Cambridge is a historic city, home to one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Although much of life here revolves around Cambridge University and its 31 distinct colleges, there’s a lot more to this city than academics and research. It has magnificent museums with impressive collections of antiquities, fossils, and artifacts that will transport you through billion years of history. Then there are sprawling parks, many iconic libraries, and old buildings that reflect stunning British architecture.
You could spend your day punting on the River Cam or enjoying a picnic on its riverbanks. Watch cows graze on lush meadows, be mesmerized by the sunset at Castle Hill, or check out the Cambridge University Botanic Garden on a sunny afternoon. When feeling hungry, feast on the famous Chelsea Buns on Trumpington Street or fill your belly with luscious meats and veggies treats.
Despite its size, Cambridge has many great things to offer its residents and visitors. It’s a thriving city that continues to grow and has a world-class reputation for science, education, innovation, and knowledge-based industries. That’s why it’s no surprise that it attracts millions of visitors worldwide each year.
Whether you’re here for business or fun, Cambridge has everything to make your trip memorable no matter what time of the year you visit. But before exploring this magnificent city, be sure to place your belongings in secure luggage storage in Cambridge. That way, you can travel with ease and not go around town dragging your bags.
How to get around Cambridge by train
Established in 1845, Cambridge railway station is the central station that serves the city of Cambridge in the East of England. It’s a Grade 2 listed building featuring a long, classical façade located on Station Road, just a mile southeast of the city center. It is also fully accessible to those with mobility requirements and available ticket machines, lifts, and ramps for convenient train access.
The Station Road entrance is the only entrance to the railway station. There’s no underpass or footbridge to get to the other side of the tracks. If you’re in Clifton or Rustat Road, you’ll have to cross by the cycle bridge or Mill Road bridge.
You’ll find that Cambridge station is very well connected. It has transport connections for buses, cyclists, taxis, and pedestrians. With space for three-thousand bikes, it now has the UK’s largest bicycle parking facility.
In addition, Cambridge railway station connects passengers to two stations in London, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street. Between these stations, trains depart every ten to fifteen minutes from 4 am until midnight, and travel time takes anywhere between 50 minutes to 1.5 hours. You’ll also find trains to Stansted airport, Birmingham, Norwich, and Ipswich.
Although the opening hours of the ticket office may vary, the central station is open daily. Trains arrive at and depart from the station virtually every day. However, there are fewer services during bank holidays and weekends. Toilets are available, and they allow pets, as long as they’re on a leash or pet carrier at all times.
There’s also another train station to the north of the city, Cambridge North railway station, which only opened in May 2017 for passengers. It is located in the suburban area of Chesterton, near Cambridge Science Park. It has trains that go south via the main Cambridge station to London and north to Ely and Norwich.
The National Rail Service operates Cambridge’s train system. From the city, there are frequent trains to the UK, London, and the airports, including Stansted Airport. Cambridge railway station is typically filled with commuters clamoring to catch the King’s Cross train to get to the capital or transfer to their town.
How to get around Cambridge by bus
A bus is a convenient way to travel around Cambridge, as it’s cost-effective and comes frequently. The city has several bus services operating every day, most of which stop in the city center. But its primary bus company is Stagecoach, which runs most buses in Cambridge and is one of the UK’s largest bus operators.
Thanks to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway or simply 'The Busway,' a progressive transport link by Cambridgeshire County Council, using a bus to get around Cambridge is a speedy and smart choice. At sixteen miles, this busway track is the longest in the world, allowing buses to travel at speed along a disused railway line on special trackways dedicated to their use. Whippet and Stagecoach are the only bus companies that run guided buses, which is essential to note if you’re looking for routes or buying tickets.
The central bus station is on Drummer Street, in the Cambridge center. Besides the city center, other common bus destinations are the Cambridge railway station, Cambridge North station, Addenbrookes Hospital, Grafton Centre, Science Park, and the Regional College. There are also plenty of other buses traveling from the city to towns and villages.
Passengers can have free direct access to real-time bus information online through their mobile phones using an app. It includes detailed journey information, real-time bus location, route map, nearby bus stops and services, and details about the bus operator. The system can track every bus location exactly and tell if the bus is running early, late, or on time.
Most buses allow passengers to buy a ticket from the driver. Each operator provides single, return, and multi-use tickets valid on its services. You can get a Dayrider ticket to enjoy unlimited travel for one day on Stagecoach buses or a Megarider ticket for unlimited travel for seven days on Citi buses. The Multibus ticket is another option to consider. It allows you to travel on services run by various operators in the county without paying separate fares whenever you change bus. You can only buy this ticket from the bus driver, and it costs around $43 for a seven-day Multibus ticket and $10 for day tickets.
A free bus pass, also known as a concessionary bus pass, is available for those who are eligible. You’ll need to apply for it at least four weeks before you need it to get around the city by bus without a fee. A concessionary bus pass holder can travel free after 9:30 am and anytime during the weekends. If you are a University staff or student with a University card, you may ride the UNI 4 bus for a significantly reduced fare. These buses typically run across the city every twenty minutes.
How to get around Cambridge by car
If you’re visiting Cambridge for the first time, seasoned travelers and residents might discourage you from driving a car in the city. Not necessarily due to terrible traffic but because most attractions are within walking distance from each other and the main sights are clustered within a small area of the city center. With disorienting road layout and hard-to-find parking spaces, you might be eventually convinced not to drive in Cambridge.
However, the case might be different if you plan to stay here for a while. Getting around by car is likely to be more practical and convenient than any public transportation if your visit to Cambridge is part of a long trip. Plus, cars are handy if you plan to explore the region. It is also close to London, so a road trip to the capital is expected at some point.
Once you’ve explored the city and had your fill in Cambridge, you can drive out and check out some idyllic destinations along the way. But if you’re unfamiliar with one-way systems and the roads in this compact city, it’s worth getting advice and clear directions in advance from someone local.
Cambridge is still a driver’s city despite its increasing cycle routes. Although the central area is highly pedestrianized, and the city center has more bicycles than cars, transport here is still dominated by cars. There are also five park and ride sites on the city's outskirts and multi-story car parks within walking distance of the central city. These park and ride schemes are evenly distributed, so they’re accessible to visitors coming from various regions. Each offers free parking for up to eighteen hours and requires you to pay around $4 to catch a bus into the center.
Suppose your personal or corporate affair in Cambridge requires you to travel a lot in and out of the city, but there’s no way you can bring your own car. In that case, you can either use a local taxi service or rent a car. Many car hire companies operate in Cambridge, but you usually have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car. However, the minimum age requirement may vary depending on the company or service provider.
Can I get around Cambridge by foot?
Cambridge is dedicated to sustainable traveling, which is why it encourages everyone to ride their bicycle or walk more. The Cambridge City Council has even declared numerous pedestrian zones, providing a peaceful, car-free environment in Cambridge city. Those who love to explore places on foot will also find facilities that promote walking around the city. These include short blocks, frequent opportunities to cross the street safely, and sidewalks on every side of the street. But keep an eye out for bikes, as cyclists can be everywhere, even on foot paths!
Since this Cambridgeshire county town is small, it’s so easy to get around here on foot. You can ditch the car, and there’s no need to take public transport if you want to shop in the stores, sightsee or visit famous attractions in the town. It’s a lovely and awe-inspiring city from every angle, full of stunning lush gardens, picture-perfect streets, and exquisite architecture.
Its top tourist spots are within easy walking distance from the city center. Famous destinations include Fitzwilliam Museum, Trinity College, King’s Chapel College, Round Church, and the Backs, a picturesque area beside the River Cam, behind several colleges. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Wren Library at Trinity College and see its outstanding collection of books.
Pick a good map, walk in peace, or get lost in Cambridge city. It's a great activity for most people who visit Cambridge on a budget. You can save money and explore the streets without worrying about traffic or spending on public transportation. But if you prefer a planned walking trip, take advantage of the guided walking tours. Here, you can meet new people, discover hidden gems, and learn interesting facts and stories about different places you will visit.
If you’re tired of walking, hire a bike and enjoy a leisurely ride, passing the beautiful Granchester Meadow and through The Backs. There are also various cycle routes to explore the local scenery and make the most of the sun outdoors. For a relaxing afternoon ride, try the scenic cycle route from the heart of the city to the Waterbeach village. Start your journey at Midsummer Common and pedal along the River Cam.
However, if neither biking nor walking appeals to you, try going on a punting tour. It’s a quintessential water activity in Cambridge that every tourist must do to complete the experience.
Exploring the City of Cambridge
There are various ways to get around the city, but walking is probably the best way to make the most of your experience in Cambridge. Begin your walking tour at the Round Church and enter the grounds of St. John’s college for a small cost.
Then enjoy the beauty of nature by strolling through the spectacular gardens during spring and watching those colorful flowers in full bloom. Check out the streets and hidden corners of the historic city center, and visit those fascinating museums, churches, and shops. No matter your budget, Cambridge makes the best travel destination for people of all ages and interests.