Best Neighborhoods in Cambridge: Your Useful Must-Read GuideCam
Famous for age-old colleges, strange traditions, and its alluring throwback vibe, cozy old Cambridge is laid-back and laconic, and it’s surrounded by a bunch of lovely green spaces.
People relocate here for its safe atmosphere, its top-notch quality of life, and its compact charm-packed center. It’s a pricey city—but if you can afford it, it’s a great spot to call home, and it’s one of the best places to live in the UK.
It’s not the most exciting place on the planet, so (aside from all the students) not many young people flock here. But if you’re middle-aged, or a quiet couple, or raising a family, this is genuinely one of the most appealing cities in the UK (and one of the best commuter choices near London).
But your Cambridge neighborhood needs will depend upon exactly why you’re moving. So in this helpful guide, we’ve brought you information on the various best neighborhoods in Cambridge, and help on where to stay in Cambridge.
We’ve covered trendy zones, family spots, under-the-radar gems, and everything in between. No matter what type of district you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. We’ve served up juicy information on the following 8 areas:
- Cambridge City Center
- Romsey Town
- Cambridge Station Area
- Cherry Hinton
- Newnham and Newtown
Looking for the best neighborhoods in Cambridge? Hop in your riverboat, find your old graduation cap, and come join the home-finding fun!
1. Cambridge City Center
Best for: Seeing all the sights, a load of excellent green spaces, and living in the heart of the city
This neighborhood, of course, is the most central part of the city—and if you’ll only be staying for a short while, it’s a perfect place to live.
Stuffed into the district, you’ll find loads of the city’s most famous attractions and architecture, including King’s College Chapel, Christ’s College, All Saints Church, Newton’s Apple Tree (which is actually just part of the tree that inspired Newton’s gravity theories, the sneaky little liar), and the city’s market square.
Broadly speaking, this super-central neighborhood is the area inside the sort-of-circle formed by the Cam River and the A603 road. And it’s bigger than most people expect—so apart from all the famous sights, you get lots of other great stuff.
For a lot of people, the highlight is all the outdoor space, made up of parks, paddocks, meadows, pretty riverside stretches, and plenty more. Cambridge’s core is a lot more peaceful and laid-back than many other city-center districts in the UK.
Other perks of living here include classy cocktail bars, old-school pubs, and a range of varied eats (expect local, international, independent and chain stuff, and everything in between).
Apartments in this part of the city get snapped up pretty quickly. So if you’re looking for a home here, it’s often easier to find a serviced apartment or a serviced flat… which can save you a lot of time and hassle, and ensure you have a place that’s perfect for both living and working.
For living like a tourist, and hopping between all the famous sights, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Cambridge. But if you’re looking for something a little more affordable, and a little more “real,” you might want to look elsewhere. Over time, all the tourists here can get a little tiring.
Best for: Cheap food, college students, and living in the small strip between central Cambridge and its most trendy district
Just east of the city center, Petersfield is one of the best areas in Cambridge if you want to live centrally without being surrounded by loads of tourists.
It’s a little more affordable than the most central parts of the city (though calling it ‘affordable’ would probably be a bit of an exaggeration).
A small pocket of the city, it sits at the top of Romsey Town (which we’ll cover next), and forms a sort-of bridge between that neighborhood and the center. It sits at the most western end of Mill Road, and is mainly made up of college buildings and cheap eats. Some of its most popular eateries include elegant but relaxed Tu Casa Tapas, strangely-named chicken-stuffed The Ladz, and cut-price student spot Noodles Plus.
The area is best suited to young people and those who aren’t bothered about the fancier side of life. Though it’s a perfectly safe and welcoming area, it’s not quite as “nice” as most other parts of Cambridge.
For most people who live here (and not many do, since it’s so small), the big perk of the neighborhood is the 2-minute stroll into Romsey Town, which takes up the rest (and the vast majority of) Mill Road. And that very conveniently brings us to…
3. Romsey Town
Best for: Hanging with hipsters, getting knee-deep in some welcoming community spirit, and munching on a load of varied worldwide fayre
Sitting on and around the vast majority of Mill Road, Romsey Town is one of the best neighborhoods in Cambridge for hipsters and cool kids (and anyone else who likes wearing second-hand clothes).
HIghlights include coffee-and-avocado-packed cafes and brunch spots (check out vinyl-stuffed Relevant Record Cafe and the super-popular Urban Larder), live music, craft beer, thrift stores, and all those other trendy-hotspot clichés.
Romsey Town is also a great option for multicultural eats. Here, you’ll find food (and people) from around the world, with some particularly good Indian and Middle-Eastern eats. You’ll also find lots of cut-price cafe-style joints here, including the Turkish twists of Blue Sage, and the super-cheap Chinese lunches at Spring Restaurant.
But although Romsey Town is a hip and happening place, it isn’t eye-rollingly pretentious: it also offers a proud community feel, and it’s one of the most welcoming parts of the city. If you like making friends with locals, this is where you’ll want to stay in Cambridge.
And because it’s so welcoming, it’s a good choice for people from all over the planet. Cambridge isn’t the most multicultural place in the UK, but Romsey has residents from around the globe. So whoever you are and wherever you’re from, you’ll be able to find some familiarity and friendliness here.
And as a nice bonus, the area is a little more affordable than some of the other districts we’ve covered—if you’re hunting for low-cost housing, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Cambridge.
4. Cambridge Station Area
Best for: Hopping on regular trains, getting all physical, and sitting between the city and the outskirts
Just southeast of Petersfield (and the city center), you’ll find Cambridge train station, and its surrounding neighborhood. For regular travelers, this is of course one of the best areas in Cambridge. From here, you can catch regular direct trains to London, Brighton, Norwich, and loads more places. It’s a particularly popular neighborhood for people who regularly jump in and out of London for work.
Other perks of the neighborhood include the family-friendly floral fun of Cambridge University Botanic Garden, the brookside walkways of Empty Common Community Garden, and some affordable and informal restaurants. Top choices for chomping and chewing here include the classic Italian eats of Al Pomodoro, unique Jordanian-style casual cafe Little Petra, and the full-on flavors of Slingers Smokeworks.
The Cambridge train station area is also a good spot for exercise and activities. Right beside the station, you can get yourself involved with hands-on action at Clip ‘n Climb Cambridge, Rainbow Rocket Climbing Center, Tenpin Cambridge, Hills Road Sports & Tennis Centre (which offers a load of different sports courts and some great kid-friendly stuff), and plenty more places.
When you’re working out where to stay in Cambridge, this should be one of your top options, no matter who you are. Because of its vibe and location, it’s a good pick for pretty much anyone, and offers a nice balance between affordability, location, and action and activities.
Oh, and one more perk of this area: you’re also not too far from the parks, waterways and little lakes of Cherry Hinton, which we’ve covered next…
5. Cherry Hinton
Best for: A quiet life, raising a family, and finding a relatively-affordable home
Is Cherry Hinton a little village of its own? Or is it part of Cambridge’s greater sprawl? The answer is different depending on who you ask, but it’s only 5km (3 miles) from the very central parts of the city—and it’s a short stroll from Romsey Town.
It’s safe, quiet and comfortable, and has some pretty outdoor areas (highlights include the greens and grandeur of Cherry Hinton Hall Park, and the sometimes-muddy walkways of Burnside Lakes). Wandlebury Country Park is only a short drive away, as is the frantic kid-friendly fun of Cheeky Monkeys Playbarn.
You’ll also find some pubs, cafes and big supermarkets here, along with some decent schools (Spinney Primary School and Colville Primary School are two big favorites). Of all the family-friendly districts in and around Cambridge, it’s one of the most affordable.
As you’ve probably worked out by now, this area isn’t the most thrilling part of the world if you’re hunting for nightlife or high-octane action. It’s not the best neighborhood in Cambridge for young people, but it’s leafy, green and pleasant, and it’s popular with families, older couples, and anyone seeking a quiet life.
6. Newnham and Newtown
Best for: Moving with kids, wandering beside the River Cam, and living alongside other families
Two of the best neighborhoods in Cambridge for families, Newtown and Newnham are most well-known for pretty green spaces, and their big long meandering stretches of the River Cam.
Sitting to the southwest of the city center, they’re two of the city’s most popular residential areas, and they offer a pretty good compromise between suburban life and busy(ish) bustle.
Where one ends and the other begins, no-one really seems too sure. But the northern stretch (Newnham) is more populated, while the southern end (Newtown) is a lot quieter. Highlights of the area include the walks and wildlife of both Paradise Nature Reserve and Grantchester Meadows.
The area is home to some great schools (St. Mary’s Junior School and Trumpington Community College are two of the best), while you’ll find family-friendly attractions in Lammas Land (including a retro outdoor pool), and the very-nearby Botanic Gardens (ducks, colorful flowers, and a grass maze). In short, Newnham and Newtown are two of the best areas in Cambridge for anyone coming with kids.
The area is also home to Cambridge’s Nuffield Private Hospital—useful if you need regular health care (and if you have the cash to spend on it).
Head south beyond Newnham and Newtown, and you’ll find the little village of Grantchester. If you’re keen to live in a rural pocket outside the city, this is one of the best areas in Cambridge. Home to thatched roofs, old-school cottages, a big medieval church, and some peaceful slices of riverside life, it’s popular with retirees. Their official village website is operated by the parish council, which tells you everything you need to know about the place.
Best for: Moving with a family, living a suburban life right beside the city, and exploring some of Cambridge’s lesser-known green spaces
Just to the northeast of the city center, Chesterton sort of feels like a little village of its own (despite being part of—and very close to—the city).
So it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Cambridge if you want a nice combo between city life and rural perks. Although it’s quiet, quaint and cozy, it’s only a 20/30-minute walk to the very-central part of the city, and the neighborhood is home to Cambridge North railway station (so you can be in the center within a speedy 7 minutes).
And because it lingers on the sort-of-outskirts of the city, you get easy access to some of the city’s quieter (or at least sometimes-quieter) green spaces. The best close-by picks include both Stourbridge Common and Ditton Meadows, where you can wander alongside streams, cows, swans, and more. Take your kids, take your dogs, take some picnics.
Explore a bit further outside of Chesterton, and you’ll find quiet woods, some super-serene stretches of the River Cam, and Milton Country Park (which offers lakes, kids’ attractions, a cafe, and some lovely walking trails).
Chesterton is one of the best areas in Cambridge for families with kids. Aside from the safe atmosphere and the gargantuan greens, you also get good schools (two of the best are Shirley Community Primary School and the fancily-titled King’s Hedges Educational Federation), decent playgrounds, lots of conveniences (including massive supermarkets) and some great family homes.
The district’s De Freville Avenue has a particularly lofty reputation for being one of the best family-friendly areas in Cambridge. It’s pricey and luxurious, so it’s not for everyone… but many kid-carrying middle-class newcomers start their search there.
Best for: Watching some soccer, lots of quick conveniences, and living a in a cozy charm-fest
Just east of Chesterton, the little suburb of Barnwell is cozy and quaint, and living here feels like you’ve inexplicably relocated to the surface of a postcard.
The area is a great spot for easily accessing lots of conveniences: in and around the neighborhood, you’ll find a massive retail park (offering everything you could ever need for your home and your life), lots of supermarkets, and some decent gyms and parks.
And as a nice bonus, Cambridge City Football Club’s Abbey Stadium sits in this part of the city. They’re not the most successful soccer team on the planet, but the place is a decent day out, and the atmosphere is surprisingly good.
Cambridge Airport is also in this district. It only offers charter flights (so you probably won’t be doing too much flying in and out of the place)—but because these semi-regular flights are pretty loud, you might want to avoid this region if you’re particularly sensitive to noise. Or get some earplugs.
Overall. Barnwell is one of the best neighborhoods in Cambridge for families, and it’s comfy and cozy without being far from the center.
8 Best Neighborhoods in Cambridge: Final Thoughts
And just like that, we’ve punted and studied our way to the end of this guide. They’re the 8 best neighborhoods in Cambridge—and hopefully you’ve found one that suits your needs!
If you struggle to find a home in the city (and you might, because of all the students, and all the relocators), a serviced apartment or a serviced flat might be a convenient and fuss-free solution to your dilemma. All our Cambridge homes are comfortable, homely and welcoming, and they’re all perfect for living and working.
Thanks for reading, thanks for choosing Homelike, and have fun in Cambridge!
Oh, and if you’re considering moving just down the road to England’s iconic capital, here are our guides on how to find an apartment in London, and the 15 best neighborhoods in London. We also have a couple of excellent guides to help you navigate you new life in the UK. Check out our guides on living in the UK and moving to the UK with a pet. Bye!