Driving and Car Parking, Cambridge
Parking in Cambridge is very expensive with the cheapest about £23 for 5 hours. Park and Ride buses run on a continuous loop between Madingley Road and Newmarket Road, average wait between buses is approximately 10 minutes with the City Centre approximately 12 minutes away.
Capacity: 930 cars
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Bus £2.50 per Adult Return (pay via machine)
Bus £2.80 per Adult Return (pay on bus)
Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0EX
Phone: +44 (0) 1223 845561
Usually we fly to London and then either take the train or the coach up to Cambridge. But this time, April 2010, we were helping moving houses, so we had to come by car. The ferry was fine, the sea a bit rough, at least for landlubbers like us, but it was okay and we admired the famous white cliffs. In Dover we found the right road very fast, remembered to stay on the left side and hoped we'd be in Cambridge in about three hours.
We got stuck in the first traffic jam before the Dartford Tunnel, something we had been warned about. After about half an hour we were moving again, so not too bad.
But then, on the M25, we sat still for about two hours in one of the longest jams I've ever experienced. There was no accident, just lots and lots of cars. I called our B&B in Cambridge and told them not to give up on us.
Thankfully Mrs Collins from the B&B had arranged a parking permit for us, so at least we didn't have to drive around looking for a spot to leave the car.
Unless there's a very good reason to drive to Cambridge, I would always take the train or a coach.
Approaching Cambridge from the west it is best to follow the signs to Madingley and the Park and ride service which can take you the final leg of your journey into the centre of Cambridge. We were very glad we took this option. The queues of cars trying to get into the multi storey car parks in the city centre were very slow moving and I think their charges are very high. The Park and Ride facility is free to park - you only have to pay for the bus journey into the city.
The bus fare for return trips was £2.20 each. We paid the driver and purchased the return ticket on board.
The journey took no more than 10 minutes and we were dropped off at the bus station which is very centrally located.
Visit the website for full details of the service. It certainly was a painless way to find a parking space.
When traveling into major cities or towns in the uk, use the Park and Ride facilities to avoid getting caught up in traffic congestion and parking nightmare scenarios. This is also a green and environmentally friendly form of travel. A list of park and ride sites around the country can be found at www.parkandride.net the National Park and ride Directory. Here you'll find timetables price information there is also an interactive map and route planner, to help plan your journey
There are several 'park and rides' dotted around the outskirts of Cambridge and they are well worth using. Parking is free, return bus fare 2GBP. Miles better than faffing about trying to find a parking space in the city centre. I saw traffic wardens giving out tickets on a Sunday in May (and using digital cameras so no-one could appeal) so it's not worth the hassle, in my opinion.
The Cambridgeshire Council site provides printable maps of parking in the city and details of opening times/ spaces etc.
Driving around Cambridge can be very confusing, and parking is not only a hassle but expensive. If you are driving into Cambridge, the cheapest option is to do a "park and ride." Basically, you park outside the city center (where the rates are FAR cheaper) and then take a bus to wherever you want to go. The bus is very easy and convienent to use and takes you right into the city centre.
I always find it amusing when you see a 'Dead end' sign near a cemetry.
That aside, the transport planners in Cambridge have created a number of 'Dead ends' in the centre of Cambridge. This is done to discourage anybody driving about in the centre.
Each 'area' is clearly signposted, but it means you may have to drive out of the city centre about a mile before re-entering to get to where you want to be. The scheme has dramatically reduced the amout of traffic in the central areas, without resorting to pedestrianisation.
Best to leave your car at a park and ride (see other tip)
Cambridge is one of the few English cities / towns that has made a real success of a park and ride scheme. The streets have been noticiably quieter in the past few years.
There are five sites, and the return fare to the centre is only one pound 80 pence (2.50 give all day travel on all buses in Cambridge)
Two of the sites are available on Sundays, and two have places for motorhomes, although no overnight parking is permitted.
A street called 'Pound Hill' which is 2 streets away from the Folk Museum and Kettle's Yard, offers cheaper parking than you will find at one of the car parks. It's 20p for 20 minutes which is 60p an hour. VERY REASONABLE. It's a pay and display system and whilst there are only 30 spaces, there's always a spot whenever I've parked there, even this week (in summer when it was very busy).
LOCATION: You'd have to know Cambridge a bit to find it. Off Castle Hill or Mount Pleasant. There's a pub in the street and it backs onto one of the colleges. Turn left out of Pound Hill by the pub, walk up to the traffic lights (2 minutes walk) and there will be a cross road. To your left if the Cambridge Folk Museum and Kettle's Yard (art); walk straight ahead you'll come to the river on your right and a huge park and swimming pool within the park (Jesus Green); walk right down Castle Hill and you'll hit the centre of Cambridge and Bridge Street with all the shops and punting.
Very centrally located and cheap!!
If you happen to be driving to Cambridge, and (especially if) it's a Saturday, try the Park and Ride if you want to see the city centre. It's save you queuing to park, and the bus drops you right in the middle of town. Make sure you get your bus back though, they stop in the early evening.
There are several city centre car parks, but beware, they can be expensive, and you may have to queue to get in on Saturdays. On Sundays and in the evenings, they are much cheaper.
When you come by car there are Park & Ride car parks on the edge of the city - you will see them signed from the major routes. These are OK if you don't mind leaving your car and taking the bus into the city - a bit inconvenient if you like to 'pop back' to the car now and then, maybe to drop off shopping or pick up a coat or umbrella.
I never have any trouble parking in the City, usually at The Grafton Centre, or Castle Street. Castle Street is great, as it's only 10 minutes from Magdeline Bridge, and is usually fairly quiet.