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If you are going to spend 72 hours in any city in the UK, then Norwich has to be one of the most interesting. Certainly, it has some of the best medieval architecture in the UK to admire. And that’s before we even mention the Cathedral or castle.
There is a growing food scene, and you would be hard-pressed to find a city that embraces culture and the arts to the extent Norwich does. But this is a city of nature too. The River Wensum runs through its heart, while it is surrounded by the beautiful Norfolk Broads.
There are plenty of things to do on a day out around Norwich. From grabbing street food for lunch at Norwich Market to seeing Norwich FC play on a Saturday afternoon or going for a stroll in some of the city’s green spaces, we guarantee you’ll never get bored.
Impossible to miss, thanks to all those colourful, striped awnings, Norwich Market has been catering for residents and visitors alike for more than 900 years. Sitting in the centre of the city, it’s easy to find and open Monday to Saturday every week. Here you’ll discover everything from Cromer crab and Japanese-inspired street food to vintage clothing and vegan-friendly ice cream. There are 189 stalls in total so there’s bound to be something that catches your eye…
A ‘secret garden in the heart of the city’ – that’s how the Plantation Garden is regarded by locals. This three-acre, grade II-listed garden is more than a century old and boasts Gothic features as well as a beautiful Italianate terrace. It was the work of furniture maker Henry Trevor, who bought the adjoining house in 1857. He then spent countless hours creating a personal paradise. It fell into disrepair but was recreated in the 1980s to the splendid lush green retreat of today. Suggested entry price is £2 in a donation box.
Lying between the River Wensum and the Great Eastern Main Rail Line is an area that locals refer to as Riverside. Here you’ll find plenty of entertainment venues such as ten-pin bowling, a multi-screen cinema, a trampoline park, a gym and a 25-metre swimming pool. And staying with the active feel, Norwich City FC’s Carrow Road stadium is within a stone’s throw.
When it comes to a list of Norwich city attractions, you’ll find there are just too many to pack into one day – which is why you’ll need at least three days (i.e. 72 hours) to get the most out of the city. From art to ancient history, there is simply lots going on.
Within the campus of the University of East Anglia, and only a short bus or car journey from the city centre, sits the Grade II-listed Sainsbury Centre. Designed by architect Norman Foster in 1978, it’s been drawing in the public ever since. Spectacular to look at with an engineered steel frame 150 metres long and eight-metre high glass panels, it houses a number of displays, as well as temporary exhibitions in Norwich. A permanent exhibition in the gallery features work by Picasso, Bacon, Moore, Giacometti and Degas. There’s also a gift shop and café for afterwards. Plus, entry to the permanent collection is free!
A visit to the Sainsbury Centre isn’t complete without some time spent at the much-talked-about Sculpture Park located in the surrounding grounds. Here works by such famous artists as Henry Moore, Antony Gormley, Elisabeth Frink and Lynn Chadwick are dotted around the greenery. There’s even a Sculpture Park Pocket Map to help you navigate your way around.
Commissioned by no less than William the Conqueror in 1095 (although he never actually lived in it), Norwich Castle sits high on a grassy mound in the centre of the city. This splendid grade one-listed fortification was actually a gaol from 1220 to 1887. Today it’s a Museum and Art Gallery combined. Admission £7 for adults and £6 children.
Sticking with the history theme, King Street boasts two beautiful examples of medieval architecture. The Music House was built in the 12th century, while grade one-listed Dragon Hall goes back to 1430. A former trading hall, merchants once bought and sold textiles, spices and timber within its impressive walls. Today it houses the National Centre for Writing,where you can learn the story of Julian of Norwich – the first female to write a book in the English language. Tours of the building take place monthly, so check the website for information on when you can visit.
This stunning Norman Cathedral is one of the most popular spots in Norwich. And it’s not hard to see why. With beautiful interiors, the largest Monastic Cloisters in the country and the second tallest spire – it really is a showstopping architectural gem. It’s free to visit too, making it the perfect spot to spend an hour or two.
Norwich is packed full of attractions, but it also has the odd stately home, beach or village you’re going to want to see as well.
Houghton Hall is the quintessential English stately home with an award-winning walled garden. So, it’s a no-brainer for a daytrip from Norwich. The Hall often hosts exciting contemporary art exhibitions, so check the website for details before making a trip to see what’s on. Although the stunning grounds and interiors are enough of a draw by themselves!
One of the closest beaches – and best places to visit near Norwich is Wells-next-the-sea. The town’s beach offers miles of golden sands and a collection of cute and colourful beach huts to photograph. You can bring the dog too – although you’ll have to avoid the first 200 yards onto the beach. Afterwards, you can treat yourself to fish and chips on the quay while watching the boats enter the harbour.
If you take a trip out to Wells-next-the-sea, it’s well worth hopping into the car and heading ten minutes down to road to Holkham Hall. This impressive stately home is stunning both inside and out, and there’s a host of things to do here. Take a tour of the building, or a tractor-trailer tour around the grounds. Hire out some bikes or a boat and get active. There’s plenty to do. Check out the website for more details. And don’t forget to check out Holkham beach while you’re here – it has to be one of the prettiest beaches in Norfolk.