The best things about Cambridge, according to Cambridge students

Using the scientifically robust method of an Instagram poll, we found out your favourite things about Cambridge

Given that exam term makes it so easy to forget the things you like about life in Cambridge, we thought now would be a great time to investigate students’ favourite things about the town and University, to remind you all of why you’re here. And according to the responses we received, whether you’re a people-person, a total foodie, or a bit of a traditionalist, there’ll be something in Cambridge for you!

How pretty it is

The attractiveness of Cambridge seems to be its greatest virtue – at least, according to the Cambridge students we asked. Five respondents said the “architecture” is the best thing about the city, one commended the “greenery”, one “the aesthetic”, and another wrote, “It’s quite relaxing to sit next to the river and feed the ducks and then run from the cows.” Very wholesome and, as one student summarised, when you’re here in Cambridge, “You can really feel the history surrounding you.” It’s worth mentioning that we had more than a few votes for “the ducks” – so if you, too, are a duck admirer, go check out the Duckbridge Facebook page.

Sidney Sussex College and the Midsummer Common cows. Image credits: Sianna King (left) and Yuqing Chen (right)

Our take? This is all true. No matter where you go in Cambridge, there’ll be something nice to look at – in the centre, it’s the never-ending rows of stunning old Colleges, and the further out you go, the more greenery and wildlife there is to enjoy, too. And don’t forget that it’s not only the central Colleges which are beautiful, either! Although Girton receives more than its fair share of criticism on Camfess, it’s by far one of the most stunning Colleges the Uni has to offer.

Food & Drink

Students were quick to use this Q&A as a chance to plug their favourite food spots in Cambridge – and it turns out there’s a lot of them. A few mentioned include, “the fudge kitchen on King’s Parade”, “Bould Brothers Coffee”, “Maccies at 3am”, “the variety of takeaway restaurants”, and “the market, especially the food stalls”.

Brunch and a post-revision Jack’s trip. Image credits: Ellie Hardy (left) and Sianna King (right)

Sianna’s recommendations: you can’t *not* mention Jack’s Gelato, the average Cambridge student’s favourite snack stop, and the coffee shop that just opened on Sidney Street – Real Eating Company Coffee & Kitchen – does a mean oat latte. Greek restaurant The Olive Grove on Regent Street is more than worthy of some love too, even if it’s a little walk away from the centre.

Ellie’s recommendations: How has nobody mentioned The Locker Café? It’s the perfect spot for brunch during family visits or end-of-exams celebrations with friends. Check out Pho or The Tiffin Truck for a top-tier curry and evening out, and for brunch, Bill’s is a solid classic.

The people

Loads of students also expressed love for the Uni community and their friends: one student says the best thing is that “[Cambridge] feels like a little village, everyone knows each other”, another pointed out how great it is “finding a small group of people who are just as weird as you in just the right way”, and one more elaborated further, highlighting both “the friends I’ve made and the awesome subject I am lucky enough to study”.

After C-Sunday and a shot of King’s cows. Image credits: Sianna King (left), Ellie Hardy (right)

Our take? It’s the lifelong friends you’ll meet that make Cambridge feel like home, not the food or the architecture (however nice they might be). Definitely an S-tier choice – plus seeing your mates every day in College and lectures will mean they quickly feel like family.

Cambridge traditions

Of course, it’s the Cambridge-specific traditions that often draw people to this University in the first place, so it would be remiss to forget them on this list. Lots of people said “formals” were the best thing about Cambridge, a choir-goer chimed in with “evensongs”, and of course “punting” got a fair few mentions. Even if punting isn’t a Uni-specific tradition, it’s definitely synonymous with the Cambridge experience.

Snapshots from a Sidney formal. Image credits: Sianna King

Our opinion? The Cambridge traditions definitely set this Uni apart from all the rest (for better or for worse). Whether it’s formals, college weddings, spraying, or C-Sunday, you’ll definitely not be able to avoid taking part at some point during your time here, and you’ll make a whole host of memories you’d never have made anywhere else.

The Libraries, Colleges, and Facilities

People had a lot to say about how wide-ranging and accessible lots of Cambridge resources are: “all its resources are easy to find online” and “there’s everything you need”. Several mentioned specific Colleges and libraries (we had a number of Newnham fans chime in), and someone even had a rogue pick in the form of “the library in the grand arcade”.

The History Faculty Library and the Trinity Hall College Library. Photo credits: Poppy Robinson (left), Rosie Smart-Knight (right)

Our take? Some of the College and library buildings are truly beautiful: although it’s easy to take it for granted when you’re surrounded by them day-in, day-out, we really are lucky to have such an amazing wealth of resources and support systems around us. Maybe now that exams are done we can fully appreciate them at last.

Nights out

Cambridge might not be known worldwide for its nightlife, but we had a few votes in our poll for “college bars” as students’ favourite thing about Cambridge, and the cheap and friendly nature of some bars see them packed out almost every evening (Sidney, I’m looking at you).

If you’re still cynical, remember we were voted the 8th best night out in the UK just a few months ago – but, even so, don’t forget that going out isn’t all about clubbing or drinking. Cambridge’s thriving student theatre scene means you’ll often see us down at the ADC, and for a spot of good music, why not head to the Corn Exchange or Junction?

Lola Lo’s and The Cambridge Corn Exchange. Image credits: Yuqing Chen (left), Sianna King (right)

Ellie’s recommendations: as far as bars in Cambridge go, for a great cocktail and catch-up with friends, Stolen is the place to be. Plus, it’s in a super-central location so it’s accessible to everyone, and the Bramble cocktail is a particular favourite.

Sianna’s recommendations: another great cocktail bar for a special occasion is La Raza – it might not be the cheapest, but it’s a great spot when you’ve got something to celebrate. Plus, at the opposite end of the spectrum, Spoons is the student classic for a cheap but great evening out.

In conclusion, we received countless suggestions for your favourite things about Cambridge, and we’ve done our best to summarise them, from the scenery to formals all the way to the College bars. But the main thing we’ve learnt is that, no matter your niche, you’ll find at least one or two things to love here in this little city. 

Feature image credits: Ellie Hardy and Yuqing Chen

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