12 Things to Do in Norwich

31 May 2024

12 Things to Do in Norwich

When visiting somewhere new, it’s vital to get a good look at everything there is to do – you want to make sure you’re planning all of the best bits, after all! And if that somewhere new just so happens to be Norwich, you’re in luck, there is more than enough for everyone to enjoy.

So, to help you plan out the best bits that you won’t want to miss on your trip, we’ve pulled together twelve of our favourite activities, sights, and destinations that should all make your to-do list when here in the City of Stories. Read on for our recommendations! And if you need any more information, like where to stay, be sure to check out the rest of the VisitNorwich website.

Seeing the sights

Marvel over a king’s creation at Norwich Castle

Watching over Norwich for nearly a millennium, Norwich Castle should be among the very first sights you see when visiting the City of Stories. Originally ordered to be built by William the Conqueror in 1067, Norwich Castle has stood tall through nearly every part of the City of Stories’ history and played part in some of the more gruesome aspects! But you can breathe a sigh of relief, as nowadays it’s used as a museum and art gallery, housing some incredible pieces across its collection.

The Castle is currently undergoing a huge, £15 million pound project to take it back to it’s early medieval look, including making every floor completely accessible, so that everyone can experience what life would’ve been like in a Norman royal palace. Entry costs just £7.80 per adult and £6.60 per child aged 4-18. Find out more about Norwich Castle, including it’s renovation works and what you can explore here.

A castle on hilltop.

Norwich Castle has marked the very centre of the city for nearly 1000 years, so exploring it isn’t to be missed!

Take in the sights of the iconic Norwich Cathedral

You can’t miss our historic Norwich Cathedral. No, really, you can’t – Norwich Cathedral has the second-tallest spire of any cathedral in the country, so it’s likely to be one of the first things you spot when coming to the City of Stories! And not only is it one of our biggest, but it’s also one of our best.

A trip to Norwich Cathedral and its grounds are an absolute must, it’s known locally as the ‘village within the city’ for good reason! Here, beautiful history and serene views combine to create a truly relaxing morning or afternoon out. Unwind with a good book in the monastic cloisters (which happen to be the largest in the country), enjoy something tasty in the Bread Source Refectory, or join one of their free, hourly tours every weekday!

A woman and a young child sit in the archway of a cathedral cloister.

Norwich Cathedral and its grounds are the perfect setting to explore on those sunnier days.

Travel back in time down Norwich’s most famous street

Norwich is notorious for hundreds upon hundreds of things, but perhaps none are more famed than Elm Hill. But don’t just take it from us, even Hollywood agrees, having used this street as the set for films such as ‘Stardust’ and Netflix’s ‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey’, starring John Legend.

Along this gorgeous, cobbled street, you’ll find dozens of historic buildings that are still in use as businesses and even homes today. It’s truly incredible to walk down and take it all in. Be sure to stop off at The Bear Shop for one of Britain’s largest collections of teddy bears and the Britons Arms (one of just five thatched buildings left in Norwich) for a delicious breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner on select evenings.

A series of terraced buildings with an elm tree in front.

Elm Hill is a living time capsule, walk down it and take in the beautiful sights!

See Norwich from a new angle with Pub and Paddle

Whether you’re a local who’s walked the streets of Norwich hundreds of times, or a visitor looking for something unique and exciting to do during your visit, Pub and Paddle is the perfect choice. Across their three routes, you’ll be able to canoe down the River Wensum into the beautiful Norfolk countryside, all while stopping off for a well-earned rest and drink in a choice of riverside pubs!

All routes start at their Elm Hill Quay pontoon, where you’ll gently learn how to paddle and get yourself moving. Then, it’s down the river you go, where you’ll find spectacular views of Norwich as you go. These views are a completely different world from being on the land, it’s a fantastic way to see the City of Stories. Find out more about these routes, their pubs, and how to book on the Pub and Paddle website.

A couple with a child canoe down a river.

Seeing Norwich from the water is a completely new world, and there’s no better for that than Pub and Paddle!

Eat, drink, and shop!

Enjoy a spot of retail therapy at Chantry Place

Who doesn’t love spending some of their morning or afternoon shopping away at their heart’s desire? For that bit of retail therapy, look no further than Chantry Place, Norwich’s premiere retail destination. Across three floors, you’ll find household name brands like Zara, Apple, H&M, Hotel Chocolat, Hollister, Frasers, and their recently opened shops, Flannels and Mango, as well as some local favourites, like Lisa Angel and Bakeaholics.

It’s the perfect place to go for any and every need, especially if you’re shopping for those special days like Valentines, Christmas, or even a loved one’s birthday! And keep your eyes peeled for their special events, they’re brilliant fun for the family and often feature competitions with seriously good prizes!

Chantry Place shopping center busy with shoppers, shops include Zara, Hotel Chocolate and Tag Heuer

Whatever you’re looking for from a shopping centre, Chantry Place has it!

Escape rooms, mini golf, axe-throwing and more at Castle Quarter

If you’re struggling to decide on how you or your friends and family want to spend their day in the City of Stories, look no further than a visit to Castle Quarter. Across these five-floors, you’ll always find a reason to visit – especially for their leisure activities! And as our heading suggests, you’ve got a huge range of choice…

So, whether you’re looking to mix and match or spend your time enjoying just one of these activities at a time, you’re in for a real treat. Opt for a round (or three) of mini golf at Putt Putt Social, classic ten-pin bowling at Superbowl, break out of an exciting escape room at Escape Hunt, turn back time on arcade history with Retro Replay, or try your hand at axe throwing at Boom Battle Bar (18+ only)… We told you, you’re in for a treat! For even more activities at Castle Quarter, be sure to check out their website.

A shopping complex filled with people.

With their eclectic mix of leisure activities, Castle Quarter has heaps of fun ready to go!

Find everything you could need and more on Norwich Market

Norwich Market is another icon of the city that you absolutely must visit, especially if it’s your first time in the city. It’s one of Europe’s oldest permanent markets, with a history dating back over 900 years. While this thriving hub used to sell items such as swords, Russian furs, and Scandinavian walrus ivory, nowadays the offering is a lot different!

Shop around on the multitude of stalls selling everything from vintage clothing, accessories, loose leaf teas, coffees, wine, beers, delicious food from fish and chips to eccentric sandwiches, and even haircuts! You have to see it to believe it. And in the winter months, visit Sir Toby’s Beers for their glühwein, a type of mulled wine, it’s the best in Norwich without a doubt.

A markerplace with a city hall sitting behind it.

Norwich Market is one of the oldest permanent markets in the country, it’s a must-see of the city!

Indulge in the famous afternoon tea at the Assembly House

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love this. Not only is afternoon tea a delicious alternative to any other kind of meal, but here in Norwich, there is one afternoon tea that is nationally renowned for just how good it is – and you’ll find it within the gorgeous Georgian luxury of the Assembly House.

Inside this Grade-II listed gem, you’ll find a calendar of everchanging themed afternoon teas, all equally as tasty as the last. In the past, they’ve had Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Nutcracker at Christmas, and so much more. Each afternoon tea costs £29.50 per adult and £18 per child under-12, booking is strongly advised to avoid disappointment! Check out the Assembly House website for their current afternoon tea theme and menu.

A Georgian mansion sits behind a water fountain.

The Assembly House and its afternoon tea is perfect for foodies looking to try something utterly delicious.

Head back in time…

Discover Norwich’s hidden street with The Shoebox Experiences

Did you know? Tucked away underground, there’s a street of Norwich that most don’t even realise exists, and it’s right in the middle of the city…

You can find this street with The Shoebox Experiences ‘Hidden Street Tour’, where you’ll journey down two flights of stairs and find it hidden below Castle Meadow. Here, you’ll discover the past of our fine city, exploring the layers of architecture dating back to the 15th century, and learning more about the trades, houses, and people that once walked this now forgotten street. It’s truly fascinating, and not one to miss on a visit to the City of Stories. Tickets are available for £15 per adult, and £8 per child aged 4-12.

An underground street, surrounded by brickwork and wooden structures.

The Hidden Street Tours at The Shoebox Experiences are the perfect unique activity in Norwich!

Unravel one of Norwich’s hidden gems at the South Asia Collection

Norwich is home to some fabulous museums, each with their own fascinating collections and history, and the South Asia Collection is no exception to the rule. Found tucked away on Bethel Street inside an old Victorian skating rink, this beautiful museum houses a gigantic range of items and artefacts from across South Asia that will truly take your breath away.

Find statues, figures, puppets, furniture, textiles, paintings, and so much more, all with a steeped, rich history associated with the region. And it’s totally free to enter and take it all in. Plus, if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also find ‘Country & Eastern’ as part of the museum, which is their South Asian themed shop. Here, you’re able to buy your own genuine products of the region, including clothing, printing blocks, furniture, and more! It’s well worth a visit.

A South Asian museum, filled with artefacts from the region.

The South Asia Collection is a hugely impressive hidden gem right in the Norwich city centre.

Uncover Norwich’s secret garden

Just outside of the city centre, no more than 600 yards, lies one of Norwich’s best kept secrets – Plantation Garden. A 3-acre, Grade-II listed, English Heritage registered garden, Plantation Garden was established over 100 years ago inside an abandoned chalk quarry and is now an oasis of tranquillity for anyone who knows its whereabouts.

You’ll find it beside the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Earlham Road, with entry costing just £2 in their honesty box. In this beautiful garden, enjoy their huge gothic fountain, flower beds, lawns, Italianate terrace, woodland walkways, and a few more gorgeous surprises that we’ll let you discover for yourself. In the summer, keep an eye out for their afternoon teas and outdoor cinema offering…

A group sit on the grass in front of an Italianate terrace, enjoying a picnic, at The Plantation Garden

The Plantation Garden is the perfect place to go to relax, you’d never know it’s so close to the city centre!

While you’re here… Check out the city’s annual events!

As if the City of Stories permanent offer wasn’t enough, it becomes even more exciting when one of Norwich’s dozens of annual events is up and running, so it’s definitely worth checking out what’s on during your visit!

We’re incredibly proud to be home to some amazing events throughout the year, like Norwich Wine Week, Norwich Summer Sessions, Norwich Science Festival, Norwich Games Festival, The Lord Mayor’s Procession (which is one of the oldest in the country, it goes back hundreds of years!), and so, so much more. For more information on these events, including when and where they’re running in Norwich and how you can get involved, check out our guide here!

Groups of people sit on benches drinking wine.

Norwich Wine Week is just one of the city’s wonderful annual events!