11 places to make you fall in love with the Suffolk coast
PUBLISHED: 10:45 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:01 18 September 2018
Sitting pretty along the coast and moving a little way in land, Suffolk is home to some wonderful towns and villages perfect for a weekend away, day trip or even a summer staycation
Arguably one of Suffolk’s most popular coastal towns, Aldeburgh’s stunning blue flag beaches make it a behemoth when it comes to attracting tourists. Its historical ties to Benjamin Britten, the pretty pastel hued holiday homes and the fresh fish on sale at the town’s fisherman’s huts make it a perfect destination for a weekend break. There are a superb selection of boutique stores and independent shops to spend time browsing through, and for those in search of culture there’s lots of art and history to enjoy. Take a photo by The Scallop on the beach or learn about the life of Benjamin Britten and visit The Red House.
There are an abundance of wonderful pubs and bars to choose from, whether you’re after a sit down family meal, casual drinks or just a snack on the go. The Lighthouse and the Regatta Restaurant both serve sensational seafood, with the Regatta even smoking its own fish. Or for something more traditional why not take a bag of fresh fish and chips down to the beach? For this, look no further than The Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop, a champion in the community having served the people of the town for over 50 years!
This peaceful, riverside market town is ideal for a quiet weekend break with its patchwork of quaint little market squares and winding narrow streets that lead to quirky shops and cafés. Enjoy a riverside stroll out into the Waveney Valley and experience the sheer beauty of the Suffolk countryside. In finer weather take the opportunity to get out on the water in a kayak, canoe or even a day boat for a guided tour of the area. For those seeking retail therapy Beccles offers a fantastic selection of independent shops, luxury boutiques, designer fashions and dreamy delicatessens selling all manner of foodie delights.
When thoughts stray to food you’ll find plenty on offer to take your fancy. For brunch, lunch or dinner Graze at the White Horse serves a great range of meat, veggie and vegan dishes and Upstairs at Bailey’s serves up delicious homemade food with a Spanish twist. For something a little more peaceful we suggest heading to the Wherry Inn just outside Beccles in Geldeston, the traditional homemade pub classics and staggering supply of real ales make it a favourite with locals and tourists alike.
Its myriad of scenic walking trails and magnificent architecture make Bungay a smashing destination for anyone with an adventurous side. The market town is steeped in a rich history from its Anglo-Saxon heritage, the ancient Bigod’s Castle and the legend of the Black Shuck – the mysterious “devil dog” that is said to haunt St Mary’s Church.
Any visit to Bungay wouldn’t be complete without taking time for traditional afternoon or cream tea. These can be found at a number of places from Earsham Street Café, The Old Bank Tearoom, and the Tally Ho Tearooms (east of Bungay in Mettingham).
At one time Dunwich proudly held the title of capital of the East Angles even rivalling London in size during the 14th century. The tiny village is the place to go for anyone searching for peace and tranquillity with its rich populations of diverse wildlife and stunning walking trails on the Dunwich Heath – which as we’ve said before is the most beautiful AONB. It’s also home to lots of interesting history that can all be explored at the Dunwich Museum. Visitors can experience exhibits from Roman, Saxon, Medieval, Elizabethan, Victorian and many more.
Dunwich is also very dog friendly, the walks and fresh air alone are enough to make any pooch positively giddy with excitement. After a days trekking through its scenic beauty stop off at The Ship at Dunwich for delicious fish and chips and a few pints of glorious real ale. The hotel, pub and restaurant enjoys breathtaking views of the marshes and the sea, and is just a few minutes from the beach.
Kessingland is a large village just south of Lowestoft in the Waveney District. This area of Suffolk is believed to have been occupied since the Paleolithic Era (roughly 2.6 million years ago) which makes it a hotbed for history and culture. The beach, although beautiful, is much less commercial than some of the others you will find in Suffolk making it great for anyone who eschews from large crowds. Its quiet atmosphere and serene setting also means there’s an abundance of wildlife. A stroll along the beach will take you through Benacre National Nature Reserve which is home to some of the rarest birds in the country.
With Lowestoft being so close you don’t have to travel far to find good food, Markg, just two miles away serves superb British and European dishes in a relaxed modern atmosphere. Should you wish to stay local, look no further than The Waterfront, enjoying stunning sea views and serving fantastic seafood and modern English cuisine the intimate, Mediterranean style restaurant is ideal for a family meal.
Ah Lowestoft, Suffolk’s most easterly town, birthplace of the great Benjamin Britten, a favourite beach day destination for families all over the country, and, the first place you’ll see the sunrise in the UK. There is an almost endless supply of things to do and see in Lowestoft. Catch some rays on the beautiful blue flag beach, resplendent with its golden sands and picturesque little beach huts. From Lowestoft meander your way along the Victorian Promenade to Pakefield, a delightful nearby village where you’ll find cliff top restaurants, charming cafés and wonderful sea views.
Visitors to Lowestoft will find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes time to be fed and watered. With a huge selection of restaurants and pubs to choose from there’s something suitable for all occasions. Sample the ever-changing beers at the Stanford Arms or relax beside the harbour at The Harbour Inn or tuck into Mediterranean delights at Marmaris Meze Bar.
There aren’t many villages in Suffolk as pretty as Orford; the peaceful fishing village is well known for its delightful quay where you can enjoy a relaxing river cruise or tea and cake at the Riverside Tearoom. Embrace the great outdoors by exploring the Orford Ness Nature Reserve, a ten mile long shingle spit with a tangle of marsh, waterways and lagoons that’s perfect for long walks with the dog. Or pay a visit to the Orford Lighthouse to see the iconic structure that’s been guiding sailors to safety for generations.
Orford is known for its love of good food, and you don’t have to go far before finding something sublime to eat or drink. The Pump Street Bakery is a small family owned bakery and café selling exquisite handmade artisanal breads and pastries that can all be washed down with coffee that is roasted by Monmouth in London. A visit to Orford wouldn’t be complete without stopping for oysters at Pinney’s Butley Orford Oysterage. Tuck into fresh, locally sourced fish and shellfish all from the rustic comfort of this little restaurant tucked away on the Market Square.
Snape is the epitome of Suffolk beauty; a haven of coastal countryside with its stunning marshland backdrop. Snape is well known for its connection to music, arts and culture. As the home of Snape Maltings, the concert hall hosts a variety of performances as well as the Aldeburgh Music, a hub for some of the most talented musicians in the world. The Maltings is also an excellent place to see art galleries whilst enjoying the numerous little cafés and restaurants. Its scenic location next to the River Alde mean its also a great spot for boat trips or even a river walk.
There are a variety of places to eat and drink at Snape Maltings all of them making use of the county’s incredible wealth of local produce. Indulge in delicious cream teas from cafés overlooking the Alde, or perhaps gaze upon the Suffolk vistas over dinner from the Concert Hall Restaurant. For something quiet and casual you must visit The Plough and Sail, a rustic and spacious pub cum restaurant complete with a cosy snug room for relaxed drinks and a darling balcony area perfect for a romantic al fresco meal.
The pretty village of Somerleyton is situated on the Norfolk/Suffolk border just a few miles from Lowestoft and Beccles. Many of the houses and thatched cottages consist of what was the model village, built around a green that once belonged to the Somerleyton Estate, set along leafy lanes and a delightful village duck pond. Perhaps what the area is best known for is the Somerleyton Estate’s pleasure gardens which are open to the public and a joy to explore. Discover the beautiful and ornate iron and glass greenhouses and the 70ft pergola, home to wisteria, roses, clematis and vines. You’ll also find some of the finest yew hedge mazes in Britain, dating back to 1846.
As a part of the Somerleyton Estate traditional British countryside pub The Duke’s Head is the heart of the community, renowned for making deliciously fresh, seasonal food. Find yourself a seat in their beautiful beer gardens and spend the day working through their magnificent beer selection.
Walberswick sits at the mouth of the River Blyth just one mile from Southwold and is much, much quieter. Untamed and wild, Walberswick’s beach has a charm that some of the other beaches in Suffolk do not, a jumbled mix of sand and shingle flanked by grassy sand dunes and almost completely surrounded by marsh and heathland. It’s also an excellent place for crabbing, so good in fact that it holds the annual World Open Championships. The Blyth River Estuary is close by and is must see for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. Covering over 1,000 acres it’s a patchwork of mudflats, marshland and meadows that’s home to a staggering amount of incredible wildlife.
With Southwold being so close there is a plethora of fabulous pubs, cafés and restaurants that are all within walking distance. For some of the best seafood in the area head over to the Sole Bay Fish Co, their seafood platters are second to none. For refreshment that’s a little closer, The Parish Lantern Tea Room is excellent for lunch time nibbles and local pub The Bell Inn serves homely, traditional pub food in a warm friendly environment that’s steeped in history. Make the most of its wonderfully spacious garden when the sun is out before retreating into one of the cosy snugs in hidden alcoves once that evening chill begins to set in.