Bargain Breaks in Norwich

24 April 2024

Bargain Holidays Itinerary 2024

Follow this 3-day bargain stay in Norwich and be well on your way to a UK city break which is kind to your pocket and your wellbeing.

For around £400 two people can stay in city accommodation, enjoying local dishes in exciting independent eateries, sightseeing – some of it guided, and a trip out on the river Wensum with a paddle experience incorporating pizza!

And if you are travelling by rail from London Liverpool Street advance fares cost from £12 each way with Greater Anglia!

Norwich is a city that belies its size. On first impressions a gentle walk from the red-brick Victorian train station along the river could give you the impression you have a way to go before reaching the heart of its urban historic centre. However, delivering you via a waterside stroll into Norwich Cathedral’s Close then onto Tombland (Norse for ‘open space’) – you couldn’t be more wrong. Read on for our suggested itinerary for an unforgettable bargain holiday here in Norwich.

Day One
Guided Walking Tour | Norwich Cathedral | Fish & Chips 

As a local, the best piece of advice we can give is to orientate yourself with Norwich’s medieval street pattern on a walking tour, where passionate city guides like local historian Paul Dickson (tours from £8) engage their intimate audiences with local stories, history and folklore. On a walk through Norwich on any given day throughout the year you’ll see these assembled groups drinking in Norwich’s architecture, learning the secrets of past residents, mavericks and entrepreneurs.  

Norwich Cathedral credit: Nick Warner

Next stop is Norwich Cathedral (free entry). Taking 49 years to build, this is one of the most complete major Romanesque buildings in Europe and one of Norwich’s oldest buildings. Located off Tombland – walking through either Ethelbert Gate or Erpingham Gate into the largest Close to survive in England – swap bustling urbanisation for a sense of tranquillity as you cross the threshold. Described locally as the ‘village within a city’, you sense why without hesitation as you explore this sacred 900-year-old 44-acre site. Wisteria-covered flint cottages lie to your right; to your left a couple are having a picnic on the Cathedral green.  

We would allow a couple of hours to savour the history around you: where Caen stone was imported from Normandy in 1096 to realise Herbert de Losinga’s magnificent plans. In 1101 the Benedictine priory was consecrated, and the cathedral was finally completed in 1145, making it the largest building in East Anglia. The cathedral today is free to visit, though donations are very welcome. We highly recommend joining a one-hour tour led by one of the cathedral volunteers -if you manage to time your visit right during choir practise you are in for a real treat!

Before you depart, follow your nose to the Refectory where local award-winning bakers Bread Source serve freshly made cinnamon rolls the size of your face. Order a silky large latte to pair with it. 

Bread Source, The Refectory, Norwich Cathedral

Back on the tourist trail, head over to cobbled Elm Hill, Norwich’s most complete medieval street. It was rebuilt after the great fire of 1507, when only the 13th century thatched ‘Britons Arms’ remains from this devastating event, which saw much of Norwich fall to the ground

This is one of only 5 thatched buildings that survives in the city centre. Here is the place to savour a glass of wine on their small garden terrace in the early evening; it’s deliciously quiet and secluded, with views of ancient St Peter Hungate Church (14C), and the flint walls of St Andrew’s Hall once home – in around 1250 – to the Dominicans. 

We Brits love our fish and chips and none more so than the people of Norwich who regularly join the queue snaking down Pottergate in The Norwich Lanes, to order one of Britain’s favourite dishes at The Grosvenor Fish Bar. This is a place people talk about and return to. The Grosvenor celebrates 100 years in 2024 and has been in the same family for over 60 of them. It’s now run by Christian Motta alongside his husband Duane Dibartolomeo, who bought the business from Christian’s dad in 2012 returning to Norwich from New York – where the pair worked as stylists – to keep up the family business but also give it a facelift. 

The Grosvenor Fish Bar, Pottergate, Norwich Lanes credit: Nick Warner

This is a big clue – the Grosvenor is no ordinary fish and chip shop. As well as all the usual suspects there are creative ‘specials’ such as ‘Sass with Bass’, ‘Looney Tuney’ and ‘Clamity Jane’. And the gentle background music is swing. 

The team chips 300 kilos of potatoes a day and on very busy days do the same again after the lunchtime rush. They also make their own sauces – it’s not just about ketchup and gravy here! In summer order a takeaway and eat opposite the shop on St Gregory’s Green – you may be joined by a busker. The alternative is to take a seat in their cave-meets-bunker medieval undercroft which is cool and intimate, and lot of fun. Norwich has more surviving undercrofts than any other city in the UK.

The Details

Walking Tours: Paul Dickson Walking Tours tickets from £8 per person
Visit: Norwich Cathedral, free – donations welcome
Lunch: Bread Source at The Refectory, Norwich Cathedral
Eat & Drink: The Britons Arms Coffee House & Restaurant book afternoon tea for £18pp. The Grosvenor Fish Bar, chip butty £2.50, peas £1.50
Stay: No. 82 The Unthank; 2-nights from £190 for two people sharing an apartment

Day Two
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery | Marble Hall | Pub & Paddle & Pizza 

Today, we make a visit to one of Norwich’s oldest and most iconic sites, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (£7.80). Commissioned by William the Conqueror and completed as a palace by his sons, it served as a prison for over 500 years before it became Norfolk’s leading museum. 

But before that we enjoy a hearty breakfast on Norwich Market where we can take a seat in the sculpted war memorial gardens. With views behind of City Hall, and to the left the flint knapped building of The Guildhall (15th Century), to the right St Peter Mancroft (Norwich’s largest medieval church) and beyond of the market’s colourful canopies and Norwich Castle high on its mound, this is a prime spot for a peaceful coffee and breakfast roll ahead of the day. The ladies at Jacket Spuds and More are some of the friendliest faces on the market and do a great-value sausage and egg muffin for £2.50 (Row F), and we recommend a delicious coffee from the Little Red Roaster £3 (Row B) – a local favourite. 

After summer 2024 the castle’s magnificent Keep reopens, following a period of renovation which will see it transformed back to its medieval status when Norwich Castle was in its heyday during the Norman period. Making it the most accessible castle in the UK, visitors will be able to go from the dungeons to the battlements where the roof of the castle will be an area to see views of Norwich’s skyline and sit and enjoy conversations like the king of the castle! 

The castle in partnership with The British Museum will also open a new exhibit: The Gallery of Medieval Life. This will be the  first medieval gallery outside of London, showcasing exceptional artefacts of the period from the Norman Conquest to the reign of Henry VIII displaying over 1000 treasures of international importance, with over 50 on long-term loan from the British Museum.

In the meantime, the rest of the castle museum remains open with five art galleries, including the largest collection of paintings by the Norwich School of Artists with special mention to John Sell Cotman. And collections of archaeology, natural history, textiles and fashion, ceramics and more. 

If you’re in Norwich on a weekday during office hours, make sure you squeeze in Marble Hall in Surrey House (free entry) – headquarters for Aviva and a working building. Even many a local hasn’t visited, so in our eyes this is the true definition of a hidden gem. Marble Hall is a spectacular example of Edwardian architecture rich in detail and marble as it’s adorned with over 15 varieties which were once destined for Westminster Cathedral. See intricate stained-glass windows, classical frescos, carved wooden panelling and examples of Arts and Crafts as well as a beautiful glass atrium.  Local architect George Skipper was commissioned to build Surrey House to also include Greek influences and he didn’t disappoint. 

Marble Hall

Marble Hall, Surrey House

Did we say Norwich is the only city in England in a national park? Shifting from the busy city streets, we swap our environment for a tranquil 2-hour evening out on the water with a Pub & Paddle & Pizza evening (£24pp, every Tuesday and Wednesday until 11 September), leaving from their jetty by the historic Ribs of Beef pub. Choose from 5pm, 5.30pm and 6pm to paddle up the river Wensum looking for sight of Norwich’s friendly otter – you may be lucky – then follow your watery pursuits with a delicious pizza back at the pub (the Capricciosa is our favourite). 

Paddling on the river Wensum

The Details

Breakfast: Norwich Market
Visit: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery from £7.80; Marble Hall (free)
Eat & Drink: Yalm in The Royal Arcade; Saporita, slice of thick dough pizza from £5.50, glass wine 250ml £6.80 – dessert Salame al Cioccolato (chocolate salami) £5.10
Paddle: Pub & Paddle & Pizza at The Ribs of Beef, £24 per person
Stay: No. 82 The Unthank

Day Three
Plantation Garden | Upper St Giles | The Norwich Lanes 

Start your day with a visit to Norwich’s secret garden on Earlham Road just a short walk from your accommodation. Plantation Garden (£2 entry) is a 3-acre Victorian quarry lovingly restored into a beautiful calm oasis right in the city centre. Make a promise to yourself and enforce a digital detox whilst you take in the Gothic Fountain, Italianate wall, planting and woodland. Fit in a quick look next door at The Cathedral of St John the Baptist (free) which is a stunning Gothic cathedral. 

Plantation Garden

Continue walking into the Lanes via Upper St Giles – a pretty a little street as you can imagine. Lined with independent shops and pavement cafes, Saturday mornings are especially busy with locals chatting over coffee or taking some quiet time to catch up with a book. St Giles Pantry will tempt you to locally made cake and hot beverages – if you’re lucky grab a seat outside to watch the world go by. 

St Giles Pantry, Upper St Giles, Norwich Lanes

From here we take a short amble to Bethel Street to find The South Asia Collection Museum (free) and Shop (Country & Eastern) – a place dedicated to recording, preserving and celebrating the traditional arts, crafts and cultures of India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and Central Asia. Home of the collection is a vast red brick and timber Victorian skating rink. While away an hour or so browsing exhibits, displayed around things to buy – gorgeous textiles, rugs, furniture, clothes and jewellery at good prices too.

Country & Eastern

The South Asia Collection Museum & Shop (Country and Eastern)

The Details

Breakfast: St Giles Pantry
Visit: Plantation Garden, £2 in an honesty box; The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, free; The South Asia Collection Museum & Shop (Country and Eastern), free
Eat & Drink: Norwich Market for artisan around-the-world street food, Sir Toby’s Beers
Shop in The Norwich Lanes: Jarrolds independent department store with Deli items from £4, Atwin contemporary lifestyle & fashion, jewellery – silver rings from £28