Take your pick from some excellent days out in Bury St Edmunds with the help of our local guide to the historic abbey ruins, its beautiful gardens, the incredible Ickworth House, the famous Greene King Brewery and plenty of other excellent attractions worth exploring during your visit to this fascinating town.
Activities in Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds Abbey
Visit the beautiful remains of the Bury St Edmunds Abbey, which dates back to 1020, and trace the history of this fascinating medieval town, which sprawled from this holy place of pilgrimage. It was once one of the richest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in the country, and parts of its still survive in excellent condition today.
The enormous gatehouses stand as iconic monuments of the town, and you can wander the floor plan of the abbey ruins as well. The martyred king Saint Edmund was buried here, and the abbey proved to be an important location in the lead up to the signing of the Magna Carta. It’s an incredibly interesting attraction and well worth taking some time to explore, as English Heritage does a fantastic job of bringing the abbey’s history to life.
Bury St Edmunds Abbey
The stunning Abbey Gardens, which surround Bury St Edmunds Abbey, are one of the town’s most popular attractions. On a sunny day, there are few better things you can do than take a wander through this gorgeous expanse of carefully manicured lawns and pristine flower beds. The 14-acre park has heaps of awards to its name and is bordered by the historic abbey walls, which run all the way to Abbots Bridge via Abbey Gate and St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It also hosts some of the town’s most popular cultural events including Nearly Festival in June.
Continue your history trip with a visit to Ickworth House. It’s one of England’s most unusual stately homes, with its enormous bulbous rotundas and Italianate palace design, and one of the National Trust’s finest and most popular properties. It’s just a 10-minute drive from our Bury St Edmunds hotel, but give yourself plenty of time to explore the house and the magisterial gardens, which were designed by the landscaping legend that is Capability Brown.
Experience the great outdoors with a visit to Lackford Lakes. It’s a stunning wetland nature reserve that’s owned and managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust to protect an incredible array of wildlife, including kingfishers. During the winter months, if you’re lucky, you can spot rare birdlife including bitterns. While in the evenings, listen out for the haunting song of the nightingale, which dances gently through the night.
Greene King Brewery
Bury St Edmunds is home to the Greene King Brewery, one of the most popular breweries in Britain. You can find out about its fascinating history and treat yourself to some tasting samples by visiting the brewery for a tour and a trip to the beer cafe. The tour guides are supremely knowledgeable and help to make your visit as enjoyable as possible. You can see every aspect of the brewing process and the enormous machinery that’s involved in making the award-winning ales.
Bury St Edmunds Cinema
When the weather’s unkind and you’re looking for ways to kill some time, an easy activity is a trip to the cinema. There are two cinemas in Bury St Edmunds for you to choose from, the popular Cineworld chain cinema and the independent Abbeygate Cinema.
The Abbeygate Cinema is on Hatter Street. It’s an independent cinema, which curates its own excellent programme of art-house, independent and mainstream films. It’s particularly popular for its Screen Arts programme, which allows you to watch world-class theatre from the likes of the Bolshoi, Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company, all on the silver screen. The seats are comfy, and the tickets are cheap.
On the Parkway, you’ll find the local Cineworld in Bury St Edmunds. You know what to expect from the popular chain of cinemas; it has several state-of-the-art screens showing the latest international blockbusters with a good choice of fast food for you to feast on during your film.