Glastonbury is known in the UK mostly because of the festival it hosts. When I was telling people I want to go to Glastonbury, I usually got “Cool, the festival?”. Not really. Glastonbury is this little town in England, ambushed by all types of spiritual beliefs and practitioners. So here’s what to do in Glastonbury, apart from the festival.
The Glastonbury Tor
This is the most iconic place to visit in Glastonbury and everybody recommends it. Me personally, I think it’s nice, but I enjoyed the town better. From the town you can walk up to the tor, it’s pleasant and mostly quiet. Your way may be blocked by an enquiring sheep, but if you ask nicely, she will let you pass.
The views are very nice, as the tor is located on top of a hill, overlooking the area. Legends say that Glastonbury Tor is The Isle of Avalon, where King Arthur was buried. The Celts considered it the gate to the underworld. Whether these are just stories or there is indeed something unbelievable with the place, I couldn’t tell. But I do like to let stories fascinate me.
In the heart of Glastonbury, you can visit the remains of a 7th-century monastery. These ancient ruins were once an impressive abbey. And while you walk around, you will spot King Arthur’s tomb. So you can let the legends flow and imagine going back to Medieval times.
At the midway between the town and the tor, this enchanted garden invites you over. At the entrance, you will see big signs that you should keep quiet and not use your phone, so you will know that once you get in, you’re disconnected from big talks and social media. The garden is very pretty and peaceful and everyone is very mindful not to disturb the other.
What I love about it is between all the green and flowers, you discover a small bench and incenses still spreading their scents in the wind. It’s like a cosy home but made of nature.
The main street is filled with all kinds of shops. My first day to explore the town was very rainy, so it was the perfect excuse to go from store to store and be fascinated by the items on display. And don’t be afraid to walk the side alleys!
Crystals and stones are very popular. There is such a great variety, it all shapes and colours, it’s fascinating. I don’t know anything about crystals, but the shop owner it’s usually someone happy to guide you around and explain their powers and properties.
Pendants, amulets, little gods, the variety is incredible. One shop even had stuffed (real) animals, but those are scary.
And since a perfect ritual cannot be done without incenses and candles, you find the best of them here. I went walking around, smelling and reading ingredients’ labels like “Uh, what does this one do?!”. Just fascinating.
Learn something new
Everywhere around the town there are ads about classes and gatherings on different topics, from beginners to advanced. And this is one of the things I like about Glastonbury, all the spiritual beliefs seem to co-exist just fine here. Nobody is trying to convince you of anything, it’s just available if you are interested.
Apart from the many bookshops in town, there is also a library, the only public esoteric library in Europe. Unfortunately, it was closed when I went there, but I’m sure they have some very interesting books.
Where to eat
Compared to the variety of spiritual beliefs, the food options are very limited. Of course, you don’t come to Glastonbury for the food, but you still have to eat something. It would be either vegetarian or burger places, I tried both.
If you like tea and cakes, I really recommend the Abbey Tea Rooms. It looks very pretty and cosy, and a hot tea and homemade cake makes a rainy day way better.
Where to stay
There are many places to stay in Glastonbury, and the B&Bs offer you not only a cosy stay but the chance to meet friendly locals and learn more about the town and what makes it special. I’ve stayed at Moon in the Apple Tree and I loved it. It’s just a few minutes walk from the town, friendly hosts and delicious breakfast.
But if you want to take it a step further, there is a hunted hotel in Glastonbury! I didn’t stay there but a work colleague of mine did it with a few friends. I don’t have any cool ghost stories, but they had an interesting experience at least.
Getting to Glastonbury
Now this is the tricky part. I guess if you have a car it’s all good and easy, but if you don’t, there is no way to get there fast. You first need to get to Bath or Bristol, and from there to take a local bus. As I went there from Bath, I had to change buses in Wells. All I can say is to be patient and just wait. No need to check the bus schedule, as they run on their own time. As one local nicely put it, it’s all running on GMT – Glastonbury Maybe Time.