Stately homes, gardens and riverside locations, we list the best places to picnic in Cambridge and the surrounding villages.
We’re finally able to get outdoors and enjoy the city, but if you’d still rather keep your distance, we’ve picked the best locations to bask in the sunshine with a picnic in the city and beyond.
Cambridge’s iconic picnic spot, and with good reason. These grazed meadows meander alongside the winding River Granta towards the beautiful village of Grantchester, offering many shady spots for a picnic. Start by walking across Lammas Land by the River Cam to Grantchester Street, where you can stock up on strawberries and bubbly from the Co-op. From there it’s an easy walk to the Meadows, where you can lay out your blanket and watch the punts go by. If you don’t fancy carrying your own food and drink, it’s a short walk from the Meadows to the Orchard Tea Garden, where you can enjoy afternoon tea under the trees.
Punting and afternoon tea are two summer pastimes that are not to be missed in Cambridge. Why not enjoy a punt tour down the River Cam, sitting back to immerse yourself in the beautiful architecture of Cambridge, whilst enjoying a tasty traditional treat or two? The Traditional Punting Company have teamed up with Harriet’s Tearooms to provide a truly high-quality English experience.
Anglesey Abbey is a National Trust property in the village of Lode, approximately five and half miles northeast of Cambridge. The gardens are the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a picnic – choose from the South Glade, the East Lawn, the Pinetum or the Arboretum. You can even top-up your picnic from the restaurant. You can take your picnic blanket or try to nab a deckchair in the Skylight Garden and recline amongst the cherry blossoms. Picnic food and drink can be challenging, but to keep drinks chilled during heatwaves or tea hot for those typical British summer days, use a SHO food flask. The eco-friendly flask is made from stainless steel and is perfect for picnics.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
This oasis of calm in the centre of the city is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing afternoon. Spread out over 40 acres, with many types of gardens, lakes, and greenhouses, there are plenty of picnic benches and shady spots to sit and relax. If you don’t fancy bringing your own picnic, you can dine al fresco with tasty treats from the Garden Cafe.
This National Trust property comprises an impressive mansion and a working country estate. Take a stroll through the pleasant gardens and explore the bustling farmyard. You can also venture further across the landscaped park, through woodlands, lakes and fields – you’ll find lots of lovely spots under trees and in meadows to unfurl your blanket. The Old Rectory Restaurant counter is on hand to serve a range of takeaway hot and cold drinks and light snacks.
If you’d prefer your lunch severed to you but want to dine outside, we’ve picked some of the best al fresco dining restaurants in Cambridge and Ely.
The Old Fire Engine House, Ely
The Old Fire Engine House is a family owned restaurant and art gallery near Ely cathedral, set in a Georgian house with a large English walled garden stocked with many old English fruit trees, herbs and flowers – the perfect place to dine al-fresco. The menus rely heavily on local, seasonal ingredients and recipes, and the afternoon teas are not to be missed.
Red Lion, Grantchester
Set in the scenic village of Grantchester, this beautiful thatched roof pub is a stone’s throw away from Grantchester Meadows and a peaceful 20-minute stroll along the river Cam into Cambridge. This quintessential British pub serves the best of fresh seasonal food, fine wines and award-winning ales – plus legendary Sunday roasts.
Fort St George, Cambridge
Located on a bend of the river Cam on Midsummer Common in Cambridge, this historic riverside pub has plenty of outside seating, and is the perfect pitstop for the start or the end of a springtime walk. Indulge in some quality pub grub and drinks as you watch the boats – and the cows – go by.