Things to do in Glastonbury

Things to do

Things to do in Glastonbury

Mention Glastonbury to most people and muddy wellies and vibrant music might spring to mind. However, there’s so much more to this fascinating, beautiful, and quirky town that lies in the peaceful county of Somerset.

With a history dating back thousands of years and connections to King Arthur, Glastonbury has its fair share of history, myth, and legend, and in no other place do these three blend together so seamlessly. From mystical mounds and holy wells to romantic ruins and will o’ the wisp marshes, it’s said that the atmosphere here is like no other. 

It’s no surprise then that the town draws the spiritually inclined. The streets waft with incense and retreats, temples, and creative spaces wait around each corner – a change from the high street shops found in most towns.

There’s no denying that it’s a beautiful town that’s great to stroll around whatever your spiritual inclination. Embark in a little shopping and find exceptional places to eat and drink, or set out on one of the fantastic walks in the surrounding area for a breath of fresh country air.

So whether you’re a spiritual dreamer, an avid historian, or a lover of the natural world, there’s something for everyone. Here are our top choices of what to see and do when visiting the oh-so-unique town of Glastonbury.


Glastonbury Tor

The ruins of a church sat on top of Glastonbury Tor in Somerset

Rising majestically above the Somerset Levels, Glastonbury Tor boasts some of the county’s most iconic views, making it a favourite when visiting Somerset. Over the years it’s been an Iron Age settlement, a Roman lookout point and finally a church during the Dark Ages. The original church collapsed after an earthquake, and the tower that stands today is all that remains of St Michael’s Church, which was ruined during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

With its ethereal energy and unusual appearance, it’s not surprising that the Tor also has a host of legends connected to it. Throughout the ages it’s been believed to be the home of the King of the Fairies, where King Arthur was brought after being mortally wounded in battle, and where the Holy Grail is buried. Another feature that lends the site an otherworldly feel is the Neolithic, and almost labyrinthine, maze that circles around the Tor.

With all the history and magic surrounding it, a climb up the Tor is a must when visiting Glastonbury – it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Somerset. It’s a 15-20 minute walk from the town centre, but the National Trust does provide a shuttle bus to and from the site as well. For a more gradual route to the top, take the path from Wellhouse Lane or you can follow the Glastonbury Labyrinth in the footsteps of pilgrims past. You can see for miles at the peak - even to the sea on a clear day - so make sure you allow yourself enough time to soak up the views. Managed by the National Trust, there’s no charge to visit, but it’s very popular so the earlier or later you can visit the better – the sunsets are particularly spectacular.


Chalice Well

One of the tiered water features at Chalice Well in Glastonbury

For over 2,000 years people have been making the pilgrimage to this beautiful spot. Nestled in the Vale of Avalon at the foot of Glastonbury Tor and Chalice Hill, an ancient spring flows from the ground known as the Chalice Well. So-called because it’s thought that the Holy Grail was either washed or buried here, it consistently produces 25,000 gallons (13,650 litres) of water a day. Rich in the iron that colours the water a rusty red colour, it has never known to have failed – in the years 1921-1922 when there was a severe drought, it was the only reason that the town survived.

Today, the holy well is a living sanctuary and offers a safe and peaceful escape away from the busyness of everyday life. Set within 4 acres of beautiful, Grade I-listed gardens, take time to stroll around or maybe find a quiet corner to take in the tranquil ambience. Slip off your shoes and wade through the healing pool, which is said to have beneficial qualities, or enjoy a picnic in the meadow at the top of the garden. Before you leave, take a peek in the shop where you’ll find lots of inspiring gifts to remind you of your visit, including herbal essences which are made on site.


Ham Wall

Three birds in the water at Ham Wall nature reserve in Glastonbury

For spectacular views and incredible nature, head to the astonishing nature reserve at Ham Wall. Created by the RSPB following the end of peat extraction in the area, it has been transformed into a wildlife-rich wetland with secluded paths and stunning views over the marshland towards Glastonbury Tor. 

As you walk, you might be lucky to hear or see the elusive and fascinating ‘booming’ Bittern, glimpse otters and water voles among the reeds, and spy marsh frogs and great crested newts in the brackish waters. In winter at dusk, it’s the perfect spot to watch the memorable displays of the starlings as they gather to roost.


White Spring

The Victorian building surrounding White Spring in Glastonbury

Hidden away in the base of Glastonbury Tor lies the mysterious White Spring, so-named for its milky colour, caused by mineral-rich calcite. During the Victorian era, a beautiful well house was built around the spring, with three domed vaults rising 16ft high over the waters and a series of pools formed in line with the principles of sacred geometry. Illuminated only by candlelight, it’s a stark contrast to the sunny setting of the Chalice Well, with a magical, otherworldly feel to it. With shrines honouring St Brigid, the Lady of Avalon, and the King of the Realm of Faery, it’s easy to feel like you’ve slipped into another time and place.

Open in the afternoons and free to visit, everyone is welcome here. It’s a little slippery with three steps down to the spring, so give your eyes time to adjust, and there’s a side entrance for those with limited mobility. You’re welcome to dip your feet in or even fully submerge yourself, you just need to let the volunteers know beforehand. It’s a sacred spot so cameras and mobile phones must be kept in pockets to maintain the spring’s special atmosphere.


Glastonbury Abbey

The famous ruins of Glastonbury Abbey

With its origins dating back as far as the 1st century, and starting life off as a church before developing into the majestic abbey by the end of the 13th century, Glastonbury Abbey is without a doubt one of Britain’s most venerable buildings. Swathed in myth and legend, the abbey is a possible resting place of King Arthur and Guinevere. Another claim is that Joseph of Arimathea, a follower of Christ, not only brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury but actually founded the abbey – and that the holy thorn tree that grows in the grounds descends from his staff.

Today, the Abbey offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, with its towering ruins set within 36 acres of peaceful parkland to discover. You can explore the abbey by yourself, or for a unique insight you can join one of the free guided tours. There’s a café and shop on site too, or you’re more than welcome to picnic in the grounds.



An assortment of gem stones and carvings in a shop in Glastonbury

No visit to this extraordinary town is complete without exploring the quirky shops that line its pavements. Whether you’re into crystals, tarot, ley lines and the whole spiritual scene or simply love a rummage, you’ll find a veritable treasure trove of shops to explore. And at Christmas, the magical Frost Fayre offers a snowstorm of stalls to browse.

There are also lots of places for fairtrade and imported gifts, as well as organic food and drink, so just sit back with coffee and cake and let the world go by, or head to one of the fantastic book shops and get yourself a page turner for your holiday. If you happen to be visiting on a Tuesday, there’s a great market, while a farmer’s market takes place on the fourth Saturday each month, offering the perfect opportunity to pick up some goodies to take back to your holiday cottage.

For a bit of bargain hunting, you can head to Clarks Village, which sits just outside Glastonbury and promises a wide variety of popular brands at discount prices. There are plenty of places to eat and drink too, so you’ll never run out of energy. Children will love the adventure play park and there’s lots of easy parking.


Want to discover this fabulously unique town for yourself? Take a look at our beautiful cottages in Glastonbury and start planning your magical getaway today.

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