Nestled in the heart of Somerset, Cheddar is a popular destination for travellers looking to explore this quiet part of the UK.
The small town is best known for two things: Cheddar Gorge and the local cheese. While these are great enough reasons to visit, there are also plenty of other activities in Cheddar that are worth trying out.
So, whether you’re in the area for a holiday or just passing through, check out this list of the best things to do in Cheddar.
1. Visit Cheddar Gorge
This gorge is the main attraction that many people come to see in Cheddar, and it’s one of the most interesting landmarks in Somerset, drawing tourists from all over the country and the world.
It’s a steep road through the canyon, so if you’re walking there’s no need to push yourself and go too far. Ten minutes from the start of the gorge is enough to get a feel for the place.
There are also lots of places to park along the gorge if you’re visiting by car.
2. Cycle or drive through Cheddar Gorge
Visiting Cheddar Gorge is one thing, but taking the time to traverse it from end to end is well worth it too. After all, it’s one of the most unique places in the UK.
Cycling through the gorge is a popular route. Going uphill may be a challenge, but coming down from the top provides an exhilarating experience with the wind rushing through your hair as you let gravity take hold and bring you down the winding road pedal-free.
Even driving down Cheddar Gorge is exciting, especially on a weekday when there aren’t many people on the road. It’s one of the most interesting and awe-inspiring drives you can do in the UK, with the steep, opposing cliffs rearing up on either side. Just be careful to take the tight bends slowly.
3. Explore Gough’s Cave
There are many caves accessible through the cliffs of Cheddar Gorge, but Gough’s Cave is one of the best to take a look at.
With beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, it’s one of the most impressive caves in the UK. It’s also full of history, with evidence of our ancestors living there over 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.
Today, Gough’s Cave is also used to store and age the cheese that’s made locally, so it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Cheddar Gorge.
4. Hike along the clifftop walk
For the more adventurous out there, the clifftops above Cheddar Gorge provide the perfect setting for a hearty hike in the area.
Best of all, there’s a great circular walk you can follow, starting from the bottom of the gorge. You can either go clockwise, beginning on the cliffs along the north of the gorge, or anti-clockwise along the south. Read more about the route here.
This walk provides amazing views of the area, but make sure to come prepared with sturdy footwear and a good waterproof coat in case the weather takes a bad turn. We got drenched when we were still up on the cliffs!
This is just one of many great walks in the area and surrounding Mendip Hills, which are are some of the best things to do in Somerset for couples.
5. Try some cave-aged cheese
One thing you have to add to your bucket list of things to do in Cheddar is to try out its namesake cheese. Fortunately, there’s plenty of places to try out samples for free!
Many shops in the town sell cave-aged cheddar which has been matured in nearby caves such as Gough’s Cave, and you can go to Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company if you want to taste a few different types of cheese.
6. Take a tour of the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company
Cheese-lovers (or any foodies!) must check out Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, which boasts being the “true home of cheddar cheese”.
Not only do they have a shop where you can buy as much cheese as your heart desires, but you can also have a VIP tour to see behind the scenes and learn about how they make their delicious cheese.
Best of all, the tour finishes with a cheese-tasting session, and you’ll even leave with a goodie bag.
7. Visit the Museum of Prehistory
Right at the bottom of Cheddar Gorge is the Museum of Prehistory, a must-see location in Cheddar for any history buffs visiting the town.
With so much human history discovered in the caves along the gorge, including the world-famous Cheddar Man, the museum holds plenty in store for curious minds.
8. Walk around Cheddar Reservoir
If the steep hills around Cheddar Gorge are too daunting or you simply want a more leisurely walk to stretch your legs, Cheddar Reservoir offers the perfect circuit for a stroll.
Many people use the reservoir for boating and fishing, but the vast expanse of water is also the perfect backdrop for a walk, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, or with the family.
The walk doesn’t require a huge time commitment either, taking around 1 hour to do the whole circuit. Plus, if you’re interested in other activities, you’ll be well-situated to try some watersports.
9. Take part in watersports on the reservoir
Cheddar Reservoir is home to the Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club, which offers a range of watersports to try out.
From stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking to sailing and windsurfing, you can book in for a session or even take lessons from trained instructors.
10. Climb Jacob’s Ladder and the lookout tower
There are a few ways up to the clifftops above Cheddar gorge if you want a good view of the surrounding area or a place to start a hike, but Jacob’s Ladder is the most direct route.
The “ladder” consists of 274 steps that cut straight up the cliffs, so it’ll leave you huffing and puffing by the end. You do have to pay to access it from the bottom, but there are alternate routes up if you prefer.
Once you’re at the top of the cliffs, you’re not yet at the end of your climb. Pavey’s Lookout Tower, opened in 1908, offers the best views around, although it’s another 48 steps.
11. Go rock climbing
With cliffs reaching over 450ft high, Cheddar Gorge is one of the best locations in the UK for thrill-seekers interested in scaling these impressive heights.
Book a rock climbing experience for an unforgettable chance to get tackle this prehistoric landscape hands-on. Even if you’re not a seasoned climber, there’s a range of routes when making your ascent, from very easy to more challenging options. Plus, instructors will be on hand to help you every step of the way.
You can even organise an exclusive group experience for up to 10 people – perfect for a big family, friends, or special events like birthdays.
12. Browse the Christmas shop
One of the most eccentric attractions in Cheddar is Old Rowlands Christmas Shop. Open all year long, this festive-themed location is the perfect stop-off point for anyone looking for some Christmas cheer, even if it’s not December!
For a special getaway, you can even book the self-catered holiday accommodation located above the shop. This so-called “Christmas Cottage” is great for those who love a cosy festive feel at any time of the year.
The best things to do around Cheddar
Cheddar itself is a relatively small town, so if you’re spending a few nights there or longer you should consider looking for other things to do in the local area.
Fortunately, there are towns like Glastonbury and Wells not far away, as well as the seaside to the west. For a bigger city, Cheddar isn’t far from Bath, one of the best UK city breaks by train.
Here are a few ideas of top things to do near Cheddar.
13. Visit Wookey Hole
For decades, Wookey Hole has been considered by many as one of the top attractions near Cheddar and in all of Somerset, especially for families.
Tens of thousands of years old, these caves have been home to humans and the base of many legends, including that of a witch who supposedly lived deep within the mysterious underground chambers.
Having a tour through the caves is just one thing you can do at Wookey Hole. You can make a full day of your visiting by visiting their other attractions including the cave diving museum, a mini golf course, and the enchanted valley that’s full of surprises to discover!
14. Go to King John’s Hunting Lodge
With Tudor-style jettied timber frames that look over the town square, the building was originally a wool merchant’s house that dates backs to the 15th century.
With a small admission fee (although free for National Trust members), King John’s Hunting Lodge offers a little slice of local history that’s worth exploring if you’re in the area.
15. Visit Glastonbury
While being the location for the biggest music festival in the UK has put this town on the map, there’s plenty to love about Glastonbury itself.
Only a half hour drive from Cheddar, Glastonbury is full of small independent shops, cafes, and bakeries that make it a lot of fun to visit and explore.
There’s also an impressive abbey in the town and, if you’re up for a little walk, it’s worth going to see Glastonbury Tor for incredible views across three different counties.