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Whether visitor or local, Norwich is a great place to be. There’s a whole wealth of things to do here, from culture experiences and family-friendly activities, to shopping and food and drink. But everything is that much better when it’s free (or low-cost), right? Luckily, Norwich has plenty of that too. Read on for some of our favourite free and low-priced things you can find in the City of Stories all year round!
For an entire day out, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the Sculpture Park should be very high on your list, if not your top priority. Here, the Sainsbury Centre are revolutionising the world of museums. They recently became the first museum in the country to offer a ‘Pay If and What You Can’ scheme, and they’re the first in the world to see ART AS LIVING.
Yes, you read that right, the Sainsbury Centre believe that art has ‘stages’ in life, the same as humans.
So, get ready to experience a museum like never before. Step inside a glass case to become the showcase yourself (you can write your own label!) and see how it feels when art is staring in at you. Lay on a hammock or sit on a bench and stare up at Alberto Giacometti’s painting of his brother and tell it a secret you’ve never told anyone, just to feel a connection to art like never before.
Finally, and this one feels really wrong in all the right ways, hug Henry Moore’s ‘Mother and Child’ sculpture. It’s allowed. And it’s exciting. In fact, Henry Moore himself told Robert Sainsbury that he wanted people to touch this piece of art. So, go crazy!
The Sainsbury Centre has the most incredible permanent collection. Notice there are no corridors or doors within Norman’s Foster’s exciting building. This leaves the art on display to be seen as you want to see it and how you want to see it. Using their new app, gain access to the life story of each piece of art. Choose the voice of an artwork you want to listen to from either artist, lived experience or expert. It puts you in the driving seat.
Experience and get close to works by Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Jacob Epstein, Jean Arp, Chaïm Soutine and Amedeo Modigliani. The art here spans 5,000 years. Large artworks, tiny artworks – and everything in between.
Plus, there are usually temporary exhibitions, a wonderful bonus. Which also means there’s always something new to see.
And then, there’s the Sculpture Park. Enjoy acres of clean, green space and the riverside – there’s plenty of room for a picnic. And there’s plenty of sculptures to admire, including works by Antony Gormley, Thomas Moore, Elizabeth Frink, and more. You don’t need to be an art enthusiast to enjoy these works, just take in their beauty and all the wandering you can enjoy for free or at a price that suits you. Trust us, it’s worth the visit. You’ll never have felt anything like it in a museum.
Norwich Cathedral is an iconic landmark of the city. It’s also likely the first you’ll see when venturing into Norwich, seeing as it has the second tallest spire in the country. So, it isn’t to be missed on your days out! This magnificent Cathedral is open to visitors of all faiths and none from 7:30am – 6:30pm every day. And it’s so calming to explore.
You’ll find yourself in awe of this spectacular architecture and magnificent art, all set in 44 acres of grounds. Perfect for a picnic. Trust us, there’s more than just one day out at Norwich Cathedral, especially if you take in all the sights and absorb the culture surrounding you.
Not quite sure where to start or want to find out more about the Norwich Cathedral? Join a free guided tour for a new insight into this 900-year-old building as you’re taken around this ancient, beautiful structure. Plus, there’s no need to book! Just head to the war memorial in the Cloister, and off you go. Guided tours usually take place every hour Monday – Saturday, 10am – 3pm, however availability is subject to other events in the Cathedral.
Speaking of events, there’s no shortage of those either. From exhibitions, workshops, craft sessions for kids, specialist tours, choirs, and performance, there really is something for everyone to get involved in. Plus, most of them are free and low-cost too, so you can enhance your Cathedral experience worry-free. Find out what events are coming up here!
Whatever your age, museums are seriously good fun, and they’re a great way to learn something new. It’s made even more interesting when you’re learning about the very city you’re in! Norwich has plenty to unravel – so much so, there’s three museums to choose from.
The first and most prominent of the three is Norwich Castle. Inside this historic centrepiece to our city, built by order of William the Conqueror in 1067, you’ll find a vast timeline of historic exhibitions, art galleries and activities. Learn about local hero, Boudicca, and the Romans, as well as the Egyptians, and much more! It’s a great day out, and only costs £7.40 per adult, and £6.30 for children aged 4-18. Find out more about Norwich Castle here!
A short three-minute walk away from Norwich Castle, you’ll find the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Even some locals may have missed this tucked-away gem in the Lanes. Here, you can learn about some of the rich history of this fine city and see why we call it the City of Stories!
Travel back to the 1700s, when Norwich was England’s second city, larger than Bristol, York, and Newcastle. Or see the star exhibit in action, the Jacquard Loom, a 19th-century handloom restored to full working order. Fancy getting a bit spookier? Delve into the Bridewell Undercroft, where inmates were held in the 1800s… Admission costs the same as Norwich Castle, £7.40 per adult, and £6.30 for children aged 4-18! They also have a beautiful courtyard, so take some food and enjoy your lunch. Find out more about a day out at the Norwich Museum here.
Last, but certainly not least, how does visiting one of Norwich’s oldest buildings sound? A further three-minute walk from the Museum of Norwich, you’ll find the 14th-century merchant house, Stranger’s Hall.
Here, you can turn back time through the years, visiting rooms like the Great Hall (Tudor), The Georgian Dining Room, The Chambers, The Parlour, The Victorian Rooms, and so much more. Plus, there’s always a few fun activities on for the little ones! This is another museum with quiet space for a picnic too. Enjoy their beautiful, luch knot garden, flanked by medieval buildings – it’s another of Norwich’s hidden gems.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous greenspace to explore, you’ll want to visit Eaton Park. There’s so much to see and do, and it all makes for an ideal family day out at a seriously affordable price!
Take a stroll through the picturesque circular rose garden or have a seat and unwind as you listen to the refreshing sprinkle of the nearby fountain. And don’t forget to pay a visit to the nearby boating pond. It’s a beautiful scene and is often host to the local model boat club. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to spot them out on the water, how exciting!
Fancy a little bite to eat or a quick coffee to get you going? There’s also a delightful café in a Grade-II rotunda, which is open all week, 9am – 4pm. Grab a drink and a few snacks, or tuck into homemade soups, sandwiches, and other light meals, the choice is yours!
Finally, for a bit of competition, don’t miss Eaton Park Crazy Golf. Across these 18 holes, you’ll find a mixture and challenging obstacles that make for a great game! Plus, it’s outdoors, so you can catch some sun while putting some hole-in-ones (or triple bogeys…). Crazy Golf costs just £5 per adult, and £4 for children aged 8-16, however greater group discounts are available.
Over 280 acres of countryside just two miles from Norwich – Whitlingham Country Park is another world that’s not so far from home! Here, there’s something for everyone to get back in touch with nature, like circular walks, plenty of wildlife, and expansive bodies of water.
At Whitlingham, you can enjoy and get back to nature however you like. Take a seat and soak it all in, explore all there is on offer with a gentle walk, or raise the tempo with a run or cycle. Keep your eye out for a bevy of swans out on the lake, or maybe you’ll even see some rowers out there perfecting their craft. There’s space for anyone and anything. And you only have to pay for parking!
Fancy getting out there yourself? For paid experiences, why not try some sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, or kayaking at Whitlingham Adventure! For those of us who’d rather keep our feet on dryland, there are sports like archery, bushcraft, and climbing available. Especially good in the summer.
Speaking of summer, take a look at Plantation Garden, which do Sunday homemade afternoon teas and host live music, perfect under the sun. And check out Norwich Summer Sessions, which will provide FREE street entertainment all day every Sunday from Sunday, July 30 – Sunday, September 3.