The historic, riverside town of Bedford is a popular accommodation option for Cranfield students who want to combine living in a traditional English market town, with easy accessibility to campus. It is just 17.6km away from the University (40 minutes via the Uno bus) and a 40-minute train ride to London’s St Pancras International station.
Popular local areas to search for accommodation include:
- The Castle Quarter - Bedford’s historical and cultural heart, which is particularly popular with locals;
- Kempston - a smaller town, Kempston has a wide range of facilities and is within walking and cycling distance of Bedford, and also located on the bus route to Cranfield;
- Wootton - a traditional, picturesque village further along the bus route to Cranfield.
Arts and culture
If you love theatre and music, Bedford is sure to have something for you. The Corn Exchange is largest venue for entertainment and events in Bedford, hosting a diverse programme of music, comedy, dance and theatre. It is also one of the homes of the famous Philharmonia Orchestra, which holds regular concerts at the venue. For indie, rock, soul and jazz be sure to visit Esquires, Bedford’s premier live music venue.
The Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, with its constantly changing exhibitions, is the ideal place to explore collections of fine and decorative arts and watercolours. To catch the latest new releases, head to the local Cineworld cinema at Aspects Leisure Park.
History and heritage
As you would expect from a market town that can trace its roots back to the early-medieval period, Bedford offers a wealth of fascinating history to explore. Visit the John Bunyan Museum to discover the incredible story of the Bedford man who wrote one of the greatest novels in the English language, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Another Bedford essential is a trip to the Panacea Museum, which reveals the fascinating story of a religious community that developed in Bedford in the early to mid-20th century.
Eating out and nightlife
As a town with a very diverse community - almost 30% of Bedford's population is of at least partial Italian descent, with up to 100 different ethnic groups living within its boundaries - the options for eating out are exceptional. Try Pizzeria Santaniello for what are claimed to be the best hand-stretched pizzas outside of Naples! Other options are the numerous Indian restaurants on Tavistock Street, a contemporary café around the Castle Quarter or Tana Thai.
Bedford's nightlife is popular with its thriving student community, and a diverse mix of clubs, bars and pubs can be found in the town centre. The vibrant Riverside quarter is worth a visit for an evening out with stunning views.
Meandering through the heart of Bedford and its surrounding villages is the glorious River Great Ouse. Taking a stroll along the embankment in the evening and popping into one of the numerous cafés, restaurants or pubs is very popular with the locals.
You will also want to visit Priory Country Park, a 360-acre green space made up of lakes, meadows and woodland that is in part enclosed within a bend in the River Great Ouse. If you enjoy walking, follow the John Bunyan Trail through the many attractive villages surrounding the town.
Find out more about Bedford's outdoor parks on our Green Spaces page.
Bedford is well known as ‘Rugby Town’, and Bedford Blues RFC always attract strong support for their Championship games at Goldington Road. For football fans, take in a game at Bedford Town FC, or take the train to London and watch one of the Premier League giants.
If you want to get involved in sporting activities yourself, you will not be disappointed. As you would expect from a town with a river at its heart and an International Athletic Stadium, you can take up rowing or running, as well as virtually any other sport you can think of. If cycling is your thing, the beautiful Ouse Valley area around Bedford offers picturesque riding.
Bedford’s town centre offers a host of well-known stores, as well as smaller, independent outlets. For fresh food, St Paul’s Square and Harpur Square host weekly traditional and speciality markets from Wednesday to Saturday.
Bedford is just 40 minutes from nearby Cambridge via the frequent X5 bus, so making a trip to experience this historic city is essential. The network of rural villages surrounding the town also offer lots to do, including visiting country pubs, walks, events and festivals. For example, Harrold Country Park, the regular programme of events at Sharnbrook Mill Theatre and the Danish Camp at Willington.
Further information about transport links to major cities can be found on our Explore Cranfield page.
Travelling outside the UK
London Luton Airport is just over 20 miles from Bedford and easily accessible. From here you can catch a train direct from Luton Airport Parkway station to Bedford - for further information, please see the National Rail website.
There are also good links with several airports slightly further afield, including London Heathrow, London Stansted, London Gatwick and Birmingham. There is information about travel from these airports to Bedford on their respective websites. National Express runs coaches from several major UK airports to nearby towns.
If you feel like taking a weekend trip to Europe during your time with us, the Eurostar offers a convenient alternative to air travel. Take the direct rail service from Bedford to London's St Pancras and from here you can board trains to several European cities including Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. (Please note that booking tickets in advance is essential for Eurostar services).
Search for accommodation in Bedford using Cranfield StudentPad - the official Cranfield University student accommodation search engine.