Travelling and Property blog

A day out in Ely: What to see and do

Ely Cathedral

On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best places to see and the best things to do in Ely.

Today was another beautiful day, sunny and warm, ideal for spending outdoors exploring new things. My friends stayed the night and after a generous breakfast in the garden we got ready and headed to Ely.

Ely is about 30 minutes from where we live, and the drive is quite straight-forward. I am always amazed by the imposing silhouette of Ely Cathedral, which can be seen from the road a couple of miles before reaching the city.

We visit Ely regularly, and every time we have friends around, we take them there as it is a very nice city to visit. Today our dog “Bambino” also joined us for the trip. We parked at the Barton Road Car Park which is quite close to the town centre. Unusually, parking is free!

Ely, also know as “Isle of Ely” or by its old name “Isle of Eels” is one of the smallest cities in England, but one of the largest of the Fen Islands. The biggest attraction is the cathedral which took 300 years to build and dates from 673 when Queen Etheldreda founded a monastery in that place.

After parking the car, we walked in the direction of the Cathedral, but stooped at Oliver Cromwell’s House on St Mary’s Street for a visit. Oliver Cromwell inherited this house from his uncle and lived there from 1636 to 1646 with his family. The house was built in the 13th century and was extended and refurbished throughout the years. Nowadays it houses the Oliver Cromwell exhibition and the Tourist Information Centre. This visit is very informative and interesting and should not be missed when in Ely.

Oliver Cromwell’s House

There is also a Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon for anyone who wants to know more detailed information about Cromwell and his contribution to British history.

Oliver Cromwell’s Museum in Huntingdon

After the visit we went to the cathedral which is very close. The Cathedral is magnificent and one of the most beautiful in the country. After the monastery was destroyed in 870 by the Danes, the reconstruction was started by Benedictine monks, and has developed throughout the centuries to what it is today. Dogs are accepted in the Cathedral, but Bambino stayed outside with my husband. There is a charge to get into the Cathedral of about £8 and you can buy a combined ticket to see the Cathedral and the Stained-Glass Museum that is within the Cathedral’s premises. We didn’t go to the Stained-Glass Museum on this occasion, but it is a very interesting place to visit as it shows stained glass from the medieval times to modern times and tells the history of stained glass through the ages.

The Cathedral

We spent quite a good time admiring the beautiful Cathedral. They run various tours for the more curious ones that want to know everything about the cathedral’s history. The tour will take you to the octagonal lantern tower and if you have the stamina, you can climb the 288 steps to get to the West Tower where you can see views of the entire Ely and countryside beyond.

When we finished the visit, we walked down Back Hill and entered the Cherry Hill Park via “The Porta”. We crossed the park where you have a different view of the Cathedral and followed down to the “Jubilee Gardens” in the direction of the riverbank. Once there we followed the river until we crossed the railway bridge and turned back. Following to the other side we stopped at the Riverside Bar & Kitchen for something to eat. We sat on a table outside as the day was really nice, and we could admire the boats going up and down the river. You can take a boat tour on the river with the Liberty Belle Cruises if you fancy a relaxing time on a boat.

When we finished lunch, we walked further down the riverbank and turned on the Waterside where there is a 3-storey building with an antiques centre called Waterside Antiques Centre. This is paradise for anyone who loves antiques. You can easily spend hours inside there looking for treasures and bargains. One of my friends was very excited as she loves anything antique. We spent a good hour there and she parted with some of her money.

After that, we walked on the direction of the High Street and had a look at the Ely Market, where my friend spent a little more money…

Once the shopping had finished, we turned left, and we were in front of the Cathedral again. Ely is not a very big city, and you can easily do everything on foot. A perfect place for a day out with family or friends. If you have more time there are other things to visit in Ely and around that will entertain you for a few days. For us, that was the end of our visit.

Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Ely. I classified each place as follows:

BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended

NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews

*** – Excellent

** – Good

* – OK

£££ – Expensive

££ – Fair and affordable

£ – Cheap


1 – Ely Cathedral – ***

2 – Oliver Cromwell’s House – ***

3 – Cherry Hill Park – ***

4 – Jubilee Gardens – ***

5 –Liberty Bell Cruises

6 – Ely Market – *

7 – Waterside Antique Centre – ***


1 – The Old Warehouse Ely Apartments – 3* – ££

2 – Windmill Cottage – 3* – ££

3 – The Old Hall Ely – 5* – £££


1 – The Old Fire Engine House – ££

2 – The Old Hall Ely Restaurant – £££

3 – Poets House – ££

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like to read:

Hello! I’m Rose and I’m the “Travelling Surveyor”. If you click on the photo you can learn a bit more about me. Join me on my travelling adventures by reading my posts and subscribing to my blog.

If you would like to buy me a drink, click HERE


5 responses to “A day out in Ely: What to see and do”

  1. thanks for bringing back lovely memories

    1. I’m happy I could bring you back to the days you lived here and visited Ely. I hope you can come back one day and re-visit this wonderful city.

      1. I was close last November, got back to Bury St Edmunds

  2. A bit confused as cathedral and Oliver Cromwell house were written in red. Red was not recommended according to key?? But then it was bold red with three stars and you said excellent?

    1. Hi Ruth,
      Thanks for contacting me and pointing out the confusion the links are causing. In reality, the links are pink and not red, but I already thought that it could confuse people because of the similarity and I have already changed the colour of the links. I hope now it will be less confusing. Regarding the Cathedral and the Oliver Cromwell house, they are excellent and very much worth visiting as well as Ely as a town. Enjoy your visit to Ely if you are planning going and thanks for reaching out to me.

Leave a Reply