Top 10 Destinations in East Anglia

Royal Arcade in Norwich city centre


Norwich is possibly the best preserved medieval city in England, with a beautiful Norman cathedral and imposing Norman castle (which also doubles up as a brilliant museum and art gallery). But it’s also got fantastic nightlife, with theatres, pubs and clubs; Europe’s largest covered market; a literary vibe that stems from it being England’s only UNESCO City of Literature; plus superb shopping, with independent shops focused on The Lanes as well as five department stores and two malls. The city has a river running through it, is very walkable along its winding streets, and with Norwich University of Arts in the city centre it has a very young feel.

Where to eat: The city is packed with restaurants and eateries – work up an appetite by walking around looking at menus. To keep yourself going, have some chips on the market!

Where to stay: The Old Rectory B&B is a Grade II listed Georgian house dating back to 1754, or for a longer stay try The Four Seasons . Both are close to the city centre and river.

Ipswich and Constable Country

Ipswich has long held the largest collection of Constable works outside London, with over 30 works on permanent display at Christchurch Mansion, resulting in a unique collection of Constable’s life and work. After immersing yourself in Constable’s paintings in Ipswich, you can explore the landscape that inspired them: Constable Country. Set within Dedham Vale, one of Suffolk’s two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Constable Country encompasses East Bergholt and the surrounding countryside and villages, and two of the best ways to explore are on foot or by bike. You can bring your own bicycle, or rent one from Cycle Breaks, who provide cycling holidays around Constable Country complete with routes, stop-offs and fantastic accommodation.

Where to stay: Right on Ipswich’s marina waterfront stands the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. Expect modern art and design, and knock-out views.

Where to eat: The Mariners is a floating French brasserie moored in Ipswich’s iconic marina. The dishes are superb and exquisitely presented, and best enjoyed on deck while the setting sun dips into the River Orwell.

Wind pump on The Broads National Park

The Broads National Park

The Norfolk Broads are absolutely unique in the world, the result of medieval digging for peat to be used as fuel that eventually became inundated by rising sea levels to create a series of lakes linked by natural rivers. The Broads are great to explore by cycle, on foot or by hiring a boat, and it won’t be long before you’re out on your own in beautiful, unspoilt countryside. As a National Park, the Broads are protected from development and conservation of the environment and wildlife is top of the agenda. Birdwatching here is a joy and you’ll discover lots of quaint villages and riverside pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Where to eat: The picturesque Fur & Feather Inn is the brewery tap of Woodforde’s Brewery – have a big Yorkshire Pudding filled with onion gravy and beef.

Where to stay: Sprowston Manor Hotel is set in large ground, and is close to the Broads.

Suffolk ‘Wool’ Towns in the heart of Suffolk

During the medieval ages, a small group of Suffolk towns rose to prominence: grand churches sprung up in their centres, fine timber-framed houses were built on their streets and their families grew wealthy. Lavenham, Clare, Long Melford, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds and Hadleigh: we know them now as the Suffolk Wool Towns, the towns that grew rich – and then fell into decline – with the British wool trade.
Explore Long Melford’s spectacular church, built with the wealth generated by Suffolk’s medieval wool trade; learn about Long Melford’s history on a guided walk of the town starting from Tiffin’s Tea Emporium; visit nearby Clare, Suffolk’s smallest town; take a trip to Lavenham, ‘England’s Best Preserved Medieval Village’ and the home of Harry Potter’s birthplace; discover the life and work of Thomas Gainsborough at his former home in Sudbury. And perhaps the largest of all of Suffolk ‘Wool’ towns is Bury St Edmunds, a honeypot of cultural and heritage gems including a cathedral, the oldest surviving Regency theatre in the country and Britain’s smallest pub, The Nutshell.

Where to stay: The Bull Hotel is a beautiful 15th century timbered house in Long Melford with 25 traditional, cosy rooms. Or head to Lavenham for a little spot of elegance and stay at The Great House or The Swan at Lavenham.

Where to eat: The Great House in Lavenham, where you can eat award-winning French cuisine made with Suffolk produce.

The Brecks

The Brecks in the west of Norfolk is one of the most distinctive landscapes in the UK, and boasts the country’s best climate. If you want to escape into untamed wilderness of vast forests and historic heathland, this is the place for you. There’s action and adventure to be found in Thetford Forest, with aerial adventure and off-road cycling; gentler walking and cycling on official trails; and the chance to spot lines of ‘Deal Rows’, prehistoric Pingo lakes, wild red deer and lots of birdlife. This is also an area of charming market towns and control towers and memorials left behind by the American flyers based here in the second world war.

Where to eat: Cocoes Deli in Swaffham has superb home-made fare.

Where to stay: Strattons is a delightful and quirky French-style country house in Swaffham.

Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds is Suffolk’s cultural and historical gem. Among the chic independent shops, historic cathedral and fantastic restaurants you’ll find Britain’s smallest pub, a famous brewery and a fascinating archaeological site.
Once home to one of the most powerful monasteries in medieval Europe, Bury St Edmunds has some extraordinary architecture, including St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the flower-filled Abbey Gardens and West Stow, an ancient Anglo-Saxon village. It’s also home to Greene King Brewery, one of the UK’s most prolific brewers and the makers of Abbot Ale. You’ll find Greene King beer in many of Bury St Edmunds’ pubs, including The Nutshell, officially the smallest pub in Britain. Moyse’s Hall Museum, a beautiful medieval building in the heart of the city centre, is where you’ll find anything from a medieval jewellery to revered paintings. Bury St Edmunds also boasts Britain’s only surviving Regency theatre, the Theatre Royal, and The Apex, a fantastic live music venue. A great family day out can be found to the south of Bury St Edmunds at Ickworth House, a neoclassical estate with a striking rotunda that holds seasonal events throughout the year.

Where to stay: In the heart of this historic market town sits The Angel Hotel, a 4 star award-winning Georgian coaching inn formerly frequented by Charles Dickens, and boasting a unique, art-filled Eaterie.

Where to eat: One of Suffolk’s most outstanding eateries, Pea Porridge is a local favourite whose down-to-earth style and delicious food earned it a place in the Good Food Guide 2015.

Kids on the beach in north Norfolk

Norfolk Royal Coast

Norfolk Royal Coast is in the north-west of the county, taking in rugged seashore, huge sandy beaches, tidal creaks and saltmarshes that are perfect for mussels and oysters, and beautiful countryside. This is where the Royal family have chosen to live privately, away from the paparazzi and bright lights. The family spend every Christmas and New Year at Sandringham, but otherwise the house is open to the public, and nearby Anmer Hall is home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family – so Norfolk is home to the second, third and fourth in line to the British Throne. This is an area of stately homes, such as Houghton and Blickling; of the best birdwatching in the UK; picturebook villages and market towns with quaint pubs and boutique shopping.

Where to stay: Congham Hall is an elegant Georgian manor with spa facilities, set in gracious parkland.

Where to eat: The Dabbling Duck at Great Massingham – it’s a favourite of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

Horses at sunrise in Newmarket, Suffolk

Newmarket: the home of British horseracing

Newmarket is famous throughout the world as the home of horseracing, and with almost as many four-legged inhabitants as there are two-legged, it’s no surprise.
As well as 5,000 thoroughbred horses, Newmarket is home to two racecourses, 52 stud farms, 75 licensed trainers, The Jockey Club, and Tattersalls, the largest equine auction house in Europe.
To understand the day-to-day workings of the world of horseracing visit Newmarket’s stud farms, and the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and British Sporting Art, open summer 2016. Immerse yourself in a tour with Discover Newmarket to learn about the world of horseracing and access some of racing’s most exclusive locations.
There is, of course, no substitute for the drama of a real race, so make sure you catch one while you’re in Newmarket. Ladies: why not stay in the sumptuous Jockey Club Rooms and glam up for the stylish July Festival, first paying a visit to the new luxury spa at The Bedford Lodge Hotel?

Where to stay: Stay at The Bedford Lodge Hotel, an 18th century Georgian hunting lodge and once a place for the Duke of Bedford to relax after a hunt. Today it’s a bolthole for owners and spectators who enjoy a little post-race luxury.

Where to eat: Sample the unique opportunity of dining at the Jockey Club Rooms, a private members club that opens its doors to those in the know.

Norfolk Seaside

Norfolk Seaside takes in two of the best traditional family-friendly seaside resorts in the UK – Great Yarmouth and Cromer. Both became famous in Victorian times, when the new railways brought people from the industrialised Midlands and London to enjoy fresh air and sea swimming. Today, this coast is still a Mecca for people looking for big sandy beaches, amusements and attractions and lots of fun.

Where to eat: No 1 Cromer  is a fish and chip restaurant with stunning views over the pier. Otherwise find a café where you can get a fresh crab sandwich – you can taste the sea.

Where to stay: Try a traditional seaside hotel like Virginia Court Hotel or the award-winning Georgian Grove.

The Suffolk Coast

The Suffolk Coast is a 50-mile stretch of heritage coastline and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated just two hours from London. It is one of the best places to experience wildlife, a love of food, seaside life, and world-class culture. The towns and villages on the Suffolk coast are wonderfully varied, as are the landscapes surrounding them. The largest is Lowestoft, with a wide sandy beach and access to the beautiful Suffolk Broads. At the other end of the scale is Orford, a tiny fishing village that possesses plenty of foodie delights and a depth of folklore. Dunwich the smallest coastal village opens out onto an expanse of kaleidoscopic heathland rich with wildlife. Aldeburgh is a magnet for cultural tourists to the Suffolk coast, looking to experience its acclaimed arts festivals and fabulous food. Families gravitate towards Kessingland, home to one of Suffolk’s most popular family attractions Africa Alive! and the fairy-tale village of Thorpeness, famed for its Peter-Pan-inspired boating lake. With its promenade, seafront gardens, and 16th century fort, Felixstowe holds a more traditional family holiday. Southwold is perhaps most notable and the quintessential of seaside towns, adored for its beach huts, charming pier, and quaint coastal pubs.

Where to stay: A variety of accommodation will greet you from charming self-catering, traditional seaside hotels to the more unique, such as House in the Clouds or Dune House.

Where to eat: Likewise, eateries are in abundant, offering the finest seafood delights, lovely delis and huts selling seafood directly off the boats. One thing we do recommend is a pint at a charming Adnams pub and savour its local ale.

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