Lunch with a view: 21 top riverside restaurants and pubs
Ahh, is there anything better than a stroll along the riverside? Actually, yes - a riverside that includes a long lazy lunch and some stonking views across Cambs and Suffolk!
The Granta, Cambridge
The Granta is one of the most famous and well-loved riverside restaurants and pubs in Cambridge. It’s on the quietest stretch of the city’s River Cam and has a heavenly heated terrace with outdoor kitchen overlooking the calm waters (this section is actually called Mill Pond!) of The Backs. The pub was refurbished in 2021 and the interiors are on point, plus once you’ve enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal you can jump straight on a punt from next door Granta Moorings.
How romantic do these terraces over the River Cam look? You can find this fabulous family restaurant on Bridge Street right on the edge of pretty Magdalene Bridge, in the heart of Cambridge’s riverside action. The elegant cuisine is modern European with options for everyone from meat-eaters to vegans, all enjoyed with a view of the historic colleges and punts floating by.
The Plough, Fen Ditton
The Plough’s riverside location, courtyard, beer garden and fire pit area make it high on our list of pubs to visit for al fresco dining this summer. You can graze on sharing dishes like baked camembert, fried chicken or pizzas, or indulge in a dirty burger or a healthy nourish bowl salad. Something for everyone and loads of green space to relax by the river.
The Anchor, Cambridge
In summer this stretch of the River Cam is a lively spot with a fabulous vibe. If you’re lucky you can nab a spot to soak it all up from The Anchor’s (on Silver Street) small terrace. Tucked beside the bridge, you almost feel like you’re in the river as punts glide by just inches away. It’s a top spot for novices falling in too, so you’ll be well entertained. Food here is classic, but very good, pub grub!
The River Bar Steakhouse and Grill, Cambridge
The River Bar is located on Cambridge’s Quayside in a characterful old warehouse and has lovely views of the river below and Magdalene College. The restaurant is part of The Varsity Hotel and has a very cool vibe. The cocktails here are incredible and while meat-eaters will be in heaven, there’s plenty for veggies too.
La Mimosa, Cambridge
When we’re craving carbs with a side of calm, La Mimosa is a safe bet and it’s been around for 40 years so clearly others think the same. A family-run Italian eatery right by the River Cam, you tuck into pizza and pasta in the sunshine while watching the punts glide by. Does life get any better? Not really.
Fort St George, Cambridge
Right on the edge of Midsummer Common, Fort St George has a fascinating history dating back to the 16th Century and is named after a fort in Madras, India. The large windows and beer garden to the side look out directly on the river, where barges and small boats pootle by.
The Millworks, Cambridge
The Millworks is a slick bistro in a converted mill (it’s still got a working wheel history geeks) and has a terrace so picturesque it’s hard to leave, which is probably why it’s always so busy. Unfortunately you can’t book a table on the terrace, so it’s a case of turn up and hope/give other diners the daggers. However if things don’t go your way there’s always a handmade takeaway pizza option, which you can collect and eat in the meadow by the pond.
Swan on the River, Littleport
There’s a lot of water in the fens and that means plenty of opportunities for idyllic riverside dining, including at Littleport’s Swan on the River. There are six river mooring so you could really turn up in style by boat, or if that sounds too strenuous, sit on the terrace eating fine British fare and watch other people have a go!
Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk
Enjoy a feast in Tuddenham Mill’s open-sided summer tipi scenically set by a weeping willow and pretty stream. Choose a seafood sharing plate with half lobster, whelks, sea trout, Orford oysters, Loch Fyne scallops and Staith smoked prawns for the win. Fizz also flows on the outside terrace where it’s best to book or you’ll be left gazing mournfully at the happy customers with perfect platters beneath white umbrellas.
The Ramsholt Arms, Woodbridge
Pretty waterside views as far as the eye can see from this waterside pub near Woodbridge. Watch sail boats bobbing along on the River Deben from the lovely garden or in colder weather from the massive picture windows inside as you munch on classic pub fare (with plenty of fish dishes). As the only south-facing pub on the river sun seekers love it, and the sunsets are really rather special.
The Henny Swan, near Sudbury
You can pull up at this riverside pub by boat, canoe, kayak, paddle board, rowing boat, er raft if that takes your fancy and then take a pew in the pretty pub garden overlooking fields of cattle. The pub also rents out paddle boards and you can hire boats (although not recommended if you’ve had one too many of their local beers!).
The Maybush Inn, Waldringfield
Love seafood with a side order of stunning water views? Then this is the pub for you. The Maybush is perched on the banks of the River Deben near Woodbridge in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is well-known for being one of Suffolk best riverside eateries.
The Butt & Oyster, Pin Mill
This River Orwell pub (famous for being the setting for Arthur Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea, Swallows & Amazons book) is perfectly placed for many lovely walks around the area. Once you sit down and take in the views though you might not be so keen to continue your stroll. The changing tide and pretty masts bobbing around will entrance you while you enjoy the extensive pub menu.
You can’t really get much closer to the river than at The Mariners in Ipswich. This restaurant is on a historic Belgium gunboat (launched in 1899). Her sailing days are now over and instead she’s the setting for a fabulous restaurant owned by chef Julien Jourdain, who was born in Calais and serves up delicious food inspired by France, England and his travels around South East Asia. Julien and Karine Jourdain also own and run Ipswich’s Bistro on the Quay, if you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma while enjoying more of those lovely marina views.
River View Restaurant, Snape Maltings
This riverside restaurant at Snape Maltings successfully relaunched in summer 2021, and we’re very glad it decided to open its doors again so we can enjoy those gorgeous water views while working our way through the menu of locally-sourced produce. It’s the perfect choice for a pre- or post-concert dinner.
The Cook House Restaurant at the Suffolk Food Hall
This light-flooded restaurant at Suffolk Food Hall serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea with huge picture windows revealing a stunning view over the River Orwell. As part of the Suffolk Food Hall you know everything you eat will be seasonal and locally-sourced where possible. A lovely spot for a relaxed meal.
Talbooth Restaurant, Dedham
Ok, so technically this gorgeous award-winning riverside restaurant is on the Essex side of the river, but as it looks over to Suffolk and is mere metres away we’re claiming it as our own! Choose this waterside beauty for a special occasion meal (it was awarded 3 AA rosettes in 2019) during a visit to Suffolk’s incredible Constable Country.
Waveney House Hotel, Beccles
This boutique riverside hotel in Beccles’ Waveney Valley has a lovely conservatory and large terrace right on the river as part of its restaurant. It’s very family-friendly and feels very tranquil but is still within walking distance of Beccles’ town centre for a post-lunch stroll.