Ultimate Somerset Travel Guide
I love the Southwest of England - it's full of gorgeous little villages, beautiful countryside, and a never-ending list of things to do in the area. Perhaps a bit overlooked in favor of its coastal neighbors, Somerset is an amazing and underrated place to visit. I would recommend a long weekend - 3 to 4 days is a great length of time to see all the sights and soak in the history and views in this beautiful county. I've outlined a general itinerary below based on the trip we recently took, and our favorite places we found. And - bonus - as we took our labrador puppy on the trip, these places are all dog-friendly destinations!
Stourhead National Trust: Stourhead has been on my bucket list for such a long time, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Famous for its expansive gardens including a lake, several grand temples, a lakeside grotto, and a Palladian bridge, Stourhead technically sits on the border between Wiltshire and Somerset. It's easy to spend an afternoon here - either in the gardens, visiting the manor house itself, or in the 2,500 acre lands of the estate (perfect for dog walks). Entry to the house and gardens is £18 per person, or free to National Trust members.
King Alfred's Tower: The nearby King Alfred's Tower is one of several "follies" in the UK. A folly is a building that's used principally for decoration, and are usually attached to grand estates to show off the wealth of the family. You can either walk from Stourhead to the tower, which is a 5.5 mile (just under 9km) circular walk with easy and easily accessible paths through the woods, or you can drive to the tower car park.
Glastonbury Tor: For the best morning views, bring a flask of coffee or tea and a couple of pastries and make your way up to the top of Glastonbury Tor. The Tor is a hill overlooking the city of Glastonbury, with St Michael's Tower on top of it, and has been linked to Celtic mythology surrounding the Legend of King Arthur. The walk is moderately steep at times, but a quick one (only about 20 min to the top), and the views are more than worth it!
Glastonbury Abbey: We visited the Abbey as a last-minute stop because hiking the Tor didn't take as long as we thought it would, and the car park in town was right next to the Abbey. I'm so glad we did - it's such a peaceful place, and the ruins are both interesting and absolutely gorgeous, dating back to the 7th century. We explored for a bit (the grounds are dog friendly as long as you've got them on a lead), and then stopped into the little outdoor cafe for some tea and a snack (I got a vegan chocolate cake that was genuinely one of the best desserts I've ever had). Entry was £5 per person for a day pass.
Wells: Home to some of the prettiest streets and architecture in the area and known for being the smallest city in England, Wells is a must-see when you visit Somerset. We stopped in to get some lunch after our morning in Glastonbury, and spent a few hours ambling around the town, enjoying the atmosphere of the outdoor markets, and checking out the impressive 13th century cathedral (which was under construction when we visited but stunning nonetheless), and visiting the much-photographed Vicar's Close street, the oldest residential street with its buildings intact in England, completed in 1430.
Hike Cheddar Gorge: Cheddar Gorge and the surrounding gorges are great spots for hiking - fairly easy and well-marked trails with a couple of fun scrambles over rocks that lead to some gorgeous views. We loved the walk to the views on Ebbor Gorge in particular, and it was far quieter than its more famous neighboring gorges.
Explore Bath: I've talked about how much I love Bath fairly extensively, so I won't go on about it too much, but Bath is a city you absolutely must visit in England. It's got everything - beautiful architecture, history, amazing food, and happened to be the favorite city of Jane Austen. I've only put one day of exploring in this itinerary, but you could easily spend two or more days here.
For more details on visiting the Roman-built city, see my blog post on The 8 Best Things to do in Bath.
Montacute House and the village of Montacute: On our last morning in Somerset, we visited Montacute House in South Somerset. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but this was one of my favorite stops of our trip. The village itself is absolutely adorable - quite small and quaint with several cafes and pubs, and a truly beautiful central square. The manor house of the same name is stunning - with meticulously maintained gardens and grounds (when we went mid-April there were tiny lambs running all around the grounds - so cute!) The building is so picturesque, it's been a filming location for several big productions like Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1995) and the 2015 BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall. Entry to the house and gardens is £13 for adults, or free to National Trust members.
Have you ever been to Somerset? Is it on your bucket list (I hope this post has at least convinced you!) Let me know if you have any questions or any places you'd add to the list - I'm always interested to hear your thoughts!
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