7 Suffolk towns to visit for a wonderful weekend
PUBLISHED: 15:59 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:20 29 November 2016
Suffolk is a county that has it all – indulgent foodie delights, breathtaking beaches and gardens and some of the best shopping around. It’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway and we’ve picked 7 of best towns for you to choose from.
Bury St Edmunds
Regarded by some as the jewel of Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds is a town steeped in history. The unique combination of medieval architecture, meticulous gardens and modern shops create a beautiful patchwork town perfect for exploring. You’ll find plenty of places to stay here, from the contemporary Angel Hotel positioned right in the heart of town or the architectural marvel, The Ickworth. Just a 10 minute drive from town The Ickworth is perfect for a family stay and with 1,800 acres of parkland you can spot deer, ride bikes or take a dip in the pool.
Enjoy a stroll around the Abbey monastery ruins, exploring the water, rose and sensory gardens, and finish with a picnic amongst the botanical marvels of the famous central area. Throw yourself into the hustle and bustle of the weekly street market, with over 80 stalls there’s so much to see. If you fancy more modern retail therapy there is a variety of independent and high street shops to peruse.
When you’re feeling peckish the assortment of eateries and cafes will leave you spoilt for choice. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Baileys2, or sit down for an evening meal at Pea Porridge where passion for purity and home-grown produce is infused into every dish.
Ipswich is the place to be if you’re looking for arts and culture and as one of the oldest towns in the country it has a long and captivating history. For a weekend of luxury, try the Salthouse Harbour Hotel; with its stunning waterfront location and unique, individually designed rooms it’s ideal for a romantic getaway. Or if you’re looking for something slightly more affordable Airbnb provides a huge variety of excellent places to stay such as this stunning riverside apartment.
Without a doubt the best way to experience Ipswich is through a chartered cruise on the River Orwell and there are several different companies such as Orwell River Cruises or Viking Mariners. If you’ve left your sea-legs at home then pay a visit to one of the town’s famous galleries such as Wolsey Art Gallery, take in a show at the Ipswich Regent Theatre or just kick back and relax at one of the splendid bars on the Waterfront.
Foodies will love the selection of eateries on offer in Ipswich, many of which taking advantage of the excellent waterfront views in the marina. Mariners is an award winning restaurant with a sophisticated atmosphere, and indulging in the French cuisine, al fresco from the patio deck is the perfect way to conclude a weekend away
A wonderful mix of music, food and friendly atmosphere - Aldeburgh is perfect for the whole family. Located on the Suffolk coast, its Blue Flag, shingle beach is a favourite amongst tourists and locals alike. A weekend at the seaside is the perfect excuse to stay in one of Aldeburgh’s glorious seafront cottages. You’ll find a plethora to choose from online but you can’t go wrong with the delightful Hanover House on the town’s vibrant high street.
Aldeburgh is home to some breathtaking views. Stretch your legs on the ‘Eastbridge Pub and Dog Walk’ while strolling through forest, meadow and beach with a quick stop for tea at the National Trust Tea Room. For music lovers the Red House tour is a no-brainer. It’s the former home/workplace of famous Suffolk composer Benjamin Britten where visitors can see his studio, library and gardens.
For delicious fresh fish, head to Aldeburgh’s fisherman’s huts on the beach, but if you prefer your fish already cooked and battered the Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop is regarded by some people as the best fish and chips in the UK.
Just eight miles from the coast, Woodbridge lies on the River Deben and is the quintessential destination for a romantic couples retreat. The charming pubs and cafes and incredible selection of spa hotels mean you probably won’t want to leave. A romantic retreat isn’t complete without a stay in a spa hotel, and they don’t come much better than Ufford Park Hotel and Milsoms, Kesgrave Hall. Both are set in idyllic picturesque vistas, offering excellent accommodation, food and excellent spa facilities.
A trip into the town will reward you with an abundance of quirky vintage stalls and outdoor markets. Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous the Rendlesham Forest – home of the infamous 1980 UFO incident is just across the river. There is also the burial site of the Sutton Hoo, widely regarded as the most important Anglo-Saxon historical site in the UK.
Foodies should try to time their visit to coincide with the Woodbridge Shuck, an annual shellfish festival attracting local chefs and artisan seafood producers celebrating good food and locally harvested shellfish. This year the festival takes place from 29 September – 2 October.
This traditional seaside resort town is renowned for its beautiful sand and shingle beach; and seaside attractions. The self-catered beachfront houses like the Seafront Sunrise and Felsto Beach are ideal for a family stay; they offer easy access to the beach and attractions as well as spectacular sunset views of the sea and vibrantly coloured little beach huts.
Bring your bucket and spade because the four miles of sand and shingle beach are perfect for a day making sandcastles with the kids. You can even rent your own beach hut and there’s a great selection of ice cream and fish and chip shops. Manning’s and Ocean Boulevard both have great children’s rides and crazy golf.
There’s a myriad of restaurants and cafés to choose from in Felixstowe of almost every cuisine you can think of. Treat yourself to afternoon tea at Lillie’s, cocktails and seafront views at The Alex, delightful Indian food at Bombay Nite or traditional fish & chips from Fish Dish.
This peaceful market town in the Waveney district is ideal for a quiet break to unwind. Quirky little market squares and independent shops and restaurants and brisk riverside walks – you’ll find something interesting everywhere you turn. There are lots of places to stay in Beccles, from adorable holiday cottages, and a great selection of hotels and bed and breakfasts. But if you feel like trying something new, then you can’t beat the cosy Shepherds Huts in the tranquil setting of Barsham. Run by Dawn Chorus Glamping Holidays, the huts are hand-built using traditional methods and provide all the comforts of home without the distraction of a TV or Wi-Fi.
Being so close to the River Waveney it’s a great opportunity to hire a canoe, kayak or day boat – take a book and float the day away! Alternatively Waveney River Tours run guided boat tours all the way up the river allowing you to sit back and focus on the beautiful views. If boats aren’t your idea of a good time then there a boat load (sorry!) of riverside walks to try out where you can experience the Suffolk countryside and explore the Beccles Marshes.
For delicious food look no further than Upstairs at Baileys that serves a superb three-course light lunch with Spanish influences or enjoy a fine dining experience for the evening with some fabulous traditional Catalan cuisine. There is also a Delicatessen downstairs that sells traditional food from all over the world!
Tucked away in the pretty Suffolk countryside is Clare. This charming market town has lots of quality local pubs and cafes and is also a great spot for visiting some other parts of the county. There are lots of places to stay in Clare such as cosy cottages like The Ancient House, a picturesque, timber-framed building that stands alongside the beautiful Church of St Peter; or large holiday homes like the Old Bakery with a pretty garden and patio complete with open plan kitchen-cum-conservatory and a comfortable sitting room. Three stunning king size bedrooms means there’s plenty of room for a family or friends.
A weekend in Clare is best spent exploring its incredible history. There’s a 13th century Augustinian Priory, the stone keep ruins of Clare Castle that date back all the way to William the Conqueror, and a fascinating medieval church. Or for those in need of a retail fix there’s a wide range of shops and antique stores.
The town is also home to high quality local cafes and pubs. The Globe is a traditional village pub with fantastic beers and often features live music. It may be a local’s pub but by the end of the night you’ll feel right at home.