The Freshers' Guide
Social life outside college
Although you may be overwhelmed by the social, culinary and architectural delights offered by Sidney (and we have ghosts too, allegedly), there does exist a world outside the college walls which has much to offer the student and visitor. For an introduction to the historical sites and attractions, see a guide brochure (available from the Tourist Information Office, just off Market Square). For a brief exposé of the music, beverage and museum scene, read on...
Cambridge offers a wide variety of watering holes, ranging from cosy old-style pubs (some with a very impressive historical pedigree), to shiny and new would-be London-style wine bars. If you fancy the former, then The Champion of the Thames and the St Radegund's (both on King Street, just behind Sidney) are highly recommended. The Maypole (next to the multi-storey car park on Park Street, down from the ADC theatre) is a firm Sidney favourite for all the right reasons: close proximity to College and Italian food (it's Italian-run, so the pasta is palatable!). If it's al fresco drinking in scenic, riverside surrounds that you're after, then The Mill and The Anchor (both near Silver Street bridge) are good options, and Fort St. George on Midsummer Common is well worth the walk across Jesus Green. The Eagle on Bene't Street is also a popular choice, and boasts some sort of historic DNA discovery association that those of a scientific persuasion will find irresistible. Finally, The Bun Shop and The King Street Run (both on King Street) and The Pickerel on Magdalene Street warrant a visit.
There are several useful online pub guides to help you navigate the vast array of drinking opportunities Cambridge has to offer - try the independent guides here and here and also the Cambridge branch of CAMRA.
If more modern and music-friendly night bars are more your thing, then La Raza on Rose Crescent has recently proved very popular with the Sidney MCR. Also popular for music performance as well as cocktails are the Vaults on Trinity Street and B Bar on Market Passage. Other vibrant bars we recommend are Ta Bouche on Market Passage, All Bar One on St. Andrew's Street and the Fountain Inn on Regent Street.
If ultra-cheesy music is to your taste, Cambridge is undeniably the place for you. Ballare (formerly Cindy's/5th Avenue) near Lion Yard arguably takes the cake. Soul Tree is between the Corn Exchange and the back of the Grand Arcade. The Fez Club on Market Passage is well known to Sidney students, but even closer to College is The Place on Sidney Street (formerly Life).
For more serious music lovers there's The Junction, which is a taxi ride away on Clifton Way (next to the Cineworld, the other side of the rail station).
While Cambridge is host to all of the big chains you would be doing yourselves a huge disservice, in terms of taste and pocket, if you adopt a conformist attitude to your coffee. Renowned for both its excellent coffee (be warned, the double espresso will keep you up all night and is best reserved for Easter term) and tasty Italian food, served in unique, study-friendly surroundings, Clowns on King Street cannot come more highly recommended as an evening and night haunt - especially as it has recently opened a smoke-free upper floor. For a daytime lunch or caffeine experience, try Indigos (next to The Haunted Bookstore, St. Edmund's Passage), although it's so popular you'll be hard-pressed to find a seat. For the biggest cappuccino cups in town, try Cafe Ole opposite Magdalene College; it also offers excellent tapas. In addition, Mill Road offers an impressive range of cafés, with CB1 gaining special mention for its low prices and thoughtfully provided library.
Museums and Galleries
Cambridge has a wide-range of museums and galleries satisfying all interests; naturally, many museums are associated with the university. Worthy of special mention is the Fitzwilliam Museum and Art Gallery on Trumpington Street (map), for its art exhibitions. Kettle's Yard Art Gallery (map), the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum (map), the University Museum of Zoology (map), and the museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute (map) are also all worth a visit.
College gardens are usually attractively maintained and offer a pleasant venue for a stroll or read, particularly in sunny weather. The University Botanic Garden (map) is highly recommended and entrance is free upon production of your University student card. If you feel the urge to play Frisbee, football, indulge in a picnic etc., then Jesus Green (behind Park Parade) is a suitable venue. For walkers and cyclists with an afternoon to spare, the nearby village of Grantchester, with its scenic meadows and friendly pubs, is an essential destination.
For those distant sunny days the unheated open-air pool on Jesus Green is a venue near to College, offering student discounts and swimmable water. For those who prefer an indoor facility, Parkside Pools, opposite Parker's Piece, offers heated pools, diving boards, a children's pool and water slide.
Freshers' Guide last modified: 9 September 2013