The beautiful city 71 minutes from London that feels like a small town and is perfect for a winter holiday

The beautiful city 71 minutes from London that feels like a small town and is perfect for a winter holiday

If you are looking for a winter getaway to beat the January Blues, we may have found the perfect weekend getaway for you.

Tucked away in rural Cambridgeshire, just northwest of Cambridge, is a charming town that feels much more like a town.

Ely is famous for its spectacular – and highly photographed – Norman Cathedral, but much more is needed for the historic city than just this one.

READ MORE: Beautiful market town 90 minutes from London, so off the beaten track the only chains are a Co-op and a McColl’s

Ely Cathedral

As you can probably see from its architecture, Ely is a city full of history, and in addition to the cathedral, Oliver Cromwell’s house has been transformed into a small but perfectly designed museum, which is a popular tourist attraction.

An audio guide will help visitors find their way around the 17th-century residence of the military leader and the famous ‘traitor’ of the English Civil War, who ordered the beheading of King Charles.

Ely in Cambridgeshire is the second smallest town in England. It has a beautiful cathedral and some lovely surrounding countryside.

If you have not seen enough of it after visiting the cathedral, check out Ely’s specialty Stained Glass Museum, which won a TripAdvisor award in 2021 for impressing visitors with its incredible collection that spans more than 800 years.

And if the story is not your bag, you will not be short of other activities to pique your desire.

Vintage-minded shoppers should check out Waterside Antiques, with its extensive selection of affordable antique items spread across three levels.

However, if you’re considering checking out this antique shop in January, be sure to pack warm – according to recent visitors, it is “absolutely freezing in there.”

Foodies will love the opportunities to dine out in Ely; “excellent value” Ely Turkish Restaurant & Meze Bar and “idyllic” Peacocks Tearoom were both a big hit among visitors in 2021, and both won TripAdvisor awards for their culinary efforts.

The town’s famous farmers’ markets, held every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and public holiday, are always a hit with visitors, offering “everything you would expect from a traditional market, plus a few surprises.”

In addition to the traditional market price – locally grown fruits and vegetables, flowers, household items, craft bread, cakes, etc. – every Saturday you can also see a selection of quirky antiques, books, craft products and handmade crafts at the special Craft, Food and Vintage Market.

If you are lucky enough to be in Ely when the weather is sunny, the nearby Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve provides some beautiful walks in the fresh air with a variety of easy walks and accessible trails.

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If you want to stay overnight in Ely, you will be spoiled for choice with top rated hotels, but two definitely worth mentioning is the fantastic canal site Hotel Barge Waternimf, with its pristine five star rating on TripAdvisor, and Poets House Hotel and Restaurant, which boasts similarly high four and a half stars.

Direct trains run from London King’s Cross to Ely every 30 minutes and take about an hour and 11 minutes, or you can drive most of the way there via the M11, but it will take you longer – about an hour and 40 minutes from the north London.

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