Cambridge market with Great St Mary's church in the background Cambridge is a vibrant university city with bustling shopping areas, beautiful green spaces and unspoilt historic buildings dating back through the centuries to early mediaeval times. Settlements have existed in the area for around 3000 years. The Romans had a fort here, guarding the river Cam at its first ford, and one of their roads (the Via Devana) is still in use today. Saxons, Vikings and Normans all passed through the town.

The University was founded along the banks of the river Cam in the early thirteenth century. Its 31 colleges and 17,000 students explain much about the city centre today, from the magnificence of the architecture to the predominance of bicycles and cheap places to eat.

We plan to provide "Eating & drinking out" and "Things to do" guides nearer the time. If you have a particular "request for information" post it to the ilc07-local mailing list. Alternatively there are several good sources of local information; start here.

Getting about

Plaque outside the Eagle on Bene't Street Conference accommodation is five minutes walk from the centre of Cambridge in one direction and five minutes walk from the meeting rooms in another. Enough said.

There are plenty of buses in Cambridge but other than the Uni 4, which runs past the meeting rooms every 20 minutes, they will take you to the town centre and leave you with a ten minute walk. If you're staying further afield and don't fancy the walk into town, which from some directions can be more than somewhat scenic, consider either taking a taxi or hiring a bicycle. If you are on a bike, lock it securely (e.g. to a bike rack, railings or a lamp post) if it's going to be unattended even for the briefest of times. Respect the one-way signs and make sure you have lights after dark.

If you're on foot, watch out for unlit cyclists going the wrong way up one-way streets.

Do not try driving anywhere. Getting to West Road for a 9am start and then parking your vehicle on arrival will both be educational experiences.

If you need a map, or several, take a look here.

Getting here

If you take a taxi to the conference accommodation, ask to be dropped off at Clare College Memorial Court in Queen's Road.

By air

Stansted airport

Radio telescopes by the Barton Road, built on a disused railway line Stansted airport is about 20 miles away and serves many European airports, often on low-cost airlines.

There's a direct train from Stansted to Cambridge Station which runs up to three times per hour, typical travel time about 30 minutes, return tickets cost £15. There are also a number of indirect trains, but waiting for a direct one usually results in a faster journey.

See Arriving in Cambridge below for getting into town from the station.

Heathrow and Gatwick airports

Visitors from further afield will come in through Heathrow or Gatwick which are further away but still readily accessible by public transportation.

From Heathrow, take the underground to Kings Cross (takes about an hour) and then the train as below. Total cost for return trip about £33 outside rush hours. Don't be tempted by the Heathrow Express: it'll add half-an-hour and £26 to the cost of your return trip.

From Gatwick either take the Thameslink train to Kings Cross Thameslink station - it's a five minute walk to the main Kings Cross - or the Gatwick Express to Victoria station and the underground (Victoria line) to Kings Cross. You probably have decide which route you want before you buy your ticket, so check the screens to see what's going first. Thameslink is usually but not always a little quicker. It'll cost you about £34 return whichever way you go.

See Trains from London Kings Cross below for getting to Cambridge from Kings Cross, and Arriving in Cambridge below for getting into central Cambridge from the station.

Taxi from the airports

Undoubtedly cheaper if you book in advance; see this list. Expect to pay about £45 from Stansted, £90 from Heathrow, £100 from Gatwick (and in each case £5 less going back). Keep your costs down by posting your travel plans to the ilc07-local mailing list and asking if anyone wants to share the ride.

Bus from the airports

The cheapest way to get to Cambridge from the airports is by bus. But it won't be the fastest. On the other hand, the airport buses run all night and the trains don't.

By rail

Trains from London Kings Cross

The "Cambridge Cruiser" service runs twice an hour from Kings Cross and takes about 45 minutes. Cost is around £25 for "off peak" (i.e. not during rush hours) return. If you're coming back the same day it can be as little as £13, depending on the time of day and how long you're prepared to sit on the train. Avoid rush hours (07:30 - 09:00 headed into London, 16:30 to 18:00 headed out) if you can.

See the timetable here; look up more complex journeys here; check for service alterations (especially at weekends) here.

Arriving in Cambridge

One of the first things many newcomers to Cambridge are pleased to discover is the length of the railway station's main platform. The next thing is the distance from the station to the city centre. You can walk to the conference accommodation in about 45 minutes, or wait 5 to 10 minutes for a bus to the city centre (longer in evenings and at weekends) and walk 10-15 minutes at the other end, or take a taxi (5 or 6 pounds) from the rank immediately outside the station.

By road

Cambridge is on the M11 motorway and about an hour from London, depending on time of day. There are five Park and Ride sites dotted around the city, all blatantly signposted. Please use one of them.

Don't even contemplate bringing a car into the city itself. There's little opportunity for moving one around when you're sat in it and absolutely nowhere to put it when you're not. (The exception to this being at Clare College's Memorial Court, where strictly limited parking facilities might be available if well in advance.)

By sea

It can be done: the North sea ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich could factor into some travellers' calculations. About £70 return from Hook of Holland for foot passengers (followed by a sluggish train journey), more if you take a car. You can also get to Harwich from Esbjerg.

Clare bridge

© alu 2007