Car-free adventures inElyCambridgeshire

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Peaceful water meadows, an ancient cathedral and an interesting town that’s easy to walk round: Ely is a great car-free destination and could make an idyllic base for a holiday. Plenty of people living here don’t have cars – you can get around town on foot or by bike, there are good bus routes, and the riverside railway station is a bit of a hub for longer distance train journeys and trips to Cambridge. If you're planning a staycation in the area, scroll to the end for a few more tips.

  • County: Cambridgeshire
  • Great for: antiques | boat trip | cathedral | history | riverside walks | wildlife |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated May 2021. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
Grebe catching a fish in Ely - Ely car-free adventures
  1. 3. Explore the River

    Don’t miss Ely’s vibrant riverside. You could spend an hour so simply browsing in the huge Waterside Antiques, East Anglia’s largest antiques centre. And don’t miss the wisteria-hung Peacocks tearoom nearby and the Babylon Gallery, with changing exhibitions.

    • There are lovely walks in both directions. Turning right along the river, a short, sweet half-mile stroll leads past the water meadows back towards the station.
    • Or you can go further, following the Fen Rivers Way a fifty mile long distance route between Kings Lynn and Cambridge.
    • Turning left, there are six miles of waterside walking (sometimes rather overgrown) along this route, heading north to Littleport Station.
    • The River Great Ouse shares its wide valley with a railway and minor road, but this straight stretch of the Fen Rivers Way is a big-skied waterside walk, full of wildlife.
    • If that sounds too much like hard work, take a boat trip instead on the Liberty Belle. From 11am, there are daily half hour cruises in season.
    • You can even take an evening fish and chip cruise to the Lazy Otter and other riverside inns, setting off at 6pm every Friday and Saturday from April to October and getting back after sunset.
  1. Buses and places to stay

    Here is some practical info for people planning a trip to Ely or a staycation holiday

    • The Plusbus ticket for Ely is good value and helpful for people who would prefer to avoid walking too far from the station to the museums and cathedral. Buy it when you buy your train ticket and it’s valid on the day you arrive by rail.
    • Hourly bus 9, for instance, runs from Tesco, near the station, up to Market Street.
    • Stagecoach also offer a variety of rover tickets for exploring the town and the wider area.
    • Among a growing number of places to stay, three new studios have opened near the market (from £95/night). One stop along the railway in Littleport, The Gatehouse B&B is right by the station (doubles from £90) or there are rooms with a private deck at Swan on the River (doubles from £85, B&B).
  • sticky fenland cake - Ely car-free adventures
  • Grebe catching a fish in Ely - Ely car-free adventures