Suffolk Travel Guide
Our luxury experts have compiled a guide to some of the top locations to visit, sights to see and local cuisine to sample during your luxury cottage holiday in Suffolk.
Suffolk, on England’s east coast, brims with natural beauty. It’s easy to see why prominent artists including John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough were influenced by the county’s countryside and seascapes, and today it still attracts all kinds of creative visitors, from photographers to writers, who seek inspiration for their own masterpieces. The Suffolk Coast stretches along 50 miles of heritage coastline, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the Suffolk Broads are perfect for boating and are brimming with wildlife. Suffolk is also home to some very pretty villages, the medieval town of Bury St Edmunds and the famous Newmarket race course, making it an excellent place for a relaxing luxury cottage holiday.
Aldeburgh, on the Suffolk Coast, has a vibrant arts and music scene, in no small part due to the town’s most famous resident, the composer Benjamin Britten. Take a tour of the Red House where he lived from 1957 until his death in 1976, or visit in June for the Aldeburgh Music Festival (held at nearby Snape Maltings) that Britten helped to found. Art-lovers should start at the 4-metre-high ‘Scallop’ sculpture on the beach, followed by the art galleries in town, whilst the vibrant high street is home to a handful of boutiques, antique shops, places to eat and a cinema.
"Aldeburgh has a blue flag rated shingle beach, a yachting club and a few colourful fishing boats that supply the fishmonger shacks by the beach with fresh fish that you can pick up to cook for dinner."
How about a ready-to-go fish and chip supper? Aldeburgh is famous for them. There are beautiful views and walks in the area including the historic Sailors Path that runs from Aldeburgh, through the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to Snape. Or, visit the quirky village of Thorpeness, or picture-perfect Orford with its castle that now houses the village’s museum.
Southwold is very popular for luxury cottage holidays on the Suffolk coast in the summer months. A traditional place, with a thriving market town atmosphere, there are plenty of shops and restaurants amongst the streets that feature fine Georgian, Regency and Victorian buildings. Southwold boasts a golden sandy beach edged by beach huts and it’s lovely to spend the day here, especially for families. To survey the area in more detail, either take the walk up to Gunhill Cliff, the site of the town’s canons, or visit the lighthouse that was built around 1889 to guide ships entering the River Blyth – it opens occasionally for the public in the summer.
“Southwold Pier is also a must for its bygone era ambience of wooden buildings housing traditional gift shops, amusements and places to eat.”
Boat trips from the harbour include exhilarating seal and wind farm tours by RIB boat, whilst more leisurely sightseeing cruises along the River Blyth lead to the beautiful Walberswick Nature Reserve. If you like concerts and shows, Theatre on the Coast, held at Southwold Arts Centre each summer, runs a variety of events. And, don’t leave town without sampling a pint of Adnams beer, the brewery has been based in Southwold since 1872.
The Waveney Valley is where you will find the Suffolk Broads, a network of stunning waterways including rivers and lakes that are perfect for boating adventures, walking and wildlife. Along the way there are historic mills and landmarks, thriving towns and a host of pretty villages to discover at your own pace. Oulton Broad, the largest of the lakes, is linked to the Suffolk Broads by the River Waveney and is a popular place to rent a boat from for a few days or so. Or, you can simply take advantage of some of the many guided boat trips on offer. Whichever you prefer, booking a luxury cottage in this area is a great idea.
“Amongst the villages of the Suffolk Broads is Beccles where tranquil moments can be spent watching boats drift by from a riverside pub, or perhaps venturing out on a kayak.”
Climb the town’s belltower for magnificent views, or shop amongst the charming designer boutiques and vintage stores. Meanwhile, Bungay with its castle ruins, almshouses and fine antique shops, is a particular magnet for real ale fans with whom the ale trail and the nearby St Peter’s Brewery are popular. For art lovers, Halesworth is not to be missed: a host of festivals, concerts, exhibitions and plays are held here throughout the year.
The Brecks is the place in Suffolk – it actually stretches into Norfolk to the north too – for a back to nature experience. The area includes the vast pine forest of Thetford, is steeped in history and legends, and is full of opportunities for outdoor adventure activities. Miles of pathways lead through woods and heathlands that are a favourite haunt for walkers, cyclists and wildlife lovers, as well as those looking for blue skies – it is said that the sky here is particularly blue and the area is reportedly one of the sunniest in the UK.
“Thetford Forest is a good place to find your wild side. Start at Brandon Country Park where nature trails offer the chance to see deer, a beautiful arboretum and a mausoleum that is said to be haunted.”
Visit Go Ape Thetford to tackle the treetop rope course, or join a Segway tour. If you’re feeling brave, there is an area of the Little Ouse river at Santon Downham where you can wild swim, or simply just paddle. For a change of scene, head to the themed West Stow Anglo Saxon Village, the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds, or the Elveden Estate to purchase some fine local produce.