Our Favourite Things to Do in Somerset
Cheddar and cider: get ready for your Somerset journey.
Go on, we dare you. Try to say Somerset without affecting a semi-pirate accent. Scientists have proven it’s actually impossible (not really). That’s because the movie pirate accent came from nearby Cornwall. The Somerset accent is slightly different, but we still bet you’ll be repeating the county’s name over and over to the great annoyance of your travel partners on this holiday. But, say it proud, say it loud: Somerset even sounds like summer, so you won’t be surprised to find that this is one of the warmest and sunniest parts of the UK (even if that’s not guaranteeing anything, as the wet and soggy regulars at Glastonbury Festival will attest to).
With the Exmoor National Park and some of England’s loveliest beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice with regard to unspoiled (spoilt or spoiled? Ah, we give up) natural treasures. The Severn (spell that right) Estuary runs along its northern coast, while the Bristol Channel props up the southern end. And we at the Plum Guide, with a boatload of knowledge and expertise, will help you navigate this vast county and find things to do in Somerset.
Check out the historic attractions
Like many parts of the UK, this a pretty historic place. It even played a huge role in the rise of Alfred the Great, whoever he is. That’s not to mention the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion. Bath is probably the most famous city, and definitely a must-visit when it comes to things to do in Somerset. It's a resort town once frequented by the likes of Jane Austen and other literati across the centuries, who sought out its hot springs. The history extends much further, as these natural thermal waters were seen as healing properties by the Romans. With that in mind, take a tour of the Roman Baths and imagine how things would have been here a couple of millennia ago. There's plenty more to do in Bath where that came from: check out the Museum of Bath Architecture, the Museum of East Asian Art and the Victoria Art Gallery as you make your way around the city. While in Bath, why not stay in a professionally-vetted Plum Guide home? The Magnetic is suave apartment in the centre of town, or for something a little more pastoral, book a stay at the lovely Faerie World.
Get out the Bath and head to the city of Wells, which is known as the smallest city in England. Or is it the largest village? No, anywhere with a cathedral is apparently a city, so there you go. (It’s actually the second-smallest city, after the City of London.) Admire the vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows in the cathedral, making sure to study the astronomical dial on the clock. Another top highlight here is the Bishop’s Palace.
Explore the diverse countryside
The Avon green belt area between Bath and Bristol ensures the countryside remains leafy and prevents the two merging into some sort of BristBath mongrel. Exploring the countryside around here should top anyone's list of things to do in Somerset. Delve into the various caves and underground rivers in the county’s eclectic countryside. You’ll also find valleys, such as Ebbor Gorge and Cheddar Gorge; even if they do sound like cheeses. The region is incredibly diverse for natural beauty and pretty much has anything you can think of. Fancy some wetlands? Head to the Somerset Levels. Try the Exmoor National Park for, as the first part of its name suggests, moors. Spot the Exmoor ponies that graze in impossibly beautiful misty meadows. Climb to the top of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in the county, to test those dodgy knees and enjoy the views. Can't get enough of the countryside? Check out our guide on where to stay in the Cotswolds.
Hit up the beaches
Somerset has more than enough coastline. Enjoy a classic day out on the English seaside – involving ice cream down your top and a sandwich nicked by a seagull – at one of the iconic coastal towns here. Minehead has a lovely harbour and beach, making for a romantic setting to watch the sun go down. Go swimming and try kite-surfing (we do stress ‘try’). Other top sandy destinations include the Middle Hope Beach by Weston-Super-Mare and the vast Brean Beach nearby, with its immense sand dunes. Head to Burnham-on-Sea, which may sound like a barbeque for over-cooking pigs, but is actually an idyllic coastal village with a pier and a café among other amusements.
Travel to the villages
There are plenty of quaint little villages spread across Somerset where you can lose yourself. Or move and start a new life, far from the chaos of city life. Weston-super-Mare is a majestic little gem with sandy beaches on the Bristol Channel. Taunton, Minehead and Yeovil are among the other highlights. And don't leave without trying the cheddar cheese and cider from the region.