Which are the world's best cities for a mini break? New York, Paris and...Norwich? The secret is well and truly out after The Times named the fine city one of the most exciting places on the planet to visit this year. The only other UK destinations to be named on the prestigious list were Edinburgh, Colchester, Belfast and Manchester, with the newspaper recommending the 900-year-old market, with its stripy beach hut-style stalls and Norwich Castle among its must-see places.

And the love-in continues as sister paper The Sunday Times has also recently named Norwich as one of the best places to live in the east of England, describing it as a 'cosmopolitan cathedral city' with modern and medieval architecture and a buzzing cafe culture where 'literary pedigree meets livability'.


You don't have to travel to Bath to feel like you've stepped into an episode of Bridgerton. The gorgeous Grade 1 listed Georgian Assembly House on Theatre Street has 15 beautifully decorated bedrooms. Room 16, known as the Lilac Room, is the grandest suite in the West Wing (yes, there are wings). Designed by Annabel Grey (who has also sprinkled her interiors magic over Voewood Hall), it's decorated in English Heritage-approved Georgian colours and filled with quirky touches including handmade wallpaper, original art and a velvet sofa and chairs.

The suite has separate zones within a living space that includes a four-poster bed, a lounge area and a luxurious bathroom with views into the Noverre Garden, a freestanding bath and a walk-in drench shower.

Super talented Annabel has designed all the Assembly House's bedrooms and function rooms. To complete the experience, one of its themed afternoon teas, featuring exquisite patisserie, is a must. Tiers of pure joy.

Great British Life: Quaint, cobbled Elm Hill in Norwich. Quaint, cobbled Elm Hill in Norwich. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Norwich is a city with a strong, independent spirit. Norwich Lanes, the Royal Arcade, Upper St Giles, Elm Hill, the Cathedral Quarter, Magdalen Street and St Augustine's Street are the areas to head to for vintage, collectables, art, fashion, interiors, vinyl, and more. And in the heart of the city is Norwich's answer to Selfridges - Jarrolds. You could easily spend a whole day browsing and grazing in the independent, family-run store. The shining jewel is the Food Hall, which sells an unrivalled range of local produce - and even has its own cheese room.


There is some really exciting cooking happening in the city's kitchens.

At Asian fusion restaurant XO Kitchen you might find hispi barbecued cabbage, beef brisket rendang loaded bone marrow and Korean fried chicken on the menu, while Bun X's burgers have turned Micawber's Tavern into one of the hottest tables in town. Savour mutton shoulder schnitzel with lemon butter and oysters in Brix and Bones' cosy dining room. Dine in style at Richard Bainbridge's award-winning Benedicts.

And travel the world on Norwich market, from Bodega's New York deli style sandwiches to bao buns and katsu at Bun Box.

Plus, two much-loved names on the city's dining scene have recently returned. Tatlers is back with Femi Abodunde and Belinda Wooltorton at the helm. And The Last has been reopened by mother and son duo Joanna and Sebastian Taylor.

Great British Life: The River Wensum flows through Norwich. The River Wensum flows through Norwich. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


This summer Norwich Castle Keep is due to reopen after a five-year multi million pound project to reinstall missing floors and add the British Museum's first medieval galleries outside of London.

In the meantime, immerse yourself in the city's rich history on a walking tour with knowledgeable guide Paul Dickson (pauldicksontours.co.uk). The Introductory Tour covers 1,000 years of Norwich’s history from The Forum to Norwich Cathedral, taking in the ancient Cathedral Quarter, the city’s historic woollen cloth and shoe making industries, cobbled Elm Hill, Norwich Castle, the late Victorian Royal Arcade, the market, the 15th century Guildhall, City Hall and Jarrolds department store. Other themes include Shardlake's Norwich, inspired by CJ Sansom's Norwich-set novel Tombland, Historic Pubs of Norwich, a tour celebrating the legacy of Norwich architects Edward Boardman and George Skipper, and singer Jenny Lind and the foundation of the city's children's hospital which bears her name.

On the University of East Anglia campus, the Sainsbury Centre art gallery is currently hosting some fascinating exhibits as part of its What Is Truth? season. They include the Emmy-winning In Event of Moon Disaster, which uses AI to tell an alternative history of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, in the setting of a 1960s living room.

Next month we're grabbing our buckets and spades for a trip to Great Yarmouth. Email emma.lee@newsquest.co.uk and tell us your favourite places