The ultimate guide to staycations in Suffolk for 2022

Suffolk sand dunes

With its lovely seaside towns and beaches, beautiful unspoilt countryside, picturesque villages, wonderful nature, wildlife, arts and culture Suffolk is a fabulous place to plan a break. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whether you have two days or 20, Suffolk is a wonderful place to escape to whatever the time of year. Stunning scenery from coast to countryside, amazing nature and wildlife, fascinating history and entertainment, delicious local food and drink. Even if you live here you'll discover something new - and if you don't a whole new adventure awaits

The coast with the most

Suffolk has a coast like no other. Sixty miles of unspoilt sand and shingle beaches, stunningly beautiful hinterland, enchanting coastal towns, wonderful wildlife and astounding history. Here people, nature and wildlife, local communities, businesses, and organisations make the area such a special place to live, work and visit. 

Almost the entire coast is in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, taking in Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich, Thorpeness, Aldeburgh, Snape and Orford. It's a hugely popular destination for everything from walking the dog, to days at the beach, long distance walks, birdwatching, and, of course, staycations.

Beach huts line the seafront in Southwold

Beach huts line the seafront in Southwold - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival at Snape Maltings

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival at Snape Maltings - Credit: AFDF/Alistair Grant of Bokeh Pho

There's plenty to keep you busy and plenty of opportunities to simply relax. Watch the world go by with coffee and homemade cake in a seaside cafe. Share a satisfying meal and a pint in a cosy pub. Watch the waves, be soothed by the sighing shingle, have a snooze under the big sky... 

Everything you need to know: thesuffolkcoast.co.uk

Plan a visit

Most Read

21st Aldeburgh Literary Festival
May 5 - 8 at the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh
Talks and author events. Details at aldeburghbookshop.co.uk

Aldeburgh Music Festival 
June 3 – 26 at Snape Maltings and other venues
Three weeks of music and art events - opera, world premieres, artists in residence, leading performers, orchestras and ensembles, rising stars, talks, films and more. brittenpearsarts.org

First Light Festival
Midday June 18 to midday June 19 at Lowestoft 
A 24-hour, multi arts festival celebrating one cycle of midsummer sun setting and rising over the beach in Britain’s most easterly town. firstlightlowestoft.com

Felixstowe Book Festival
June 24-26 at Harvest House, Felixstowe
Meet authors and book lovers at live and online live-streamed events. felixstowebookfestival.co.uk

Southwold Arts Festival
June 25-July 2 at various venues in and around Southwold 
Street Festival, artists, performances, music, drama and more. southwoldartsfestival.co.uk

Maverick Festival 
July 1-3 at Easton Farm Park, Woodbridge IP13 0EQ
Americana music festival - six stages and a wide selection of musicians from the USA & UK. maverickfestival.co.uk

Latitude Festival
July 21–24 at Henham Park, near Southwold NR34 8AQ
The festival of high summer in Suffolk – great music, dance, comedy, poetry, theatre, literature, podcasts, family activities and wellness. Tickets and info at latitudefestival.com 

Folk East 
August 19-21 at Glemham Hall, Little Glemham IP13 0BT
The 10th anniversary festival promises a line-up that reflects the past decade and beyond. Tickets and information folkeast.co.uk

Art on the Prom
September 4 September on Felixstowe Promenade
More than 100 artists from East Anglia and beyond displaying and selling original artwork, free art activity tents, live music and entertainment. artontheprom.uk

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
September 24-25 at Snape Maltings, Snape IP17 1SP
Top chefs and food writers, local producers and growers, festival stages, cooking demonstrations, masterclasses, street food and live music. aldeburghfoodanddrink.co.uk

Richly coloured, jewel-like heather at Dunwich Heath

Richly coloured, jewel-like heather at Dunwich Heath - Credit: Justin Minns

Walks you'll love

Aldeburgh & Thorpeness - easy going walks of various lengths explore the beach, the resort and marshes.

Kessingland - just south of Lowestoft, lovely wild area with various walks.

Southwold - explore the old town, harbour, beach and marshes. 

Walberswick - walks of varying lengths take in the marshes, reserve, Dunwich Forest and part of the Sandlings Walk. 

All these walks are available or downloading from the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths suffolkcoastandheaths.org

RSPB Minsmere reedbed landscape Picture: David Tipling/RSPB

RSPB Minsmere reedbeds - Credit: David Tipling (rspb-images.com)

Swallow at Minsmere. Picture: JULIE FROST

Swallow at Minsmere. - Credit: Julie Frost

Make time for

RSPB Minsmere, Dunwich - a flagship reserve of the RSPB with some of the UK's rarest wildlife, including otters, and an impressive variety of birds, including avocets, bitterns and marsh harriers. 

Wonderful Waveney

The Waveney Valley forms the Suffolk-Norfolk border and is an area rich in nature and wildlife, as well as picturesque market towns such as Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Eye, Diss and Harleston that just invite you to go exploring. 

The River Waveney rises at Redgrave and wanders through the valley for about 50 miles before joining the Yare at Gt Yarmouth and emptying into the North Sea. One of the favourite ways to see the river is by hiring a boat or kayak/canoe, or you can take conducted river tour of the Broads National Park, departing from Oulton Broad, Lowestoft. 

An iwitness members heaven River Waveney Trust The annual sculpture trail event in stunning surr

The River Waveney Trust annual sculpture trail in the beautiful surroundings of the river. - Credit: Andrew Mutimer

One of the jewels of the Waveney Valley is Suffolk Wildlife Trust's reserve at Carlton Marshes, 1,000 acres teeming with wildlife which have been transformed into the southern gateway to the Broads National Park, thanks to National Lottery Heritage Fund investment of more than £4 million. Enjoy the wonderful natural environment and the new visitors' centre, as well as events throughout the year.

 Peaceful scenes on the River Waveney in Suffolk

Explore the River Waveney by boat. - Credit: Barry Pullen

This area has a rich history - explore Norman castles at Bungay and Eye, ancient churches, and fascinating local museums. At the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton, Halesworth Airfield Memorial Museum, and the Red Feather Club - the 95th Bomb Group Heritage Association - you can learn about and the county's World War II exploits, when the 'Friendly Invasion' brought thousands of American servicemen to East Anglia. 

 The Suffolk and Norfolk Aviation Museum in Flixton

The Suffolk and Norfolk Aviation Museum in Flixton displays part of Suffolk's military past. - Credit: Peter Bash

Plan a visit

INK Festival
April 21-24 at Halesworth
The UK's leading festival for showcasing new plays - four days, eight venues more than 50 brilliant, short new plays. inkfestival.org

Beccles Food & Drink Festival
May 28
A lovely festival in the town with over 50 artisan food and drink stalls, local food producers, growers and purveyors from the Waveney area. becclesfoodfestival.co.uk

Black Dog Antiques & Events
An eclectic mix of antiques, vintage and mid-century modern items for homes, gardens, textiles, ephemera and more in Market Place, Halesworth, but also at a series of fairs throughout Suffolk:
May 15 - The Grand Brocante at Glemham Hall, IP13 0BT​
June 12 - The Grand Brocante at Riddlesworth Hall, IP22 2TA
July 24 - The Bungay Antiques Fair, Maltings Meadow, NR35 2SA
More at blackdogantiquesandvintage.co.uk

Beccles Lido
Beccles' heated open air swimming pool is a brilliant place to spend some time when you're in the Waveney valley. Three swimming pools are all heated to 28°C (in summer) and suitable for all ages. Cold water swimming is available in winter. For opening times, booking and prices beccleslido.com

Somerleyton Hall Gardens
The perfect backdrop to mellow Somerleyton Hall, the gardens have been considered among the finest in East Anglia since the mid-17th century. There are more than 12 acres, with a maze, arboretum, parterre, White Garden and walled garden, as well as historic parkland, and regular events. somerleyton.co.uk

Take a trail!
Visit Waveney has put together a series of trails to help you explore whatever you're interested in. The Food Trail introduces some of the best local producers, the Wine Trail visits three vineyards, and there are trails for history and heritage, boating and canoeing, antiques and World War II. Details at visitwaveneyvalley.co.uk

Walks you'll love

Angles Way - a 93-mile walking trail from Great Yarmouth to Thetford. Make a fortnight of it and go the whole distance, or select some shorter circular days walks.

Somerleyton - starts in the village, skirts the Somerleyton Hall estate to Lound and follows the Angles Way along the Waveney Valley back to Somerleyton.

Somerleyton Hall gardens are a delightful place to while away some time.

Somerleyton Hall gardens are a delightful place to while away some time. - Credit: Archant

Bungay – The Bigod Way - starts in Bungay, follows the river valley to Earsham before ascending historic Bath Hills overlooking the valley, joining the Angles Way and then dropping back to Bungay.

Redgrave and Lopham Fen - an internationally important wetland
site with recently restored fen, lush meadows, heath, woodland, pools
and the source of the River Waveney. This walk follows waymarked trails that have been set out by Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

All walks can be downloaded at visitwaveneyvalley.co.uk

Make time for...

The Big Dog Ferry
The Big Dog Ferry runs between Beccles Lido and The Locks Inn Community Pub at Geldeston. It's a relaxing three-mile boat trip along the Waveney, when you could see otters, kingfishers and marsh harriers. Single and return tickets are available, so you can spend some time at The Locks Inn to enjoy a drink and a meal, and listen to live music. bigdogferry.co.uk

Go west

Plan a week exploring the west of Suffolk and you'll discover just how diverse the county is. Here are flinty villages, bustling market towns, meandering rivers, ancient forests and huge fields beneath the big skies. In the north are the Brecks ('broken land'), one of the driest parts of the UK. Further south, is the lush Lark Valley where the River Lark meanders from Bradfield Combust, south of Bury St Edmunds, to Mildenhall, and then joins the Great Ouse over the border in Cambridgeshire. The highest part of Suffolk is in the west, at Great Wood Hill on the Newmarket Ridge which stretches for 40 miles  between Sudbury and Hertford in Hertfordshire.

The Abbey was once of the wealthiest and largest Benedictine monasteries in England.

The Abbey at Bury St Edmunds was once of the wealthiest and largest Benedictine monasteries in England. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The jewel in the west is Bury St Edmunds, with its magnificent cathedral and abbey ruins, set in beautiful gardens. Bury has excellent shopping, restaurants and hotels, the country's oldest surviving Regency theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, and a fabulous entertainment venue, The Apex. You can tour the historic Greene King Brewery and enjoy festivals and events in the town throughout the year. There's nearby Ickworth House and the West Stow Anglo-Saxon village. There is so much to do in the west you'll want to keep returning again and again...

See more at: visit-burystedmunds.co.uk

Ickworth just outside Bury St Edmunds, a jewel in the west.

Ickworth just outside Bury St Edmunds, a jewel in the west. - Credit: National Trust

Plan a visit

Bury St Edmunds Whitsun Fayre - May Bank Holiday Sunday & Monday
Bury St Edmunds town centre becomes a sea of spring colour with plant and flower stalls, craft stalls in Buttermarket and Cornhill, a selection of food and drink, charity stalls and a Flower, Food & Craft Market on Angel Hill. Free entry. Details at ourburystedmunds.com

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Country Park
The historic Anglo-Saxon site and country park is open all year round. In June you can join Dragon Fest when the village celebrates all things dragons with themed performances and activities including walk-about characters, puppet theatre, combat skill training, music and crafts. weststow.org

Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival  
August Bank Holiday Sunday & Monday 
Cooking demonstrations from top celebrity chefs, the chance to try and buy food and drink from over 100 stalls and a popular farmers’ market. Free entry. 
ourburystedmunds.com/foodanddrinkfestival 

Bury St Edmunds Sci-Fi Exhibition
October - dates to be confirmed
A taste of Hollywood at Moyses Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds. See screen-used props, screen accurate replicas, original artwork and much more from the world of sci-fi and action including Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, DC Comics and more. Photo opportunities with costumed characters and special guests. moyseshall.org

Abbey 1000
The Abbey of St Edmund 1000th anniversary celebrations
Postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, a year of celebrations has been planned for 2022 to mark 1,000 years since the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund by King Canute. For the full programme of events go to visit-burystedmunds.co.uk/abbey-1000

Anniversary Tours
April 1 - November 20
Bury St Edmunds Town Guides’ season of daily town walks, plus tours focusing on various aspects of the Abbey and St Edmund, bring to life the significance and enormity of the Abbey, shedding light on what life was like for those living within its walls as well as for those on the outside. Special tours have also been devised for children. burystedmundstourguides.org

Bury St Edmunds BioBlitz
May 20 & 21
In the Abbey Gardens and Water Meadows, Bury St Edmunds, hunt for as many species of plant, insect and animal that can be found. 

Abbey 1000 Concert
May 28 
St Edmundsbury Cathedral IP33 1LS
Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra plays Elgar’s Enigma Variations; Britten: Fanfare for St Edmundsbury; Parry: I Was Glad; Paul Carr: Into The Light, the world première of a new work specially commissioned for Abbey 1000. suffolkphil.org

Abbey 1000 Sculpture Exhibition
May 1 - November 30
The Abbey Crypt, The Abbey Gardens, Mustow Street IP33 1X
A monthly changing display of sculptures on display where the shrine of St Edmund would have stood. Schools and artists are being invited to create artworks on a theme of the story of the Abbey and St Edmund.  

Secrets Of The Abbey: History Returns - Exhibition Of Manuscripts 
May 2 - June 9
Seven manuscripts from the Abbey Scriptorium are being reunited for the first time in their place of origin since 1539. Written and decorated by hand by monks in the Abbey, they will be displayed in the Cathedral Treasury. The manuscripts are on loan from Pembroke College, Cambridge where they were donated by William Smart (Portreeve of Ipswich) in 1599. stedscathedral.org/abbey-1000-events

MR James Lecture
May 26 
The Athenaeum, Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1LU
MR James is best known for his ghost stories, but his work as a medievalist scholar remains highly respected and researching the Abbey of St Edmund was a lifelong passion. His seminal lecture on the Abbey of St Edmund was delivered at the Athenaeum on Thursday, April 21 1932, and 2022 marks the 90th anniversary of his lecture.

Picnic in the Park
July 16
The Abbey Gardens, 22 Mustow St,  IP33 1XL
A community picnic in the Abbey Gardens held by West Suffolk Council.

St Edmunds Day Weekend Spectacle of Light
November 17-20 
The Abbey Gardens, 22 Mustow St,  IP33 1XL
A three evening Spectacle of Light show projecting images of illuminated manuscripts from the Abbey onto historic buildings plus a light trail through the Abbey gardens.

Walks you'll love

Ickworth -  at Horringer, the National Trust property is a fascinating place to visit and offers several walks of varying lengths. nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth

St Edmund Way - a long distance path in honour of St Edmund, England's original patron saint. It covers 80 miles - do it over several days or walk part of it during your stay in Bury St Edmunds. discoversuffolk.org.uk/st-edmund-way

Clare Circular Walks - a choice of six circular walks based in Clare, the smallest town in Suffolk. They vary from two to seven miles. visit-clare.co.uk/things_to_do/clare-circular-walks

One of the 30 hidden gardens in Bury St Edmunds

One of the 30 hidden gardens that open their garden gates in Bury St Edmunds for the St Nicholas Hospice Hidden Gardens of Bury event. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Make time for

Hidden Gardens of Bury
July 3 
Organised by and in aid of St Nicholas Hospice Care, the Hidden Gardens festival gives you the chance to discover the inspirational gardens behind the facades and high walls of some of Bury’s beautiful buildings. hiddengardens.co.uk 

Stunning Stour Valley

Suffolk is blessed with two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the coast is one, the other is Dedham Vale on the Suffolk-Essex border, where the beautiful River Stour runs. The Stour rises in eastern Cambridgeshire, passes east of Haverhill, through pretty villages and towns such as Clare, Cavendish, Bures, Long Melford, Sudbury, Nayland, Stratford St Mary and Dedham, becoming tidal just before Manningtree in Essex and joining the North Sea at Harwich. It's 47 miles long, 25 of which are navigable, making it a popular place to explore by canoe or kayak.

The River Stour between Dedham and Flatford Mill in Constable country. 

See the veiws Constable painted by the River Stour between Dedham and Flatford Mill. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Willy Lott's house at Flatford Mill next to the Mill Pond - the scene of Constable's Hay Wain painti

Willy Lott's house at Flatford Mill next to the Mill Pond - the scene of Constable's Hay Wain painting and virtually unchanged since 1821. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

And if you think the landscape looks familiar it probably is. This is Constable Country, an area immortalised by John Constable who was born at East Bergholt and painted the surrounding countryside throughout much of his life. You can visit Flatford Mill, which was owned by Constable's family and is now a centre owned by the National Trust dedicated to the artist. Walk among the views he painted, see exhibitions, experience the countryside that inspired so much of his work. There's also a wonderful wildlife garden run by the RSPB. 

dedhamvalestourvalley.org
nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford
rspb.org.uk

Gainsborough's town

At the heart of the Stour Valley is Sudbury, where another of Suffolk's great painters was born and raised, Thomas Gainsborough. One of the most important artists in 18th century Britain, Gainsborough influenced countless nationally significant artists from John Constable to Maggi Hambling. Gainsborough's House in Sudbury is currently being transformed into a national centre for Gainsborough and is due to open in the summer of 2022. Sudbury has excellent walks, including through its ancient water meadows, town trails, and river trips on the Stour.
Find out more at visitsuffolk.com/destination/sudbury 

Sudbury town centre including the Thomas Gainsborough statue. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Sudbury town centre including the Thomas Gainsborough statue. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Half-timbered medieval cottages in Lavenham, Suffolk

Half-timbered medieval cottages in Lavenham display the town's wealth built on the wool industry. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sudbury is also known as a centre for silk weaving for the last 200 years, and from the middle ages was one of Suffolk's 'wool towns', which became wealthy as a result of wool production and cloth manufacturing. You can take the Wool Towns trail which weaves its way around five of the most picturesque places in the county - Sudbury, Lavenham, Long Melford, Clare and Hadleigh. More at wooltowns.co.uk

Heart of Suffolk

Suffolk's county town of Ipswich lays claim to being England's oldest town. As you wander its streets, it's easy to see in the rich diversity of its buildings how changing fortunes have shaped Ipswich from its earliest Anglo-Saxon origins, through medieval and Tudor times, Victorian prosperity and into the 20th and 21st centuries as a centre of commerce. Ipswich has a fascinating history well worth exploring with larger than life characters such as Thomas Wolsey, superb museums, exciting theatres and music venues, indie shopping, an eclectic collection of restaurants and bars, and a rapidly improving football team. For all you need to know go to allaboutipswich.com/

The Town hall. Historical buildings in Ipswich town centre PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ipswich has a proud history stretching back to Anglo-Saxon times. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

The gateway to...

Shotley Peninsula
Just a few miles outside Ipswich between the Orwell and Stour rivers, this is a great area for walking, cycling and sailing. Alton Water, Suffolk's largest expanse of inland water, is a centre for water sports, and offers walks, picnic spots and wildlife spotting. You can also visit Pin Mill, a lovely hamlet on the banks of the Orwell where Arthur Ransome set parts of Swallows and Amazons. Follow the waymarked trail along the river, head inland to Erwarton where Anne Boleyn's heart is said to be buried in the local church. 

Woodbridge Tide Mill Picture: PETER CUTTS

Woodbridge Tide Mill - Credit: PETER CUTTS

Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge is a symbol of Suffolk's rich history.

Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge is a symbol of Suffolk's rich history. - Credit: Phil Morley

Woodbridge
A lovely market town on the banks of the Deben, Woodbridge has excellent shops, pubs and restaurants, riverside walks and lots of history to explore at the Tide Mill, as well as just over the river at National Trust Sutton Hoo. The 255 acre estate is home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. You can walk amongst the ancient burial mounds, learn the story of the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasure, and walk in the surrounding woodlands.

Felixstowe
Between the rivers Orwell and Deben, Felixstowe is a bustling Edwardian seaside town with traditional seaside attractions, a pier and lovely gardens. It's known for its long seafront stretching four miles from the hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry, where you can take a ferry across to Bawdsey, famous as the home of radar, to Landguard Peninsula in the south. Here you'll find Landguard Fort, one of England’s best preserved coastal defences, Felixstowe Museum, the Nature Reserve and Britain's biggest container port, where you can watch giant ships arriving and departing.

Jousting returns to Framlingham Castle. Picture: ROBERT SMITH

Regular events recreate the past at at Framlingham Castle. - Credit: Robert Smith

An aerial picture of Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle, at the centre of Suffolk's rich history. - Credit: English Heritage

Framlingham
Home to 12th century Framlingham Castle, the inspiration behind Ed Sheeran's hit song Castle On The Hill, a truly magnificent site overlooking the nearby mere and surrounded by parkland. The castle was once the refuge of Mary Tudor and was where she was declared queen in 1553. Framlingham is a lovely market town with shops, cafes and restaurants, local art galleries and regular markets.