(Last updated on: 24/08/2020)
Marked as the smallest city in England, Wells is a special place to visit. Full of culture, history and entertainment, there are plenty of things to do in Wells to make for the perfect staycation or day trip from nearby Bath, Bristol or London.
In this article I will tell you all about my favourite things to do in Wells, Somerset.
- Why visit Wells?
- Things to do in Wells
- Places to stay in Wells
- Things to do in Wells: To conclude
Why visit Wells?
Wells was always been a place on my domestic tourism bucket list because it is famous for being England’s smallest city. It gained the title of city as a result of its remarkable 13th century cathedral, a landmark that people travel to visit from all over the United Kingdom.
With only 12,000 inhabitants and loads of historical buildings and culture, the city of Wells is a tourist attraction in itself! If you are visiting Somerset a highly recommend that you spend a few days in Wells exploring the city and the nearby attractions.
Things to do in Wells
There are lots of things to do for all types of tourists, from family travellers to hikers, to day-trippers. Read on to find out what are the best things to do in and around Wells, Somerset…
Visit Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral is the most famous tourist attraction in Wells, and it is no wonder why!
This stunning cathedral took 300 years to build, with construction starting in 1176. It was the first cathedral in the UK to be designed solely in the Gothic style, and it remains to this day one of the most famous and stunning cathedrals in the country.
With fluted piers and pointed arcades, it really is breathtaking and well worth a visit.
The cathedral is one of the most popular things to do in Wells, and if you like stained glass you’re in for a treat: it has an unmatched amount of colourful, picture-perfect stained glass windows.
The cathedral is open from 7 am daily until 7 pm during the summer months, closing at 6 pm between October and the end of March. Entry is free, though a donation is always appreciated to help towards the running and restoration costs of Wells Cathedral.
Want to step back in time? Take a stroll down Vicars’ Close, Europe’s oldest planned street which dates back to medieval times.
Vicars’ Close was plotted in the mid-14th century. The street was home to the priests serving the aforementioned Wells Cathedral, so combining these two things to do in Wells is a great idea.
The houses were mostly built in 1361, with a few more constructed some 50 years later.
12 vicars live here now, as opposed to the 42 that lived here in the 1400s – the postcard-perfect street is just lovely to walk down on a warm day!
St. Cuthbert’s Church
A bit more religious beauty – this is Somerset’s largest church. It is so breathtaking and large that it often gets mistaken for Wells Cathedral! The church is a Grade I-listed monument, first built in the early English Gothic style in the 1200s; it was later reworked in the 1400s, leaving it with sublime Perpendicular architecture. The 15th-century panelled ceiling inside was uncovered in the 1960s, and is definitely something to head in and see if you’re nearby or looking for things to do in Wells. Be sure to take a look at the pulpit too, which was carved in 1636 and features the coats of arms of both Charles I and Charles II.
For a picturesque day out in Wells, head to Bishop’s Palace. This stunning attraction is a favourite when it comes to things to do in Wells – with its gardens, cafe and chapel, there is something for everyone. Go for a picnic, find the dragon’s lair, get involved in some arts and crafts, play hide and seek, spot swans and their cygnets and head inside the palace itself for dressing up, theatre productions, giant jigsaws and so much more.
Bishop’s Palace is a family-friendly location that offers so much to see and do. It provides the perfect option for a full day out in Wells, and it’s easy to get to from the whole of Somerset. If you are planning a staycation in this part of the UK, and a trip to Bishop’s Palace should definitely be on your list. Entry fees are as follows:
- Kids under 5: free
- Ages 5-18: £7.50
- Adults aged 18 and above: £15.00
The Mendip Hills
Head out to the Mendips for a day of getting close to nature and breathing in some fresh air.
These stunning hills provide the perfect walking location for all abilities, with an amazing level of biodiversity meaning you’ll be able to see all sorts of flora and fauna as you head out on a hike.
You’ll see ancient monuments such as forts from the Iron and Bronze ages, and there are plenty of gorges and caves to head into and explore too as long as you do so safely.
On a clear day you can see across Somerset for miles from the Mendips, so be sure to take your camera! You can pack a picnic and eat on the hills, bring a sketchbook and draw what you see, or even do some leaf-rubbing.
This is one of the UK’s most amazing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it’s not hard to see why. If you’re a keen hiker, then this is one of the best things to do in Wells and the surrounding areas.
Mendip Hospital Cemetery
Looking for something a bit different to do on your trip to Wells? Head here!
Mendip Hospital was founded in 1848 as the “Somerset and Bath Pauper Lunatic Asylum”, and was closed in 1991. The hospital purchased a patch of land off the Bath Road in Wells which was used as a cemetery – it is now a nature reserve, preserved by volunteers and open to visitors regularly.
The restored chapel on site hosts an exhibition which is well worth visiting, drawing on the poignant history of the Mendip Hospital and its patients. A fascinating bit of local history, this is one of the most interesting things to do in Wells and comes highly recommended if you’re wanting something a bit more unique from your trip to Somerset.
Wells Outdoor Market
Historically, Wells was a market town. Its hook-shaped market place has been the centre of attention for more than 800 years and the stunning architecture that surrounds it is definitely worth a look.
The outdoor market takes place every Wednesday and Sunday throughout the year, with a variety of goods on offer. Take your pick of fruit and vegetables, gourmet fudge and other foods as well as books and games, fabrics, clothing and accessories, homeware, gifts and more.
Wells’ right to hold markets in the centre stems from time of Bishop Robert in the 12th century, and part of that tradition is the Charter Fair each May. With fairground rides and amusements in the market place, it is a great day out if you happen to be in Wells at the right time of year. There is another fair, the Carnival Fair, in November too.
The Wells Mystery Treasure Trail
Want a fun way to explore the city with your little ones, enjoying the fresh air and learning about the area? This self-guided tour is one of the best free things to do in Wells, suitable for ages 4 and up.
The mystery-themed trail is full of clues and answers, and takes approximately 2 hours once you’ve worked everything out and walked the 2 miles. Stop for lunch halfway through or after you’ve completed the trail – it makes for a lovely way to spend a few hours in Wells.
You can download the trail map as a PDF if you’re up for some spontaneous mystery solving, or have it sent out in advance if you’re currently planning your trip to the Somerset area.
Wookey Hole Caves
There is so much to see and do at Wookey Hole Caves – from light shows to a 4D cinema to the gorgeous little fairy garden, it makes for a truly magical day out in Wells.
With a soft play and mini golf, ancient paper making and the UK’s largest collection of penny arcade machines, there is zero chance of getting bored on a day out to the Caves.
Opening times and entry fees are as follows:
April – October
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
November – March
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 16:00
- Adults: £19.95
- Kids (3-14): £15.95
- Seniors: £17.95
- Under 3s: Free
Explore the streets of Wells
If you prefer a slower pace, you can have a wonderful day just wandering the beautiful streets of this tiny city.
There is always a lovely atmosphere in Wells, cobbled streets and old buildings, tall chimneys and beautiful greenery dotted around.
You’ll find cafés like Strangers With Coffee and Market Place Café, and fantastic local pubs such as The Globe Inn, The City Arms and The Quarter Jack. Exploring the city and having something to eat or drink is a great way to pass the time. You can support the local economy and take in the beauty of Wells.
Some more places to get refreshments in Wells are:
- TWENTYONE cafe + kitchen
- Pickwicks Country Kitchen
- Priddy Good Farm Shop
- Just Ales
- The Courtyard Restaurant
- The Good Earth
- The Litton
- Rodney Stoke Inn
- Thai Dragon Wells
- Kitty Banks
Take a day trip to Cheddar
Cheddar isn’t too far from Wells, and makes for a great day out. It only takes around 15 minutes to reach Cheddar by car.
Cheddar Gorge is famous and great for a nice long walk, and the Cheddar Reservoir is breathtaking – especially if you visit at sunset!
The town has a soft play area, nature reserves, The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, the Strawberry Line and much more. Somerset has a wealth of things to do and places to visit, and a trip to Wells means you can also explore the wider area.
Places to stay in Wells
Personally, I recommend visiting this area of Somerset for more than a day…because there are just so many cool things to soo and do!
There are lots of great places to stay in Wells, use the map below to search for available accommodation on your travel dates or keep reading for my personal recommendations.
We like to stay in self-catering accommodations when we travel because it makes things easier with the kids. Fortunately, there is no shortage of options in and around Wells.
I recommend Swan Mews. In a quiet, central location in Wells, these beautiful self-contained, fully equipped apartments are ideally placed for the beautiful county of Somerset.Owned by the Swan Hotel, the modern apartments at Swan Mews are a short stroll away.
Bed and breakfast
This B&B features free WiFi, a bar, a shared lounge and a garden. There is a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a hairdryer, free toiletries and bath or shower. The best part about Worth House Bed and Breakfast is the fantastic à la carte or Full English/Irish breakfast- yum!
A unique place to stay
Just yards away from the ancient market place, the Ancient Gatehouse reflects authentic period charm with its centuries-old spiral stone staircase and quaint little passages. It boasts an excellent restaurant, specialising in authentic Italian cuisine. Rooms have been refurbished to a very high standard and retain their original features and character. Some rooms have a four-poster bed.
Things to do in Wells: To conclude
We spent a lot of time in Somerset this year and Wells was one of our favourite places to visit! As you can see, there are so many cool things to do here that you could easily spent a week or more enjoying the smallest city in England and its surroundings!