Suffolk, a region of the UK I have to admit I hadn’t heard much about. I blame it on the fact that I am a Northerner! I went with zero expectations and left suitably impressed. It is jam-packed with gorgeous coastlines, winding country roads, historic castles, quintessentially British villages and bustling coastal towns. If you’re planning a weekend away then here’s my personal hit list I used to make the most of my time in the area.
Stay In The Countryside
We booked our accommodation through Yonder, an “outdoorsy” booking platform which focuses on accomodation immersed in nature. I stayed in the Delilah shepherds hut at Cretingham Country Park. It was the perfect spot to cosy up at the end of the day with the log burner crackling away and wake up to the sound of bird song in the morning.
Minsmere is a coastal nature reserve owned by the RSPB. It is home to wetlands, woods, beaches and numerous bird watching hot spots. It is very family friendly with a play area, nature trails and even a cafe for fueling your adventures. From here you can walk up the coast to Dunwich, which is a beautiful route.
Framlingham is home to the famous “castle on the hill” named by Ed Sheeran in his music. So, of course the most popular thing visitors do is explore the castle itself. It is a 12th century castle surrounded by parkland and estates, with lots to explore. You can also pop into the town centre where there is a market square surrounded by cafes, independent shops and pubs.
Aldeburgh & Thorpeness
Aldeburgh is a seaside town which manages to be popular and still not feel “too touristy”. The high street is lined with multi-coloured houses and plenty of independent shops and cafes. The most popular is Two Magpies bakery – a perfect spot for a morning coffee and a croissant. From Aldeburgh you can walk along the coast 45 minutes to Thorpeness. Here you can hire a rowing boat and explore Peter Pan Boating Lake as well as browse the antique nick nacks in Thorpeness Emporium.
I can vouch for the fact that Orford is one of the prettiest, if not the prettiest, of the villages on the Suffolk coast. It is an absolute pleasure to explore, with a historic castle, church, wildflower meadow and quaint cottages adorned with wisteria. It is also home to Pump House Bakery, a seriously hyped spot to grab a coffee and some baked goods. If you want to explore further you can walk along the river Alde or catch a boat cruise from Orford quay.
I didn’t have a chance to hit up Woodbridge but I was given an abundance of recommendations of things to do there! If you want to be in the hustle and bustle but have easy access to the Suffolk Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty then Woodbridge would be a great spot to stay. It has gorgeous river walks, independent shops, local markets and a great food scene – Honey and Harvey is highly recommended for brunch.
Snape Maltings is a collection of redeveloped Victorian industrial buildings which is now used for concerts, events, independent shops, galleries and more. If I’m honest, it’s pretty epic! Head inside to browse 12 independent shops from houseplant havens to interior treasure troves. Visit exhibitions, listen to live music and eat at one of three pubs, restaurants and cafes. You can also head outside to explore the surrounding area which is an expanse of big skies, wildlife and reeds.
If it’s a sandy beach you’re searching for then Southwold is your spot! It is adorned with the cutest beach huts and is the perfect spot for a coastal adventure. Southwold itself has a pier full of shops, eateries and amusements, a lighthouse you can take a tour of, and numerous independent shops and cafes you can dip into. If you want to explore further you can head south along the coast to Walberswick, catching the ferry across, or walk north to the “secret beach” of Covehithe. This beach is known for being a place to escape the crowds and admire the driftwood which collects there.
Let me know if you head to Suffolk and what treasures you uncover by dropping me a line on social media @zannavandijk.