The best places to stay in Somerset

Accommodation, Coastal, Activity

Posted by Kate A on 23rd March 2020



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Wells in SomersetAdmire the magnificent cathedral during a break in Wells

A delightful combination of high cliffs, golden beaches, and sandy coves of the coast, with the rolling hills and sweeping moorland of the countryside, means there is a diverse selection of places to stay in Somerset. One of the most beautiful regions in the South West, there is everything from peaceful chocolate-box country villages to vibrant seaside towns where couples, families and groups can call home for a while.

With so many incredible Somerset towns and villages to choose from, we have picked out a few of the best which offer lots to do during your stay. Including picture-postcard villages nestled in the Exmoor National Park, traditional Victorian seaside resorts buzzing with family attractions, and ancient cities brimming with history, read on to discover the top places to visit in Somerset.

If you would rather jump right into browsing exciting staycations, take a look through our beautiful holiday cottages in Somerset.

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Bath

Bath: best for history buffs

The only city in the UK designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Bath is one of the best places to visit in Somerset for those with a love of history. At the heart of this cosmopolitan city are the Roman Baths which draw visitors from around the globe. You can experience the restorative thermal waters for yourself at the Thermae Bath Spa where a rooftop pool offers panoramic views over the spectacular Regency architecture of the city.

Discover more about Bath’s fascinating past and its most famous residents, including Jane Austen, William Herschel and William Thomas Beckford, with a visit to one of the many art galleries and museums such as the Jane Austen Centre, Victoria Art Gallery and No.1 Royal Crescent.

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Wells

Wells: best for couples

Wells may be England’s smallest city, but it's jam-packed with so much to see and do. One of the best places to stay in Somerset for adults, there are over 300 listed buildings to admire, a number of ancient monuments to explore and a wealth of independent shops, bars and cafes to enjoy. Wander its narrow, cobbled streets, marvel at its medieval architecture and watch swans cleverly ring a bell to be fed on the moat of the imperious 13th-century Bishop’s Palace.

The undoubted pinnacle of the city is Wells Cathedral, a Gothic building of unrivalled historical significance and beauty. It boasts one of the largest collections of historic stained glass in the country, the famous Wells Clock which is considered the second-oldest clock mechanism in Great Britain, and one of only four chained libraries in the UK. Adjoining the cathedral is Vicars’ Close, thought to be Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited street.

Highlights:

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Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare: best for families

When it comes to seaside resorts, Weston-super-Mare is the perfect place to bring the family and delight in some traditional bucket and spade fun. There’s an enormous sandy beach that goes out for miles at low tide and is brilliant for building sandcastles, then there’s the Grand Pier which offers a host of amusements, plus you’ll find all manner of museums, an aquarium, a miniature railway, go-karting, fair games and donkey rides.

One of the most vibrant Somerset towns, you can walk along the promenade, diving in and out of cafes, bars and restaurants, before getting a bird’s eye view of the town from the Wheel of Weston. Those seeking an adrenaline rush can head back to the beach to seek out wind and water sports or, for less energetic ways to enjoy the water, hop aboard one of the many boat trips available.

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Glastonbury

Glastonbury: best for festivalgoers

Famous for the biggest performing arts festival in Britain that holds its name, Glastonbury is a lively market town which is shrouded in history, myth and legend. As well as Glastonbury Festival, an electrifying kaleidoscope of colour, culture and entertainment, this unique town is also home to a few more peculiar tourist spots.

Glastonbury’s mystical tor has been a point of religious and spiritual significance for over 1,000 years and offers breathtaking views over Somerset’s rolling greenery from the summit. There’s also the atmospheric ruins of one of England's oldest abbeys, Glastonbury Abbey, which is the reputed burial location of King Arthur. Add to this the Chalice Well which is believed to have healing properties, and an eclectic mix of shops offering quirky clothes, crystals, jewellery and charms, and you’ll soon see why this is one of the best towns in Somerset for attracting a rather New Age community.

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Cheddar

Cheddar: best for walkers

Cheddar is one of the best villages in Somerset for lovers of the outdoors, with one of Britain’s most extraordinary natural wonders in its backyard. The largest gorge in the UK, Cheddar Gorge is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and descends almost 140 metres at its deepest points. It can be explored via a public road which runs through the ravine or by footpaths along the top of the cliffs where you can drink in spectacular 360-degree views of the Mendip Hills. Also worth exploring are Cheddar Reservoir, the Strawberry Line which is a popular 30-mile walking and cycling route, and Cheddar Caves where Britain’s oldest skeleton was once found.

This pretty Somerset village is also known as the home of the nation’s favourite cheese, Cheddar! This classic treat has been produced in the village since the 12th century and, to this day, the cheese is stored in the Cheddar Caves to mature and can be sampled in the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company’s shop.

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Frome

Frome: best for shopaholics

Boasting hundreds of independent boutiques, a lively arts scene and a thriving street market, Frome is the perfect destination for anyone who likes to splash their cash. With its olde-worlde charm, this much-loved Somerset town has a bustling atmosphere and there is all manner of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Frome Festival, Ten Days of Music and Comedy, and the Frome Agricultural and Cheese Show.

The charming cobbled street of Catherine Hill is a great spot for some retail therapy, where artists, musicians and entrepreneurs have set up home. Dubbed as the ‘Artisan Quarter’, you’ll find everything from vintage emporiums to top-notch tailors, as well as artist’s galleries, herbal apothecaries, bespoke jewellery studios, cosy tearooms and vinyl record shops. Cheap Street is another favourite, and then there are the markets… The Frome Independent street market is one of the UK’s most popular destination markets and showcases the very best produce and crafts from the South West, while the well-established Farmers' Market sells a huge array of local delicacies from the Cheese & Grain Market Hall. There’s also a Vegan Market, Country Market and a Collectors and Flea Market!

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Dunster

Dunster: best for four-legged family members

Nestled in the sweeping hills of Exmoor National Park, Dunster is one of the prettiest Somerset villages. It’s also an idyllic spot for a dog-friendly getaway, with myriad scenic walks and pet-friendly attractions within easy reach. Beautifully preserved in time, the charming medieval streets are lined with tearooms, traditional pubs, boutique shops, and over 200 listed buildings including the 17th-century octagonal Yarn Market. The jewel in the crown is the mighty Dunster Castle and its watermill, owned by the National Trust – dogs are welcome in the grounds.

Pull on your walking boots and set out on a ramble across Exmoor where you might spot free-roaming Exmoor ponies, or let your pup run along the sand of Dunster Beach. The South West Coast Path offers more tail-wagging adventures or, for canines who like to take it easy, hop aboard the dog-friendly West Somerset Railway and enjoy a magical journey by steam to the neighbouring seaside town of Minehead.

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Shepton Mallet credit: Instagram @sheptonmalletlove

Shepton Mallet: best for cider lovers

Tucked within the verdant folds of the Mendips, Shepton Mallet is best known for its award-winning cider. There has been a cider-making tradition in this colourful market town in Somerset for around 100 years - Brothers Cider is one of the top cider makers here as well as the brewer of sparkling perry, Babycham. You can enjoy a refreshing glass, or two, in one of Shepton Mallet’s many friendly pubs, including The Dusthole and The Swan.

The town is also home to Shepton Mallet Prison, one of England’s oldest jails. Having closed its doors in 2013, you can now immerse yourself in its fascinating history with a tour or take part in a 12-hour ‘night behind bars’ experience and sample a short prison sentence of your own. Those who fancy a little retail therapy will revel in a trip to the shopper’s paradise of Kilver Court which boasts a great selection of designer labels at discounted prices as well as 3 acres of breathtaking gardens under the Charlton Viaduct. And on a sunny day, nothing beats a cool dip in the Shepton Mallet Lido.

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Taunton

Taunton: best for groups of friends

Surrounded by the spectacular landscapes of the Somerset Levels and Quantock Hills, and with enough exciting attractions to have inspired its very own Monopoly board, Taunton is certainly a popular destination for holidays in Somerset. An unrivalled hub of activity, there is an abundance of shopping spots, eateries and leisure facilities to keep everyone entertained. A stroll along the high street leads to 7.5 hectares of lush greenery at Vivary Park, with boating ponds, a play area, model railway, putting green and an 18-hole golf course.

Within Taunton Castle is the Museum of Somerset if you fancy discovering more about the intriguing history of the county, or you can while away an afternoon at Hestercombe House and Gardens, one of Taunton’s grandest heritage sites which has the most sublime formal gardens. Nature lovers can enjoy a ramble alongside the River Tone, cyclists can follow the Somerset Towpath, and fans of cricket can catch a game at Somerset County Cricket Club.

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Need more inspiration?

We know Somerset inside out and we've got the best advice on where to go and what to do, whether you're a family (with or without a canine companion), a group of friends or a couple seeking a romantic escape. Check out these guides for even more Somerset holiday ideas:

If you've already decided where you're going to spend your next break in Somerset, find a place to stay from our collection of Somerset cottages.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.