From ancient myths and religious history to great shopping and a world-famous music festival, those looking for interesting places to visit in Glastonbury will be blown away by this small but fascinating destination.
Glastonbury is most known for hosting the Glastonbury Music Festival as well as its links to both Joseph of Arimathea and King Arthur but that’s not all there is to discover and explore here!
In this post, we’ll be sharing our top picks for places to visit in Glastonbury, including the most mysterious locations and some more practical, but still fun, spots.
We hope you enjoy learning about this quirky town and be sure to let us know in the comments which Glastonbury must-sees we should add to our list!
The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey are one of the major Glastonbury tourist attractions every visitor comes to see, and not only because they date back to at least the 8th century.
Located at the base of Glastonbury Tor, the original Glastonbury Abbey was destroyed by a fire in 1184 but then rebuilt and by the 14th century was one of the most powerful monasteries in England.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the last abbot, Richard Whiting, was hung, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor for being a traitor to the crown since he wouldn’t give up his loyalty to Rome.
The abbey has also long been associated with King Arthur; in 1191 the tomb of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere was allegedly discovered here, as Glastonbury Tor was also often believed to be Avalon from the Arthurian legends. Whether or not you believe this to be true (most historians agree that it was probably made up), the ruins are quite beautiful and well worth visiting.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: Tickets to visit Glastonbury Abbey cost 11 GBP for adults, and with every adult ticket two under 16-year-olds can visit for free (in an effort to encourage more families to visit). Dogs on leads are also allowed within the grounds of the abbey ruins.
Glastonbury Tor is, without a doubt, one of the most important and famous Glastonbury attractions.
A tor is simply a word for a hill or rocky peak, and Glastonbury Tor is the main hill located in Glastonbury, that can be seen from miles around. At the very top of the tor is St Michael’s Tower, the only remaining structure of the several buildings which have been constructed here over the centuries.
While today Glastonbury Tor is a hill, it was once surrounded by marshland or fens so it used to be an island and was often associated with the myth of the island of Avalon, the final resting place of King Arthur. The tor is also an interesting location for anyone who’s into geology, as it’s formed by rocks dating as far back as the Jurassic Period.
There’s a zig-zag path up the tor which starts at Wellhouse Lane (just before the White Spring) and while it is an uphill walk the slope is mostly gentle, with a few steeper spots. You will need a reasonable level of fitness to make the ascent…
But let’s be honest… it’s tough to resist these views once you make it to the top:
Glastonbury has long been a magnet for spiritual visitors, and one of the top places to experience the town’s unique energy is the famous Chalice Well and Gardens, famed for its peaceful gardens, healing waters and ability “to soothe the soul and revive the spirits”.
The Chalice Well is a site steeped in myth and mystery. From claims that the Holy Grail was buried there to popular origin stories involving Joseph of Arimathea, this really is one of the most unique places to visit in South West England.
And for those interested in tasting the healing waters for themselves, yes – you can drink from the Chalice Well’s famous Lion Fountain… although beware that the iron content makes the water taste a little…. different.
The White Spring
Another one of the most unusual places to visit in Glastonbury is the White Spring, which is located across the road from the Chalice Well.
The most unique aspect of the two springs at Glastonbury Tor is that the Chalice Well is touched red by iron deposits but the white spring has been touched by calcite deposits. Both springs, however, rise up from the same caverns beneath the tor and are believed to have healing properties.
The White Spring is now housed in a Victorian pump house featuring beautiful domed vaults, bowed floors, simple shrines and a series of pools in sacred shapes. It’s quite a different style and feeling to the Chalice Well, with regular spiritual ceremonies, meditations and seasonal events held here.
It’s also free to visit and you can even submerge yourself in the temple pool so long as you let the keeper on duty know beforehand.
The George & Pilgrims Inn
If you’re looking to experience a bit of history along with a pint (and maybe a cosy spot to stay!) then the George & Pilgrims Hotel is one of the best places to visit in Glastonbury.
Constructed in the 15th century, the original Pilgrims’ Inn here was specifically built to house visitors to Glastonbury Abbey.
In the 19th century, the building was known as the George Hotel, so the current name honours both parts of its history.
Make sure to take note of the tracery panels, stone columns and coats of arms on the exterior of the building. There’s also a crenellated parapet and bell tower on the roof.
You can visit the hotel for a drink or a meal and even stay overnight in one of the charming rooms, most of which have four-poster beds. The food is classic British with a French influence and it’s particularly cosy by the fire in winter plus there’s a garden space to enjoy during the warmer months.
Glastonbury High Street
You might not have expected a list of Glastonbury destinations to include a street, but besides unique sights, another thing that sets Glastonbury apart is its impressive collection of shops.
Stroll down Glastonbury High Street and you’ll encounter a variety of shops that reflect the town’s unique character, selling everything from crystals and witchcraft supplies to fairy accessories and many a patterned poncho. Bookworms will also be in heaven, with at least four different bookshops featuring mystical names such as The Speaking Tree Shop and The Goddess and the Green Man.
There are also plenty of excellent and quirky cafés and restaurants here, such as the colourful Rainbow’s End Cafe, which is completely vegetarian. Additionally, there are a number of thrift shops, gift shops and art galleries to explore.
Somerset Rural Life Museum
The Somerset Rural Life Museum is a great antidote to all the myth and mystery surrounding the town, and one of the best ‘earthy’ things to see in Glastonbury.
Located in buildings surrounding the 14th-century barn that used to be part of the abbey, this museum focuses on the social and agricultural history of Glastonbury. The main barn was used to store produce from Glastonbury Abbey’s farm and is now a Grade I-listed building.
Today the museum displays farm machinery from the Victorian and early 20th century, as well as reconstructed rooms to show how a local farmer would have lived. There are beehives, sheep and poultry for the animal-lovers, along with a picturesque cider apple orchard. Regular demonstrations and activities are held here too, from crafts to cheese, milk and cider-making.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: The Somerset Rural Life Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am until 5pm (and Tuesday to Saturday between November and Easter). An annual pass costs 8.50 GBP for adults and 4 GBP for children between 5 and 17, and gives unlimited entry for a year.
BONUS: Clarks Village
Lastly, while it’s not in Glastonbury proper, Clarks Village is another must-visit place close by for those interested in doing some shopping.
Clarks Village is an outlet shopping mall located in a town called Street, that’s about a ten-minute drive from Glastonbury proper. Here there are more than 90 outlet shops for big-name brands like Calvin Klein, Fiorelli, Gap, French Connection, Levi’s, Skechers, The North Face, Timberland and many more.
The mall is housed in what used to be C&J Clark factory buildings so it’s quite picturesque, as well as being a great spot to save on designer brands! There are a number of places to eat on-site as well as the King Arthur’s Forest Adventure Play Park for the kids.
Did we miss any of your favourite places to visit in Glastonbury?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to the list!