East Anglia is the large flat area found in the south east of England, that part of the island that, looking on a map, protrudes to the east. Visiting this area means immersing yourself in picturesque villages surrounded by open countryside, visiting splendid towns with cathedrals and markets, experiencing a typical English holiday in the seaside resorts of the coast. Because the East of England is not just the Cambridgeshire and Cambridge, its most famous location, in this article you can discover the best of Norfolk and Suffolk counties.
Where to go in Norfolk and Suffolk
I had already written some time ago about 5 great places to visit in East Anglia listing some of the most beautiful destinations to see. However, even if it is a great taste, there is not only that and in this article I add new places to visit to learn more about Norfolk and Suffolk.
First of all, the first time you travel through East Anglia by car or train, you will be fascinated by its fields that widen as far as the eye can see. At that moment you discover that England is not just London, but includes vast and enchanting rural areas. I fell in love with this area just like that, crossing it and wading through the immense English landscapes outside the window.
Continuing east you reach Norwich, the bustling capital of Norwich, a green city that rises around the River Wensum. All around are magnificent postcard villages, whose buildings tell of the development of the county since the Middle Ages.
A unique feature of Norfolk are the Broads, an extensive network of marshes and waterways. While one of the greatest entertainments is exploring the canals by boat, the marsh ecosystems are also interesting from a naturalistic point of view as they are home to some of the most rate species of plants and birds in the UK. In the summer, you can also watch sailing regattas on the Broads.
Finally, on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast you can experience a true English seaside holiday because tourism is almost exclusively internal. Here you can visit old lighthouses still in operation, eat fish & chips at the waterfront kiosks and the signature Mr Whipple ice cream with Cadbury chocolate bar, and even watch an authentic circus show at the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth.
The most beautiful destinations in Norfolk
If you visit Norfolk you are sure to fall in love with it. I myself have left my heart there. From its beautiful capital Norwich to the countryside surrounded by rivers and canals, everything here looks like a postcard image. Even if you don’t love the outdoors, you won’t be able to resist the idea of having a picnic in a park at the first ray of sunshine.
Further inland, the bustling city of Norwich among its attractions offers a bustling historic market, Victorian arcades, charming pedestrian alleys, a massive Norman castle where you can spot the largest teapot in the world and an impressive Cathedral, as well as shops and restaurants for all tastes.
For this reason it is the perfect starting point for visiting the region. I also tell you about it in my article on what to see in Norwich in one day. I recommend that you read it to start organizing your itinerary. There is so much to see that you will have to give a priority list!
The Norfolk Broads National Park
The Broads are a network of over 200 kilometers of navigable canals without locks, formed by the water of the rivers Wensum, Bure, Waveney and Yare poured into the holes in the ground dug to extract it in the 12th century. From this hydrogeological damage a unique ecosystem of marshes was born, today a very important National Park for the preservation of plants and animals in the area.
The Museum of the Broads, located in Stalham, chronicles the peat mining industry, exhibits the boats historically used to navigate the marshes and offers information on the park’s conservation projects.
Norfolk: attractions in the countryside and on the coast
Choosing what to see in Norfolk is almost impossible because each country town is extremely picturesque, with its pubs and still many houses with characteristic thatched roofs. On the coast there are very English tourist resorts, from the most romantic to the most curious. Like Great Yarmouth, full of attractions and at the same time a curious British version of Las Vegas.
For a one-of-a-kind visit to the heart of Norfolk that will drive kids big and small alike, you should definitely hop on the Bure Valley Steam Railway, which connects Aylsham and Wroxham. East Anglia is dotted with surprising transport museums with vehicles still in operation that an article is not enough to list them all.
BeWILDerwood, on the other hand, is an adventure park in the forest in the best English style. If you decide to visit it, do not dress well because there will be a lot of mud with paths in the middle of the marshes. On the other hand, the mazes, the zipline, the suspension bridges, the tree houses and other attractions in nature are truly epic.
Suffolk’s most beautiful destinations
Suffolk’s main city is Ipswich, where most trains and buses pass through the county. The surroundings are home to picturesque Tudor-style villages and residences, a reminder of the importance of the area in medieval times, due to trade of wool. If I really have to choose what to recommend, among the destinations not to be missed on a road trip in East Anglia there are certainly Bury St Edmunds and the elegant coastal town of Southwold.
Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds is full of historic buildings and also includes the impressive ruins of Bury Abbey, nestled in the beautiful Abbey Gardens. The church of St Mary, on the other hand, is one of the largest parish churches in England and is famous because inside is the tomb of Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and queen of France.
But if you prefer English beer to history, there are also two fantastic craft breweries in Bury St Edmund. Greene King Brewery has been running since 1799 and its visitor center chronicles the brewing in the city. To better appreciate it, I suggest you take a guided tour of the historic brewery, with a final tasting of beer tapped directly from the barrels.
The Moyse’s Hall Museum, on the other hand, is interesting because it is located in a large 12th-century basement and its attractions are as creepy as the setting. Here, in fact, you can see a medallion containing a real lock of Maria Tudor’s hair and discover the chilling witch trials that have marked the history of the city.
The good vibes of Southwold, famous as a seaside resort for wealthy Londoners, are completely different. This town is certainly the most beautiful on the coast with cannons lined up on the cliffs, a 19th-century lighthouse, beautiful stone cottages and colorful beach huts.
Southwold Pier stands out from other coastal towns by its unique style. The arcade on the pier features the best Victorian entertainment and on the pier there is also a curious fountain with animated sculptures that come alive at the stroke of every hour.
Plus, Southwold has their own local beer too, and everything from Adnams Brewery is really good. I recommend that you take the guided tour to discover all the production secrets and taste beer with an expert. If you have time you can also visit the gin distillery on the same property.
Outdoor activities in East Anglia
Norfolk and Suffolk offer amazing outdoor activities. First of all the beaches, beautiful and spotless. You can rent a flat and a cabin beach front to get the most from your British holiday. Or you can rent a house in one of the pretty holiday villages on the coastline.
If you love doing sports, the east coast of England is always very windy so you can go kitesurfing. Or you can rent a boat for a few hours or even a week to sail through the Broads waterways. Alternatively, as an outdoor activity, you can walk or cycle part of the trails of the area.
The paths of East Anglia
The flat land without hills of East Anglia is perfect above all for walking and cycling. From here you can leave for some excursions inland or along the coast.
You can choose to explore Thetford Forest, a real forest in Norfolk, or take the more famous Peddars Way hiking trail, 46 miles long and partly by road, from Knettishall Heath in Suffolk to the north Norfolk coast near Hunstanton. The first part of the walk takes up an ancient Roman road, while the second half winds through beaches, cliffs and marshes.
Another route is the 60 miles Suffolk Coast Path, which links Lowestoft, the UK’s easternmost town to Felixstowe to Lowestoft, passing through the beautiful coastal village of Southwold, famous for the Adnams Brewery and a visitable lighthouse.
Where to rent a car in Norfolk
To get around in East Anglia, I suggest you have a car because some beaches and towns in the countryside can be quite difficult to reach by public transportation. If you come from abroad, you can rent a car directly at the airport. Alternatively, if you live in England but far from East Anglia, you can reach Norwich by train and rent a car there.
My favorite website to compare rental prices and find the cheapest ones is Rentalcars.com. You can find the best prices also from the box below ?
Write me in the comments section if you already knew the East of England and the counties of East Anglia in particular.