Are you looking for fun things to do in Somerset? This list has over 20 attractions for history buffs, nature lovers, families with kids and luxury travellers!
With rolling countryside as far as the eye can see, compelling and fascinating market towns and ancient cities, family-friendly attractions and a beautiful coastline – there are so many things to do in Somerset.
I’ve lived in Bristol for six years and Bath for one and have spent the time getting to know this county really well. I love so many things about Somerset – the cider, the landscapes, the friendly people – and you can enjoy them all if you visit these fantastic Somerset attractions!
Whether you’re spending a holiday in Cheddar, Bath, or Weston Super Mare, of if you just want to see what fun days out Somerset has to offer; this list will detail some of the best ideas for fun activities in the county!
There’s something for everybody here – adventurers will love hiking opportunities in the Mendips, the Quantocks and Exmoor; there are plenty of places to visit with kids, Bath is perfect for group trips away, and couples will adore the romantic coastline.
Wherever you are based in Somerset, all of these attractions are reachable within the county and are also perfect day trips from cities like Exeter and Bristol.
Cultural and historical things to do in Somerset
Roman Baths, Bath
The Roman Baths are, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Somerset. This fascinating museum documents how the Romans discovered the city’s hot springs and built their own Roman Baths around them. It’s a fantastic exhibition about Roman life, and you’ll also get the chance to see the actual Baths themselves!
Once you’ve explored the Roman Baths, make sure that you check out other attractions in Bath. Bath Abbey is right outside the Roman Baths, and it’s just a short walk to the Circus and the Crescent, which are both famous examples of Bath’s Georgian architecture.
Explore the historic Wells Cathedral
Wells is the smallest city in the country – but it certainly isn’t the most underwhelming! Built between the 12th century and 15th century, Wells Cathedral has been called ‘the most poetic of the English Cathedrals’. It was the first English Cathedral to be built in Gothic style and has several majestic features that take a while to take in.
Entry is on a donation basis, and inside, you can gaze at stained-glass windows, admire the exquisite architectural features, and pay remembrance to the fallen soldiers of Somerset who lost their lives in World War One.
Just outside of the Cathedral is Vicar’s Close, which claims to be Europe’s oldest purely residential street. The Medieval houses hark back to times long gone – if you can get a photo without any cars, you’d be forgiven for thinking the scene pre-dates the camera by a long way!
There’s usually a Saturday Farmer’s Market in the city, where you can purchase traditional Somerset food and drink – such as cheddar cheese and delicious West Country Cider. You can also visit Bishop’s Palace, the home of the Bishops of Bath and Wells – it costs around 8 to enter the palace itself, or you can enjoy the beautiful gardens for free.
Hike up Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury is situated about 15 minutes from Wells – you can easily see them both on a day trip – and is famous for very different reasons.
Foremostly, Glastonbury is renowned for its annual festival. However, it has been the site of Pagan traditions for centuries, and you can explore these any time of the year.
Glastonbury Tor has been the setting for Arthurian legends, and many locals and tourists agree that they feel a somewhat mystical sentiment as they climb up the hill. From the top, you’ll have an epic view of this area of Somerset!
While you’re in Glastonbury, don’t miss the eccentric high street, filled with weird and wonderful stores and the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey! On the site of Glastonbury Abbey, you’ll find the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which is a great spot to learn about this largely rural county.
Do a historic guided tour around Somerton
Somerton is one of the most interesting market towns in Somerset, but it is rarely on tourist’s radars. It’s a small town, but it was once the county seat of Somerset, and there are still lots of stories to learn about from its Medieval past.
You can do a self-guided tour of Somerton; I followed this guide on the Somerton website and learned about some really interesting things!
Tour the Shepton Mallet Prison
Going to prison sounds like a strange way to spend a day in Somerset, but this is no ordinary prison. It was the UK’s oldest working prison until it closed its doors in 2011 – it had been operating since the 17th century!
There are lots of stories to hear about here, from the penal system in historical eras to tales about criminals who have passed through the doors. I recommend doing a guided tour around the prison, although you can also enter and explore at your own leisure. It’s a great day trip from Bath or Bristol.
Stately homes in Somerset
There are various stately homes in Somerset, some that the National Trust owns, and others that are managed privately.
- Tyntesfield is a 19th century stately home just a 20 minute drive from Bristol, but still in North Somerset. As well as the large manor house, there are some beautiful gardens to enjoy.
- Montacute House is a National Trust historic property is located in South Somerset, not far from the town of Yeovil.
- Kilver Court Gardens are beautifully landscaped gardens situated close to Shepton Mallet. There are so many different flower selections and views to enjoy at Kilver Court; the gardens are right behind the Charlton Viaduct, making some amazing photos.
- Hestercombe House and Gardens is a stunning spot to visit in Somerset. Hestercombe Gardens feature three centuries of garden design.
- Barrington Court is a 16th century estate located near Taunton, in South Somerset. It was run as a stately home until the 18th century when it fell into disrepair and was instead used as a tenant farm. Then, it was purchased by the National Trust. As well as the beautiful manor house, tourists can enjoy the walled gardens
Museum of Somerset in Taunton
Taunton is the county town of Somerset, and at its heart is Taunton Castle. This castle began to take shape in the 12th century and royals visited it throughout the Medieval period. It was also damaged during the English Civil War. Throughout the 19th century, the Great Hall was a law court.
Nowadays, Taunton Castle is home to the fascinating Museum of Somerset. This museum tells the county’s story in its entirety – from the county’s natural landscape to Anglo Saxons in Somerset to how roads and railways transformed the county.
Dunster is actually within the boundary of Exmoor National Park (see below for hiking opportunities here!), and it is one of the most picture-perfect villages in Somerset. However, it’s also worth checking out this village if you’re a history fan. The entire village is one of the best places in the UK for Medieval history; Dunster Castle sits atop Dunster Tor, and the site has been home to a fort for over 1000 years, with a rather turbulent history.
Attractions for nature lovers
Hike the Mendip Way (or shorter Mendip Hikes)
One thing that Somerset excels at is beautiful hills. The Mendips is a collection of hills nestled into a 200km2 area just south of Bristol. There are lots of hikes that you can do in the Mendips, including hiking up to Black Down, the highest peak in the area, or around Three Priddy Droves. All of the day hikes in the Mendips are great day trips from Bristol.
Or, if you want to do an extended hike, try The Mendip Way. This is a 60 mile hike from Weston Super Mare to Frome, traversing the entire Mendips region! Throughout the hike, you’ll be able to take in rural Somerset villages, rolling hills, and you might even see some wild ponies.
Drive through the epic Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is one of the most popular places to visit in Somerset – and the whole of the UK! It’s the deepest and biggest gorge in the country, and is famous for being where the prehistoric remains of Cheddar Man were found.
You can hike around Cheddar Gorge, ascending one of the ladders to take in the epic view before you. It’s definitely one of the best walks near Bristol.
There are loads of other things to do in Cheddar too. Take in the charming restaurants and cafes, as well as sample unpasteurised cheddar cheese (of course) and other local Somerset food. Then, you can visit Gough’s Cave and Dreamweavers, where you can learn about prehistory in the area. There’s also the fascinating Museum of Prehistory that is well worth a visit.
Explore the Western part of Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park is situated partially in Devon, but a large chunk of it is in Somerset. Enjoy villages like Dunster and Porlock, the latter of which has a nice five-kilometre weir loop walk. You can also climb up to Dunkery Beacon, which is the highest altitude in Somerset at 519 metres. There are countless other hikes in Exmoor, including part of the South West Coast Path and the Coast to Coast Devon route.
Taunton and Bridgwater Canal
A charming place for a Somerset walk is the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. It connects the two towns in a 14 mile stretch, but it’s largely rural, with epic views of the Quantock Hills. Somerset had a lot of navigable canals, and this is one of the remaining ones that provides an epic walk through the countryside.
Coleridge Trail and Quantocks Hikes
The Quantocks are another collection of beautiful hills on the Somerset coastline. There are lots of short walks here, as well as the longer Coleridge Way. This spans through the northern part of the Quantocks and into Exmoor.
There are also numerous shorter hikes that you can do in the Quantocks. Here are some of my favourites:
- Walking to Klive Beach from the nearby car park and along Somerset’s Jurassic Coast.
- Staple Plain Walk which goes into a valley and out to the top of a hill.
- Woodland Hill Circular Walk which goes through woodland shrubbery.
Walk over the Clifton Suspension Bridge from Somerset to Bristol!
Bristol is a city and county of its own – it sits sandwiched between North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
The North Somerset border is at the South East edge of the city – about a five-minute walk from where I currently live in Bristol! The Clifton Suspension Bridge links North Somerset with the Bristolian suburb of Clifton to walk over it to cross the border.
Things to do in Somerset with kids
Explore the pier of Weston Super Mare
Weston Super Mare is a famous Somerset seaside town. With an epic pier with rides and a large beach with plenty of space – even on the hottest of summer’s days – it’s an ideal spot for families with children. If you stay at Weston Super Mare, you’ll be close to lots of fun theme parks and other attractions which are perfect for kids, and you’re only a short drive from Bristol!
Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions
Wookey Hole is accessible from wherever you are staying in Somerset. It is a complex of caves and amusements. Enjoy the show-caves, which are some of the best of their kind in the country and the Animatronic Dinosaurs in Dinosaur Valley and Pirate Adventure Golf.
Ebbor Gorge is a nearby natural attraction – so you can easily visit both on the same day.
West and East Somerset Railway
There are two heritage railways in Somerset – the West Somerset Railway and the East Somerset Railway.
These are both wonderful for family days out or rail enthusiasts!
The West Somerset Railway is a branch of the old Great Western Railway, and it is the longest heritage railway in England. Starting in Bishops Lydeard near Taunton, the train traverses past stunning views of Quantock Hills and Exmoor. You’ll get the chance to see Dunster Castle from the window before arriving at Bristol Channel and Minehead, which is the start of the South West Coast Path.
The East Somerset Railway runs through the Mendip Hills on the other side of the county and ends in Shepton Mallet. There are some great experiences available on this train, including Sunday lunches and cream teas.
Ferne Animal Sanctuary
Ferne Animal Sanctuary is a lovely family day out. The sanctuary has been around since just after WW2, and has been a place of refuge for all sorts of animals who would have otherwise been neglected. It’s open for visitors who can say hello to some of the friendly residents.
Brean Leisure Park
Brean Theme Park is located in the small town of Brean, just south of Weston-Super-Mare. It’s a great day out if you’re visiting Somerset with kids and have promised a wholly children-friendly activity during your trip!
Nearby is Brean Sands, a Pontins resort. This could be a great Somerset accommodation option if you want somewhere especially kid-friendly!
Also close to Weston Super Mare is a fun adventure park with high ropes, go-karts and crazy golf, soft play for younger kids, a miniature railway and a farm shop. If you’re looking for something to do with the kids in Somerset, this place will be perfect for everybody!
Chilled out Somerset activities
Bath Thermae Spa
While you’re in the city of Bath, you’ve got to fast forward 2000 years and check out the modern-day spa! Bath Thermae Spa is the only spa in the country that has its own natural thermal spring waters. As well as two lovely swimming pools, including a heated rooftop pool (ideal for cold winter days!) you can enjoy steam rooms and treatment rooms.
Once you’ve bathed to your heart’s content, head to the nearby Pump Rooms for a delicious afternoon tea, or check out one of the many other restaurants in Bath!
Stay in a luxury hotel
There are loads of luxury hotels in the West Country, including a few in Somerset – and with the beautiful surrounding nature, Somerset is an excellent place for a relaxing holiday.
We love Bannatyne’s Hotel in Shepton Mallet for a five-star experience, with modern rooms, delightful service, and luxury amenities. Click here for rates.
Or, you could try Glamping on the Hill, a luxury glamping experience in Mells (near Bath) with a hot tub! Click here to read more.
Or how about these luxury barns with hot tubs near Taunton? You can choose between a two-bedroom or three-bedroom cottage, all of which are beautifully furnished. They are perfect for a girl’s weekend away!
Top Somerset attractions
I hope that this list of Somerset attractions and activities have helped you! Please take the time to browse through the rest of my Somerset posts, as well as the Bristol, Cornwall and Devon sections of this blog.