Things to do in Ely

About Ely

Visitors to Ely should not miss the iconic Ely Cathedral with its stunning architecture, the historical Oliver Cromwell's House, and the serene waterside of the River Great Ouse. The Stained Glass Museum also offers a fascinating insight into the artistry behind stained glass works.
For families, Ely offers the interactive Ely Museum, the wildlife-rich Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, and picnicking or playing in the expansive Jubilee Gardens.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy walking along the Ely Riverside, birdwatching at Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, or cycling the picturesque Fenland routes.
Indoors, visitors can explore the rich history at the Ely Museum, admire the beauty at The Stained Glass Museum, or enjoy cultural events at The Maltings.
The best Ely tours include the Ely Cathedral guided tours, historical walks through the city, and the Ely River boat tours.
The most popular museums include the Ely Museum, The Stained Glass Museum, and Oliver Cromwell's House.
On rainy days, indoor tours of Ely Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell's House offer sheltered historical explorations, as well as The Stained Glass Museum.
Short tours in Ely can include quick, self-led walks around the historic city center or a brief guided tour of the Ely Cathedral.

Best Things to Do In Ely

Discover the rich history and charm as you explore the best things to do in Ely, from its famous Cathedral to riverside walks.

Ely: Jubilee Gardens

What is it?
A serene park in the heart of Ely, celebrated for its floral displays and riverside location.
Why you should go?
The Jubilee Gardens are a horticultural delight and a peaceful retreat for visitors and locals alike. Offering panoramic views of the Ely Cathedral, these well-maintained gardens provide a perfect setting for relaxation and leisure. Regular events such as concerts and fairs make it one of the fun things to do in Ely, offering entertainment amidst the natural beauty. Whether for a picnic, a leisurely stroll, or simply to admire the seasonal blooms, these gardens are a must-visit.

Ely: The Maltings

What is it?
A historic riverside building now serving as a unique cultural and arts venue.
Why you should go?
Located along the Great Ouse River, The Maltings stands as a testament to Ely's industrial past and present-day cultural scene. Having been transformed into a multi-purpose venue, it hosts a wide range of events, from theatre performances to weddings, making it a dynamic addition to the best things to do in Ely. Its picturesque setting and versatile space invite visitors to enjoy the rich tapestry of events offered year-round.

Ely: Ely's Historic Farmer's Market

What is it?
A bustling local farmer's market offering fresh produce and artisanal goods.
Why you should go?
At Ely's Historic Farmer's Market, visitors can immerse themselves in the region's agricultural heritage by engaging with local producers and craftspeople. Held every 2nd and 4th Saturday, the market is a hub for sampling and purchasing home-grown fruits, vegetables, meats, sweets, and handcrafted items. It embodies the communal spirit and is a highlight for those looking for places to visit in Ely to experience local flavors and crafts.

Ely: Ted Coney's Family Portraits

What is it?
An art gallery specializing in contemporary family portraits by artist Ted Coney.
Why you should go?
Ted Coney's Family Portraits is an art space that offers a unique narrative on family relationships and dynamics through the medium of art. Visitors exploring Ely tours often seek out this gallery to contemplate the thought-provoking pieces and enjoy the intimate setting. The chance to discuss the works with the artist himself provides a personal touch, making this attraction a hidden gem within the city's cultural offerings.

Ely: The Ely Spy Mission Treasure Trail

What is it?
An interactive treasure trail adventure that takes participants around the city's landmarks.
Why you should go?
For a more playful take on Ely activities, the Spy Mission Treasure Trail offers an exciting way to see the city. Suitable for families, groups, or individual explorers, this self-led adventure weaves through historic streets, providing clues and puzzles that reveal the city's secrets. It's a fun thing to do in Ely, combining sightseeing with the thrill of a scavenger hunt, perfect for active minds and those ready to discover Ely's hidden tales.

Ely: Ely Cathedral

What is it?
A majestic Norman-era cathedral with stunning Gothic architecture.
Why you should go?
Standing as a testament to the grandeur of medieval craftsmanship, Ely Cathedral is known as the "Ship of the Fens" for its prominent visibility across the flatlands. It's a beacon of history and spirituality, inviting visitors to awe at its octagonal tower, intricate stained glass windows, and rich choral music. One of the key things to see in Ely, the Cathedral offers guided tours that delve deep into its architectural wonders and storied past.

Ely: Oliver Cromwell's House

What is it?
A historically significant home turned museum dedicated to Oliver Cromwell.
Why you should go?
Once the residence of Oliver Cromwell, this well-preserved house provides a unique window into 17th-century life. Ely excursions often include this attraction, inviting history enthusiasts to explore the period rooms and learn about Cromwell's impact on the Civil War and British history. Interactive displays and a rich narrative make this an engaging Ely activity for all ages.

Ely: Ely Museum

What is it?
A local history museum located in the old Gaol of Ely.
Why you should go?
Ely Museum is a treasure trove of local heritage, encapsulating the rich tapestry of Ely's past, right from the prehistoric times to the modern day. As one of the places to visit in Ely, the museum offers immersive exhibits, including fossil displays, historical artifacts, and tales of fenland life, perfect for families and history buffs interested in uncovering the layers of this charming city's history.

Ely: Wicken Fen Nature Reserve

What is it?
An expansive wetland nature reserve offering rich biodiversity.
Why you should go?
For those seeking Ely activities that connect with nature, Wicken Fen is the place to be. As the oldest nature reserve managed by the National Trust, visitors can indulge in bird watching, explore boardwalk trails, and encounter a diverse range of wildlife. The reserve's tranquil landscapes are perfect for rejuvenating walks or engaging family picnics, making it a highlight for fun things to do in Ely.

Ely: The Stained Glass Museum

What is it?
An artistic institution dedicated to the art of stained glass.
Why you should go?
Located within the Ely Cathedral, The Stained Glass Museum celebrates the vibrant history and craft of stained glass. As an extrinsic part of Ely tours, the museum showcases an exquisite collection, from medieval to contemporary pieces. Art lovers and curious visitors can enjoy detailed works up close and appreciate both the artistic and historical significance of this age-old craft that has adorned sacred and secular buildings alike.

TOP-5 tours in Ely for first time visitors

  • Embark on a historical journey with the "Cathedral and Cloisters Tour," highlighting what to see in Ely, especially its Gothic architecture and religious art.
  • Delve into the quaint streets with the "Ely Heritage Walk," ranking high on Ely activities for a blend of culture, history, and architecture.
  • The "Riverside Ramble" audio guide offers fun things to do in Ely, introducing the serene paths and wildlife along the waterways.
  • "Market Town Marvels" allows one to experience the best Ely tours featuring the bustling markets amidst an ancient setting.
  • Explore thriving contemporary culture with "Art & Ale Trail," a go-to for what to do in Ely for an insight into local crafts and cuisine.

Fun things to do in Ely with kids

Tucked away in the picturesque Cambridgeshire countryside, Ely offers an array of attractions perfect for young adventurers and their families. First on the list is the enchanting Ely Cathedral, a marvel for all ages with its towering spires and intricate design. The cathedral often holds family-friendly events, tours, and activities that educate and fascinate in equal measure. Revel in the Kid's Trail, where youngsters engage with the cathedral's history in a fun and interactive way. Next, venture to the Ely Museum, housed in the city's former gaol. This interactive museum presents the rich history of the area with hands-on exhibits that inspire a love for learning. Children are transported through time, exploring Ely's Ice Age past up to the 20th century, making it a must-visit for curious minds. Finally, head outside for a breath of fresh air at the Jubilee Gardens. With ample green space, a children's play area, and paths suitable for little explorers, these gardens offer a perfect spot for a family picnic and an afternoon of carefree fun surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Things to do in Ely with family

The city of Ely, nestled in the heart of Cambridgeshire, is a family-friendly destination brimming with activities that cater to a variety of interests. Begin your family's journey with a visit to the awe-inspiring Ely Cathedral. Known for its stunning architecture and historic significance, the cathedral not only offers a visual feast but also interactive tours designed to captivate the imaginations of both children and adults. For an educational experience, the Ely Museum, set in a former gaol, provides fascinating insights into local history through hands-on exhibits. Children can learn about everything from ancient fossils to the lifestyle of fenland inhabitants, making it a perfect family excursion that combines fun with learning. Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in a trip to the Wicken Fen Nature Reserve. As one of the best Ely activities for families, it offers picturesque walking trails, diverse wildlife, and the chance to enjoy nature's tranquility. Whether looking to spot birds, embark on a cycling adventure, or partake in a family picnic, Wicken Fen provides an idyllic setting for making cherished family memories.

Free things to do in Ely

Ely, a gem in the Cambridgeshire landscape, offers a wealth of experiences that don't cost a thing, making it an ideal location for visitors who wish to immerse themselves in culture and history on a budget. A must-visit is the Ely Cathedral, a grand structure with an imposing presence. While there is usually an entrance fee, the Cathedral offers free admission on certain days of the week, allowing families to explore its majestic interior and learn about its fascinating history at no cost. The city also prides itself on its green spaces, and the Jubilee Gardens are among the finest, offering a tranquil escape with beautifully landscaped flower beds and a relaxing atmosphere. It's an ideal spot for a leisurely walk, a family picnic, and watching the world go by. Lastly, meander through the Ely Markets held every week in the city center. Discover the heart of the community where locals and visitors alike can browse an array of stalls without spending a penny, unless tempted by the local produce and artisan goods.

Cheap things to do in Ely

Explorers on a budget will find Ely's historical allure not only engaging but also affordable. For a minimal fee, step into the Oliver Cromwell's House, where the illustrious past of one of England's most controversial figures comes to life. This well-preserved residence offers an economic ticket option, providing a rich, cost-effective historical outing. For those eager to immerse themselves in local tradition, the vibrant Ely Markets present an inexpensive and culturally enriching experience. Roaming through the stalls filled with handcrafted items, fresh produce, and unique finds requires no more than the desire to explore and enjoy the bustling atmosphere. Another economical option is spending time at the picturesque Ely riverside. Soak in the beauty of the Great Ouse River, watch elegant boats glide by, and let the children play in the nearby parks. This idyllic setting is a perfect spot for a low-cost day out, complete with the simple joys of nature and leisure.

Things to do in Ely for couples

Ely offers a romantic backdrop for couples, with a range of activities that inspire love and connection. Begin with a leisurely stroll along the Ely Riverside, enjoying the tranquil surroundings and picturesque views. It's a peaceful retreat where couples can share a quiet moment or partake in a scenic riverboat cruise. For a touch of culture, visit the Stained Glass Museum within Ely Cathedral. This unique museum exhibits an extraordinary collection of stained glass windows, providing an enchanting visual experience that couples can appreciate together. End the day with a captivating performance at the Ely Maltings, a historic building turned into a cultural hub. Offering a variety of performances from theatre to live music, it makes for an ideal date night, where couples can indulge in the arts and enjoy each other's company in a distinctive setting.

Things to do in Ely at night

When the sun sets, Ely's charm does not fade; it transforms, offering a variety of nocturnal pleasures. Couples and night owls alike will discover that star-gazing at the Wicken Fen Nature Reserve is a fascinating nocturnal activity. Away from the city lights, the dark sky becomes a canvas for the ethereal beauty of the stars, providing a quiet and romantic escape. Following nature's display, enjoy the convivial atmosphere of Ely's waterside pubs and restaurants. The Prince Albert, perched by the riverside, offers a local haunt with live music nights and a selection of drinks, allowing visitors to soak in the local nightlife. For those interested in the arts, an evening at the Ely Cinema at The Maltings can cap the night with the latest films and classic movies in a historic venue, perfect for an evening entertainment within a stone's throw of the glistening river.