Things To Do In Malmesbury, Wiltshire: An Essential Guide For Visitors

Last Updated on 29/04/2021

The pretty market town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire is your quintessential English country town. Complete with historic market cross, grand Abbey and sprawling gardens, it is well worth a visit to admire Malmesbury’s charm.

In this guide I’ll share what to do in Malmesbury on your visit, where to stay, and what to do near Malmesbury if you want to extend your time in the area.

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About Malmesbury, United Kingdom

If you are looking for a charming and historic town with lots of character, Malmesbury, England is the place for you! This pretty town might be small in size, but it is crammed with things to do.

Malmesbury is the ideal place to visit as part of a Cotswolds break, or a great day trip from Bath. No matter where you are visiting in the region, keep reading to discover all of the reasons why you don’t want to miss Malmesbury off your itinerary.

What is the Malmesbury population?

The 2011 census recorded the Malmesbury population at under 5,400. So if you’re looking for a quiet town for a relaxing escape, you are in the right place! A significant proportion of the population of Malmesbury work at the Dyson headquarters, which is located on the edge of town.

What is Malmesbury famous for?

Despite its small size, Malmesbury has some pretty big claims! Firstly, Malmesbury is famous for being England’s oldest borough. It has a Guinness World Record to prove it! Malmesbury was given royal ‘borough’ status by Alfred the Great, around 880AD.

Malmesbury’s famous association with King Alfred the Great is what it is best known for. But the beautiful Malmesbury Abbey, the historic market cross, and the Old Bell Hotel are all famous attractions in their own rights. You can read more about these sights below.

Top parking location in Malmesbury: Malmesbury Long Stay Car Park, SN16 9JT.

Things to do in Malmesbury

For a small town, there are a lot of things to do in Malmesbury! Here is a list of my top recommendations.

You will want to allow 2 hours minimum for your Malmesbury visit, but you could easily fill half a day. If you wanted to check everything off this list, you’d need a full day to take it all in!

Discover Malmesbury Town Centre

One of my favourite things to do in Malmesbury was to simply take a stroll around the town centre. This picturesque town is calm and quiet in the morning, but definitely has that bustling market town feel by midday. Simply soaking up the charming streets and life in the town is a great way to enjoy Malmesbury.

Admire Malmesbury Market Place

The historic market cross in Malmesbury was built in c. 1490. Located in the centre of town, this ornate icon is hard to miss! There are benches inside which make the ideal place to sit and admire the market place and surrounding buildings.

Location: Market Cross, SN16 9AS.

Things to see in Malmesbury Market Cross

Malmesbury Shops

On a stroll through the centre of Malmesbury, you will encounter a number of independent boutique stores. They sell a range of wares from clothing to home accessories and unique gifts.

You will want to set aside some time on your visit to browse the shops in Malmesbury. It is worth noting that if you visit on a Sunday or a bank holiday, the stores are unlikely to be open.

Best shopping location: High Street, SN16 9AU.

Athelstan Museum

The Athelstan Museum is a small museum dedicated to celebrating the history of Malmesbury and the local area. The collection was donated by Malmesbury residents when the museum was established in 1931 and it continues to grow.

With collections dedicated to how people lives, agriculture and industry, art and much more, Athelstan Museum is the ideal place to learn more about the rich history of Malmesbury.

Location: Town Hall, Cross Hayes, SN16 9BZ.

Malmesbury Abbey

Malmesbury Abbey was built in the 12th century. It has been an important place of worship throughout its history and, at one point, housed the second largest library in Europe. The Abbey that stands today is the third to be built on this site and dates from 1180.

Worship continues in the nave today, while the rest of the Abbey stands in ruin. It is free to visit the Abbey but visitors are encouraged to make a donation to support the maintainance of this incredible building. You can also stroll around the building and admire what remains.

Location: Gloucester St, SN16 0AA.

Things to see in Malmesbury - Malmesbury Abbey

Abbey House Malmesbury

Abbey House is a country house located adjacent to Malmesbury Abbey. It dates from the 16th century, but it is believed that a building has been here since around the 11th century. It was possibly built as a dormitory for the neighbouring Abbey.

Abbey house is privately owned so you cannot visit inside it. However, you can catch a glimpse of the exterior when you visit Abbey House Gardens.

Location: Abbey House, Market Cross, SN16 9AS.

Things to see in Malmesbury Abbey House

Abbey House Gardens Malmesbury

If there is one thing you don’t want to miss on your visit, it is the Malmesbury Abbey Gardens. The gardens make up 5 acres of grounds belonging to Abbey House. They are open to the public from late March until late October every year.

Abbey House Gardens are made up of a diverse combination of curated formal gardens, neat lawns and riverside glades.

Things to see in Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens

The best way to soak up the gardens is simply to take a stroll and thoroughly investigate the archways, steps and terraces and see what you discover. You’re likely to be surprised around each turn, particularly if you stumble upon the weekly yoga class on the lawn, or Brutus the resident tortoise!

The garden plays host to a number of events during the year. At the time of our visit, they were home to the Creating Spaces Sculpture Exhibition. There were almost 100 sculptures dotted throughout the gardens, which visitors could admire and purchase.

Things to see in Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens

If you want to visit the gardens, there is no need to pre-book. Tickets can be purchased on the day and are priced at £8 per adult, £4 per child (5-15 yrs), £7 per consession or £20 for a family ticket.

Malmesbury Abbey Gardens open from 11am each day. You will want to allow at least an hour for a gentle stroll through the gardens. You can spend longer here by finding a spot to sit and unwind, or enjoying some delicious food from the cafe by the koi pond.

Location: Abbey House, Market Cross, SN16 9AS.

Things to see in Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens Cafe

Malmesbury Walks

If you want to spend more time in Malmesbury and really get to know the place, there are a number of walks that you can enjoy. Explore Malmesbury is a great resource which has the town’s highlights plotted on a map.

You can also select one of the themed trails which will take you on a guided tour. You can choose everything from a family quiz or arts and crafts trail to a river walk, pub trail or a tour of the Malmesbury highlights.

Where to stay in Malmesbury – The Old Bell Hotel

If you want to extend your stay in the area, there is nowhere better to stay than The Old Bell Hotel Malmesbury. The Old Bell Hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in England. They have been welcoming guests from as early as 1220!

The Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury is definitely a little slice of luxury. They have 34 rooms that make the most of the historic character of the building, while combining it with all of the modern comforts you would expect. It is the ideal way to fully immerse yourself in the extensive Malmesbury history on your visit!

Location: Abbey Row, SN16 0BW.

Things to do near Malmesbury

If you are planning to visit Malmesbury as part of a longer stay in the region, here are some great things to do near Malmesbury to add to your itinerary.

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is often referred to as the ‘prettiest village in England.’ This quintessential Cotswold village is certainly charming and the ideal place for a stroll to soak up the quiet village life.

It is located a short 25-minute drive south of Malmesbury. There is free car parking available just outside the village (SN14 7HH) but it does get busy. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Westonbirt the National Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the most important plant collections in the world. Its expansive collection of trees from around the world is dedicated to research and conservation. You can take a stroll through the woods, or enjoy them from a greater vantage point on the Treetop Walkway.

Tickets to Westonbirt currently need to be pre-booked. You can book your tickets and see the entry prices here.

Location: Westonbirt, Tetbury GL8 8QS.

Dyrham Park

Dyrham Park, owned by the National Trust, is a 30-minute drive southwest of Malmesbury. This baroque country house is set in an ancient deer park. It is a beautiful place to wander the grounds and admire the house exterior. The interior is currently undergoing extensive restoration work.

Parking is available onsite. There is an entry fee of £8 per adult, £4 per child, or £20 per family. National Trust members can visit for free – get your National Trust membership here.

Pre-booking is currently required. Find out more here.

Location: Dyrham, Bath, Chippenham SN14 8HY.

Things To Do Near Malmesbury - Dyrham Park

Bath to Malmesbury

Malmesbury is an ideal day trip from Bath if you are visiting and want to extend your visit to other places in the area. To get from Bath to Malmesbury, you can enjoy a scenic 45-minute drive through the Cotswolds. Or you can get a train from Bath Spa to Chippenham, then catch the 92 bus service to Malmesbury which will take approximately 1h15 to 1hr30.

Before you go

So if you are visiting Malmesbury, be sure to bookmark this page or pin it using the pin below so you can visit these top sights on your trip!

Have you visited Malmesbury? I’d love to hear about your visit! Let’s connect on Instagram and send me a DM and tell me what you loved most about this pretty market town!

Until our next adventure,

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P.S. Love it? Pin it!

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54 thoughts on “Things To Do In Malmesbury, Wiltshire: An Essential Guide For Visitors”

  1. This all looks so beautiful! I would love to see the Abbey House and gardens. I wish we had really cool little villages like that over here in the US. I dream of visiting this type to village someday!

    • I’m so lucky to be surrounded by beautiful towns and villages here in the UK! Malmesbury is such a lovely one! The Abbey House Gardens were stunning, I could have stayed there all day! I hope you get an opportunity to visit!

  2. So many cool things to do in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This is a great guide for visitors. Would especially love to visit the abbey and gardens.

    • There are so many things to do in Malmesbury! More than I imagined there would be! Visiting Abbey House Gardens was my favourite, it was absolutely stunning!

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty town! Abbey House is such a beautiful building! The houses around the town were cute too! It was fun just walking around and admiring them!

  3. It’s relaxing just looking at your photos – Malmesbury must be such a sweet town to explore! I looove the look of the Abbey House Gardens as well as the Abbey. I have visited Castle Combe before, but I didn’t know there was such a cute little town nearby!

    p.s. It’s fab that they have themed trails and walks to allow you to explore the area. That is totally my cup of tea.

    • Malmesbury definitely has a laid-back vibe! I could have spent the whole afternoon unwinding in the Abbey Gardens if we didn’t have such a long drive home! I wish we’d had more time in Malmesbury to explore the trails! I’m keen to go back and see more of it!

    • Malmesbury is a beautiful town! The Abbey House Gardens were absolutely stunning, I could have spent all day relaxing there!

  4. Malmesbury seems to be the perfect little English town/ village we would love to visit! I like the peace and quiet, and the greenery and history – all the features we look in towns we visit. The Abbey and gardens look so beautiful. Bookmarking this blog for my future visit. 🙂

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty town that is a lovely place to visit! It would make an ideal stop on a Cotswold road trip! I hope you’re able to visit soon!

  5. Looks like such a charming place to wander! Those homes are too cute. Sounds like there would be some fun finds in the Malmesbury Shops!

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty town. The houses are so charming, aren’t they? There are definitely lots of gems to unearth in the shops!

    • I’d never heard of Malmesbury either, we stumbled across it by accident but I’m so glad that we did! There are so many pretty places to explore in England!

  6. That is such a pretty town to visit! I love visiting historic towns and I have yet to explore this part of England so it’s going on my list for sure. Looks like a great day trip idea!

    • Malmesbury is a beautiful town! It is such an interesting place with lots of interesting history. It’s definitely worth visiting on a Cotswolds escape!

    • Malmesbury is a beautiful place to explore the English countryside. It is right on the border of the Cotswolds so you can visit plenty of adorable villages on your trip! The Abbey House Gardens was beautiful! It was my favourite thing to see in Malmesbury!

  7. The abbey ruins look so interesting to explore. This is another place in England I’ve never been to – having to stay home has really opened our eyes to what’s around us!

    • Malmesbury Abbey was such a beautiful building! The architecture is so intricate and the ruined section shows just how huge the Abbey would have once been! I agree! I’ve never explored England so much but I’m really enjoying discovering all these wonderful places here! I suppose lockdown has a slight silver lining!

    • Malmesbury is a beautiful town and is well worth a visit when you’re in the area. I hope you’re able to visit England soon!

    • There’s so much to see in England! I’m still discovering new places all the time! Despite being small, there is a lot to see! I hope you get an opportunity to explore England soon!

    • This was my first trip to Wiltshire and we discovered so many beautiful places! Malmesbury is a beautiful stop when you are in the area!

  8. I love how historic the architecture is in Malmesbury! The Abbey House Gardens Malmesbury are breathtaking. I would love to visit! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • The buildings in Malmesbury are beautiful! And the gardens were absolutely stunning! I never wanted to leave but unfortunately we had to pull ourselves away for a long drive home, otherwise I would have spent all day relacing in the gardens! Thanks for reading!

  9. I love the Cotswolds so much and Malmesbury looks like a little fairytale town. I’m surprised by how much you can actually do there, so definitely adding it onto my list when I’m next travelling around this area of England.

    • The Cotswolds is such a beautiful part of the country, isn’t it? Malmesbury is such a lovely town! We only found it by chance but I’m so glad we did! I love exploring the town and the gardens!

  10. Beautiful! I love little English market towns! Been to many when I lived in the north of England, and lived in a medium-sized market town myself. No queues, totally friendly! I gotta look Malmesbury up next time in the UK, fingers crossed. Love the photos.

    • English market towns are the best, aren’t they? They’re so charming and friendly, like you said! Malmesbury is a beautiful one, I’m so glad we stumbled across it! The Abbey Gardens were stunning!

    • Malmesbury is a lovely place! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit! It would be an ideal stop on a Cotswold road trip, or a lovely day trip from Bath!

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty town! I loved exploring it, the Abbey Gardens were simply stunning! Thanks for reading!

  11. I remember learning about Malmesbury during one of my early English history classes! I haven’t had the chance to visit it yet though, but your photos are making me want to go more and more.

    • Ooh I’d never heard of Malmesbury before! We were staying in the south Cotswolds and I was looking for a stop on the way home when we stumbled across it. It was a great find! It is a beautiful town, I definitely recommend a visit when you get the chance!

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty town with so many beautiful things to see. The gardens are exceptionally beautiful! Thanks for reading!

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty place! And the Old Bell Hotel is so charming! It is the perfect place to stay in Malmesbury!

    • Malmesbury is such a pretty place and I loved exploring Abbey House Gardens. Castle Combe is really charming too. A visit to both in one trip was like taking a step back in time! Thanks for reading!

  12. You have completely ignored the fact that Malmesbury abbey is the burial place of the greatest king of England… King Athelstan.

    • Oh I think I read about this although I did manage to miss is completely when we visited! I don’t know very much about King Athelstan at all! I’m going to have to do some reading! Thanks for the tip!


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