Where to Visit
Nestling under the big skies of the Fen countryside, in the shadow of its magnificent cathedral, Ely offers a wealth of attractions and things to do. As the second smallest city in England, it is compact enough to explore on foot, but large enough to fill a full day and more. Close to Cambridge and Newmarket and within easy reach of the Suffolk and North Norfolk coast, Ely is your perfect base for exploring this beautiful area.
The first port of call for any visitor to Ely today will almost certainly be the Cathedral. This imposing structure towers across the fens for miles around. Dominating the skyline, it is one of England's most beautiful and largest Cathedrals. Known locally as the 'Ship of the Fens' it is famous for its unique Octagon tower, which when lit can be seen for tens of miles. The Cathedral is also home to the only national museum dedicated to Stained Glass. If it's history you're interested in then Ely Museum, housed in the city's old gaol, is an excellent place to start.
Ely's most famous historical resident of Ely was of course Oliver Cromwell. The Cromwell family lived in Ely for some 10 years and today you can visit their former house which has been recreated to demonstrate what 17th Century domestic life would have been like along with an exhibition on the civil war. It also doubles as the Tourist Information Centre.
Ely has a beautiful waterside area, which is an attraction within itself, where you can explore the many cafes and restaurants or visit the art galleries. Alternatively, simply take time out to relax and watch the river boats pass by. Another great place to visit in Ely.
Ely is located in the midst of East Cambridgeshire's unspoilt unique countryside and is just waiting for you to explore. The peat-black Fens reclaimed from their natural marsh state are criss-crossed by rivers and drainage channels and blessed by glorious sunsets, big skies and dramatic skylines. The towns and villages are delightfully rural, many with riverside locations and their own independent shops and public houses. Unlock the secrets of the Fens at Prickwillow Drainage Museum, Burwell Museum or marvel at the many windmills dotted around the landscape and absorb the incredible surroundings of Wicken Fen.
The district is a close neighbour to Newmarket, the home of horseracing which is just 15 miles away and the home of both the July Racecourse in the summer and the Rowley Mile which is used in the spring and autumn months.
Equally, the world famous academic centre, Cambridge is close by with its stunning architecture and majestic college buildings. With culture at its bedrock, Cambridge is also home to a selection of unique and specialist museums.
The coastlines of North Norfolk and Suffolk are just over an hour's drive away or for a faster pace of life, Ely has an hourly train service running to London. Demonstrating that Ely is the perfect base for those wishing to stay longer.
Need inspiration for things to do in Ely? Check out our blog '52 Things to do in Ely'