With 1,000 years of history and heritage to explore in Bury St Edmunds town centre it is a history-lovers paradise. But even if history & heritage is not your thing, the picturesque Georgian squares and wonderful medieval architecture are a fantastic backdrop to a break and great for photographs and instagram likes!
Bury St Edmunds takes its name from St Edmund, the original Patron Saint of England and King of East Anglia, whose shrine stood at the town’s Abbey of St Edmund. The Abbey, founded 1,000 years ago, was one of the richest, largest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England and people came from all over Europe to visit. Today, the Abbey remains are extensive surrounded by the beautiful Abbey Gardens. St Edmund’s final resting place is a great mystery; some believe he is buried somewhere within the abbey precincts! In 2022 the town celebrated the 1,000 year anniversary of the founding of the Abbey.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral was originally St James’s Church, built within the precincts of the Abbey, becoming a Cathedral in 1914. Its 160ft tower which looks over the town is well worth a visit with its spectacular views.
Nearby St Mary's Church is the final resting place of French Queen Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. The church was built between 1290 and 1490 as part of the abbey complex, and is thought to be the largest parish church in England, has the second longest aisle and the largest west window. St Mary's also has a unique and beautiful hammer beam ‘angel’ roof.
At Moyse's Hall Museum you can find out about the town’s Terrible Tales and at Bury St Edmunds Guildhall dates back to 1279 and is the oldest continuously-used civic building in Britain. It proudly boasts a World War Two Royal Observer Corps Control Centre – the only surviving room of its kind in the country. Bury St Edmunds Guildhall features interactive displays and collections taking you on a journey through time and history.
Experience going to the theatre as it was in pre-Victorian times at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, the only surviving regency playhouse in Britain.
The blue plaque at the front of The Angel Hotel on Angel Hill commemorates Charles Dickens’ visits to Bury St Edmunds, you can still stay in his room at the hotel. The town and The Angel are included in his novels The Pickwick Papers and The Personal History of David Copperfield and was one of the reasons the town was chosen to appear in the 2020 film The Personal History of David Copperfield.
Indulge your appetite with award-winning fine dining to quality Suffolk home-cooked pub grub and from cocktail to gin bars, there are a huge number of places to eat and drink each with their own unique atmosphere.
Whether it’s a family get together or a romantic meal, finding the perfect place to eat in Bury St Edmunds is easy as there are so many choices to tempt your taste buds.
Bury St Edmunds also has a real café culture with an excellent choice of cafés and tearooms, perfect for a spot of people watching whilst enjoying a slice of cake.
The annual Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival held in August is a veritable feast of delicious dishes to try and buy together with demonstrations by top celebrity chefs.
Bury St Edmunds’ markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Buttermarket and Cornhill area is a fantastic opportunity to sample the county’s marvellous local produce and food stalls.
If you enjoy a tipple then look out for our local beverages to try. For beer lovers, Greene King has been brewing beer in Bury St Edmunds for more than 200 years and their beverages can be found in pubs and bars across the town - don't miss their brewery tours and tasting!
With an unrivalled brewing history dating back 1,000 years, Bury St Edmunds is the perfect place to experience delicious real ale and unique craft beer with the Bury Ale Trail.
No visit to Bury St Edmunds is complete without a visit to The Nutshell pub. With a bar that measures just 15ft by 7ft, The Nutshell proudly holds the title of smallest pub in Britain as confirmed in the Guinness Book of Records and first started serving beer in 1867.
Now a major tourist attraction for local and worldwide visitors, The Nutshell continues the tradition of serving some of the region's finest ales, and providing a bar not just full of customers, but interesting historical items, photos and memorabilia.
While away a day exploring the 200 stores that line the picturesque medieval streets, and elegant Georgian squares.
From clothes to kitchenware, shopping in Bury St Edmunds offers something for everyone - all within an easy walking distance in beautiful surroundings.
As well as favourite High Street brands, Bury St Edmunds has a host of independent and individual shops that you won't find anywhere else.
All this plus the modern open street-scape arc shopping centre.
5. Outdoor Spaces
Bury St Edmunds and Beyond is known for its self guided trails. Follow the Bury St Edmunds' blue plaques to link the people of the past with the buildings of the present - a wonderful way to see Bury St Edmunds town centre while walking through history.
6. Art and Culture
The arts thrive in vibrant Bury St Edmunds.
The historic Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, the UK’s only remaining Regency playhouse, inspires audiences of all ages with impressive performances from leading arts organisations and local, emerging talents. Meanwhile, St Edmundsbury Cathedral provides a unique venue for local and international choirs and musicians.
The award-winning The Apex is known for its amazing acoustics. The home of live music in East Anglia, this contemporary venue’s diverse music programme is complemented by dance and performing arts events. On the first floor, The Apex Gallery exhibits works by new and established artists.
The independently owned Abbeygate Cinema, which dates back to the 1920s, screens a mix of arthouse, independent and acclaimed mainstream films in addition to live broadcasts of theatre, opera and dance performances.
Bury St Edmunds is also home to an important collection of fine art. Renowned local artists Mary Beale, Sybil Andrews and Rose Mead are among the artists featured at the 12th century Moyse’s Hall Museum.
7. Walkable Town Centre
We have Abbot Baldwin to thank for the very walkable town centre that we have in Bury St Edmunds. Abbot Baldwin laid out the ancient medieval grid still evident today thus making it possibly the oldest such in the country!
It is literally a few minutes walk from attraction to attraction making it walkable for young and older feet, just a ten minute walk from the train and bus station and between the older part of the town and the modern arc shopping centre.
Car parks are all nearby and in walking distance. Maps are available online and through the Bury St Edmunds LoyalFree App (download and use for free) or at the various tourist information points in the town.
8. Dog Friendly
Planning a trip to Bury St Edmunds and Beyond? Your 4-legged friend needn't miss out!
With dog-friendly accommodation, cafes and restaurants, plus attractions and days out that your pooch will love, the historic town is the ideal place to enjoy a short break or holiday with every member of the family - including the furry variety!
Wherever the new #dogfriendlybse paw print logo sticker is displayed in windows, businesses will welcome dogs in a town-wide and beyond initiative.
Check out our Dog Friendly Guide for more information!
9. The Flowers
Bury in Bloom's volunteers work hard to keep Bury St Edmunds looking blooming lovely all year round and the many floral and unique roundabout sculptures you see in the town are projects that have been carried out by Bury in Bloom.
Then there are the wonderful hundreds of hanging baskets and planters throughout the town centre provided which flood Bury St Edmunds with colour each year.
It's a huge team effort keeping the town looking blooming lovely for the community and visitors alike lead by the Bury Society’s Bury in Bloom volunteer team, West Suffolk Council park staff, the Friends of Abbey Gardens and many more.
10. The Trails
Bury St Edmunds is known for its self-guided trails.
Follow the Bury St Edmunds' blue plaques to link the people of the past with the buildings of the present - a wonderful way to see Bury St Edmunds town centre while walking through history.
There are many self guided trails on the Bury St Edmunds LoyalFree App which is free to download and use including a Cocktail Trail, Vegan Eateries Trail, Bury Ale Trail, Gluten Free Eateries Trail, and The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds' Walking Stories Trail.
Visitors Love Bury St Edmunds, don't just take our word for it - read the many articles that have been written about holidays in Bury St Edmunds by national travel journalists in our Press & Media Guide.
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