Cambridge is a lovely place to shop. Its relatively small size means that it’s easy to walk across the centre in a short space of time, although there are plenty of shops and market stalls packed into this compact city centre. The main shopping area is situated in the ‘triangle’ of Trinity Street/King’s Parade, Bene’t Street and Sidney Street. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of high-street stores and independent shops, coffee shops and cafés, as well as a number of bars and restaurants.
The Grand Arcade is Cambridge newest shopping area. Opened in 2007, it’s a stylish yet medium-sized shopping mall, with huge skylights and open doors at either end to give natural ventilation. The main draw is the big John Lewis along with the Apple Store, though it’s filled with a great variety of quality shops and brands, selling toys, gifts, technology, jewellery, sportswear, shoes and clothes.
Linking to the Grand Arcade is Lion Yard Shopping Centre, with plenty of exciting shops including Smiggle, Tiger, Hotel Chocolat and Lush. Inside, on the first floor, you’ll find the Cambridge Library (which, incidentally, has a good café), along with another good range of shops and some food stops.
Just outside the arcade on St Andrews Street is Chocolat Chocolat, famous for its hand-made chocolates. In the winter it also offers divine hot chocolate, while in summer the shop serves hand-made ice cream. Chocolate lovers can also indulge themselves with chocolate-making or tasting courses.
Cambridge has had a market in the historic market square since the Middle Ages, and today it’s a permanent fixture. During the week, this flourishing market sells a range of goods, from fresh fruit and vegetables, loose-leaf tea, cheese, wet fish and flowers to clothes, artisan bread, jewellery and greetings cards. Stalls are open from 10am-4pm.
On Sundays, however, the market turns into a food, arts and craft market, which is bursting with lovely things to buy. Gifts, vintage clothes and accessories abound, while vinyl records, ceramics, chocolates and Spanish food can be found down some of the rows. Just across from the market, on Peas Hill, you’ll find a range of shops and food stops. Ark is a treasure trove filled with gorgeous gifts, cards, accessories and nick-nacks displayed on vintage and retro furniture. The Cambridge Fabric Company nearby sells beautiful fabric, buttons, sewing kits and ribbon, and also runs sewing classes.
Opened in 2007, it’s a stylish yet medium-sized shopping mall, with huge skylights and open doors at either end to give natural ventilation. It’s filled with a great variety of quality shops and brands, selling toys, gifts, technology, jewellery, sportswear, shoes and clothes
This lovely, curved street links Trinity Street with the market square. Here, you’ll find upmarket shops such as L’Occitane, Jo Malone, Origins, Mint Velvet, JoJo Maman Bébé, Neal’s Yard and Crabtree & Evelyn, while independent jeweller Cellini has a beautiful range of pearls, diamonds and bespoke pieces.
All Saints Garden Market
Just off Trinity Street, opposite Trinity College Gatehouse, you’ll find an open-air market held on Saturdays, filled with stalls selling hand-crafted goods. Pretty much everything on the markets stalls has been made by the stallholders, which includes pottery, jewellery, paintings, photography, cards, woodwork and glass.
A small, pedestrianised street just off Sidney Street, this area has a number of lovely places to shop. The Tailor’s Cat is full of dresses fit for a queen, featuring wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, as well as a fine selection of jewellery. Further on you’ll find Fired Earth for stylish home décor, while Finn Jordan is a small but welcoming and relaxing beauty salon.
Millers Music on the corner is Cambridge’s best-known music shop (in fact it’s the largest and oldest music shop in town, having opened in 1856). It currently sells a huge variety of instruments – such as pianos, guitars, trumpets, drums and saxophones – as well as accessories and sheet music.
This lovely, curved street links Trinity Street with the market square. Here, you’ll find upmarket shops such as L’Occitane, Jo Malone, Origins, Mint Velvet, JoJo Maman Bébé, Neal’s Yard and Crabtree & Evelyn
Magdalene Street/Bridge Street
Entering Cambridge from Magdalene Bridge, Magdalene Street is home to a wealth of independent shops. First up is The Beaderie, selling pretty much any kind of bead – and in any colour – you could imagine. With loose beads, finding and strings, you’ll find everything you need here to create your perfect accessory. Lost in Vinyl is a record-lovers’ paradise, with plenty of music, both old and new, to browse.
Bowns & Bis, once a 16th-century inn, is where you’ll find designer labels, gorgeous dresses and elegant work outfits, as well as casual clothes and accessories. Della Kaur is a boutique specialising in jewellery and women’s accessories, such as fine silk pashminas, linen scarves and leather bags. Nearby, Ian Stevens produces high-quality leather goods, such as bags, satchels, cases and belts, all hand-crafted in his workshop.
Over the bridge and on to Bridge Street, Cambridge Wine Merchants is a fine independent wine shop – and bar – with knowledgeable staff who’ll help you find that perfect bottle. A bit further down the street, Catherine Jones jewellers sells all manner of distinctive and individual pieces, some of which are designed and created with its own workshop, with others from leading designers from the UK and Europe.
Petrus is packed full of the latest stylish designs for both men and women, with funky, retro lighting and vintage furniture completing the look. Lilac Rose is an independent fashion boutique that sells clothes, gifts, accessories and jewellery, while next door, 19:10 is a haven for ladies looking for something special to wear.
Seven Wolves is a stylish menswear shop aimed at the man with a ‘refined and discerning’ taste in clothes. With high-fashion brands including Vivienne Westwood, Baracuta and Loake 1880, this beautifully-designed store is worth a browse.
Take a small detour to your right down All Saints Passage and pop into the Cambridge Cheese Company, something of a Cambridge institution. Bursting with artisan food such as charcuterie, bread and olives – as well as a huge range of cheese and chutneys – this is your must-stop shop if you’re a cheese lover.
The Beaderie sells pretty much any kind of bead – and in any colour – you could imagine. With loose beads, finding and strings, you’ll find everything you need here to create your perfect accessory
Opposite King’s College is a fine row of independent shops, selling wares such as college scarves and sweatshirts, fine art, ethnic goods, crafts and jewellery. Ryder & Amies has been a gentleman’s tailoring and robe outfitters since around 1850, and is outfitter to the University and Cambridge. You’ll find college scarves, sweatshirts, caps and bags here, while if you need to hire a robe for a graduation, this is the place to come.
Nomads is an independent shop selling goods sourced India and Nepal – go downstairs to discover this Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. Nearby, Troon features women’s designer clothes for all ages and sizes, and focuses on collections exclusive to the shop.
If you’re looking for a piece of art, Byard Art is a showcase for artists, and features paintings, ceramics, sculpture and jewellery. The Lawson Gallery, a few doors down, sells original artwork as well as antique prints, maps and bronzes.
Around the corner opposite Great St Mary’s Church is The Cambridge Satchel Company, Cambridge’s big success story. Back in 2008, a Cambridge mum needed to find a way to make money, and after making her daughter a leather school satchel – like the one she used to have as a child – the idea blossomed. Mums asked to buy them, magazines picked up on them, orders poured in – and the rest is history.
Nomads is an independent shop selling goods sourced India and Nepal – go downstairs to discover this Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. Nearby, Troon features women’s designer clothes for all ages and sizes, and focuses on collections exclusive to the shop
St Edward’s Passage
Slip down the little side path off King’s Parade and you’ll find yourself on St Edward’s Passage, a quaint little street that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Here you’ll find two interesting old bookshops – The Haunted Bookshop (named after a ‘white lady’ who’s said to roam the shop’s stairs), a tiny shop that specialises in children’s and illustrated books and, round the corner, G David. This shop has lots of second-hand books, but specialises in antiquarian books and fine binding. Another bookshop of note is the Cambridge University Press Bookshop on Trinity Street – books have been sold here since 1581, making it the oldest bookshop in the country. It’s packed full of academic tomes and non-fiction, as well as revision aids and books for younger children.
The Grafton Centre
The Grafton Centre is a shopping arcade to the east of the city, which is about a five-to 10-minute walk from the centre across the pleasant park of Christ’s Pieces. It features a whole host of high-street shops over two floors, with a multiplex cinema, cafés and a couple of restaurants on the upper level. It also has a large car park in case you drive into the city.
The Mill Road area of Cambridge, about a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre, is home to an eclectic mix of stores, from health foods, bookshops and grocery stores to hairdressers, delicatessens and vintage clothing shops. It also has a couple of interesting antiques shops on Gwydir Street – The Hive and Cambs Antique Centre, both of which are fascinating to browse round.
Further down Mill Road, over the bridge, is Relevant Records, an eclectic mix of coffee shop on one floor and vinyl emporium in the basement. A few doors down is the Old Chemist Shop Antiques Centre, full of vintage items including toys, homewares and clothes.
Nearby, just off Hope Street, you’ll find Hope Street Yard – something of a hidden gem – which has a mixture of vintage and retro sellers. These include Carpintree, Romsey Retro and the School Run Centre, which stocks a fantastic range of cycles, Dutch bikes that can carry a number of children, and cycling accessories.
It features a whole host of high-street shops over two floors, with a multiplex cinema, cafés and a couple of restaurants on the upper level. It also has a large car park in case you drive into the city
Ely, a tiny jewel of a city, has three different markets to browse round. There’s a craft and collectibles market every Saturday, which includes a street foods aisle for unusual and artisan delicacies. The farmers’ market is held on two Saturdays a month, with producers on hand and a feast of tasty foods to taste and buy. Every Thursday, Sunday and two out of four Saturdays, there’s a general market, too.
Waterside Antiques, a huge wharf by the River Ouse in Ely, is an Aladdin’s Cave of goodies and a brilliant place to spend an hour or two. With unusual finds such as a Del Boy-style cocktail bar alongside antique jewellery and vintage furniture, you can easily lose yourself here.
Huntingdon also has a number of markets, as well as a good range of high-street stores. A traditional market is held every Wednesday and Saturday in the Market Square, while a farmers’ market arrives every Friday.
Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough is the place to go if you want the convenience of a huge range of shops under one roof. With more than 90 brands, the mall is open seven days a week and features shops such as John Lewis, Waitrose and Monsoon. Nearby, the Westgate Arcade – which dates back to 1920 – is home to a mix of independent stores including an award-winning butcher, designer clothing boutiques and jewellery stores.
In St Ives, Hyperion Homes & Antiques Centre houses 25 independent dealers selling antique, vintage and retro goods. It’s also an auction house, with auctions running fortnightly on Saturdays.
Around 18 miles west of Cambridge, St Neots – the largest town in Cambridgeshire – is a thriving riverside town that dates back more than 1,000 years. The market, held every Thursday, was first held in the sizeable market square during the 12th century. There’s also a farmers’ market held on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. For general shopping, the main high street has plenty to choose from, while hidden courtyards leading off the high street feature a wealth of independent stores and interesting boutiques.
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