Somerset is a fantastic county for a holiday. There's everything from city breaks in Bristol for the shoppers and art seekers or Bath for those interested in history, Roman Baths, Georgian architecture and Jane Austen. Many of Somerset's towns and villages are steeped in history with some of the country's most beautiful historic buildings.
For countryside lovers there's miles of beautiful countryside for walking, cycling and adventure outdoor activities. You've got the Mendip Hills in north Somerset that also stretch down to the central Somerset area and the Polden Hills, the Blackdown hills and the Quantocks around the south with the Somerset Levels lying on the lowlands all around. Then of course there's the moorland and woodlands of Exmoor National Park over in West Somerset. Somerset is a "green" county with lots of good public transport links but above all local markets and shops where you can purchase foods and drink that are made just around the corner.
Bath is world famous for its Roman Baths and Georgian architecture. It is hugely popular, attracting visitors from all over the world. As such there is an excellent choice of hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation both within the City of Bath and around the historic centre.
Bath is excellent for a romantic or luxury break with many hotels offering top end quality accommodation. This means that the standard of all hotel and bed and breakfast is of generally of high quality so even the lower priced accommodation outside the historic centre offer good quality accommodation. Often those guest houses, bed and breakfasts and hotels outside the centre of Bath are only a short walk away but offer better value for money.
Bath has a compact but full shopping centre with a mix of high street stores and independent boutique shops. Many of the shops are open seven days a week. There is also a good choice of cafes, restaurants and tearooms - many offering top quality menus perfect for the romantic dinner for two.
Bristol is an exciting, modern city with a huge array of attractions for visitors. It has long been regarded as a media and arts centre and there are a whole host of art galleries and arts centres to suit all tastes. There is a fantastic choice of museums both related to Bristol's history and culture and the influence Britain has had across the world. It is only now that the darker side of Bristol's past prosperity is being acknowledged and accepted as an important part of the city's culture.
Bristol is second to none for shopping. Not only do you have the Broadmead area for high street names, but there are St Nicholas Markets and Park Street for independent shopping. Being a university town there is a good range of pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants. It is also one of the few places in the South West with a prominent gay scene which is centred around Frogmore Street and the Old Market.
There is a good choice of hotel and B&B accommodation around Bristol - either along the coast at Portishead, the suburbs of Bristol or out to the east heading into the Mendip countryside. There's plenty to see and do whether its Bristol Zoo and Gardens or the Bristol Balloon Fiesta at Long Ashton just outside Bristol city centre, or further afield like Blaise Castle in Henbury. As you head out into the countryside around Bristol there are plenty of walks or viewpoints along the Chew Valley or
Bristol International Airport has grown over the years and now offers a good selection of both domestic and international flights serving the whole of the South West of England and Wales. It is a compact airport but has all the facilities you'd expect including on-site parking, bars, cafes and restaurants and of course a good range of shops.
Central Somerset contains the Mendip Hills which are great for walking, caving and outdoor activities. The world famous showcaves attractions, Cheddar Gorge and Caves and Wookey Hole, also lie in the Mendips. The flatter land around the Mendips are the Somerset Levels which contain the largest areas of wetland habitats in Britain. The towns and villages of Central Somerset are steeped in history from Glastonbury's links with King Arthur and the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury Abbey and the Tor to the smaller medieval market towns like Shepton Mallet. There is also England's smallest city Wells with its beautiful cathedral. This area mixes ancient history with more modern pastimes like the Glastonbury Music Festival and events at The Royal Bath and West Showground.
The countryside around Bath and Bristol enters the Mendips with their rolling green hills punctured with underground caves. To the south of Bath was the centre of Somerset's mining industry and you can find out more about this lesser known element of social history from museums like the excellent Radstock Museum at Radstock Midsomer Norton. Frome is traditionally regarded as an ancient market town with a medieval centre and this is certainly true. However, these days Frome is the hub in North East Somerset for a lively arts and crafts scene where the social calendar is dotted with festivals and events.
The Somerset Coast has something for everyone. There is miles of sandy beaches for family seaside fun from Weston-super-Mare to Burnham-on-Sea. There are family holiday parks with Pontins and Brean Sands at Brean and Butlins on the Exmoor coast at Minehead. For quieter seaside holidays there are genteel Victorian resorts like Clevedon, Brean Down and Berrow Sand Dunes. Traditional seafaring towns are dotted along the coast like Watchet at the north of the Quantock Hills.
All the Somerset Coast looks out onto Bridgwater Bay - excellent for birdwatching with waders and waterfowl coming here to feed over winter or breed in the Spring.
South Somerset is full of old, historic villages where the locally quarried golden Ham stone makes up the large proportion of the buildings. These were once important market towns, some of which carry on today. The centres often have a good range of independent shops selling local produce. Holiday accommodation in South Somerset can often be found in bed and breakfasts in traditional cottages.
The River Parrett Trail runs right through this part of Somerset and down into Dorset. It's an excellent way of exploring the South Somerset towns and villages and the beautiful countryside that lies around them.
Ham Hill Country Park is one of the major countryside attractions. This is topped by the largest Iron Age hill fort found in Europe. A network of paths lead you around Ham Hill where you can see the remnants of the hill fort and the wide range of wildlife including the grassland containing a wide range of wild flowers and butterflies.
West Somerset has some of the county's most spectacular scenery within it. The Quantock Hills rise up from the Somerset Levels and head west to the coast at Watchet. The Quantocks have long been an inspirational place with beautiful wooded combes and views out across Somerset as far as Glastonbury and over Bridgwater Bay to the Welsh coast.
Heading further west takes you into Exmoor National Park famous for its heather moor, red deer and Exmoor ponies. These landscapes offer fantastic walking opportunities with a network of footpaths and walking routes.
Bridgwater and Taunton are two of Somerset's main towns with excellent shopping, cafes, restaurants, pubs, museums and historic buildings and town trails. They also put on fantastic illuminated carnivals in the Autumn months to celebrate Guy Fawkes' Gunpowder Plot that was masterminded by a Somerset born man!