Ely is an enchanting cathedral city where you can walk in the footsteps of English icons like William the Conqueror and Oliver Cromwell. Beyond the magnificent cathedral, you’ll find excellent local history museums and a charming town centre filled with shops, tearooms and cosy pubs. Ely is also a gateway to The Fens, a wildlife-rich region of marshes and wetlands.
Things to do in Ely
Ely Cathedral dominates the skyline and recalls the town’s ancient past. It’s nicknamed the “Ship of the Fens” and can be seen for miles in all directions, with the earliest mentions of the cathedral dating back to AD 673. You’ll be amazed by the soaring Gothic arches and beautiful chapel, as well as the light that streams into the nave through shimmering stained-glass windows. Guided tours take you up the octagon-shaped tower and unlock sweeping views over The Fens.
Ely Museum occupies the former jail and introduces you to the town’s turbulent past. Peer into gloomy prison cells and check out exhibits on the Anglo-Saxon, Roman and Neolithic periods. Other displays spotlight ancient trades like eel fishing and leather smithing.
Learn about the legacy of a famous English statesman at Oliver Cromwell's House. The museum occupies the half-timbered house home where the Cromwell family once lived. Walk through rooms furnished with period furniture and view features thought-provoking exhibits on Puritans and the English Civil War.
Escape to Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve and discover the lush wetland ecosystem. It’s one of the oldest National Trust reserves in England and is an important habitat for rare and endangered birds. Scenic trails and boardwalks take you past reedbeds, grasslands and wildflower-strewn meadows. Stop for a soup and sandwich at the charming café.
Getting around Ely
Ely is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. The town is a 45-minute drive from Cambridge and three hours from London, while trains are faster and run between London and Ely in under 1.5 hours. Heathrow Airport is a 2.5-hour drive away.