Historic cathedral city Ely in East Cambridgeshire nestles just north of Cambridge and makes a superb gateway base into the Fens. Famously associated with Oliver Cromwell who lived in Ely for 10 years, Ely's tourist information centre and main museum is housed within Cromwell's former home. The first sight of the mighty 'ship of the Fens', Ely Cathedral is a memorable experience, and a tour inside reveals a magnificent 14th Century painted ceiling in the great Nave with 12 panels as well as many pagan carvings!
A mix of Norman and medieval architecture, the cathedral is a 'Top 10 must see' landmark in the UK and has been an inspiration to great architects including Augustus Pugin and the young Sir Christopher Wren. The surrounding flat Fenland landscape is as much a part of the drama, up from which shoots the great West Tower of Ely Cathedral.
Although a city, Ely feels like a small market town with beautiful luxury B&B guest houses available affording views towards the cathedral. Fine heritage inns, restaurants and independent shops are plentiful in the town centre and as well as being a great Fenland base, Ely is a waterfront location along the River Great Ouse, part of Cambridgeshire's extensive waterways network popular for boating. The river is within easy walking distance of the town centre, offering charming riverside walks and a choice of Fenland river tours.
If you're looking for a fascinating historic base near Cambridge, then Ely accommodation is perfect, with Ely station offering fast rail links to Cambridge and Stansted Airport. The exceptional choice of unique boutique bed and breakfast accommodation in Ely makes it perfect for romantic weekend breaks and getaways. Find accommodation in Ely now and book online.
Ely is a real Cambridgeshire gem for award winning tearooms, stylish restaurants with alfresco balconies affording views of Ely Cathedral and a host of historic character real ale pubs. Acclaimed chefs can be found in Ely restaurants and food is locally sourced from the rich produce of the Fens.
Oliver Cromwell lived in Ely for 10 years and his house, the only surviving Cromwell home apart from Hampton Court Palace, houses the Tourist Information Centre. Visitors can also tour the interior of Oliver Cromwell's House which features a kitchen, The Portrait Room with a video on Cromwell and the Civil War Exhibition.
The 'Haunted Bedroom' in Oliver Cromwell's House contains an exhibit telling the story of Cromwell's death. The museum is interactive and visitors are encouraged to handle exhibits. Original 13th century doorways and a 15th century window are retained in the building. Joint tickets are available for entrance to Oliver Cromwell's House and the Ely Museum.
Ely boasts a beautiful waterfront on the River Great Ouse and Fenland River Cruises offer frequent 30 minute river boat tours across peak summer season. Along the riverside sit award winning tearooms, real ale pubs and restaurants. Attractions include Jubilee Gardens with Bandstand, an art gallery, a historic Quay House and a converted Maltings Restaurant and Conference Centre. Maltings are distinctively shaped grain and barley storage barns found across East Anglia. The Maltings in Ely was formally a brewery.
Cathedral Marina near Jubilee Gardens is a popular gateway on to the Cambridgeshire Waterways and a starting point for boating holidays in the Fens. Narrowboat cruising is particularly popular on the Cambridgeshire waterways.
The Cambridgeshire Waterways, incorporating the River Great Ouse, River Cam, River Nene and tributaries are extensive with Marinas situated at numerous locations including Ely, March, Cambridge, Denver, St Ives, Peterborough and Huntingdon. The Great Ouse network has four navigable tributaries. Popular crusing from Ely is the run to March and back (about 18 hours roundtrip) which takes in the famous Denver Sluice and pretty villages like Littleborough. Narrowboat cruising from Ely to Cambridge is also popular with some of the best views of the Fens visible from the water.