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Last Updated on June 12, 2024. Written by Our Bury.

A Complete Guide to Exploring Your Hometown: Exploring Bury St Edmunds Top Attractions and Hidden Gems

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Want to feel like a tourist in Bury St Edmunds?

Whether you have lived in Bury St Edmunds for years or have just recently relocated to the area, we have some of the best tourist attractions in Suffolk. So, if you are looking for something to do on your upcoming weekends and in your spare time, what could be more fun than acting like a tourist in your own town?

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Abbey Gardens

According to a 2020 survey, Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds is the fifth most visited free attraction in England. Therefore, it is the perfect place to start your tour of the town centre.

The Abbey Gardens, created in 1831, are home to the remains of the Abbey of St Edmund, one of the richest and most important monasteries in Medieval Europe, once attracting pilgrims from across the globe, including royalty.

The Abbey Gardens was originally a botanic garden laid out in the same style as the Royal Botanic Gardens in Brussels. Did you know that approximately 20,000 plants are bedded out in the spring for the summer display, plus 12,000 plants and 20,000 bulbs in the autumn for the spring display? 

Today, locals and tourists visit to see the outstanding floral displays, the aviary, the family play area, the garden café and the riverside walk.

St Edmunsbury Cathedral

Standing in the heart of Bury St Edmunds is St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Whilst you may have seen the outside of the Cathedral whilst on your weekend shopping trip, discover the inside of the historical location and make sure to visit on your next day out. 

Built alongside the Benedictine Abbey dedicated to St Edmund and overlooking the Abbey Gardens, this church became a cathedral in 1914. The Cathedral building has continued to develop over recent years with the addition of the Millennium Tower, completed in 2005, and its magnificent painted and gilded vault, added in 2010.

Visitors can explore the cathedral free of charge, and guided tours run Monday to Saturday at 11 am from the front, April to October.

Moyse's Hall Museum

If you’re looking for more local history, discover Moyse’s Hall Museum in the town centre. This medieval museum, in the heart of Bury St Edmunds, houses rich and eclectic collections and changing exhibitions, hosting events ranging from themed craft workshops for all the family to historical talks and lectures.

Steeped in history, Moyse’s Hall has looked out over Bury St Edmunds marketplace for almost 900 years. The 12th-century building previously served as the town’s Bridewell, workhouse, and police station before opening as a museum in 1899.

Today, the museum showcases collections documenting the foundation of the early town – from the creation and dissolution of the Abbey of St Edmund to prison paraphernalia, plus collections from the notorious Red Barn Murder and insights into local superstitions and witchcraft. 

The Guildhall

Situated on Guildhall Street, a 3-minute walk from the Buttermarket, this beautifully preserved building dates back to 1279 and is the oldest continuously used civic building in Britain. Interestingly, The Guildhall also contains Britain’s only surviving WWII Royal Observer Corps Operations Room.

The Guildhall also offers a range of cultural events, including exhibitions, talks, concerts and workshops for you to participate in during your day out exploring.

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Discover what it was like to go to the theatre in pre-Victorian times at Britain’s last surviving Regency playhouse, the Grade 1 listed Theatre Royal, the country’s third oldest theatre.

Located in the town centre and built-in 1819, the theatre is run by the National Trust and hosts tours and exploration sessions from February to November. It has built a reputation for producing quality dramas and productions, including the ever-popular annual pantomime. Browse what’s on at www.theatreroyal.org/upcoming.

What’s even better? You can now also enjoy pre-show dining provided by LÉA: a delicious new artisan food range from award-winning Maison Bleue.

St Mary's Church

Another spot to visit on your upcoming tourist days out in Bury St Edmunds is St Mary’s Church. Part of Bury’s Benedictine Abbey site, this remarkable 14th-century church claims to be England’s third-largest parish church. 

It is also said to have England’s second-longest aisle and its largest west window. The hammer beam roof with its angel carvings and the tomb of Mary Tudor, Queen of France and sister of Henry VIII, also make it well worth visiting.

Greene King Brewery

It’s no secret that Bury St Edmunds is home to various amazing pubs and restaurants. Luckily for us, Bury is also the home of the country’s leading pub retailer and brewer, Greene King. For something a little different, why not take a tour around the Greene King historic headquarters?

The brewery’s fascinating history goes back to 1086, when monks brewed ale on the site of the Great Abbey using water from Bury’s chalk wells, which are still used today by Greene King. The historic Westgate brewery was established in 1799.

After climbing the one hundred stairs to the top of the brewery, stop and enjoy the breathtaking views of the town and Suffolk countryside beyond and relax in the unusual Beer Café, whilst sampling some of the finest beers brewed in Bury!

You can book a Greene King Brewery Tour at https://shop.greeneking.co.uk/products/walk-talk-tasting-tour

The Nutshell

The Nutshell

If a brewery tour isn’t on the menu for your tourist day out in Bury St Edmunds, why not visit one of the town’s most popular pubs? 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.

Now a major tourist attraction for local and worldwide visitors, The Nutshell is a little pub with a big personality! First opening its doors in 1867, this venue is unique in its decoration, including mummified cats and military vehicle parts.

Bury St Edmunds Market

Lots of people look at a variety of food stalls on Market Sqaure

After a busy day of exploring museums, the Abbey Gardens, and the town centre, why not end your day at the Bury St Edmunds market? The Bury St Edmunds Market is said to be as old as the Abbey and remains one of the most successful traditional street markets in the UK.

On Saturdays and Wednesdays, around 80 stalls sell fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, freshly baked bread, flowers, clothes, jewellery, hardware, fabric, pet food, and other items. There’s also a great choice of street food for you to refuel before your next tourist spot, including Thai, Caribbean, hog roasts, and crêpes.

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