Travel to the prehistoric age, party in the present at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival and taste indulgent specialities in an ancient county full of surprises.
Discover dramatic scenery including unspolit beaches and the sweeping pastures and wild ponies of Exmoor National Park. Somerset is also home to three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty including England’s first, Quantock Hills, plus England’s smallest city, Wells, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bath with its world-renowned Georgian architecture and Roman Baths.
Stare history in the face by visiting hallowed sites like Glastonbury Abbey – the foundations of Christianity in England are reputed to have been established here. Elsewhere, Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found in the caves at Cheddar Gorge and one of the oldest manmade tracks in Europe – the Sweet Track – once ran across the Somerset Levels. Parts of it can still be seen today.
There are also stately homes to explore, including Montacute House, an Elizabethian masterpiece gleaming with stained-glass windows. And don’t forget to jump aboard the West Somerset Railway, the longest standard gauge independent heritage railway in the UK.
Some of Britain’s most iconic names can be found in or have links to Somerset – Cheddar, Glastonbury, Avalon, King Arthur, Alfred the Great and Mulberry to name just a few.
The county is steeped in history, heritage, myths and legends with Somerset inspiring the Romantic poets, Coleridge and Wordsworth, home to the tales of King Arthur and his Knights and the setting for Jane Austen’s characters.
Festivals and events
Somerset knows a thing or two about putting on a celebration. The county’s illuminated carnivals are the biggest in Europe and then of course, there’s the world-famous Glastonbury Festival. Away from the loud music is the Royal Bath and West – the country’s only four day agricultural show.
Wookey Hole Caves and Cheddar Caves and Gorge give you the chance to explore below ground and gaze back to the prehistoric age. Somerset also has one of the longest stretches of sandy beach in Europe, as well as the world’s second highest tidal range, making for some fascinating natural spectacles. It’s not all sand however, there’s also Somerset’s own Jurassic Coast with fossils and complex geology as well as wooded cliff tops to explore. You can stare back in time come night time too; Exmoor National Park is the Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the best places for stargazing.
Food and drink
Taste Cheddar cheese cider and strawberries and visit bustling farmers’ markets in quintessential English villages, many complete with thatched roof cottages and winding roads. Don’t go home with trying Thatchers Cider, which has been produced in Sandford for more than a hundred years, or some cheese from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, one of the few places in the country where Cheddar Cheese – developed in the village of the same name a thousand years ago – is still made by hand. You can even arrange a tour to watch the process.
Don’t miss out on sampling a Somerset cream tea either, served with homemade scones, farmhouse clotted cream and Whortleberry jam which is unique to the Exmoor area.
Where to stay
Choose between boutique hotels, cosy B&Bs, all-inclusive holiday parks or self-catering country cottageswhich are ideal for walking, cycling, fishing and much more.