It might be one of the smallest cities in England but don’t let its size fool you – it’s incredible to visit. Not only that, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Wells (and just outside) that make it a great little holiday spot in Somerset.
Over the years, we’ve visited Wells loads of times and it never gets old! Well, actually it does (it’s really historic) but a visit is always incredible and it’s a total joy to explore.
Even if you don’t fancy spending ages in Wells, you can easily visit for a day trip too. It’s not too far from the best spots in Bristol and all the history in Bath.
So, to help you get the most out of your time, I’ve popped over some gems that we love so much! This way, you can spend your time strolling the cobbled streets and exploring all the city’s history.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Wells in Somerset. Have an amazing visit!
1.) Wells Cathedral
Okay, let’s start with the big ones… you can’t visit Wells without exploring Wells Cathedral. It’s totally iconic and easily one of England’s most glorious buildings to see.
In fact, It’s England’s first Gothic cathedral and it’s said that construction took a whopping 300 years!
The cathedral’s beauty is jaw-dropping and can be seen all across the city. It towers over the streets and the whole building is stunning, especially its west façade.
You’ll see what I mean when you visit! After all, it measures 46 metres across and holds more than 300 sculpted figures that are incredible.
A 14th-century astronomical clock and an octagonal chapter house inside show visitors a glimpse of the city’s past and heritage.
The crafty inverted arches, or ‘scissor arches’, and cloisters are equally stunning. You’ll want to spend a good hour (if not longer) exploring it fully.
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2.) Vicars’ Close
Possibly one of my favourite streets in Somerset, Vicar’s Close is a spectacular Close (or street) right beside Wells Cathedral.
In fact, it’s the oldest surviving residential street in all of Europe.
As you walk from the cathedral you’ll stroll through the iconic passageway to the 14th century!
With medieval houses and structures that have withstood the flow of time, it’s the kind of place where time has really stood still.
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3.) Wells Market Place
The Wells Market Place is a historic trading and shopping spot not too far from Wells Cathedral.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, locals set up an open-air farmers’ market where local products such as fresh vegetables and honey become available. It’s totally lovely, especially if you’re looking for local produce and treats.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for the historic gateways of Wells Market Place. The Penniless Porch and the Bishop’s Eye are a must to see.
Fancy a cuppa? Stop by Twentyone that’s right on Market Place. They have the yummiest cakes and teas.
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4.) The Old Deanery & Bishop’s Barn
Visiting the Old Deanery is another one of the best things to do in Wells that you shouldn’t miss.
Known for its 15th-century house, outbuildings, and Tudor-style gardens, this Grade I listed structure is a witness to 800 years of history and offers a perfect view of the Cathedral to boot!
It’s the kind of spot that really shows off the history of Wells and well worth taking a gander as you stroll the city streets.
Along Silver Street near the Bishop’s Palace, is Bishop’s Barn, a Grade I-listed building in the city. The property is one of the 200 ancient structures to remain standing in the UK until today.
It is constructed using local limestone, while its ashlar window and door dressings are made from the materials quarried at Doulting in the Mendip Hills.
Established in the 15th century, the tithe barn served as a part of the Bishop’s Palace and earned fame for holding Royalist troops during the Bloody Assizes.
Nowadays, it’s well worth a little look and will only take you a few minutes to visit from the palace.
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5.) Bishop’s Palace
Built back in the 13th century, Bishop’s Palace is definitely one of the city’s best places to see.
The 14-acre palace is surrounded by a centuries-old moat and fortifications that is so stunning.
For more than 800 years, the Bishops of Bath and Wells took residence in the palace and became an integral part of the city.
Nowadays, the Bishop’s Portrait Hall shows historical details of the property and its residents through the centuries and is great for a nosey around.
Oh, and be sure to spot the chapel with a stunning vaulted ceiling, too.
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6.) Wells and Mendip Museum
You’ll start to notice that everything in Wells is within easy reach of the Cathedral! Well, Wells and Mendip Museum is another one of those.
Housing hundreds of fine collection of Victorian artefacts, it’s one of the best things to do in Wells if you want to explore the wider history of the region.
Among the museum’s prime attractions are prehistoric exhibits of the Mendips. Here, you’ll get to see lead ingots from the Roman Era, an Ichthyosaur fossil, and a skeleton found in the Wookey Hole Caves. Once upon a time, it was deemed the witch of Wookey Hole!
The museum, which was founded in 1893 by naturalist, caver and geologist, Herbert Balch, hosts exhibitions throughout the year and has its doors open from Mondays to Saturdays. This means you should avoid trying to visit on Sunday when it stays closed.
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7.) Glastonbury Tor
Around a 15-minute drive from the centre of Wells, Glastonbury Tor is a feast for the eyes! It’s one of the best things to do in Wells if you fancy a little time out of the city, especially for some views.
Take a ramble to the top of the mound and see the views all across the region. It’s totally beautiful and worth every step to the top!
Not your thing? Head across to Stoberry House and Garden that’s within easy reach by car.
Sitting on high ground that overlooks the Vale of Avalon, the six-acre land provides breathtaking views of Wells Cathedral and the rolling fields stretching towards the Glastonbury Tor.
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8.) Ashton Windmill & Wookey Hole Caves
Great for a little day trip from Wells, Ashton Windmill and Wookey Hole Caves are both epic to visit.
The Wookey Hole Caves is pretty well-known in the South of England and not too far from Wells. This means it’s a perfect spot to include as part of a wider roadtrip around the area.
This prehistoric cave area, comprising some of the country’s biggest caves and is filled with thousands of years of geological history.
A highlight of the visit to these caves is the unique stalagmite in the first chamber, which has previously sparked a legend about a medieval witch who turned into stone when a monk splashed her with holy water.
Now, the temperature inside the caves is constantly cold at 11°C. This means you should take layers with you to stay nice and toasty.
Dating back centuries, Ashton Windmill is just a little further west from Wells. Though, it’s totally easy to visit if you’re heading across to the coast at Weston-Super-Mare. Yes, you might only spend 15-minutes taking it all in but it’s still worth a stop.
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9.) St Cuthbert’s Church
Although it is often mistaken as Wells Cathedral, St. Cuthbert’s Church has a captivating appeal that’s easy to visit after exploring the nearby Cathedral.
Its magnificent chapel, with its stone tower, earns its recognition as a Grade I listed building and is considered the largest parish church in the city and well worth visiting.
Don’t forget to see the 15th-century panelled ceiling, too. It was concealed by plaster for 200 years but now restored for us all to see.
Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the coats of arms of Charles I and Charles II can also be seen at the pulpit.
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10.) Mendip Hills & Cheddar Gorge
If you’re looking for outdoor adventures on your trip, Mendip Hills is the place to go.
Locally known as the Mendips, these limestone hills South of Bath and Bristol is a great spot to visit. Not only that it’s home to Cheddar Gorge that’s totally stunning to visit.
Take in some of the trails around the gorge, take a gander in the caves and try some cave-aged cheese from the little shops within the gorge itself.
Not too far from these pristine hills is Pen Hill, the second-highest point in the city, towering at 305 metres above sea level.
The whole area is steeped in History, with early settlers calling this area home. Apparently, some of these dates back to Paleolithic and Mesolithic times. They’ve even found remains of Roman Mines, too.
It’s such a special area and easily one of the best things to do in Wells when you leave the city for a day trip.
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