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Wonderful Wells, Somerset

Wonderful Wells, Somerset

Wells in Somerset is a beautiful medieval city. It is packed with things to do and see. Wells is only a couple of miles away from my bed and breakfast and it has long held a special place in my heart.

Wells – Small but perfectly formed

I was fortunate enough to spend over a decade working in Wells, so it is a city I know well. Its size makes it easy to navigate, (it lays claim to being England’s smallest city) so you can experience all the city’s delights by foot.

so many Things to do in Wells Somerset

Wells is a place that offers so much. Historic buildings and incredible architecture aplenty. The city has over 300 listed buildings and a number of ancient monuments. There’s also a wide range of independent shops, bars and cafes and an award-winning market (held on Wednesdays and Saturdays). You can watch swans ring a bell to be fed on the moat of the Bishop’s Palace, marvel at the incredible West Front of Wells Cathedral and stroll down Vicars’ Close – one of the oldest, inhabited streets in Europe! And these delights are within a 5 minute stroll of one another.

Swans at the Bishop's Palace

Pic: Nick James

There’s also a museum, lovely park with adventure play area, Cedars Hall (an incredible concert hall) and regular festivals which celebrate food, comedy, art and literature. (October is the prime month for festivals in Wells.)

Cedars Hall

Cedars Hall in Wells

An ambitious mosiac project is underway. Once finished, this walkable map of Wells will be 6 metres in diameter and feature 750,000 hand-cut ceramic tiles! It will also depict events and people from the city’s past.

My top things to do in wells

I feel a list coming on…In no particular order, my favourite things to see and do in Wells are;

1 wells cathedral

The architecture inside and out is breathtaking. Outside you can gaze upon (probably) the oldest clock face in the world and the amazing sculptures that make up the West Front.

In August, a vacant plinth on the West Front was filled with a piece by Antony Gormley. ‘Doubt’ will reside here for 18 months. It’s a statue which has certainly divided opinion.

Wells Cathedral

The statue by Antony Gormley

The inside of the Cathedral is stunning. When the seating is removed the space feels vast. It is very atmospheric.

Things to do in Wells Somerset

Wells Cathedral. Pic: Nick James

Among the beautiful interior you’ll find scissor arches, stained glass windows and an octagonal chapter house.

Wells Cathedral

Regular concerts are held in Wells Cathedral and some are free. The Christmas carol concerts are spellbinding and always a sell out. (Tickets usually go on sale in August.)

Interesting exhibitions and installations are commonplace. In 2021, the Festival of the Moon was a big hit.

Wells Cathedral

Festival of the Moon 2021 in Wells Cathedral

On a sunny afternoon you can sit on the Cathedral Green (or if you are a little more ‘mature’, one of the numerous benches) and watch the cathedral take on a golden hue as the sunlight hits it.

In 2019, Simon Jenkins of The Guardian named Wells Cathedral the number one cathedral in the country. No argument here!

Wells Cathedral

2 the bishop’s palace

As the name suggests, this is the home of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Within the 14 acres of gardens (which have been recognised by the R.H.S) you’ll find the springs which gave the city its name. Apparently, the Romans settled here.

Wells Somerset

One of the wells in the Bishop’s Palace

In 2020, the palace celebrated its 800 year anniversary!

Stroll back over the drawbridge and you might be lucky enough to see the resident swans ring a bell for food. During the August Bank Holiday the calm waters of the moat are temporarily churned up as teams paddle furiously to battle for honours in the Moat Boat Races. Even the Bishop has been known to take part!

The races should take place again in 2022.

Wells Moat Boat Races

Wells Moat Boat Races

3 VICARs’ CLOSE in Wells

This is one of the oldest, continually inhabited streets in Europe. The close has a beautiful symmetry to it and many of the houses are occupied by members of the cathedral choir. You will find it just off the Cathedral Green.

Vicars' Close in Wells Somerset

Vicars’ Close

4 Things to do in wells somerset – eat & shop!

The Market Place, just off the Cathedral Green (in the opposite direction to Vicars’ Close) is the venue for a twice weekly market. Alongside independent stalls selling an array of handmade goods is an award-winning Farmers’ Market. This is a ‘foodies’ delight. Fresh fish, pies, fruit, veg and ethnic food from different nations. In total, there are usually over 50 different stalls selling their wares on market day.

Support one of the many independent retailers in the high street. These include a great hardware store (where you can still buy individual nails and screws), shoe shops, a butcher, cafes and coffee shops.

Places to eat in Wells

Whether it’s a takeaway sandwich or a full 3 course blow out, Wells has an eaterie to meet your needs. (This list is far from exhaustive.)

The Swan Hotel has indoor and outdoor seating areas. (The area at the front of the hotel has a super view of Wells Cathedral.)

In the same street as the Swan, you’ll find Ensemble and Goodfellows. The latter has a great reputation for seafood. There is also the Thai Dragon and a lovely Italian restaurant called Rugantinos. Sadler Street really is a foodies delight.

Venture further down Sadler Street and you will reach the cobbled market square. Here, there is the Crown public house and a host of independent cafes.

From the market square you can either venture towards the cathedral and Bishop’s Palace (which both offer seated dining) or head down the High Street. Alongside popular chains such as Fosso Lounge there are a host of independent cafes. Keep your eyes peeled. Some of the side streets have other gems. The Greek Tavern and Nosh-stalgia are virtually neighbours in Sun Street.

Further down the High Street the road splits and the eateries keep on coming. The Good Earth is great for vegetarians while Daniel’s cafe offers a wide range of dishes.

Fancy a decent coffee and a light bite? Alongside several chains there is also the wonderful Strangers with Coffee (opposite St. Cuthbert’s church which is very pretty).


Visit Wells in May and you could be laughing. It’s the month in which the Wells Comedy Festival usually takes place. In October, the city hosts other festivals which encompass food, literature and art.

Things to do in Wells Somerset

Wells Food Festival attracts a good crowd

And if that wasn’t enough, Wells is also one of the routes for the Somerset Carnivals in November.

Things to do in Wells Somerset

Wells carnival. Pic: Nick James


If you are more of a walker/rambler than a stroller, (or fancy walking off that lunch) then it’s handy that Wells sits on the side of the Mendip Hills. This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Mendip Way walking path takes in 49 miles of beautiful scenery, so Wells could be just one of your stop off points (hopefully The Cross at Croscombe will also feature…)

Anyway, do come and experience Wells, Somerset. It maybe small, but it’s perfectly formed.

View a comprehensive list of What’s on in Wells Somerset.

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