On the surface, the market town of Bury St Edmunds appears to be a family-friendly getaway with ruins to explore, gardens perfect for picnics, a theatre with child-friendly plays, and an amusement centre with laser tag and arcade machines. Yet there is more than meets the eye in this historic market town.
It has a long and rich history that begins back when this town started as an Anglo-Saxon settlement called Bedric's Worth. Since then, it’s been a place of pilgrimage; it’s seen a rebellion by the townspeople; it’s been the site of a massacre - protestants once came here to martyr themselves whilst monks resided at the abbey. It’s also been devastated by the Black Plague and a fire, and it’s also been internationally known for its flourishing cloth industry which has gradually dwindled. All of these events have led to Bury St Edmunds becoming the quiet yet intriguing market town we know today.
Cobbled streets and medieval buildings allude to this vibrant heritage and provide a scenic backdrop to visitors to the town on holiday. Take a look through our cottages in Bury St Edmunds and pick a perfect cottage for a stay so you can discover what we mean for yourselves.
Things to do in Bury St Edmunds
From historical monuments to rolling countryside there's plenty to do for the whole family in Bury St Edmunds. Come rain or shine enjoy the history of this beautiful town.
Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens
Explore the 14-acre parkland of Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens. It is brimming with old structures and beautiful flora, as well as more modern additions such as a bowling green, crazy golf, and a children’s play area.
The ruins of the Abbey of St Edmund, once one of England’s richest and largest Benedictine monasteries and now looked after by English Heritage, still stand in the grounds and you can visit them while wandering the gardens.
Opening times: Summer - 1 April to 31 August, Monday to Saturday 7.30am to 8pm, Sundays and bank holidays 9am to 8pm. Mid-season - September and March, Monday to Saturday 7.30am to 6pm, Sundays and bank holidays 9am to 6pm. Winter - 1 October to the last day in February, Monday to Saturday 7.30am to 5pm, Sundays and bank holidays 9am to 5pm.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
The St Edmundsbury Cathedral itself could be considered a relatively new addition as it was only added in 1503, half a millennium after the original abbey was constructed.
If you’re intrigued by the history of this magnificent place, you can take a guided tour to learn more, and even a tour of the tower during the summer months. The cathedral even has a café, a perfect pause for lunch, a shop where you can purchase gift cards to send home, and even a magnificent Lego cathedral situated in the south-west corner of the St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
Opening times: 10am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. 10am to 4pm on Saturdays (and Bank Holidays). 12.30pm to 3pm on Sundays.
Cost: Entry is free, donations are welcome.
West Stow Country Park and Anglo-Saxon Village
Less than 20 minutes from the town centre you’ll find the West Stow Country Park and Anglo-Saxon Village. With extensive indoor galleries, a country park for exploring, and a recreation of an Anglo-Saxon village, West Stow is a fascinating and enjoyable day out for all the family, come rain or shine. There are also plenty of events laid on throughout the year, from archery experiences to painting classes.
Opening times: 10am to 5pm daily.
Cost: Adults - £7. Children - £4.
Places to eat and drink
The bustling town of Bury St Edmunds offers a huge range of pubs and restaurants for all your foodie wants while on holiday. Whether it’s a spot for breakfast, a pub lunch, or an a la carte dinner, there’ll be something to please all taste buds.
The Giggling Squid
The Giggling Squid is an ever popular Thai chain restaurant that's a great choice for lunch and dinner in Bury St Edmunds. Along with their delicious meat and fish dishes, there’s plenty of choice for vegetarians and vegans, all prepared with natural ingredients.
Opening times: 12pm to 10.30pm.
Previously named one of the top 10 fine dining restaurants in the UK, Maison Bleue is a very delightful modern French fine dining experience, perfect for celebrating a special occasion.
Opening times: Tuesday - dinner only. Wednesday to Saturday - lunch and dinner. Sunday and Monday - closed.
For authentic homemade Italian dining, make sure you visit Rustico. Expect a warm and inviting welcome for your whole family, woodfired pizzas, sumptuous pasta, and delicious desserts.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 12pm to 9pm. Friday to Saturday: 12pm to 10pm. Sunday: 12pm to 9pm.
The great outdoors
Surrounded by beautiful countryside there are plenty of places to explore around Bury St Edmunds on two feet. Head in any direction and you’ll find trails, circular walks, and hikes.
Ickworth Estate – Albana Walk
Follow the Albana Walk, a short circular walk through some of the woodlands around Ickworth. If you have the energy when you walk along the Trim Trail try your hand on various fitness objects, ranging from pole climbing to ladder walks and leap frog. In Spring it’s especially lovely with an abundance of snowdrops and spring flowers.
Length: 1.9 miles.
Nearest parking: Ickworth Estate IP29 5QE.
Access: Easy - suitable for mobility scooters and pushchairs. Gradients along the Trim Trail may be challenging for wheelchair users.
Bury St Edmunds Town Walk
If you like your walks with a bit of history, make sure you check out this lovely 3-mile stroll around the town. Take in Angel Hill, St Mary’s Church, and even England’s smallest pub on the circular Bury St Edmunds and River Lark Walk.
Length: 3 miles.
Nearest parking: Ram Meadow Car Park IP33 1XT.
Access: Moderate - meadows and steps.
Lackford Lakes Walk
Lackford Lakes is a wildlife oasis with a landscape of lakes, reeds, meadows, and woodland. There is wildlife in close-up all year round including dragonflies and kingfishers. There are a number of different circular walks available and a number of accessible hides throughout the reserve.
Length: 1.5 miles-2 miles.
Nearest parking: Lackford Lakes IP28 6HX.
Access: Easy. The 1.5km blue trail is surfaced and barrier-free, with ramped access to four hides. Parts of this reserve are accessible by mobility scooters.
Dog-friendly Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds is a fantastic place for a dog-friendly break. With easy access countryside surrounding you and a plethora of dog-friendly businesses in the town, your four-legged friends will enjoy their break. Helpfully Bury St Edmunds town council launched the #dogfriendlybse project a few years ago, and businesses signed up helpfully display a paw print sticker in their windows, so you know exactly where your pooch is welcome.
There are plenty of dog-friendly pubs and restaurants for taking a lunch break or dinner with the dogs. Allison’s Eatery is a fabulous vegan restaurant serving food from 9am to 4.30pm daily (closed Sundays), breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails are served every day at the dog-friendly Gastrono-me, and The Fox Inn offers traditional pub grub in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
And if your dog deserves a very special treat, four-legged visitors to Bury St Edmunds can even get their very own afternoon tea! The Ickworth Hotel offers the Waggy Tails Tea Time where dogs can dine on dishes including homemade paw-nut butter biscuits, canine carrot cake with pawsome frosting, and a puppacino!
There’s plenty of opportunity for picking up holiday mementos in the shops throughout Bury St Edmunds. In the centre of town, independent shops, boutiques, and high-street brands combine to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
For a more modern environment, the Arc Shopping Centre offers a great shopping experience for those who need their retail fix.
There’s a bustling twice-weekly market, that dates back to the days of William the Conqueror. Visit to stock up on fresh fruit and veg and see if you can pick out some more unusual finds. A second market takes place once a month at The Traverse.
Events and festivals
There are events for children, adult groups, and families to enjoy throughout the year in and around Bury St Edmunds. Families can enjoy a range of adventures, there are viewings for art lovers and garden walks for outdoor enthusiasts. You could also watch well-known comedians perform, head to the cinema, or see an art show.
Bury St Edmunds Nearly Festival
The Bury St Edmunds Nearly Festival is held yearly in the Abbey Gardens. It’s the number-one tribute festival in the region. Over two days a huge range of tribute acts perform, providing fun for the whole family.
The last surviving example of a working Regency playhouse, the Theatre Royal is a beautiful old building in which to enjoy a play or musical during your holiday to Bury St Edmunds. It has a colourful heritage and is owned and taken care of by the National Trust. Throughout the year a variety of shows are performed from ballet to concerts, family theatre to comedy performances.
You can find other events from family fun to musical extravaganzas and historical re-enactments to exhibitions happening in Bury St Edmunds here.
If our guide has made you want to explore the historic town of Bury St Edmunds, take a look at our holiday homes in the town:
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.