Craving The Countryside? Make Tracks To These Somerset Towns

Pack your wellies and head to the country. We’ve picked out the best places to visit in Somerset on a weekend away

Apple orchards, Glastonbury, ancient sites imbued with mystical wonder, stereotypically pretty country towns and rolling green hills of the kind sung about in school assemblies: the peaks and troughs of Somerset's topography promise an English cliché that has drawn jaded urbanites down towards its bucolic interiors for decades. But, while being a proud agricultural county steeped in tradition, the area is now also something of a mecca for think-outside-the-box artists and makers, talented (but unpretentious) restaurateurs and dynamic entrepreneurs, as evidenced by its innovative arts hubs, diverse dining scene and abundance of independent stores, their shelves stocked with everything from wooden butter knives to handmade soap. It's also, in our opinion, where you'll find some of the best stargazing opportunities out there. Whether you're seeking sunshine, spiritual sanctuary, swan-shaped taps or just a really good local cider, be sure to take our guide to five of the prettiest towns in Somerset with you.

The best towns in Somerset to visit



With a reputation for having more than its fair share of handmade ceramics and flat whites in its city centre, Frome owns its identity as Somerset's creative hub. After a hearty brunch at Eight Stony Street, take a stroll up the steep, cobbled Catherine Hill in the town centre for a sense of the scene. The brightly painted fronts of numerous independent shops far outnumber any familiar names: find coffee at Frāmā; modern curios at Kobi & Teal; sharp silhouettes at Studio Ashay; and - yes - speckled ceramics at Ground. The bounty of beautiful things on offer is testament to the town's community-imbued spirit, which itself is a hand-me-down from the wool trade town's history of nonconformity. Inspired by its rebellious, riotous past, locals have long championed creative enclaves such as Black Swan Arts, which hosts studios and exhibitions in town.

Planning a roadtrip through the Somerset hills?

Hause & Wirth, Bruton, Somerset


Brought into the spotlight when the internationally renowned Hauser & Wirth gallery opened in 2014, Bruton has become the summer decampment of choice for London's art crowd, but don't read that as a byword for pretension. Somehow, between its blousy hedgerows and hamstone cottages, this whip-smart town has continued to cultivate its characteristically relaxed, uncomplicated character, with new openings such as soap purveyors Philo & Philo and the vintage haven that is New Romantic emphasising its continued evolution. A bevy of accommodation options pair the Austen-worthy elegance of historic buildings in and around the town with sharp, modern design (see Number One Bruton, At the Chapel and Durslade Farmhouse), while the local food offering plays a central role in Somerset's burning gastronomic ambitions. Names to have on your radar include Horrell & Horrell and Matt's Kitchen, and if you want to dine as the down-from-Londoners do, take a table in the tiny, softly lit Osip. Merlin Labron-Johnson's farm-to-table spot serves a seven-course tasting menu of earthy, unpretentious plates - Westcombe Dairy cheddar gougères, and blushing venison beside salt-baked turnip slices, for example.

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset


Aptly, this being the town that gave the nearby festival its name, Glastonbury is a strange kaleidoscope of contemporary hippie culture and ancient, mystical lore. Crystals? Check. Vegan cafés? Check. A bookshop seeking to service those embarking on a spiritual path? Check, again. Even the high street is a hodgepodge of historic properties painted to look not dissimilar to Joseph's technicolour dreamcoat. The reason for this swing to the New Age is the town's ancient roots (it's allegedly been populated since the Stone Age), and its location at the heart of the so-called Isle of Avalon, a mystical region that's long been associated with Arthurian legends. A tour of the wells, temples and abbeys dotted around town will give you a sense of its role as a spiritual fulcrum, while trips to the Rural Life Museum and a hike up Glastonbury's isolated tor offer a more sober sense of its character. Come evening, we're booking into the storied George & Pilgrims Hotel to bed down in a four-poster, à la Guinevere.

The Crooked Swan, Crewkerne, Somerset


Diminutive Crewkerne is a labyrinth of crooked lanes, Georgian manor houses and Jacobean buildings, most of which, come the warmer months, is cloaked by the riot of summer growth - ivy scrambling up walls and nodding cow parsley crowding roads. The elegant, lichen-kissed buildings are surprisingly grand for a Somerset village - a hangover from days of industry, when its factories made sail cloth for boats of the empire. Fitting, then, that down the road sits the school that educated Nelson's captain, Sir Thomas Hardy. Make your base The Crooked Swan, an antiques-filled pub that feels more Shoreditch than Somerset. Four rooms - all highly individual - are crammed with foraged curios, from swan-shaped taps and dressmaker's dolls, to coat hooks made from antler and chinoiserie wallpaper.

Three Horseshoes, Batcombe, Somerset
Photo credit: Emma Lewis


When Margot Henderson announced that she was opening a pub, three decades after embarking on her exploits at The Eagle, it confirmed that Somerset was a destination to watch. Tucked into tiny Batcombe, between the swooping silhouettes of the Mendip Hills, The Three Horseshoes promises a pared-back country stay in one of five creamy-coloured bedrooms tucked beneath its eaves, and a morning, noon and night food offering of hearty breakfasts, simple lunches and elegant, clean-cut dinners. You'll need the fuel; once loaded up on rabbit pies, brawn and pickles, washed down with classic ales, the done thing in this diminutive locale is to take a stomp. Bruton is a healthy hour away.

Somerset Countryside, UK


Situated in the west of the county, Wiveliscombe (or Wivey, if you're hoping to fit in) fits the bill for a welly-booted weekend. Considered the "gateway" to Exmoor, which sits broodingly behind the much more bucolic Brendon Hills, this quiet country town feels a little out of sync with its swankier neighbours in the county's east. Don't be dissuaded from stopping by. Though rural, this old-school settlement has ambitions to follow in Bruton and Frome's footsteps, and it's looking likely, given a recent wave of artists arriving in town. For a glimpse of the scene, take a peek at the delicate pottery on show at Jo Dove Ceramics. There are few hotels around here; instead, book one of North Down Farm's cosy cabins. Visitors to the valley-gazing stay, set on a working farm, are welcomed with a basket of local produce including cider, freshly baked bread and farm eggs. Bring your thermals: set on the edge of a designated dark skies area, you'll be stargazing all night.

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