198km (123 miles) SW of London; 34km (21 miles) SW of Bath

To the south of the Mendip Hills, the cathedral town of Wells is a medieval gem. Wells was a vital link in the Saxon kingdom of Wessex -- important long before the arrival of William the Conqueror. Once the seat of a bishopric, it was eventually toppled from its ecclesiastical hegemony by the rival city of Bath. But the subsequent loss of prestige has paid off handsomely for Wells today: After experiencing the pinnacle of prestige, it fell into a slumber -- and much of its old look was preserved.

Many visitors come only for the afternoon or morning, look at the cathedral, and then press on to Bath for the evening. But though it's rather sleepy, Wells's old inns make a tranquil stopover.