Norwich: A Unique UK City Break

1 January 2023

Norwich: A Unique UK City Break

There are so many incredible cities to visit in the UK, bursting with culture, creativity and more. But if you’re looking for a truly unique place to visit, Norwich should be top of your list.

Norwich is an exciting fusion of modern and historic influences, with an indie spirit that permeates its cobbled streets. Food and drink lovers will rejoice at the huge choice of quality restaurants, cafes and bars, and the ever-bustling Norwich Market. While shopaholics will revel in the range of independent and high-street chain shops. And at the end of a day of exploration, there’s plenty of quiet green spaces to relax in.

Norwich truly has something for everyone, which is why it makes for such a unique UK city break. Read on for our recommendations of what to do in Norwich, and why the City of Stories should be top of your UK travel bucket-list.

Image of two men drinking outside St Andrew's Brewhouse

St Andrew’s Brewhouse

Historic Gems

Norwich is one of only a handful of UK cities to be able to boast not one, but two cathedrals! Norwich Cathedral is set in 44 acres of grounds and is one of the finest complete Romanesque cathedrals in Europe, with the second tallest spire and largest monastic cloisters in England.

Meanwhile, the Cathedral of St John the Baptist is a stunning example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, with beautiful stained glass and stonework features. Both cathedrals are free to visit and have their own cafes.

Norwich Cathedral Interior

Norwich Cathedral Interior

Towering above the city, you can’t miss Norwich Castle. Built by the Normans as a Royal Palace 900 years ago, it is now a museum and art gallery home to outstanding collections of fine art, archaeology and natural history, and a regularly changing roster of exhibitions. Currently, the Castle is also undergoing an exciting redevelopment of the Keep, taking it back to its original medieval form. Admission Adults £7.40 adults, Child (age 4 -18): £6.30, Child under 4: Free. Concessions. (Twilight ticket, 1 hour before closing £2.50).

There’s nothing quite as romantic as wandering down a cobbled lane, taking in beautiful, historic buildings. Which is exactly what you’ll experience at Elm Hill in Norwich (which is often a location for film and TV!). The most complete medieval street in the city, one of the street’s most well-known buildings is The Britons Arms – the only place to have survived a major fire in 1507. Now, The Britons Arms is a quaint café and restaurant, and is the perfect place to stop off for some tea and cake or a delicious lunch, and dinner.

The Britons Arms on Elm Hill

The Britons Arms on Elm Hill

Two further amazing museums in Norwich are The Museum of Norwich and Strangers’ Hall. Both a small in comparison to the Castle but equally delightful and bursting with stories about people and places in Norwich over the centuries. Both are stunning medieval buildings.

Finally, from medieval to modern. Visit the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia (take the 25 bus, 2 miles). Offering a Universal Ticket which means you pay ‘if and what you can afford’ see their permanent collection of 5,000 years of world art, exhibitions and Sculpture Park. Enjoy Picasso, Degas, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Giacometti and loads more. There’s also a fab café, restaurant and contemporary design shop.

This is a museum shaking things up. You are even invited to hug a Henry Moore – interested?

Food & Drink Experiences

There’s nothing better than visiting a new city and happening upon a hidden café or restaurant that serves up the most delicious food and makes you feel as though you’ve experienced the city like a true local! And the food and drink scene in Norwich is certainly one to write home about. Norwich restaurants frequently receive positive reviews in the likes of The Guardian and recognition in the Michelin Guide.

For a spot of fine dining, we recommend Benedicts, which was awarded a Michelin Plate in the Michelin Guide 2022. Run by Chef owner Richard Bainbridge (BBC1 Saturday Kitchen, BBC2 Great British Menu), the restaurant offers seasonal menus which range from a great value for money set lunch to a luxurious 7-course tasting menu.


Benedicts Restaurant

Another fantastic independent to check out is Brix and Bones, an intimate restaurant that specialises in cooking over fire. Prepare yourself for eclectic flavours inspired by world travels with dishes such as pork chop with izakaya spring cabbage and smoked goat with ember beetroot horseradish. The experience is completed with carefully chosen wines and cocktails to accompany your food.

Brix and Bones Norwich

Brix and Bones Norwich

If you’re on a budget, then never fear. Some of Norwich’s best food can be found at Norwich Market, one of the country’s largest permanent markets with nearly 200 stalls. A short stroll through the colourful stalls will leave you wanting more as you inhale the delicious aromas in the air. Here, you can pick up a spicy Thai curry, some classic British fish and chips, a freshly cooked Italian pizza, a Turkish halloumi wrap and more. With many dishes under £10, you don’t have to spend a lot to truly indulge. And that’s all before we get to dessert – there’s cakes, pastries and ice cream too.

Street Food at Norwich Market

Street Food at Norwich Market

If you want unique experiences to enjoy as well as delicious food, we recommend making your very own bottle of gin with Gyre & Gimble’s Gin Academy (£75 per person) or taking a food and drink tour of the city with Cheryl Cade tours. Read more about the unique food and drink experiences in Norwich here.

A Shopaholics Dream

Shopping centres, high-street chains, vintage emporiums and independent boutiques can all be found across the city. So, whether you like to spend a little or a lot, there’s plenty of choice.

Magdalen Street is home to antique and vintage wonderlands, and the Norwich Lanes are full to the brim with independent shops selling everything from board games to jewellery. And you won’t want to miss The Royal Arcade – this Victorian shopping arcade is decked out with art nouveau architectural features, and inside there’s plenty to discover. Sonkai is home to exquisite handmade jewellery (and they now offer jewellery making workshops, and you can browse a huge collection of spirits at Gyre & Gimble.

The Norwich Lanes

The Norwich Lanes

Famed independent department store Jarrolds is a must-visit too, with several floors of high-end fashion, homeware, books and more. Not to mention its deli,, food hall and wine bar with numerous provisions available. For the real shopaholics, head to Chantry Place shopping centre, John Lewis, or Castle Quarter – all of which house several floors of brilliant shops like Apple, Zara and TK Maxx, and cafes and restaurants to fuel up.

Jarrold Department Store

Jarrolds Department Store

Outdoor Spaces

One of the things that makes Norwich truly unique, is that it’s the only English city within a National Country Park. The Broads are made up of 30 lakes across Norfolk, connected by rivers and dykes that create 200 miles of tranquil waterways. In Norwich, you can easily walk to Whitlingham Country Park (45 minutes) , part of the Broads, and enjoy a peaceful stroll or cycle. You can even enjoy water sports during school holidays.

Whitlingham Country Park, part of The Broads

Want to visit Norwich’s best kept secret? The Plantation Garden is a hidden oasis just past the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Originally a chalk quarry, the Grade II listed garden includes a gothic fountain, flower beds, lawns, woodland walkways and an Italianate terrace. It’s the ideal place for a picnic, romantic stroll or just some relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle from the city centre.

The Plantation Garden

The Plantation Garden

There are plenty of other lovely parks and green spaces to relax in across the city. Check out Chapelfield Gardens, Castle Green, The Cathedral Close, Mousehold Heath and the Riverside Walk.

Day Trips

Another reason why Norwich is so unique, is that it’s a city a stone’s throw away from beautiful countryside and coastline.

Head to the charming market town of Coltishall in the Broads for lovely countryside walks, antiques shopping and a pub on the river. Or make a visit to The Norfolk Mead hotel (they describe themselves as offering tranquil luxury) for a lunch or afternoon tea or even stay the night. This gorgeous hotel is a boutique treasure with lovely rooms, a walled garden and their own broad. Between April and October residents can hire the hotel’s boat for a leisurely trip on the Broads. Believe us, it’s so tranquil and the route is teeming with wildlife. Take a picnic too!

Rooms start at £145 per night (Horseradish) with a sumptuous breakfast included (as well as parking). The hotel has two treatment rooms, cottages in the gardens and garden rooms to also book.

Another great day out is the Holkham Estate (which is vast!) at Wells-Next-The-Sea in North Norfolk. A 1hr 15-minute drive from Norwich and you can enjoy fabulous walks on Holkham Beach (all year round). Park at the beach car park and then take the walk (fairly long walk) through the pine forest.

After, have lunch at The Victoria – Holkham’s flint pub/restaurant/hotel (you must book) – or drive to the Hall and take a walk around the grounds, lunch in their restaurant or visit the Hall itself (the Hall is open seasonally). This is a full day out. And dogs are welcome.

There’s so much to discover in Norwich and Norfolk, so don’t delay – plan your trip today!

Holkham Beach

Holkham Beach