How to spend 24 hours in Southwold

Southwold beach viewed from the pier

Southwold beach viewed from the pier - Credit: Southwold Pier

There’s so much to do during a day out at this coastal gem that you might find the choice a little overwhelming. Hopefully, our guide to Southwold will help you make the most of your day trip

Seeking out the Southwold Beacon

Seeking out the Southwold Beacon - Credit:

Stroll along Southwold's promenade towards the picturesque pier, with a warm sea breeze on your face and the sun on your shoulders, and it's easy to understand why this lovely coastal destination has been dubbed 'the quintessential English seaside town'.

In winter it's a wilder, wind-whipped place, washed by huge North Sea waves that surge up the sand and shingle beaches and swirl around the pier's giant legs. But it's no less attractive for it.

In fact, there's no better way to start the new year than with a visit to Southwold to for a bracing walk over the common or along the beaches, followed by some warming refreshment in one its many tea rooms, pubs and hotels.

The town has plenty to fill your day and evening and is the perfect base for a short break or a longer family holiday.

Dog walkers on Southwold beach Picture: CANDY KOURAKOS

Dog walkers on Southwold beach Picture: CANDY KOURAKOS - Credit: CANDY KOURAKOS

In the morning

If you're an early riser the first thing you'll want to do is see the sun rise over Sole Bay.

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Southwold is practically as far east in the UK as you'll get (that honour goes to Lowestoft just up the road) so there's no better place to see the sun come up.

Start your day with a stroll along the beach, heading down towards the harbour on the estuary of the River Blyth.

The foot ferry over to Walberswick. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The foot ferry over to Walberswick. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Here you can spend some time exploring The Alfred Corry Museum which gives you an insight into the lives of the Southwold Lifeboat Crews from 1893 to 1918. It also covers the history of the 'Alfred Corry' lifeboat herself, right up to the present day.

Hop aboard the ferry and be rowed across to Walberswick to try your hand at crabbing. It's easy to while away a few hours in this lovely unspoilt spot.

If you decide to spend your morning in town why not explore some of the independent shops and Southwold's impressive collection of galleries. Local artist Serena Hall displays her own colourful work (the perfect souvenir of your visit) as well as an eclectic selection of other artists.

Don't miss Buckenham Galleries, one of East Anglia's finest contemporary galleries, Craft & Co run by a local collective, and Thea Gallery, a working ceramics studio.

EADT; Mike Page Aerial Photo Library; Southwold lighthouse; PICTURE COPYRIGHT MIKE PAGE - PICTURES A


Round off your morning with a tour of Adnams brewery or distillery where you'll see how the famous Suffolk ales, gin, vodka and whisky are made - and get to try them.

Your food options

Southwold has an impressive choice of places to eat and drink throughout the day and into the evening, whether you're dining as a family or enjoying an intimate dinner for two.

Set yourself up for the day with breakfast at Cafe 51 in the High Street. In fact you could pop in here for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner too. You'll find fresh, delicious food in bright and airy surroundings.

southwold pier

southwold pier - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fancy eating al fresco? Grab a seat at the Beach Cafe, next to the arcade on the pier, or head to The Harbour Café right next to the River Blyth in Southwold's beautiful harbour. Open every day from 8am - 4pm.

If you're spending the day on the beach Suzie's Beach Cafe will keep you satisfied, or head to the Boardwalk Cafe on the Pier.

The Two Magpies Bakery is a brilliant place for brunch, lunch or takeaway goodies such as pastries, muffins, cakes and interesting rye or spelt flour breads.

For lunch or dinner there's a wonderful choice of relaxed, friendly pubs and restaurants.

coastal voyager

coastal voyager - Credit: Archant

Sutherland House is a superb fish restaurant, where you can drop in for a glass of wine and a plate of tapas or enjoy an intimate dinner.

At The Swan Hotel you can dine in the Tap Room or the stylish Still Room restaurant, while Coasters is a lovely, informal restaurant with imaginative fresh, local food for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The afternoon onwards

Afternoon is playtime in Southwold whatever the time of year.

Southwold pier advertising pics.
Pic: Clifford Hicks

GLOSSY Southwold pier advertising pics. Pic: Clifford Hicks - Credit: Archant

If you're looking for adventure Coastal Voyager is for you. Book your seat and climb aboard the rigid inflatable boat with its massive 400 horse power engine for a Sea Blast, an exhilarating, adrenalin inducing, high speed trip. (

There are also short local fun rides, trips to the seal and wind farm at Scroby Sands, and a gentler Blyth cruise through breathtaking scenery.

Ride the waves or ride a bike from Southwold Surf Hire. The shop hires out essential equipment to get you out on the waves, as well as bikes. (

For maximum fun all in one place spend the afternoon at Southwold Pier. There are shops, traditional arcades, cafes and restaurants, and the Under the Pier Show with its whacky alternative games machines.

The Swan at Southwold

The Swan at Southwold - Credit: Adnams

If you have a head for heights head for Southwold lighthouse, an iconic landmark full of history, where friendly guides will take you all the way to the top. Check for times when you can visit at

The locals say...

Oliver Drury: Head of corporate affairs at Adnams based in Southwold

My ideal day? Wake up at the Swan Hotel, laze in a deep bath, then enjoy a hearty breakfast and read the papers. A morning stroll on Southwold beach, up to the pier then down to the Harbour Inn for fish and chips.

Southwold Lifeboat Station. The north harbour wall is cracking.
Photo: Bill Darnell
Copy: Lyn

Southwold Lifeboat Station. The north harbour wall is cracking. Photo: Bill Darnell Copy: Lynette Alcock For: EDP Archant © 2007 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2007

Walk back to Southwold along the Marshes and back into town. A visit to the Adnams Brewery and Distillery tour. Look around the local shops and galleries (pop into the Adnams Store, of course!)

Back to the Swan for a delicious supper with paired wines in the two-rosette Still Room restaurant.

Serena Hall: Gallery owner and artist

My favourite places? Southwold harbour. I grew up in our family home in Ferry Road and spent my spare time there.

I love seeing all the fishing boats and huts, and the incredible views. I walk around the harbour most mornings and I'm always inspired. I'm currently working on a new collection of harbour paintings for spring 2020.

The Sailors Reading Room. I'm fascinated by the historical photographs of Southwold as it used to be and the interesting local characters.

The Lord Nelson, my local pub for over 30 years, and our independent shops. I'm hopeful we will remain a strong independent high street, offering great choice.