Cambridge has plenty of good pubs and beer. The Pint Shop generally has the most impressive beers, across 23 lines, and is situated in the centre, just off the Market. The two main areas by the river are also well served – from Quayside, where the Punt Yard bar recently opened, the Maypole is only a couple of minutes away, tucked behind Bridge Street and the Park Street car park, and has a great selection, probably the largest beer selection in Cambridge, while the Mill overlooks the other end of the river and mill pond by Silver Street – probably the best place to take a beer outside in good weather.
It’s well worth heading away from the centre to some of the backstreet pubs – the Elm Tree and Free Press are particular favourites and almost next to each other, the Cambridge Blue is always good to visit and is one of several good pubs within easy reach of the station, including the Devonshire Arms, the Kingston Arms, the Live & Let Live (be aware of the opening times), and the Flying Pig. There is nowhere else in Cambridge like Calverley’s Brewery tap (only Thur-Sat evenings), while the Blue Moon deserves a mention for having 20 craft keg beers, and the Old Bicycle Shop has probably the best vegan food of any place in Cambridge (the Cricketers is good for Thai food).
Twenty good Cambridge pubs:
(in alphabetical order) Updated January 2018
2 Norfolk Street, Cambridge CB1 2LF
Formerly the Man on the Moon, it reopened in November 2013 as the Blue Moon, sister pub to the Cambridge Blue just round the corner. Freehouse with a great selection – now has 20 keg and 4 cask beers, often including the likes of Thornbridge and Magic Rock, and usually Dark Star and Adnams. Plenty of photos of old Cambridge pubs on the walls.
Calverley’s Brewery Tap
23A Hooper Street CB1 2NZ
Nowhere else in Cambridge quite like this – a microbrewery tap in a small former brick-built workshop, tucked away in the backstreets near the railway line. Only open Thurs-Sat evenings but worth seeking out for great beers and pop-up food carts. Just down the street from the Petersfield, near to the Kingston and Cambridge Blue.
Blog post: Calverley’s Brewery Tap
85-87 Gwydir St, Cambridge CB1 2LG
www.the-cambridgeblue.co.uk | @Cambridge_Blue
Freehouse with cask beers from the tap room and pumps, a selection of keg beers, and fridges full of beers from around the world. Large beer garden that backs onto the cemetery and gives a good view of trees and sky, despite being tucked away in the terraced streets. Beer festivals several times a year, walls covered in breweriana, serves good food. One of the best Cambridge pubs.
Cambridge Brew House
1 King St, Cambridge CB1 1LH
thecambridgebrewhouse.com | @TheCamBrewHouse
“It’s all too easy to be deterred by the stark modernity of the brick exterior” said a 1975 pub guide, “but the inside is in fact quite pleasant”. Never more true than since it was refurbished and reopened in February 2013 with a microbrewery installed. Serving at least three of their own beers, much improved since Mark Burton from Fellows Brewery became Head Brewer, along with a good range of cask and keg, such as Lagunitas IPA, Magic Rock and Adnams Jack Brand. Good food, a couple of function rooms upstairs including one with a large TV screen showing all the major sporting events.
Blog post: Cambridge Brew House
38 Castle St, Cambridge CB3 0AJ
An Adnams pub with Adnams ales and well kept guest beers, good value food, and plenty of seating on two floors, including a snug and an outdoor terrace. A listed building, standing against the castle mound – worth climbing for some of the most impressive views of Cambridge. (Not to be confused with the Castle on St Andrews Street which has no real ale and no redeeming features)
Blog post: Castle Inn
Champion Of The Thames
68 King St, Cambridge CB1 1LN
Small, traditional pub with low ceilings and wood panelled walls, an open fire, well kept beers from Greene King and guests, Leffe often on keg, and a warm atmosphere. No food but sister pub Clarendon Arms has a reputation for good food and is only 5 minutes away.
Blog post: Champion of the Thames
1 Devonshire Rd, Cambridge CB1 2BH
www.individualpubs.co.uk/devonshire | @CambridgeDev
A Milton Brewery pub with a range of Milton beers, a couple of guests and the refreshing Moravka Czech Pilsner brewed in the Derbyshire Peak District. Food including good pizza. Convenient for the train station just a five minute walk away.
Blog post: Devonshire Arms
8 Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN
The Eagle? Seriously? Well, you probably wouldn’t come here for the beer (there are much better Greene King pubs in Cambridge), but this pub has enough history (dating from 1500s, links with Crick & Watson who discovered the structure of DNA, the RAF bar with ceiling covered in graffiti from World War II airmen, ghosts!) that it’s probably the pub most visited by tourists to the city.
Blog post: Eagle
16A Orchard St, Cambridge CB1 1JT
Fantastic pub with several real ales and a fridge full of Belgian beers including rarities, accompanied by detailed tasting menus. A relaxing and friendly place, with seating along the alley at the side that becomes a sun trap in the summer, and a cosy interior with plenty of breweriana and bits & pieces dotted about. Live music several times a month. No food but the Free Press is just along the street – yes, two of the best pubs in Cambridge are just 50 metres apart.
7 Prospect Row CB1 1DU Map
www.freepresspub.com | @FreePressPub
A wonderful little traditional backstreet pub, one of my favourites anywhere, a must-visit Cambridge pub. It was nearly lost forever to 1970s redevelopments, boarded up and awaiting its fate. Luckily, it was saved from the wrecking ball, refitted and renovated, and lives on. An open fire in the winter, outdoor seating for the summer, great food, beers from Greene King and guests. Open all day, every day.
106 Hills Rd, Cambridge CB2 1LQ
Atmospheric pub with wooden floors, poster covered walls and ceiling, dimly lit by red lights and candles, accompanied by good music and regular live gigs. Beers include local breweries such as Moonshine and Blackbar, with Crouch Vale Brewers Gold almost always on. Still under threat from development, visit while it lasts, just in case…
Blog post: Flying Pig
www.grainstore-cambridge.co.uk | @grainstorecambs
The Grain Store (formerly the Avery) opened in March 2015 after a complete makeover by Greene King. This is their ‘craft beer concept pub’, although in truth the beer list has been disappointing lately, but there’s always the Pilsner Urquell Tankovna. A large pub which the refurbishment has much improved, with bars on each of the two levels, and views over Parker’s Piece.
Blog post: Grain Store
www.individualpubs.co.uk/haymakers | @HaymakersCam
Sister pub to Devonshire Arms, a Milton Brewery pub offering real ales and good food including excellent pizzas. Beer garden at the rear and plenty of cycle parking. Away from the city centre in an area short of good pubs.
Blog post: Haymakers
11-12 Fair St, Cambridge CB1 1HA
www.thehopbine.co.uk | @TheHopbine
Freehouse with up to seven real ales, usually including some from local breweries, plus at least one good keg, usually from Oakham or Grain, and good value food.
Blog post: Hopbine
33 Kingston St, Cambridge CB1 2NU
www.kingston-arms.co.uk | @KingstonArms
Good range of cask ales – Thornbridge Jaipur, Crouch Vale Brewer’s Gold, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Oakham JHB and Hop Back Summer Lightning are permanent, there’s always a stout or mild, often Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde – frequent mini beer fests during the summer, good value food, walled garden at the rear.
Blog post: Kingston Arms
Live & Let Live
40 Mawson Rd, Cambridge CB1 2EA
Unassuming looking pub tucked away on the corner of a back street off Mill Road, well worth stepping inside the wood panelled interior, with several well-kept cask ales usually including the excellent Oakham Green Devil and Citra – the best kept examples of this beer in Cambridge, plus at least one dark beer, and a very large rum selection.
20A Portugal St, Cambridge CB5 8AF
Freehouse with an impressive sixteen real ales and 15 keg lines, along with a great bottled/canned beer selection, plus cocktails and home cooked Italian food. Run by Castiglione family for over 30 years. Nice covered outdoor seating. One of the best Cambridge pubs.
Blog post: Maypole
14, Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX
themillpubcambridge.co.uk | @TheMillCam
Good pub in enviable riverside location, with Laundress Green serving as its unofficial beer garden, a perfect refreshment stop when punting. Good selection of cask, keg and bottled beer, very supportive of local breweries, good food – much improved since it was refurbished and reopened in 2012. Sister pub to the Brew House.
2 Sturton St, Cambridge CB1 2QA
An impressive refurb of the former White Hart pub, reopened in its new incarnation in 2017. Good beer and nice outdoor courtyard, same operators as the Mill, Brew House, Punt Yard and Bicycle Shop. Near to Calverley’s Tap, Kingston Arms.
Blog post: Petersfield
10 Peas Hill CB2 3PN Map
www.pintshop.co.uk | @PintShop
Opened in November 2013 in a handsome 1830s merchant’s house just off the Market Place in the city centre, it proved to be an instant hit. Impressive beer selection with 23 keg and cask lines serving the finest beers from the likes of Buxton, Kernel, Magic Rock, Marble, and Northern Monk. Bar snacks available but separate dining areas keep the main bar and snug beer focused. An essential stop on any Cambridge pub tour.
Blog post: Pint Shop
3 Pound hill CB3 0AE
Classy place for a pint and a meal that still retains its pubiness, nice function room in the converted barn, one from Oakham and a guest usually on. Only a few minutes from Quayside.
Blog post: Punter
292 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3NL
Reopened in October 2015, almost a decade since it last operated as a pub, by landlord Jethro, who also runs the Cambridge Blue and the Blue Moon with his wife Terri. Victorian pub, refurbished with a grand, brown tiled bar as the centrepiece, with 6 real ales and 10 keg lines serving a good selection, plus a fridge full of bottled Belgian beer. Located down the far end of Mill Road.
Map of the pubs:
Best of the rest:
There are several other Cambridge pubs which deserve a mention and are well worth a visit:
22 Gwydir St, Cambridge CB1 2LL
Changed hands in May 2014 and went from the Alexandra Arms to ‘The Alex’, with the new tagline “Burgers Brews Banter”. Small beer garden at the rear.
26 Russell Court CB2 1HW
Tradtional back street pub with one of the best open mics – Sunday evening’s Songsmith Sessions.
Carlton Arms www.thecarltonarmscambridge.co.uk
Carlton Way CB4 2BY
Community pub deep Arbury Estate in North Cambridge. One of the few places where skittles can still be played.
Carpenter’s Arms @TheCarpenters13
184-186 Victoria Rd CB4 3DZ
Recently under new ownership, nicely refurbished pub with beer patio, all food cooked in wood-fired pizza oven. In North Cambridge, an area short of good food and pubs.
Chop House www.cambscuisine.com
1 Kings Parade and 21-24 Northampton Street
Restaurants rather than pubs, but real ale (Milton and Tydd Steam usually available) served straight from the cask.
Clarendon Arms clarendonarmscambridge.com
35-36 Clarendon Street CB1 1JX
Sister pub to Champion of the Thames. Good food, nice little courtyard at back. Dog friendly pub. Near to Elm Tree, Free Press etc
Earl of Beaconsfield www.earlofbeaconsfield.co.uk
133 Mill Road CB1 3AA
Nicely refurbished pub with five real ales, regular live music and pool room, and a couple of friendly pub dogs. Just over Mill Road bridge.
72 Thoday Street CB1 3AX
Along with the Earl of Beaconsfield and the Royal Standard, one of the few decent pubs over on the wrong side of the tracks (Romsey Town), plus there’s a resident pig!
Mitre www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/themitrecambridge | @MitreCambridge
17 Bridge St, CB2 1U
The only Nicholson’s pub in Cambridge, good range of real ales on the eight pumps (some served through sparklers). Refurbished March 2017.
Old Bicycle Shop
104 Regent Street, CB2 1DP
Small bar area but one of the best vegan menus in Cambridge, with the bonus of great beer from Cambridge Brew House and the likes of Cloudwater, Pig & Porter etc.
Blog post: Old Bicycle Shop
Portland Arms www.theportlandarms.co.uk
129 Chesterton Road CB4 3BA
Good pub and music venue, recently extended, with CAMRA-listed historic pub interior.
Tension Road, Cambridge CB1 2DW
www.salisburyarmscambridge.co.uk | @TheSalisburyCam
In the 70s this was one of the few CAMRA owned pubs, now a Charles Wells pub, refurbished and reopened March 2015, the first in the city to serve their new dry hopped lager along with Youngs London Stout. Pizza oven and improved menu. Close to the train station and the Live & Let Live.
129 King St, CB1 1LD
Freehouse, smallest pub in Cambridge but serves a few real ales. Refurbished and reopened in March 2015. On the same street as the Champion of the Thames and the Brewhouse.
Red Bull www.charleswells.co.uk
11 Barton Rd, Newnham CB3 9JZ
Charles & Wells pub in Newnham, nice place south west of the city centre, the last stop before heading across the meadows to Grantchester.
337 Newmarket Road CB5 8JE
Really good authentic Thai Food, best of the few remaining pubs on Newmarket Road, quite a walk from town but close to football ground and convenient for the nearby Travelodge.
Pubs for sport:
Anchor Silver St, Newnham CB3 9EL
Boathouse 14 Chesterton Rd CB4 3AX
Fort St George Midsummer Common CB4 1HA. One of the best beer gardens in the city, with views across Midsummer Common. Unfortunately gets very busy on summer weekends, with a queue to the bar and a long wait for food.
Granta Newnham Rd CB3 9EX
Green Dragon 5 Water St, Chesterton CB4 1NZ
Mill 14, Mill Lane CB2 1RX
Bacchanalia www.winegod.co.uk | @Bacchanalia_Cam
90 Mill Road CB1 2BD and 79 Victoria Rd CB4 3BS
Mill Road branch has the best selection of bottled beer in Cambridge as well as take-outs from the cask.
Cambridge Wine Merchants www.cambridgewine.com | @CambridgeWine
31/32 Bridge Street CB2 1UJ & 2 Kings Parade CB2 1SJ
Growing selection of excellent bottled and canned beers including a good supply from Moor brewery and Samuel Smiths.
Cambridge Farmers Outlet 8 Lensfield Road CB2 1EG
Selection of beers from Cambridge Moonshine, Oakham Ales, Mile Tree and Saffron Brewery.
JSG Wine Merchants Hills Road CB2 1LA
Closed and converted to a barbers.
Limited range but some I haven’t found anywhere else in Cambridge, such as Kona Brewing and Redhook Longhammer.
Thirsty @ThirstyCamb 46 Chesterton Road CB4 1EN
Opened August 2015, great range of beer (Moor, Weird Beard, Siren etc) including growler fills.