Situated on the banks of the River Great Ouse, Bedford lays claim to being one of England's most historic towns. The Saxons realised the river would be useful for trade, and it has served the community ever since.

Today, Bedford is a hub of commercial activity thanks to its central position between Oxford, Cambridge and London. Retaining its historic and cultural core, it offers the visitor an attractive range of facilities.


No visit to Bedford is complete without a trip to the cultural quarter, located in the heart of the town. Hanging in the Cecil Higgins Gallery are works by Turner, Picasso and Warhol. Modern art lovers will also enjoy the BCA Gallery, a new showcase for emerging artists.

Bedford was home to the literary genius John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim's Progress) and in the Castle Lane area is a museum dedicated to his life. While you are there, climb up Castle Mound. Henry II destroyed this fortress in 1234 but the views from the top are superb!

Visitors wishing to discover more of the town's history should visit the Bedford Museum, which tells the complete story of the borough. The Albion Archaeology Centre is a must for those who want to delve even deeper into the past.

Sports and outdoor pursuits are generously catered for. Bedford has three swimming pools and an International Athletic Stadium offering world-class facilities. The Oasis Beach Pool is of particular note, with its fantastic water slides.

For more sedate exercise, the Mowsbury Golf Course offers eighteen holes and a driving range. Walkers and cyclists have a choice of fourteen official routes offering a delightful opportunity to appreciate the Bedfordshire countryside.


Bedford is rightly famous for its markets, where everything from flowers to fresh fish may be purchased. The main market (held in the town centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays) has forty stalls. In addition, there are entire markets specialising in flowers, farm produce and gourmet food.

The town centre has an extensive range of specialist retailers and department stores. Visitors seeking national brands should head to the Harpur Shopping Centre.


As Bedford is home to the Charles Wells brewery, the town centre offers a good selection of pubs and bars. A number of local restaurants are highly recommended, and visitors with an appetite for Chinese cuisine will not be disappointed. The River Room and the Swan Hotel offer dining with views onto the Great Ouse.

Nightclubs play a central role in the town's social scene, offering everything from '70s Cheese to the latest floor-fillers. Clubbers heading to Oxygen should note that a complimentary bus service is available. Those with a taste for classical music should check the listings for the Corn Exchange, which plays host to the resident Philharmonic Orchestra.

Should you prefer a film, then head to the Aspects Leisure Park, a modern entertainment complex offering a multi-screen cinema, bowling alley and eating facilities.

Tourist Information

Town Hall St Paul's SquareBedford MK40 1SJTel: 01234 215226Fax: 01234


London Luton is the nearest airport, and there are flights here too and from many international destinations. The town is also in easy reach of London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

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