Ely is a Cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, and is the second smallest city in England. Despite its city status, it is a place full of rural charm and tranquility. Ely is a place to visit to relax, unwind and enjoy some traditional English hospitality. The town centre is compact and easy to walk around and the Waterside area provides plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling and boating.
There are plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to suit every taste and pocket, and visitors can enjoy browsing the art galleries and exhibitions, or listen to live music in the Jubilee Gardens. There is plenty to see and do in Ely for a weekend or a short break, but its location in the heart of the Cambridgeshire fens also makes it an ideal base for exploring the natural beauty and wildlife of the surrounding area.
Ely is perhaps best known for its magnificent medieval cathedral. Its imposing position has gained it the nickname ‘The Ship of the Fens’ and for an incredible view, its unique octagonal central tower can be scaled as part of a Tower Tour. The cathedral is surrounded by gardens and parks and a short walk leads visitors down to the Waterside area of the town, where regular boat trips offer a more relaxing way to explore the local area. To discover more about the fascinating and colourful history of the city, Ely Museum is definitely worth a visit. Housed in the city’s former medieval gaol, exhibits tell the story of the city and area from prehistory to modern times with plenty of hands on displays and activities to keep younger ones amused.
Shopping in Ely combines the convenience of modern high street stores with the charm of lively historic markets and independent shops, all within an easily navigable, compact town centre. Visitors can take the time to browse and rediscover the joy of local crafts, unique gifts, secondhand books and vintage clothing and furniture, or simply sit and have a coffee and watch the world go by.
Ely has a number of important historical properties. Oliver Cromwell’s Seventeenth Century home gives a flavour of life during the English Civil War, whilst the Jacobean Anglesey Abbey delights visitors all year round as the gardens change with the seasons, and exhibits and activities inside the house reflect how life has changed throughout the centuries. Burwell is an open air museum that explores life in a typical fen village from Saxon times, right up to the 1960s, and is a great day out for the whole family.
After a busy day shopping and exploring, there is no end of choice when it comes to dining out in Ely. There are some fabulous places in the centre of town, including the Old Fire Engine House, serving up hearty traditional English favourites like Steak and Kidney Pudding and homemade soups and desserts, and in the Cathedral precinct itself, The Almonry restaurant, serves cream teas during the day, with a full lunch and evening menu also available. There are several restaurants down by the river, all offering the finest in locally sourced traditional or international cuisine, and all with a fabulous view thrown in at no extra cost.
When it comes to accommodation, Ely really does have something for everyone. The city centre has everything from convenient and cheap overnight motels to grand eighteenth century coaching inns. There are charming bed and breakfasts full of antiques and curios and ,for a real taste of rural England, there are many self catered thatched cottage within easy distance of both the centre of Ely and the surrounding countryside.
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