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Britain / Towns / Cambridge
A guide to Cambridge
  Facts & figures
  Further information


Cambridge is a beautiful university town not far from London. The town centre is dominated by the university's historic buildings. The river Cam runs through the town, and there are plenty of green areas. Although quieter than the bigger cities, there is a lively student atmosphere. The area is flat and it is easy to travel around the town by bicycle.

This page gives information aimed mainly at people who are thinking about studying and living in Cambridge. For more photos and a guide to visiting Cambridge as a tourist, see: Travel/Tours/England/Cambridge.

King's College Chapel (c)
King's College Chapel, Cambridge
Punting on the river Cam (c)
Punting on the river Cam

Cambridge: More Than a Guide
(guide book for tourists)
Publisher: Jarrold Publishing
Date: March 2004

Cambridge Groundcover
Cambridge Groundcover
(picture book)
Photographer: John Curtis
Publisher: Jarrold Publishing
Date: May 2000
Cambridge: A User's Guide
(guide for residents or students)
Author: Neal Robbins
Publisher: Wavy-Haired Reader Ltd
Date: September 2002
A-Z Cambridge Street Atlas
(street map)
Publisher: Geographers' A-Z Map Company
Date: January 2003

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Subject Name
Population: 120,600 (over 60 years old: 16.6%)
Region: Cambridgeshire, in East Anglia
Location: See: map
Visiting from abroad: The nearest major international airport is at Stansted. For further information, see: Travel/Transport/Air
Visiting from London: Cambridge is 80 kilometers north of London
  By train: 45 minutes from London King's Cross station (1 hour from Liverpool Street station). Cheap Day Return ticket (off-peak) with Young Person's Railcard (2002): £10.05
  By coach: 2 hours from London's Victoria coach station
Tourism: The 7th most popular town in the UK for overseas visitors in 2000
Language schools: 19 schools which are recognised by the British Council (2002)

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- The city centre is dominated by Cambridge University, which has over 40 separate colleges and halls. An academic centre of excellence
- A historic town. Parts of the university were founded more than 600 years ago
- Beautiful architecture: lots of attractive university buildings and churches. Visitor access to many colleges is restricted, especially before exams (in May / early June)
- There is a large student population, giving the town a young and lively atmosphere
- Many (but not all) university clubs and societies are open to people who are not university students
- A popular tourist location, especially in summer. The town can become overcrowded
- The River Cam runs through the town, used for rowing and punting (a punt is a flat wooden boat moved using a long pole)
- There are several museums (the most famous being the Fitzwilliam Museum)

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The town centre includes many public parks and green open spaces. The university college gardens next to the river are known as 'the Backs', and are particularly beautiful in spring. The land is flat and is mainly used for agriculture: there are attractive landscape views. Winds can be strong. Traffic congestion is a problem on some of the main roads, creating some pollution, especially in summer. Cars are excluded from several roads in the town centre. There can be large numbers of tourists and cyclists at busy times.

The serious crime rate in the area is low. However, because of the dominance of the university and other schools, there is some tension between local young people and university students or language school students. Late night noise and drunken behaviour can be a problem, especially near the pubs and clubs. Bicycle theft is common. Use a cheap bicycle, give it a security mark, and lock it up securely to a fixed object. Do not ride on pavements or side-by-side on the road. Indicate with your hand before turning. Always use lights at night (a dynamo, or detachable lights which you can carry with you).

In 2001/02 there were 11.9 offences of violence against people per 1,000 people, a little higher than the English average of 10.8.
In 2000, Cambridge was ranked the 263rd most deprived out of the 354 districts in England.

Accommodation can be expensive and in short supply in the centre of town. However, many shops offer discounts to students, and there are often free or cheap events in the town.

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There are many pubs, cafes and restaurants in Cambridge, but only a few nightclubs, public cinemas or rock music venues. Many of the cultural activities are associated with the university, but are usually open to anyone. Often there are free classical concerts at lunch-times and in the evenings. Choirs can be heard at evensong (evening worship), for example at King's College Chapel. Buskers (street musicians) can often be seen in central Cambridge during the tourist season. There is a public swimming pool and sports centre in the town. University sports such as rowing and rugby can be watched free. Punts are available for hire during the spring and summer.

There are some interesting shops in the town, including many bookshops (eg: Heffers) in which you can browse. There is a daily open-air fruit and vegetable market in Market Square, in the centre of town.

Local events in Cambridge include:

The Bumps: a university rowing competition in May
May Week: private celebrations by university students in June, after the exams
Strawberry Fair: a free local festival of music, entertainments, arts and crafts on Midsummer Common in June
Cambridge Film Festival: a film festival in July

Nearby attractions include:

Newmarket - a town famous for horse racing and breeding, only 20 minutes away by coach
Grantchester meadows - there is a beautiful riverside walk through fields to the village of Grantchester
Ely - famous for its cathedral and as the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell

The National Stud,

Walking to Grantchester (some walks
are organised by International Friends)


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Bus: The bus station is centrally located and provides bus and coach services to much of the surrounding region. However, not many buses run late in the evening.
Car: Roads are busy and parking spaces are limited. Few students have a car.
: The railway station is to the north of the town. There is a frequent train service to London, as well as services to major towns in East Anglia and the Midlands
Bicycle: Because it is so flat, the most convenient way to travel around the town is by bicycle.
Walking: The town centre is compact, so it may be possible to walk to your school and accommodation if they are central.

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East of England Tourist Board:
Cambridge tourist information:

Local government
Cambridge City Council:


University of Cambridge:
Anglia Ruskin University:

Careers services
Cambridge University Careers Service:


Cambridge News:

Town guides
Guide to the Cambridge area:
City guide:

International students

- International Friends offers guided coach tours in the UK for international students in Cambridge. Free walks to Grantchester or other local places are also organised. For details of their tours, see: Travel/Tours/Company/InternationalFriends. Photos from several of their tours are shown in the Travel/Tours section of this website.

- The World Study Solutions website provides general information for international students, and also shows details of a card which gives discounts for international students in many local shops. See:

- Andy's Coffee Bar (St Andrew's Street, next to the cinema) and Harry's Coffee Bar (Market Street, between the market and Sydney Street) are coffee bars organised by Christians in Cambridge for international students and others (you do not have to be a Christian)

Bookshops with large English as a Foreign Language (EFL) sections include:
Cambridge International Book Centre, 42 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1LA:
Heffer's, 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1TY:

Local services
Local Life:

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Tourist guide to visiting Cambridge: Travel/Tours/England/Cambridge
Language school towns: Britain/Towns
Tour of Central England: Travel/Tours/England/Central

Home page: Home

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