We all know studying can be thirsty work, so it’s no wonder that a place like Cambridge, which is so famous for its university, has more than its fair share of watering holes. You can choose from drinking in a touch of history at one of the city’s many ancient taverns or try a tipple in more contemporary surroundings, with plenty of stylish clubs and bars to choose from.
Nightlife in Cambridge
The RAF bar at The Eagle is one of the most interesting places to whet your whistle in Cambridge. Located close to the Cambridge Arts Theatre, it's a pub which was frequented during the Second World War by RAF and American airmen from local bases. Walls, shelves and even ceilings are lined with photos and memorabilia, including squadron tags which you can peruse while supping a pint of Greene King.
One of the many pubs popular with students is The Maypole, where the bar staff pride themselves on knowing everything about the drinks they serve. A particular favourite with regulars is the punningly named craft beer, Sauvignon Blonde, brewed locally in Newmarket.
For a lively atmosphere and a generous choice of real ales, you need look no further than The Mill, where the food menu also has some pleasingly hearty and old-fashioned offerings, such as mutton pie. Pies of all shapes, sizes and flavours are also to be had at the Cambridge Blue, one of the most charming-looking pubs in the city. If beer’s not your thing, they have a very respectable selection of ciders, gins and whiskies. Don’t get it mixed up with the similar-sounding Cambridge Brew House on King Street, which is also worth a visit. If you’re peckish but don’t fancy a full menu, there’s a very tempting menu of tapas featuring the likes of falafels, calamari and baba ganoush.
Rounding off our selection of Cambridge pubs are the Flying Pig and the Mitre Tavern. From its humorous pub sign to the quirky memorabilia on display throughout, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome at the Flying Pig, not to mention a lovely outdoor yard to the rear if it’s sunny. Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you might prefer the roaring open fire at the historic Mitre Tavern. Standing on the site of two former pubs, The Blackmoor's Head and The Cock and Magpie, it now serves one of the most popular Sunday roasts in the city.
There’s more than meets the eye at De Luca Cucina & Bar, which makes it the perfect place to start a memorable evening out. Not only does it promise an authentic taste of Italy in its restaurant but there's a gem of a cocktail bar upstairs. There are quite a few stairs to negotiate but it's well worth the effort, as on Friday and Saturday nights, it's transformed into Cambridge’s only piano bar, with resident singer and musician Robin taking requests and leading some rollicking singalongs.
With daiquiris to die for, it's no surprise that the Hidden Rooms is another favourite haunt for those wanting to let their hair down. You can even book a private salsa dancing class to make your evening extra special.
The popular bar and kitchen Baroosh aims to keep a feel of going to the movies in keeping with the old cinema building where it's based. As well as the array of tantalising cocktails you would expect, there are some serious snacks on offer, including the highly recommended Padron peppers.
Tapas are also a speciality of other bars in Cambridge, such as La Raza, where chorizo with black pudding and fried goat’s cheese with honey meet with particular approval. It has some competition from the Pint Shop on Peas Hill, which serves up comfort food, such as scotch eggs and ham hock and mustard pie as an ideal accompaniment to your drinks.
If it’s spectacular views of the Cambridgeshire Fens that you’re after, then try Six, located on the sixth floor of the Varsity Hotel. It has a rooftop bar which offers a perfect panoramic vantage point.
As if in tribute the Tommy Cooper, the Fez Club is not just named after the headwear made famous by the late comedian – it’s actually a properly Moroccan-themed venue where you can luxuriate in Middle Eastern style. Big name DJs from Hot Chip to Simian Mobile Disco have spun tunes on the decks at the Fez in the not too distant past.
Fez runs cocktail masterclasses for you to learn the art of mixing the perfect drink, something which is also on offer at other clubs, including Kuda and Lola Lo. Kuda on Sidney Street is a club that dance music fans make a beeline for because of its eclectic playlist – you can expect to hear anything from EDM and R&B to grime and house. It’s described by some as the best club in Cambridge, the venue is very spacious and has plenty of seating, so there’s lots of room for everyone.
Meanwhile, over at Lola Lo, it’s best not to wear your most expensive shoes, as things get so hectic on the dance floor that they’ll probably end up scuffed! As well as its regular nights, Lola Lo hosts plenty of special events to coincide with bank holidays, as well as summer garden parties, when the Pimm's flow freely.
The sounds on offer at the tiny Q Club are for those whose musical taste is less mainstream. Regular nights specialise in more underground genres, including goth, industrial, grunge, punk and even hair metal. Don’t forget your lacquer!
Revolution is part of the national chain of venues but offers a unique twist for those wanting a good time Cambridge-style – a regular Punt & Party! event, which includes a punting tour with an onboard cocktail mixologist to keep the drinks flowing. Revolution also has one of the most popular happy hours in the city, which runs from 5pm to 7pm Monday to Friday at the Downing Street location.