecclesiastical architecture in the country. While there are some official guided tours of the many impressive churches and chapels around the city, you can also simply choose a few favourites to specifically go to see and enjoy bumping into any other brilliant buildings that catch your eye on your time in Cambridge.

St Mary's Church
Great St Mary's Church is just across the road from King's College Chapel 

Just some of the buildings that it’s definitely worth seeing (and possibly exploring inside, if you have the time) include the fascinating 12th-century Round Church—built by crusaders long before the university—and the huge, iconic 15th-century King’s College Chapel—a marvel of late Gothic architecture where new university students are matriculated and Fellows are admitted.

St John's ChapelSt John's Chapel is one of many religious buildings in Cambridge worth seeing

Just opposite King’s College Chapel is the magnificent, medieval
Great St Mary’s Church, and taking a seat between these two grand buildings is the perfect place to enjoy street food and drink from the nearby historic market square, where traders have run stalls since the Middle Ages. Finally, the 19th-century St John’s College Chapel is a beautiful building, and after looking at so many churches, you can finish here and go for a refreshing drink in the beer garden of the amusingly named, nearby pub, The Baron of Beef.

 

Relax here: The Glassworks Gym and Spa

Jacuzzi in the Glasssworks Spa, part of the Varsity Hotel and SpaThe whirlpool hot tub is perhaps the calmest place in Cambridge

Part of the Varsity Hotel and Spa, this is Cambridge’s centre of respite and relaxation and includes an Elemis spa, gym, sauna, steam room and a jacuzzi that overlooks the River Cam. After a busy day or two exploring the historic city, end your trip with the blissful bubbles of the whirlpool hot tub, complete with a view (thankfully, it’s one-way glass so you won’t be seen by the people who stroll by and occasionally, and amusingly, sometimes check their hair!). The heat of the sauna and steam room are also incredibly calming and exactly what you need after a day or two of Cambridge mini-break, to make sure that you are fully recuperated.

"After exploring the historic city, end your trip with the bubbles of a whirlpool hot tub, complete with a view of the River Cam"

With special packages, such as the Sunday Romance Package—featuring a candlelit couple’s massage, a bottle of Taittinger Champagne and a complimentary upgrade (subject to availability)—the deals for the Varsity Hotel and Spa are well worth taking a look. The Glassworks Spa also offers spa days and gift vouchers for you or your loved ones to enjoy massages, Elemis facials, manicures and pedicures and more beauty treatments.
 

Eat here: The Tipsy Vegan

Tipsy VeganTipsy Vegan offers delicious vegan food right by the river

For those who aren’t fans of meat and dairy—or anyone who just likes a really delicious meal—there’s an excellent riverside restaurant that’s well worth a visit for lunch. Located on the Quayside, it offers indoor and outdoor seating by the River Cam as well as a range of small plates and boards designed for sharing and casual dining.

Tipsy Vegan sharing boardA partly consumed and delicious Tipsy Vegan sharing board

Their seasonal vegan dishes, house-created cocktails and locally produced beers are a delight. The sharer board that includes sourdough, grilled pita, olives, house “chorizo”, oil and balsamic glaze, basil pesto, whipped feta, mushroom carpaccio and more, is highly recommended in this modern and enjoyable eatery.

 

Explore here:

Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen nature reserve

Nature reserve complete with grazing cowsThere's not many cities that boast a nature reserve with grazing cows

It’s astonishing that these nature reserves on the south bank of the River Cam, in west Cambridge, are in such close proximity to the city centre, yet feel like you’re in deep countryside. Prone to flooding but green and wild in summer, the low-lying meadows are a perfect getaway from the bustle of the streets, and Sheep’s Green includes meandering, ancient streams.

The wildlife that can be found in this green haven includes herons, egrets and kingfishers and the willow trees throughout provide majestic fauna that is good for your mental health. A perfect location for a stroll, the reserves are also home to casually roaming and grazing cows(!), who seem oblivious to peoples’ presence and are a surprising and delightful sight. Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen are a perfect, peaceful way to end your short (but very memorable) summer trip to Cambridge. 

Banner credit: view from the Rooftop Terrace at Varsity Hotel and Spa

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