The City

The City

Image:  RG Carter

The University City of Cambridge

Cambridge lies on the River Cam, in an area of level and relatively low-lying terrain just south of the Fens in East Anglia, about 50 miles north of London. With a population of over 126,000 (including students), it is the second largest city in Cambridgeshire after Peterborough.

The city’s skyline is dominated by the enchanting King’s College Chapel, the colossal tower of the Cambridge University Library, the spire of the Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church on Hills Road, St John’s College Chapel tower, and on the city’s southern border the chimney of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The centre of Cambridge is mostly of historic, largely university and commercial buildings, dominated by large green areas such as Jesus Green, Midsummer Common, and Parker’s Piece which hosted the first ever game of association football.

Key socio-economic information

  • Cambridge is one of the few UK cities making a net contribution to the UK Treasury.
  • Over 46% of the workforce have a higher education qualification, more than twice the national average of 26%.
  • The city has the highest level of internal and international migration per capita in the country, highlighting the draw of the city as an international centre for ideas and collaboration.
  • Local GVA per capita is 34%, higher than the national average.
  • Cambridge unemployment is a quarter of the national average.
  • Cambridge has also been at the forefront of population growth, with a 12.7% increase in residents between 2001 and 2011 – the fifth highest increase in the UK.


House prices in the city are amongst the highest in the UK and housing stock is in short supply due to the city’s growth. Consequently, local authority plans envisage construction of 19,000 new homes across the district by 2031. New housing developments are already underay with estates such as the CB1 and Accordia schemes near the station, and in the south of the city developments such as Great Kneighton and Trumpington Meadows. Other major developments currently being constructed in the city are Darwin Green, University-led developments at North West Cambridge. Plans are afoot for a 9,000 home new town at Waterbeach 6 miles north of Cambridge, and 3,500 homes on the Bourn airfield site. Cambridge Ahead has a Project group tasked with helping address the shortage of housing in the Cambridge region.


Like many cities, Cambridge suffers from congestion but this is alleviated to some degree by the fact that 43% of the working population cycle to work and 23% walk to work. In addition, there are five Park & Ride sites and the city is served by the world’s longest Guided Busway stretching from the NW at St Ives into Cambridge and out again via the rail station ending in Trumpington in the SW. Construction is underway of North Cambridge rail station which will largely serve the community of Chesterton, and Cambridge Science and Business Parks. A new rail station on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to the south is under discussion. Cambridge Ahead has a Project group working towards a road, rail and cycle transport solution that meets the needs of Cambridge’s inhabitants, commuters and businesses.

Tourism & Culture

Cambridge is hugely popular with tourists from around the world and in 2013 just over five million visitors came to the city. It is a magical city with scenery dominated by the beautiful university buildings and the River Cam, famous for punting, which runs through the city centre. Visitors are also inspired by the many beautiful museums and art galleries, such as the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard, and the city has quaint passages set around the historic market place and colleges, most of which are open to visitors.

The city offers a unique and relaxing shopping experience via a blend of independent shops is mingled with traditional High Street brands. The city is served by a wide range of pubs, restaurants and cafés, often in beautiful settings, and there are a range of hotels to suit all budgets and tastes. Theatre and live performances in venues such as the Cambridge Arts Theatre, the Corn Exchange, and Cambridge Junction. Several fairs and festivals take place in Cambridge, mostly during the summer. See the Visit Cambridge website for more information about the city and what to do and see.