To and from Cambridge
Stansted is the closest airport to Cambridge and is easily accessible by bus or train. For travel to and from the other nearby airports (Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton), you’ll have to either take a coach or go via London on the train (and cross the capital on the underground).
If you’ve exhausted weather-related chat with your nearest Englishman and still wish to pursue the conversation, get him started on the trains. From Cambridge train station, you can travel direct to London, King’s Cross (0h45 to 1h15 journey time) and London, Liverpool Street (1h10 to 1h20). Trains to King’s Cross are approximately every half hour throughout the day. There are also direct trains to Stansted airport taking 30 to 40 minutes. For full details, see the National Rail website: www.nationalrail.co.uk.
It is definitely worthwhile procuring a Young Person’s Railcard (for which you’re eligible as a full-time student, regardless of your age) as it offers significant discounts (usually 33 % off) on full train fares. Train travel in the UK can be expensive if you buy tickets on the day, but extremely cheap if you book several weeks in advance. Buying an advance ticket allows you to travel on a particular train at a particular time, and can reduce the price of a train ticket by 70 % or more. However, if you miss that train, your advance ticket won’t be valid on any other train. The UK’s train fare system can be somewhat labyrinthine, so check with a British friend or have a look at the National Rail site before beginning your exciting Advance Fare odyssey; if you get it wrong you may have to pay a hefty fine. You can buy these tickets online from National Rail and pick them up at the station before you travel, or buy them at the station ticket office.
National Express www.nationalexpress.co.uk operates from Parker’s Piece, and travels to destinations throughout the UK (and onwards to continental Europe). If you intend to travel a lot on National Express, it is worth buying a Young Person’s Coach Card for discounted travel (this is distinct from the railcard of a similar name).
Megabus http://uk.megabus.com/ runs a number of services throughout the country, often at incredibly low prices. London to Aviemore in the Scottish highlands (a 13-hour coach journey) can cost as little as £8 each way. Yes, £8. These absurdly low fares are for journeys booked a couple of months in advance, and usually involve departing from London, but if you’re looking for a budget way to see the country Megabus is ideal.
If you’re interested in visiting Oxford, the X5 coach service runs regularly between the two, though is far from direct (the journey time is about 4 hours). If booked on Megabus the journey can cost as little as £1 each way, plus a hefty 50p booking charge.
Cambridge is a fairly small city. The walk between College and even the furthest-flung parts of the University is less than 30 minutes; from the town centre to Wychfield takes about 20 minutes.
As already mentioned, a bicycle is one of the best ways to get around Cambridge. For advice on how best to acquire such a contraption, view our what to acquire page.
If you’re feeling brave, you may decide to get on a local bus.
There are a number of bus routes running from central Cambridge to the outlying villages. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus route from the train station to the Wychfield site. A notable route is the Uni4/Citi4, which runs from Addenbrooke’s to the West Cambridge Site via Homerton, Trumpington Street and the UL. It only costs 50p per journey if you show your University Card.
There are multiple taxi companies in Cambridge, but you will almost certainly end up becoming a regular customer of Panther (01223 715 715). You can book journeys in advance by phone or online at www.panthertaxis.co.uk.
Rates are council-dictated (more expensive at night and on the weekend). There are taxi ranks located at the railway station, on St Andrew’s Street and on Drummer Street. There are also night ranks at Market Square and on Sidney Street (opposite Boots). A taxi from the station to Wychfield will cost about £7-8 during the day.
You will presumably already have been warned off bringing a car to Cambridge.