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Top five Monday

The Top 5 Pubs of Cambridge

Monday, September 1st, 2008

When you are choosing the top five pubs of Cambridge, UK, your major problem is what to leave out, as this fair student city is full of excellent hostelries, each with their own unique atmosphere.

So for those of you in a hurry, I have sifted out what may well be the top five, but of course it’s all a matter of opinion …

1. The Eagle

First up is one of the oldest pubs in Cambridge, namely The Eagle, on Benet St, which dates back to the 16th century, being owned by one of the colleges, Corpus Christi, since 1525. The Eagle is popular with tourists, students and locals alike, and so it can get pretty crowded – but that’s a sure sign of a good pub!

The Eagle has a fascinating interior, which reflects its history – take a look in the RAF bar, which has the signatures of British and American airmen of World War II on its ceiling. The pub was also apparently a favorite haunt for Francis Crick and James Watson, who discovered the structure of DNA.

As well as serving Greene King’s IPA and Abbott ales, the pub also does a guest beer which varies from day to day, and there is a good menu with a variety of traditional pub food.

Probably the only problem you will find with the Eagle is getting a seat, so be sure to get there early!

2. Elm Tree

Now if real ale is your thing, then you will love the small, but popular, Elm Tree on Orchard Street. Highly rated among beer aficionados, The Elm Tree has a selection of traditionally brewed beers on no less than ten hand pumps, and so this venue is very good if you like to sample a variety of real ales. Not only that, but The Elm Tree also does continental beers, and some rare American beers.

The Elm Tree does freshly prepared, locally sourced food, and also does barbecues on certain nights, with home made beef and veggie burgers.

If you are a fan of jazz too, then you may well enjoy the Elm Tree’s live jazz offerings of Jazz Jam Mondays and Swinging Sundays.

So, for imbibing, good grub, and music, The Elm Tree really has it all.

3. The Free Press

Housed in a very small building on the quiet back street known as Prospect Row, is the charming, wooden-floored pub known as The Free Press. Over 120 years old, this pub was once the home of a printing press, and its walls are decorated with old newspapers, as well as the rowing paraphernalia of various university rowing teams. In the winter, you can feel really cozy there, as a roaring fire is lit in the open hearth.

But probably the real piece de resistance of the Free Press is its amazing lack of background noise – no piped music, no beeping games machines, and mobile phones are banned.

There are usually five beers on tap – including Greene King, Ruddles, and a guest ale which is changed regularly. The freshly prepared home-cooked food is good value for money, and the service is highly rated too.

So if you want to enjoy your beer in a relatively quiet atmosphere, this is a good pub to choose.

4. The Baron of Beef

With its colorful flower baskets, The Baron of Beef on Bridge Street catches your eye straight away, and the location in the centre of town is convenient for those out sightseeing. Greene King beer is served, and there is a good menu of traditional pub grub, which can be eaten inside, or on the pleasant outdoor patio.

The interior of the pub is one long room, a bar stretching the length of it, with tables at each end, and a wide open social mingling space in the middle. During the daytime the pub is relatively quiet, and ideal for having your pub meal, but in the evening it gets decidedly more vivacious, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, then winding down a little with a pub quiz on Sunday nights to test your brainpower. The bar staff are praised for their friendliness, and there is even the occasional live band on.

So for a lively night out in the town centre, the Baron of Beef is the place.

5. The Cambridge Blue

The Cambridge Blue on Gwydir Street is a friendly pub, believed to date as far back as 1874, and as well as serving draught real ales such as Hobson’s Choice and Woodeforde’s, they do the German draught, Erdinger Weissbier. Additionally, the Cambridge Blue has a list of bottled beers from all over the world that will make your mouth water – you can pick from a variety of Western and Eastern European, Australian, American, and African bottled beers, and they even do Turkish Efes beer. There is also an impressive malt whisky list.

The pub has a menu of standard English pub fayre, which can be eaten in the comfortable dining room inside, or in the pub’s pleasant beer garden. The garden is great for families, and the Blue has been praised by visitors for its child-friendliness.

The Blue is another pub that tries to cut down on background noise, with a lack of piped music, and a mobile phone ban.

So the Cambridge Blue is a great choice for those with children who want to eat, as well as for those who like to try different beers or whiskies.

So there we have it. These are five of the very best Cambridge pubs. However Cambridge has many more fine pubs besides – spend a week or two there, and I am sure you will discover your very own top five.

Photo of the Baron of Beef pub, Cambridge, UK originally posted by Andrew Stawarz

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer carol ferndale

Carol Ferndale has lived in the UK, Japan, Sweden and the Middle East, as well as studying in France, and doing cultural exchange activities in Belgium. She has also traveled by bus across the USA from coast to coast, spent time in Canada, strolled around the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, explored other parts of Eastern Europe, made a number of journeys to Turkey, and onwards into various parts of Asia, including China and Thailand. Carol Ferndale now spends most of her time in England, writing, computer programming, and taking an interest in the nature of the universe.

10 responses to “The Top 5 Pubs of Cambridge”

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  1. Someone says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Great Article .thanks for this………

  2. Carol Ferndale says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Glad that you liked it. Thanks.

    Will you be visiting any of the pubs?

  3. Anish Raj Malhotra says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    wwwwwwwwoooooo……Great info.i like it,., thanks for this…..

  4. Vineet Rajput says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    This is great source to get suitable pubs for you….

  5. Carol Ferndale says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I am so glad that people have found this article useful. The problem in writing it was deciding which pubs to leave out, as Cambridge just has so many good ones.

    A friend of mine found a solution to this problem by buying a pub map of Cambridge and working his way around the lot …

  6. Carl says:
    February 21st, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I’m definitely glad you placed The Elm Tree near the top of the list – I live less than 50 meters away from it and it is by far my favorite pub in Cambridge. If you still visit or live in Cambridge and fancy a good workout or mind body relaxation, check out Juice Pilates on Mill Road.

  7. Carol Ferndale says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Glad you like the Elm Tree.

    Actually, the list doesn’t indicate any particular order of preference or worthiness – just numbering the top five, really.

    I’ll try out your juice bar next time I’m in Cambridge. How long have you been open?

    Cambridge is defo one of my favourite places.

  8. John Turner says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks for the Recommendations! I will be soaking up the Atmosphere and Tasting the Draughts in these fine Establishments some time Very Soon!

  9. Spencer says:
    March 9th, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Nice selection of pubs. I have been to a couple of them as my sister lives in Cambridge. Always had some good beers there as well as lunches too.

  10. Eddie says:
    April 15th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I would highly recommend the Pickerel, pretty much over the road from the baron near the river. It can also get crowded and is an old pub, well worth a look.

    Cambridge has hundreds of pubs, I would say go for a weekend and try as many of them as possible :)


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