Dog-Friendly Cambridge, UK: Visiting Cambridge with a Dog

The university town of Cambridge in East Anglia, 60 miles north of London, has long been a rival to the town of Oxford. But when it comes to visiting with a dog, which destination is more dog-friendly? I’ve previously covered what to do with a dog when visiting Oxford, now I’ll share my tips for visiting Cambridge with your dog following my recent visit.

Dog-Friendly Cambridge

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Cambridge

There’s plenty of dog-friendly sightseeing to do in and around Cambridge when visiting with a dog. While like in Oxford entering the grounds of the colleges is off limits when you have a dog, there’s plenty more to see and do. And dare I say it, Cambridge narrowly edges up Oxford for dog-friendliness…

#1 Check Out the Colleges

The star attraction when visiting Cambridge are it’s magnificent colleges. With some founded hundreds of years ago, most feature stunning sandstone and brick architecture, not to mention plenty of historic tales to share.

Trinity and St Johns Colleges Cambridge
The facades of Trinity and St John’s Colleges

As far as I can tell, dogs aren’t allowed inside any colleges. I noticed plenty of colleges with no dog signs at their entryway. As it is, many colleges these days have restrictions or entrance fees, and are largely off limits to visitors during the exam period, taking place during my visit. But I still managed to glimpse inside some entry gates…

Peering Inside Corpus Christi College Cambridge
A glimpse inside Corpus Christi College

I recommend walking along the main street of Cambridge onto which many of the colleges front – Trumpington Street then King’s Parade then Trinity Street then St Johns Street. You’ll still see plenty of the college exteriors from the street, including the imposing chapel of King’s College and the grand entry gate of Trinity College (with a statue of Henry VIII holding a table leg instead of a sceptre after a student prank).

Trinity College Great Gate Cambridge
The entry gate of Trinity College

Another interesting sight worth checking out at the end of St Johns Street is the Round Church. This unusual church was first constructed in 1130, and is one of only four medieval round churches still in use in England. Note though that pet dogs can’t join you in entering the building.

The Round Church Cambridge
The Round Church in Cambridge

During my visit, I noticed that many footpaths are Cambridge are quite narrow, particularly around Trumpington Street and Silver Street, so be careful to keep your dog on a short leash and off the road during busy times. Also keep an eye out for the many cyclists!

To find out more, it would be useful to join a walking tour. When investigating different tour options, I found conflicting reports as to whether pet dogs are allowed (not just guide dogs), so I recommend directly contacting tour groups for their latest policy.

#2 Stroll Along the Backs

In addition to strolling along the streets of Cambridge and viewing the fronts of the colleges, make sure you also head around to the other side, home to the gardens and meadows that are descriptively called “The Backs”.

Much of The Backs is college grounds, also off limits to dogs. Instead, walk along the footpath alongside Queen’s Road, until it ends at a gate onto the grounds of St John’s College. There’s plenty of lush grass along the path that your dog will enjoy, plus a small park at the southern end of the footpath.

The Backs Cambridge
The footpath alongside Queen’s Road
Kings College from the Backs Cambridge
Views of King’s College Chapel from the Backs

There is only one footpath through The Backs that is open to the public – Garret Hostel Lane. Follow the laneway to a bridge, then continue through the laneways to Trinity Street. The Backs are also accessed from Silver Street at the southern end.

#3 Enjoy a Punt on the Cam

The best and easiest way though to view the colleges of Cambridge and explore The Backs with a dog is by hopping on a punt. There are multiple companies that run guided punting tours or hire out punts for a trip along the River Cam, and nearly all allow dogs onboard.

Punting at Cambridge
Enjoy a punt tour in Cambridge with your dog

I enjoyed a guided punting tour with Cambridge Chauffeur Punts. Operating on-demand tours on the quiet drizzly day that I visited, their prices are quite reasonable. I elected to take a guided tour so I could enjoy my guide’s commentary and not be in danger of falling in the river! Well-behaved dogs are allowed on both their guided tours and self-guided punts.

Punt Tour Cambridge
Onboard the Big Bertha punt with Cambridge Chauffeur Punts

Other dog-friendly punting options in Cambridge include Scudamore’s (both chauffeured punts and punt hire, plus canoe and kayak hire in Grantchester), Granta Moorings (in their self-rental options), and the Traditional Punting Company (both private and shared punts).

Take into account the size of your dog when choosing an option, particularly if you are booking part of a shared boat. Some companies may also ask other guests on shared tours whether they are okay with a dog aboard. Plus also make sure your dog doesn’t go for a swim mid-tour!

As you leisurely punt along the River Cam (assuming you’re not doing the punting), it’s easy to sit back and take in views of the colleges and bridges, taking plenty of photos. The Rialto-style Bridge of Signs at St John’s College is one of the most famous sights on a punting tour – it’s only visible from the river without entry onto the college grounds.

Bridge of Sighs Cambridge
The famous Bridge of Sighs at St John’s College

#4 Feast on a Chelsea Bun

Another popular tradition in Cambridge are the Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies. These syrupy buns can be bought singly or in bulk – just be sure to have somewhere to clean the syrup off your fingers afterwards!

Chelsea Bun from Fitzbillies Cambridge
A syrupy Chelsea Bun from Fitzbillies

There are now multiple Fitzbillies locations around Cambridge. Their original Trumpington Street location is home to a coffee shop, restaurant and tea room and cake shop side-by-side, while further up King’s Parade there is outdoor seating, and I noticed Chelsea Bun Ice Cream on the menu at their Bridge Street location.

Fitzbillies Cambridge
The original Trumpington Street location of Fitzbillies

When buying a Chelsea Bun at the King’s Parade location, I confirmed that dogs are allowed inside at least that location. Although I ordered take-away to enjoy mine in a nearby park.

#5 Watch the Corpus Clock 

One of the strangest, plus also newest, attractions in Cambridge is the Corpus Clock, located facing the public footpath on the corner of Trumpington and Bene’t Streets outside Corpus Christi College.

The Corpus Clock Cambridge
Can you tell the time from the Corpus Clock?

Unveiled by Stephen Hawking in 2008, the clock tells the time by opening slits backlit with blue LEDs, rather than numerals or hands, and features a hideous insect known as the “time-eater”. Erratic in nature, sowing down and speeding up, the clock is only accurate once every five minutes!

Stop and watch the clock for a while and try and understand it’s workings – most of the time quite a crowd gathers on the footpath outside to watch it.

#6 Head Along the River to Grantchester

About two miles downriver from Cambridge is the cute town of Grantchester. The location of the eponymous TV murder drama, it’s a popular destination for a half-day trip from Cambridge, whether to visit the Orchard Tea Garden or enjoy a picnic on the meadows.

Scudamore’s have self-guided boats available for hire on the southern side of Cambridge, including punts, canoes and kayaks, with dogs welcome to join you. Alternatively, hire one of the dog-friendly self-guided punts or canoes across the river at Granta Moorings.

Granta Canoe Hire Cambridge
Hire a canoe from Granta Moorings to visit Grantchester

It’s also possible to walk to Grantchester along the signposted Riverside Walk that starts at the end of Mill Lane. The two mile (3km) long walk along the banks of the River Cam passes Sheep’s Green and the Grantchester Meadows.

Riverside Walk Cambridge
The start of the Riverside Walk to Grantchester

#7 Go Shopping with Your Pup

If you’re after a more sedate indoor activity for your time in Cambridge, it’s a great destination to go shopping with your pup. Take a stroll through the cute laneways – while I didn’t notice signs saying dogs are allowed on many boutiques, you can always ask at the entry.

In particular, the John Lewis store in the centre of Cambridge is dog-friendly. Well-behaved dogs are welcome inside the multi-level store, as long as you keep them on a lead and under control. Just note the same rule may not apply to the cafes.

John Lewis Cambridge Dogs Welcome
The dog-friendly John Lewis store in Cambridge

#8 Visit the Museum of Technology

On weekends, another interesting dog-friendly attraction to explore in Cambridge is the Museum of Technology. Based in the city’s historic sewage pumping station, well-behaved dogs on a leash are welcome to join both inside and outside. Explore the Steam Engine Room, Boiler House and Valve Yard. Water bowls are also provided for pups.

Just note that the museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays year round, plus Fridays between Easter and the end of December, so I didn’t have the chance to check it out.

#9 Join a Bicycle Tour

If you have a small dog who can fit in the basket of a bicycle (and is happy to ride there unlike my Schnitzel!), you can join one of the Cambridge Bike Tours. After all, previous guests have!

The two-wheeled tours of Cambridge operate between April and October – check the website for the exact dates. Advance bookings are a must, with both a City Tour and Grantchester Tour available, or combine both into a full-day outing.

#10 Visit Milton Country Park

Just a few miles outside of Cambridge is the Milton Country Park. The 95 acre park contains both woodlands and wetlands, with plenty of paths for a walk or cycle around the pools.

Dogs are allowed off-leash in about half of the park, and on-leash in most of the reminder. I’ve also heard reports that the dog-friendly cafe on the grounds serves up puppacinos.

Dog-Friendly Parks in Cambridge

There’s also plenty of green spaces to enjoy with your pup in Cambridge itself. Dogs are allowed off-leash in most parks around Cambridge, except for the list of dog control areas listed by the local council.

One of the best large green expanses to enjoy with your dog around Cambridge is Jesus Green, on the northern side of Cambridge and adjacent to the Lido.

Jesus Green Cambridge
Jesus Green is a great off-leash dog park

Alternatively, head to Parker’s Piece. This manicured grassy park is tucked in behind the shops and cafes along Regent Street. Thanks to its central location in the town it can be busy at times, so be mindful of other users.

Parkers Piece Cambridge
The centrally located Parker’s Piece

Note that pet dogs are not permitted in the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens.

Dog-Friendly Cafes in Cambridge

Fitzbillies offers more than just Chelsea Buns. They also offer brunch and lunch menus, a huge range of cakes, cream teas and even afternoon teas, with the options on offer varying between each location.

When I visited the King’s Parade location, I confirmed that dogs are welcome inside, as well as at the outdoor tables (only found at this location).

Another option is to order one of their picnics. Make an order in advance for a lunch, cream tea or afternoon tea picnic, then enjoy it in one of the many superb picnic spots around Cambridge or along the walk to Grantchester.

Dog-Friendly Pubs in Cambridge

There are plenty of dog-friendly pubs to choose from around Cambridge, whether you’re wanting a relaxed afternoon in a beer garden or to enjoy a hearty Sunday Roast on a rainy day.

One of the best dog-friendly pubs is the Fort St George at Midsommer Common. Walk across Jesus Green and Midsommer Common to the pub located on the banks of the Cam River. As well as a large beer garden with dog water bowls, dogs are also allowed inside except for in the restaurant, although staff request dogs don’t sprawl out too much inside!

Fort Saint George Cambridge
The beer garden of the Fort St George

Another great riverside pub is The Granta, on the southern side of Cambridge, adjacent to the Granta Moorings boat hire. The gastropub has a big riverside terrace, which is partially undercover for when the weather doesn’t co-operate.

The Granta Cambridge
The Granta and its riverside terrace

Alternatively, a great historic pub in the centre of Cambridge is The Eagle. The pub is famous for being the spot where Crick and Watson first celebrated the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, plus has a historic ceiling covered in graffiti from WWII. There’s a small beer garden, or dogs are welcome in the cosy interior, where you can enjoy a pint of Eagle’s DNA.

The Eagle Cambridge
Order a pint of Eagle’s DNA at The Eagle

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Cambridge

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the links. See my full disclaimer.

There’s a wide range of dog-friendly accommodation options available in Cambridge.

A terrific option just a short stroll from punt rides and the colleges is the Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge on Trumpington Street. Located in a Grade II listed building yet with luxurious rooms, up to two dogs are permitted in selected rooms. An additional fee of £25 for one dog or £40 for two dogs applies, but beds and bowls are supplied. Note that pet dogs cannot join you inside the bistro, only the cellar bar.

Hotel du Vin Cambridge
The Hotel du Vin in Cambridge

A popular option with dog owners is The Waterman, a traditional pub just north of the River Cam and metres from off-leash walks at Jesus Green. As well as allowing dogs inside the pub downstairs, upstairs there are eight comfortable, ensuite rooms that are all dog-friendly. A small additional fee of £10 per dog per night applies.

Another option back in the centre of Cambridge is the Hilton Cambridge City Centre. Located on Downing Street, up to two well-behaved pet dogs are permitted in the modern, air-conditioned rooms. There is an additional charge of £40 per dog per stay, but note that pet dogs are restricted from common areas from the hotel.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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